The first decade of the new millennium has come to an end, and that means it is now time for film sites all over the web to begin posting their various retrospectives and lists recalling the decade that was. I generally as a rule dislike such lists because they are always so subjective. Then I said screw it and took it upon myself to do one of my own naming the ten worst horror movies of the past decade. Besides, people love bitching on the Internet about lists like this, and who am I to deny readers yet another excuse to get into pointless flame wars over personal opinions.
Of course, this list is just my personal opinion which is not legally binding … unless Proposition 304 passes. And we all pray that it will.
I set two rules when putting this list together: Only horror movies that received fairly wide theatrical releases in the United States were eligible, and no direct-to-DVD or made-for-cable films were allowed. Otherwise, I would have had a list full of cheap garbage from Thailand or it would have consisted of six Ulli Lommel serial killer flicks, two Sci-Fi Channel turds, and some no-budget pieces of crap Lionsgate and The Asylum dumped onto DVD. I chose to focus my attention on the more deserving big screen bombs, the horrors that only horrified in the sense that major Hollywood studios spent millions making and marketing them. I spent weeks looking back upon the Hollywood horrors released to multiplexes from 2000-2009, often reevaluating my own opinions on many a film until I finally narrowed the list down to what I felt were the ten most deserving of the distinction of being labeled the worst horror movies of the past ten years.
THE TEN WORST HORROR MOVIES OF THE DECADE
You can go NUMBER 10 directly on the NEXT Page
Before diving headfirst into the worst list, it is time to unveil the HONORABLE MENTIONS. You might be wondering what constitutes an honorable mention when listing the worst horror movies? These are the fright flicks that definitely deserved to be ranked amongst the decade’s worst but I just could not bring myself to put them on the list because their undeniable badness proved a laugh riot. The following four honorable mentions are granted a stay of execution for being so bad they’re funny.
THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD
A motion picture that will live in infamy. The movie that effectively introduced the movie-watching world to a mad German named Uwe Boll and we’ve never been the same since. Trash talking before the release about how his film was going to kick Resident Evil‘s ass – way to set the bar high there, Uwe; trash talking Internet fanboys after the release for decrying his magnum opus as an incompetent and incoherent debacle that has only the faintest ties to the plotless video game on which it is based. At least it’s lively, something that cannot be said of a few other Boll-infused snoozers. This deliriously insane mess verges so sharply into Edward D. Wood, Jr., territory on so many occasions House of the Dead may very well be Plan 9 from Outer Space for the 21st Century. Boll tried putting out a “funny version” of this film that wasn’t even 1/100th as intentionally funny as his crowning achievement was unintentionally so.
I KNOW WHO KILLED ME
Four words: non-religious identical twin stigmata. A high concept movie in the sense that everyone involved with the making of it had to have been high. In Lindsay Lohan’s case, that’s a given. What’s everyone else’s excuse? This level of jaw-dropping WTF-ness requires serious effort. You simply cannot make a movie that achieves the levels of badness that this surreal schlock does without having started out with loftier goals and without question I Know Who Killed Me was clearly a Herculean effort on the part of its makers. A perfect storm of cinema gone wrong: a tabloid fodder actress trying to change her on-screen image even though it’s her off-screen image that needs changing and an off-the-charts preposterous screenplay that not even a director created by Dr. Frankenstein from the parts of Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Lamberto Bava, Tod Browning, and Brian De Palma could make into a workable film. Simply has to be seen to be believed!
Mark Wahlberg giving the best performance in the history of cinema by an actor behaving like a man suffering from a concussion not actually playing a character suffering from a concussion; Zooey Deschanel doing the most uncanny impression of a perpetually startled lemur you will ever see; philosophical arguments in defense of the hot dog; people trying to outrun and even outsmart the wind. A loopy ecological thriller about pissed-off plants that cause people to commit suicide in the most preposterous manner possible; to think when the decade began M. Night Shyamalan was being compared to the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg.
THE WICKER MAN
If you need me to tell you why then you either haven’t seen the remake of The Wicker Man or you haven’t watched this highlight video.
This leads us to a very special DISHONORABLE MENTION. This one did not quite make the final cut but it remains worthy of special consideration. If for any reason any of the following ten worst horror movies of the decade are unable to fulfill their obligations as one of the ten worst horror movies of the past ten years, this first runner-up will be asked to step in and complete the list.
Vampires. Cyberpunk. Anime aesthetics. Kung fu. Gun fu. Flaming sword fights. Milla Jovovich in spandex. What’s not to love? EVERYTHING! What was meant to be a visual tour-de-force ended up being an unwatchable mess made all the more intolerable by its insufferably smug look-how-cool-I-am attitude. Of all the movies listed here that I saw in a theater, Kurt Wimmer’s masturbatory case study in putting style over all the stuff that makes a movie watchable was the only one that led to the most walkouts – over two thirds of the audience were long gone before the closing credits rolled. So why isn’t Ultraviolet one of the top ten instead of a runner-up? Ultimately, that characters are these mutant vampires called “hemophages” was more an excuse to explain why everyone fights with superhuman abilities than it adds a horrorific vibe to this Skittles-colored world of tomorrow. Therefore, a dishonorable mention is in the cards. Rest assured, though, Ultraviolet is one of the worst films of the past decade of any genre.
This brings us to the reason you are reading this in the first place. In compiling my list I chose not to bother with a numerical countdown. Personally, I see no point in trying to put these dreadful little films in some sort of numbered list except when it comes to my choice for the single worst horror movie of the decade. Nine horrible horrors presented in no particular order leading to the one cinematic abomination that stands above and beyond all others in terms of epic fail. Without further ado…
THE TEN WORST HORROR MOVIES OF THE DECADE
The list starts on the NEXT Page
A screenplay so indecipherable Dan Brown could pen a new novel about the world’s greatest screenwriter setting off on a mystery quest to piece together the clues trying to make sense of it all. A film so confounding Uwe Boll had to add an opening text crawl longer than the closing credits of some movies explaining what the hell was going and this text still marked the first, last, and only time Alone in the Dark bordered on coherent. So illogical a film even Dragon Wars could make fun of how nonsensical it was – that’s saying something.
Christian Slater’s character kept telling us in dialogue and voiceover that he was searching for answers. Anyone that watches Uwe Boll’s second shot at botching a video game movie will sympathize because they too will be looking for answers that will never come. Where as House of the Dead had an Ed Wood vibe in its favor, Alone in the Dark was more like the worst movie Bruno Mattei never made. You would expect even a truly bad movie boasting monsters from another dimension, zombies, centipede-like parasites, sand worms, paranormal commando units, Christian Slater doing Matrix-style kung fu, and Stephen Dorf getting blown to kingdom come would still find a way to be entertaining to some degree, but Dr. Boll manages to bore even as he piles convolution on top of convolution on top of convolution and not even Tara Reid comically miscast as an allegedly brilliant anthropologist who cannot even correctly pronounce “New Foundland” could salvage it.
A harmonic convergence of everything wrong with the horror remake mentality that swept Hollywood the past decade; everything creepy and moody and atmospheric that made the original work was scuttled in favor of a PG-13 rating, lame digital ghosts that primarily kill by throwing victims through windows, the addition of an unrequited love story between a female cast member and one of the ghosts, and a cast comprised almost entirely of good-looking uncharismatic actors under the age of 30 that talk like uncharismatic actors over the age of 40. Where was this youth-dominated island anyway – off the coast of Logan’s Run?
All you can do is watch and shake your head in disgust. Is there anyone that watches John Carpenter’s original and says to themself, “If only this movie had a wisecracking black guy?” Has anyone ever watched John Carpenter’s original and thought, “Forget the ghost pirates; I want to watch a woman fall in the water and fight for her life to break free from the seaweed that entangles her?” Do you think if Debra Hill had lived to see this remake she would have leaned over to Carpenter and told him how that ghost hand coming out of the sink was so much cooler than anything he did in his version? Sadly, the producers of this remake seemed to think so.
Hey, horror comedies need love too. Or in this case, hate, scorn, ridicule, and disdain. I suppose I could have just as easily flipped a coin and put Scary Movie 3 here. Scary Movie 2 gets the nod because I can attest to having seen it in a packed dollar theater that sat in stone cold silence for 80-minutes and for the sad fact that this sequel pretty much marked the moment the Wayans Brothers finally stopped giving a damn.
Scary Movie 2 was such a last-minute rush job to get a sequel into theaters to make a quick summer movie buck that you could forgive the Wayans somewhat if not for the fact that they’ve spent the decade since punishing audiences with White Chicks, Little Man, and other alleged comedies that have even prompted TheOnion.com to do a spoof story asking if America is prepared for another Wayans Brothers movie.
The art of the spoof movie officially died with Scary Movie 2 and its special brand of lazy movie spoofings and piss, puke, and poo jokes that would soon give rise to Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the duo that spent the second half of the decade gifting mankind with Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, and Disaster Movie.
What’s more frightening for a teenage babysitter who might as well have been alone in the house she pays so little attention to the kid she’s babysitting? Being terrorized by a maniac in the house crank calling her or a Foley artist out of control? The Foley artist had to have been the true maniac of the remake of When a Stranger Calls given a cat jumps out to the sound of three-ton pieces of steel clanging together, a refrigerator ice-maker rumbles likes an earthquake, the simple sound of birds fluttering blare at unnaturally loud octaves, and so on. The booms generated by even the most mundane things are so loud and so frequent you halfway expect the Jurassic Park T-Rex to walk into the scene. Reacting to all this alone on the screen for 85% of the film is Camille Belle with her vacant stare and child-like simplicity that might lead you to suspect that she’s the one really in need of a babysitter.
The cliche-o-rama script trots out the cat-jumping-out scare twice, adds a thunderstorm raging outside, includes the old car that won’t start routine, and still finds room to toss in a completely pointless dream sequence for good measure. Pretty pathetic that the opening five minutes of Scream made for a better remake of When a Stranger Calls than the actual 90-minute remake.
It takes a certain degree of filmmaking genius to make a movie based on a video game that only has one single plot point – a space station on Mars opens a portal to hell unleashing monstrous hellbeasts – and then completely changes that one and only plot point – a Martian chromosome that turns naughty people into monsters and good-hearted people into Wolverine. Even more amazing when you consider the film version of the grand daddy of all first-person shooter video games languished in development hell for so many years that by the time it finally made its way to the big screen it was long past being relevant. Doom cost $70 million dollars to make but looks more like an expensive Sci-Fi Channel original movie, and it plays like one too.
Doom should have been a relentless, non-stop, heart-pounding action horrorfest about a lone soldier battling demons within the cramped confines of a Martian space station. Instead all we got was boring Aliens rip-off #769 with monsters that pale in comparison to their game counterparts and a script sprinkled with theological conceits that might have been interesting in the hands of a less brain dead movie, and, no, the fact that it was R-rated does not salvage it. The only person frightened by Doom was The Rock; he got so scared off appearing in R-rated action movies after this epic fail he ran screaming to Disney begging to put on pink tutus in family comedies. It takes a certain degree of filmmaking genius to make a movie based on a first-person shooter video game and end that film with a fist fight.
Christmas, 2006: Religious groups are up in arms that Hollywood would dare open a slasher movie on Christmas day. They weren’t nearly as offended as most horror movie fans were after viewing the rancid remake of Black Christmas. Forget a lump of coal, Santa just took a big ol’ dump in our stockings**. As appealing as watching the “Two Girls, One Cup” episode of “Iron Chef”, Black Christmas is the only film on this list that truly came across as a motion picture made with a sense of absolute contempt for its viewers. As ugly as it was insulting to your intelligence, and yet I know there are gore-hounds out there that will defend this as a solid slasher flick. To you I say that tells me I could dangle my car keys in front of your face for an hour-and-a-half and you would be just as easily entertained so long as I was dripping in blood while doing so.
Movies like Black Christmas are the reason why the horror genre gets a bad rap, why many non-genre directors will go out of their way to keep their movies from being labeled as horror, why horror movie fans get labeled as being nothing but a bunch of bloodthirsty malcontents, and why slasher films are generally perceived as being one step up from pornography in terms of social value. The 1974 original practically gave birth to the slasher movie. The 2006 remake kind of makes you wish the original had never been made because of it.
** If Paul WS Anderson had written that line it would have been “Fuck with Santa and we’ll see who shits in the stocking.”
If Black Christmas represents the sort of slasher movie that gives slasher movies a bad name then Premonition represents the kind of supernatural thriller that gives supernatural thrillers a bad name. Sandra Bullock finds herself stuck in a boring, confusing, frustrating, and monumentally stupid Groundhog Day-style supernatural thriller tailored for the Lifetime Network crowd about a fishwife awakening each morning to find it is a different day of the week before or after the Wednesday on which her husband is killed in a car crash. Is she having premonitions? Is she going insane? Is she time traveling? Is it all because she’s spiritually empty inside and possibly demonic forces are toying with her? Is it that she’s lost her faith in everything and is receiving a second chance at spiritual redemption by being given this opportunity to save her husband and their troubled marriage? Or is it all just a lethargically directed slice of pseudo-spiritual claptrap suffering from major delusions of being a mind-bending “Twilight Zone”-ish thriller that only succeeds in aggravating viewers with its irrationality before leaving the audience feeling cheated.
I could spend a week of dissecting everything wrong about a movie like this that works so hard at being twisty it even outsmarts itself periodically, and I nearly did in my spoiler-filled review of Premonition here. Go back and give my review a read if you truly want to know why Premonition earned its spot on this list.
The sequel that fucked more fans than Gene Simmons and Wilt Chamberlain combined. We finally got our R-rated Aliens vs. Predator flick yet all the action was either filmed too dark, too tight, or edited too rapidly to actually comprehend what the hell was going on. All I could discern from the final battle between the Predator and the Predalien hybrid was a whole bunch of dreadlocks whipping around while fists flew; could have just as easily been two really ugly Rastafarian chicks having a catfight in the rain for all I knew. Requiem was a perfect subtitle for this sequel; Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem was just that: a requiem for two once great franchises reduced to the level of a glorified Sci-Fi Channel production.
On Earth everyone can hear you scream, “Am I really watching teenagers getting chased through their high school by an Alien?” You can’t even blame all the problems on the studio gutting the film before its release because the gaping gaps in logic are still there. If that Predator is trying to remove all evidence of the Aliens then why is it the moment he’s spotted by a human he not only kills the guy, he leaves his skinned body hanging upside down from a tree for everyone to find? Maybe the Predator just realized nobody would notice since this was clearly the least observant town on the planet: a spaceship crashes in the woods and nobody sees or hears a thing, that spaceship is blown up in a mini-nuclear explosion and nobody saw or heard that either. You want to know the real reason why AVP-R is on this list? Because it actually made us reevaluate whether we had been too hard on Paul WS Anderson.
You have no idea how badly I wanted to put Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake on this list. You cannot believe how much I wanted to. But I couldn’t. At least there are people out there that will defend Zombie’s remake. It never ceases to amaze me when I read or hear someone do so, but there they are, these fans that insist Zombie not only made a good movie, they’ll even argue he bested the original. My mind is blown every single time I come across these people, some of whom are even friends of mine that I know are not just mindless gore-hounds or hardcore Rob Zombie fans. But do you know anyone that actually likes Halloween: Resurrection? I sure as hell don’t. I’ve never met anyone that gives the film a pass.
More importantly, Halloween: Resurrection was the sequel that successfully did what druid cults failed to do two times over: kill the Halloween franchise so dead that producers decided there was no recourse but to start over with a straight-up remake of a horror masterpiece. Bitch and moan about Rob Zombie’s remake all you want – and I want to; without Michael Myers getting un-decapitated and then murdering Jamie Lee Curtis’ iconic character in the most unceremonious manner possible before setting off to terrorize reality internet show contestants and getting his ass handed to him by Busta Rhymes, chances are slim Rob Zombie would have been given the opportunity to skull-fuck a classic. Sure, we might have gotten more lame stabs at milking the dehydrated cow that is this franchise, like perhaps maybe Halloween vs. Hellraiser or Halloween 8: Trek or Treat with Michael Myers in space terrorizing a starship, and while they may have sucked too, odds are outright remaking John Carpenter’s classic would never have been in the cards. Who am I kidding? Platinum Dunes would have gotten their mitts on the franchise sooner or later for a reboot.
Nine down, one to go.
But before I reveal my overall choice for the decade’s biggest debacle, for every good or great horror movie that came along there were at least three that helped stink up the silver screen. Any number of which could have found their way on the ten worst list. Let’s take a moment to reflect upon some of the scary stinkers that stunk up theaters over the course of the past ten years.
Ah, the memories… So many bad memories.
And now it is time for my pick for the single worst horror movie of the past decade. I am sure it will be a controversial choice for some. I am sure there will be many that nod their head in total agreement. I thought about this list long and hard but I did not have to think too hard about this choice. Who really went into The Fog remake or Halloween: Resurrection anticipating a good movie? How could anyone you really have high expectations for Doom or When a Stranger Calls? Who actually went into any of the previous nine selections with lofty expectations (save for AVP-R, you poor misguided fanboys)? The more I thought about it the motion picture I selected for the worst horror movie of the past decade came with high expectations. It came with a mega-budget. It came with mega-hype. Its failure to deliver cannot be blamed on studio interference or lack of budget or any other excuse the previous nine choices could argue for why they turned out so bad.
My choice for the single worst horror movie of the first decade of the 21st century is…
I know Van Helsing has its defenders – denial runs deeps. Van Helsing should have been a runaway blockbuster, a guaranteed franchise, a home run for horror and non-horror fans alike. We should all be collecting Van Helsing action figures, model kits, novels, comic books, you name it. By now we should be anxiously anticipating the release of Van Helsing 3. Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing from Bram Stoker’s Dracula reinvented as a swashbuckling Indiana Jones/Solomon Kane/Blade/James Bond Victorian Era globetrotting adventurer hunting down creatures based on the classic Universal Monsters; a $160 million wet dream guaranteed to excite the inner child of every monster movie fan reduced to a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing. That idiot: Stephen Sommers. As soulless a summer blockbuster as you’ll ever see, Sommers killed the franchise right out of the gate, did nothing to boost interest or sales in the old Universal monster movies (one of the main reasons Universal backed the film), and the plan to keep the film sets and recycle them for a proposed NBC spin-off television series to be called “Transylvania”, NBC put a stake through the heart of that idea two weeks after the stench of Van Helsing began permeating theaters. One of the best premises for a blockbuster movie of the past ten years squandered unforgivably in a wretched bomb that beats you down with one empty exercise in excessive CGI after another failing at every turn to give you one single reason why should care about anything going on before your eyes let alone generate any thrills or chills, all the while stripping iconic characters of everything and anything that made them so, often refusing to play by its own rules in a plot that never rises above the level of third-rate Saturday morning cartoon gibberish. Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons wrote in his review what may have been the most astute line summarizing what went wrong with Van Helsing: “Sommers is like a kid who’s just discovered masturbation, he just cannot control himself and has to keep doing things bigger, wilder and ultimately dumber – long past the point of reason or madness.” If you ever want to truly understand just how miserably Van Helsing failed just watch a Hellboy movie.
Still not convinced? Then here are ten more reasons why Van Helsing is the worst horror movie of the past ten years.
Van Helsing’s first name is now Gabriel instead of Abraham. Sure, Abraham was a good enough name for one of our greatest Presidents and the patriarch of the Jews and Arabs, but to Sommers it was all about what sounded cool to him and Abraham just didn’t have a good enough ring to it despite being the name of the character from Bram Stoker’s novel that he based the whole god damn movie around. It’s cool though because Gabriel Van Helsing turns out to be the earthly amnesiac incarnation of the angel Gabriel. Say what?
Dracula’s offspring are born dead – not undead, actually dead. Dracula keeps his born yet unborn offspring stuffed in wasp sacks hanging around his castle until he can find the correct electrical wattage needed to bring them to life. Or would that be to make them undead? The wrong wattage either fails to reanimate them or reanimates them for only a short period of time after which they begin bursting into piles of goo like the Martians’ heads at end of Mars Attacks. Dracula commissioned the construction of Frankenstein’s Monster because the energy used to bring him to life is the perfect voltage for giving his gazillion kids life – or would that be undeath? If Dracula ever gets his hands on Frankenstein’s Monster he’s going to use the power supply contained in Frank’s Ultraman “Color Timer” of a mechanical heart to revive all of his babies that look like winged frogs with an uncanny resemblance to Dingbat from the old “Batman” cartoon series and unleash them upon mankind. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the basis for the film’s very plot.
Comprehend for a moment that Richard Roxburgh was doing all this appallingly bad overacting as the worst Dracula in recent screen memory while Stephen Sommers sat in the director’s chair nodding his head in approval. Sommers’ version of Count Dracula really is like a lame version of a vampire villain from the 1960’s Batman live-action series, while the Brides of Dracula all played by supermodels that do more silly posing than the “Power Rangers”. Multiple brides and a million kids … I never realized Dracula was Mormon.
Frankenstein’s Monster suffers from some serious mood swings depending on Stephen Sommers own mood that particular scene. “I just want to live!” “You must destroy me!” “I want to live!” “Destroy me!” “Live!” Can we get Frank some Zoloft?
The full moon causes one to transform into a werewolf yet the first werewolf seen in the movie attacks in broad daylight. If clouds cover the moon then the werewolf will turn back into a human only to turn back into a werewolf as soon as the full moon is exposed again. Using Stephen Sommers laws of lycanthropy it must really suck to be a werewolf because unless it’s a 100% clear sky you’re going to be constantly changing back and forth at a moment’s notice. On the bright side, according to Stephen Sommers version of the lunar cycle, there’s a full moon every 48 hours.
Vampires can run around in broad daylight as long as there are clouds blocking the sun. The moment the clouds move allowing the sunlight to break-thru the vampires must flee back to their castle in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, these vampires seem to be able to do about Mach 3 when flying away to escape the light of day.
A point is made to tell us that werewolves are not fast enough to catch Transylvanian horses. Mere moments later, werewolves are shown successfully outrunning Transylvanian horses.
Everyone swings from a rope at some point in this movie. Even Frankenstein’s monster comes swinging in at one point. Tarzan flicks have less rope swinging than Van Helsing. You get the sense that if Stephen Sommers ever made a movie based on Dragon’s Lair it would be two-and-a-half hours of Dirk the Daring swinging across those flaming ropes.
Stake through the heart, decapitation, sunlight, holy water, fire, and all those other ways we’ve been told for ages were how you kill Dracula are all crap. According to Stephen Sommers, the one and only way to kill Dracula is the bite of a werewolf. Why exactly is never explained, but then we’re also never given a really good explanation as to why Dracula spends so much time cavorting around with the very creatures that can kill him with a single bite. Apparently he isn’t afraid of one of his werewolf minions turning on him and biting him because he’s developed a werewolf anti-venom. He keeps that lycan antidote in a syringe stashed inside of a glass orb filled with acid up in a far off hard to reach tower of his castle – you know, for convenience. Van Helsing then quite conveniently gets transformed into a werewolf bigger than Sasquatch for the climactic CGI sumo wrestling contest with “Beast Wars” Dracula. At no time during this struggle does Drac ever attempt to fly at Mach 3 up to the tower to get his life-saving serum nor does he bother ordering one of his Oompah Loompahs dressed like Jawas on their way to a Quiet Riot concert to go fetch it for him.
And finally, after having spent the past two hours watching Kate Beckinsale barely escape encounters with werewolves and vampires, narrowly survive all manner of leaps and falls and multi-story rope swinging, what finally leads to the death of her character? Beckinsale is killed when werewolf Van Helsing in an uncontrollable frenzy tackles her onto a psychiatrist’s couch. I do believe this marks the first time in cinematic history that getting sacked on a sofa killed a major character in a motion picture. Let me repeat this one last time just to put the exclamation point on why Van Helsing is the worst horror movie of the past decade:
KATE BECKINSALE DIES BECAUSE A WEREWOLF TACKLED HER ONTO A CUSHIONED LOVESEAT!
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