By Chris Frazier
Halloween is almost upon us, and that means one thing and one thing only: bad scary movies. Never mind trick-or-treating, Mischief Night, haunted houses, and parties: the real bread and butter of All Hallow’s Eve is horror movies. Specifically, those guilty pleasure movies that are so bad they’re good. Yes, you could be unoriginal and watch Halloween or The Shining, but where’s the fun in that? There’s no ability to poke fun at nonsensical plots, bad acting, and poor set design when watching a good movie; no room to have your own private Mystery Science Theater. So, with that being said, here are several “so bad they’re good” horror movies you can enjoy this October 31.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space is… well, it’s something. That’s for sure. It is about alien clowns that have come to Earth to kill and harvest humans. For a movie with such a premise you’d expect it to be like Jaws and rarely feature the clowns and their alien tech. That expectation is wrong. These extraterrestrial circus entertainers are front and center and are surrounded by surprisingly good practical effects. It’s a joy to watch because it doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not without playing into that fact too much. For example, they use guns that entrap people in cotton candy and their UFO looks like a giant circus tent. If that doesn’t convince you to watch this fun ‘80s flick, then I don’t know what will.
Manos: The Hands of Fate is a real life example of putting your money where your mouth is. It is the result of a businessman betting that he could make a movie because he believed they were easy to make. The fruits of his labor prove that he was wrong. This movie, made infamous through Mystery Science Theater 3000, goes nowhere. The plot has no meaningful progression and doesn’t make a lick of sense. For example, for seemingly no reason it randomly keeps cutting to a couple making out a in car repeatedly getting caught by a cop. This movie is awful by every meaning of the word, but its awfulness provides good material to riff on if you want to watch it with some friends.
Jason X is essentially the Friday the 13th franchise’s attempt at making a slasher Star Trek movie. Jason in SPAAAAAAAAAACE! That sounds fun, right? Yes it does, and yes it is. This movie is by no means good, scary, tense, or thrilling. It plays out more like a parody than an actual entry in the franchise, and we’re all the better for it. During the 90-minute runtime you’ll get your fair share of not only slasher tropes, but sci-fi tropes as well. Mix that in with funny moments that may or may not be intentional, a ridiculously cliche and stupid plot, and everybody’s favorite hockey mask serial killer getting a cyborg upgrade, and you get a very enjoyable B movie.
Maximum Overdrive is a movie that was written and directed by cocaine, better known by its pen name Stephen King. What could go wrong when the King of Horror makes a movie about inanimate objects turned killers, with music by AC/DC? Well, apparently, a lot. King himself has said that he was so high on coke during the making of the movie that he had absolutely no idea what he was doing. The result of this is a film on the lower end of the spectrum for King movies, though nothing could be worse than the recent Dark Tower adaptation. That being said, the movie is still fun to watch, with some purposefully and unintentionally humorous moments, and a soundtrack that is not going to leave you wanting. It may not be The Shining, but it’s good fun.
Fun Size Horror is an outlier on this list for several reasons. First and foremost is that it was made in this decade and was distributed online. Secondly, it is an anthology of 21 “fun size” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) horror shorts. This one is definitely of less production quality than the other films on this list, barring Manos, but it makes up for it by not lingering too long on any one short. While you’re not going to like all 21, there’ll probably be one or two that you can enjoy. And, even if none of these shorts give you entertainment as films, they, like Manos, make perfect material for some good old riffing if you want to watch it with friends.