This holiday season, it seems pertinent to assign a rough hierarchy to some of the shittiest/best horror films in the past few decades. And I don’t mean films I don’t like; I mean films that fall between the glorious realms of “I think I love it” or “I refuse to ever think about it again.”
Chupacabra Terror (2005)
I put off watching this one for some reason, but it truly gained my admiration and respect, as a West-Indies Chupacabra specimen is smuggled onto a cruise ship to disastrous results. The interplay of blood, dead vacationers, Navy SEALs and Gimli, son of Gloim (otherwise know as Sallah from Raiders of the Lost Ark) make for an action-packed and strangely likable 3 a.m. public access theater film.
Level: Vacation mayhem, a reason to like the Caribbean
Entire Saw series (2004-every year)
This original film had at least the jolt of Cary Elwes sawing off his own foot, but when this shabby morality play is compared to its immediate and obvious sin-focused predecessor, Seven, it pales in Hostel-style, year 2000 MTV shock-shot comparison. Now if multiplied by a yearly release and several 3D versions of something I don’t want to see in 2D, you get closer to the high water mark in Katrina levels of cinematic annoyance.
Level: Irritating to watch and think about
Wicker Man (2006)
Remade for shitty American audiences with Nicolas Cage at this Titanic’s helm, this version sought to supplant the typically well-received 1973 British original. If you can suspend your belief long enough to accept that Cage is 1) a cop with any level of socially assigned authority, and 2) has been duped by bees, a matriarchal pagan island settlement and a giant, murderous version of a brain-dead hippie’s favorite festival, then this is for you.
Level: Laughably un-scary, featuring several gratuitous intersex face punches
Child’s Play series (1988-2004)
A series based on standard normals’ fear of midgets or primordial dwarfism, this is a genius plot of a murderer whose soul is stuck in a doll. Avoiding any Christian or Voodoo undertones, this series goes straight for the jugular, producing several amazing scenes of doll-on-human violence and Schwarzenegger-worthy one liners, concluding with the uncomfortably titled Seed of Chucky. It seems as though many of these films have simple solutions to many life-ending problems in that Chucky was a fucking doll.
Level: Toys are not scary, faulty initial premise.
Leprechaun series (1993-2003)
Although this features the amazing work of Willow and Wicket the Ewok, it remains a laughable mix of midget jokes and randos being murdered. It’s not until the fifth and sixth incarnations (In the Hood, Back 2 Tha Hood) that we get any tangible social commentary on the state of inner-city minority youth in our country today. Unfortunately, the series concluded there, and we were left without any true closure in the socioeconomic study of race disparity.
Level: Excellent in addressing the very fiber of what it means to be American.