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Five Days of Halloween: Day Four – The Worst Horror Movies

Ol’ Hallows’ Eve comes but once a year – where masked murders and ghouls alike team and vie for the screams of the weak. No medium captures and evokes such emotions better than film and with a century-long legacy to salute (or slap in some cases) one night cannot contain what has become known, simply, as the scary movie. Welcome to Five Days of Halloween: Day Four – The Worst Horror Movies.

Did you miss Days 1, 2 or 3? You might want to check them out first:

Horror films are by far the most polarizing genre of film. I suppose an argument could be made for comedy as it is inherently subjective, but everyone likes laughing, whereas entire chunks of people will avoid horror like the plague. Now of course some of that avoidance stems from the fact that a number of folks out there simply dislike feeling frightened, but even for those who do head out to see fright flicks, you’ll always be able to find someone with the exact opposite view on that movie’s effectiveness. The things is, effectiveness in general is a rare thing to behold these days.

So let me use my movie geekiness to enlighten you on just how bad things have gotten. For my own nerd purposes, and for writing lists and features such as this, I have a list of all the movies I’ve seen broken into year. From 2000 to thus far this year, I’ve seen an average of 116 new movies. As is the case with these yearly lists, there is a bottom and top 10, and over that time 52 percent of the 10 worst movies I saw over that year have been horror movies. 

2005 was the worst perpetrator of any year with seven of the 10 worst landing within the horror genre: The Cave with Cole Hauser, the remake of The Fog, low budget Feast, Uwe Boll’s Alone in the Dark, Eli Roth’s Hostel and Australian torture flick Wolf Creek. I suppose a case could ne made for the latter two but therein lies the subjectivity of horror. 

 

Furthermore, a horror film has landed at the very bottom – the absolute worst movie I saw that year – 7 of 12 times from 2000 to 2012. So far this year, my least favorite movie as it stands is the so-called “horror movie” The Devil Inside, and I would be rather distraught if another fright flick replaced it. It’s utterly alarming, though, sadly, far from a heart-stopping shock. 

I touched at the root cause of this onslaught of crap in day one of this feature, with cheap scares, gore and poorly rounded characters replacing the passionately constructed elements of the classics – films that weren’t happy being complacent with existing as a horror film, nor adhering to those presumed standards. They were well made, thoughtfully constructed and brought fresh ideas to the burgeoning genre. 

 

Now when I say “the worst of the genre,” I’m not about to single out a single sub-set and write it off completely. I’ve been vocal about my overall dislike for torture porn, but there are a number of efforts that could be labeled as such that I thoroughly enjoy. No, this is an outcry for the worst tendencies of all sub-genres of the scary movie. 

For haunted house films it’s the door paradox – characters don’t simply leave when it’s readily apparent something spooky is going on. For general supernatural horror movies it’s showing the apparition too clearly by the climax and dumping any Jaws­-esque mystery too soon (ditto for creature features). For slashers, it’s idiotic characters that split up and investigate clearly dangerous sounds mixed with killers who are content on lurking in the shadows for half the movie, doing little until the final 20 minutes. For torture porn it’s abandoning subtlety and replacing it with crisply depicted gore. And finally, for horror comedies, it’s the tendency to take aim at every potential target, ultimately landing one or two hits in the end. And, of course, the cheap jump scare is a blight upon every single sub-genre. 

The problem is, and as it is for any genre, audiences (mostly) turn up at theaters for schlock regardless, so the Hollywood machine continues to churn it out. Issues have multiplied with the low cost of these films and the modern age of marketing, which along with tightly edited trailers highlighting any of the potent scares, have social media to drum up enthusiasm. On the other hand, for true fans of scary movies, great offerings are so infrequent that it’s nearly impossibly not to check out a new release out of curiosity. It’s the next offering for what is an already less widely popular set of movies. We should demand change, but even if the powers to be listen, what’s the chance they’ll get it right all of the time anyways?

 

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