If you’re a fan of horror films, then Halloween is a wonderful time. Television channels are overflowing with ghouls and gore, some of them for 24 hours a day. Therein lies the problem, however. For every classic horror movie that airs, there are about 100 awful films that go along with them. I’m not even talking “so bad they’re good” awful; I’m talking about just regular awful. So, I’m here to help, by providing you with a list of films to avoid this Halloween season. If you’re flipping through the channel and land on any of these, just keep going, or hit yourself in the head with a pumpkin until you get knocked unconscious, because it’d be a better use of your time.
1. Jason Goes to Hell
Let it be known, I absolutely love the Friday the 13th series. It’s a complete tragedy however, that both attempts to end it were so awful. It’s especially because they did a great job ending the series in Part 4, and then very successfully revived the series in Part 6, my personal favorite horror movie.
Jason Goes to Hell was supposed to be the definitive end to the series, after the less than wonderful Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan. Apparently New Line wanted to be sure the franchise ended for good this time, because they put together a film so terrible, no one would want to touch the franchise again for a good long while. What’s so wrong with Jason Goes to Hell? Well for starters, Jason is only in it for about 10 minutes, making appearances in the beginning and end of the film. The rest of the film, only his “spirit” is seen, as it possesses people and makes them commit the kind of terrible violence Jason is so used to causing.
So, the appealing aspect of Friday the 13th films, a masked psycho killer butchering annoying, one dimensional characters, is completely lost. That leaves up with just boring, one dimensional characters, including a dreadful bounty hunter who knows far too much about the kind of mysticism this film throws our way. The film ends with Jason, in larvae form, crawling inside the uterus of his dead half sister. He is then resurrected full size, including clothes, mask and machete. I’ll let you read those two last sentences again.
Jason Goes to Hell manages to out-awful every other bad Friday the 13th by leaps and bounds. The films only redeeming quality is the last 30 seconds, which does an absolutely fantastic job of setting up a film that took a decade to actually be released.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
I’m less of a fan of Freddy, but I can appreciate what he evolved into and see why so many people love him. This film however, is that awkward time in Freddy’s life where he couldn’t quite decide what he wanted to be: The terrifying nightmare demon from the first film, or the wise cracking antihero from his later films. The results of this indecision are particularly dreadful, as I covered extensively in “Freddy Kreuger, Please Swear Better”
Poor choice of language aside, there’s still very few redeeming qualities about this film. The story is dreadful, centering on a teenager who moves into the original house on Elm Street, and somehow winds up getting possessed by Freddy, who for some reason now wants to enter the real world. They spent the climax of the first film trying to get Freddy into the real world so he could be killed, and for some reason, now he’s clamoring to return.
It’s a directionless mess that really doesn’t fit in at all to the rest of the series’ already strained canon. Here’s a tip, if the horror movie you’re watching involves a plot where a famous monster is possessing people, skip it. It’s a sure sign you’re watching cinematic garbage. The movie is now more famous for it’s homoerotic subtext and the idea that Freddy was the manifestation of the main character’s desire for some hot man action.
3. Any Saw film after Saw 2
Every time Halloween rolls around, I regularly smile at the thought that we won’t be suffering through another awful Saw film. Now, I am a huge supporter of the first Saw film. I love it so much that I actually endorse the second film, and that’s a movie that prominently features a New Kid on the Block in it. Saw was a brilliant concept, but no one expected it to be as successful as it was, and so a coherent story that could run through several films was never created. Instead we got an endless stream of different directors slapping together some connecting elements and recurring characters each year.
Many of the elements that made Saw great were lost in the shuffle and the rush to outdo the traps of the last film. The focus became on blood and gore, with the storyline serving only as a way to frame the increasingly ridiculous situations characters we placed in. The moral lesson of the first film was lost completely and characters found themselves in terrible situations for really hazy reasons.
The Saw franchise was such a disappointment because it had so much potential. I wish they had started to give the films a longer development cycle than just one year, so the films might have had some chance to retain a coherent and not completely convoluted narrative. Instead, we got a series that declined in quality with each release, and made film studios leery to release any new horror films against them.
4. The Wicker Man, Nic Cage edition
Yes, I’m sure this comes as a shock to all of you, but I don’t like a Nicolas Cage movie. Well, that’s not entirely true, I love this movie, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s not “so bad, it’s good” it’s “So bad, you have to laugh.” The best parts of the film easily found on youtube, which is the only way I will advise anyone to actually watch the movie. Nicolas Cage punching a woman whilst wearing a bear suit does not make up for the crap you have to sit through to get to the scene.
Gone is the original’s religious subtext, instead replaced with a misogynistic undertone that would be disturbing if it had been executed well. It’s still sad to see, but Nicolas Cage roundhouse kicking Leelee Sobieski is just too hilarious not to laugh at. Once again though, I must remind you, there’s a lot of shit to trudge through before you get to these gems.
Nicolas Cage meandering around a island, becoming increasingly confused as he does, is not a good premise to build a movie around. The ending, where Cage has he kneecaps broken, then is hung upside down to burn inside a giant wicker statue, sounds only slightly more torturous than actually watching the film. Watch the best bits on youtube, or just imagine the whole movie was actually like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_mW8mBzmHo
5. Hellbound: Hellraiser 2
Ugh. How can I put into words my disdain for this movie? It is the worst horror movie I’ve ever seen, by far. I’m not a fan of the Hellraiser franchise, despite how great a movie monster Pinhead is. It is an absolute shame that something that looks so cool is associated with something so awful. The franchise features the Cenobites, inter-demensional S&M demons who venture to Earth via a puzzlebox in order to tear humans’ flesh from their bones.
It’s a muddled concept in the first film and it’s only worse in the second. The cenobites are summoned by an autistic girl, on the orders of a corrupt doctor who’s become obsessed with them. The film also has continuous flashbacks to the original film, which don’t actually serve to help make sense of anything.
Spoiler alert, Pinhead dies. Yes, the face of the franchise is killed off towards the end of the film, alongside many of his cenobite cohorts, by the evil doctor who had become filled with their power. It’s a senseless mess that only starts getting clearer in the third film in the franchise, where Pinhead is revived but his personalities have split and blah blah blah. Hellraiser, in my humble opinion, is a horribly overrated franchise that never got close to the vision Clive Barker originally had for it. Avoid Hellraiser 2 at all costs, having your flesh tore from your bones may actually be a more pleasurable experience.