10 Most Half-Ass Movie Monsters
Of all the not-hard-to-make movies out there, horror is number two on the list right under pornography...and if you're working for Roger Corman, those might not even be separate categories. You don't have to spend millions to be scary. One of the most frightening scenes in Nightmare on Elm Street required little more than a buck's worth of spandex stretched over a hole in the wall. That said, you have got to think things through or you'll end up as ridiculous as...
10. Attack of the Killer Refrigerator: Inanimate objects becoming vengefully sentient can be a great premise. Look at Rubber, for example. But when you make a movie for $25 about a "refridgerator" pissed off because you hit it with a hammer, you can't expect cinema gold. Strangely enough, this premise got expanded to a full feature-length movie called The Refrigerator in 1990. Some people are embarrassed about stupid things they did in the '80s, but not director Michael Savino. He's a double-or-nothing kind of guy.
9. The Phantom of the Opera: Joel Schumacher's film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is actually petty damned good. It introduced us to Emmy Rossum, the arrangements are awesome and Gerard Butler eats every inch of the classic villainous role.... Right up until the big reveal of what's behind the mask. This is an iconic moment in all Phantom mediums, and in the musical the makeup they use is truly hideous and terrifying. For some reason Schumacher decided to go with "Mild Allergic Reaction" instead. Incredibly, this look, which I achieve effortlessly every morning by sleeping facedown on a wrinkled pillowcase, took four hours to create in makeup.
8. The Lift: Elevators are scary, even when monitor manufacturers aren't actively screwing with you to make you believe the bottom just fell out of the damned thing. The Lift (1983) involves an elevator killing people after coming to life. (By lightning? Of course by lightning. Lightning is where babies come from, right?) There's not even a half-assed abuse story like the fridge above, it just likes tricking blind people into empty shafts and eating heads.
7. The Darkest Hour: In The Darkest Hour, invisible aliens land on Earth, drain all the electricity and walk around killing people who can't see them. Invisible antagonists is as old as H.G. Wells, and Forbidden Planet is a classic science fiction film with a similar approach that remains excellent to this day. So, the premise itself isn't bad; what makes the movie ridiculous is the invisible deaths seen in the trailer above. Director Chris Gorak may have been going for inexplicable atomization, but what he accomplished was 16-bit video game enemy explosion.
6. The Stuff: How many of you have people on your Facebook who constantly rant about GMOs in your food? If so, get them to watch The Stuff, which they will probably do one-handed while breathing heavily. The movie is about a mysterious substance that seeps through the ground, which idiots promptly begin to eat because it's America and if you can't eat it, shoot it or have sex with it, then it might as well not exist. The Stuff is marketed as a fat-free ice cream product, but turns out to be a brain-melting parasite.
Even the fact that the villain in this movie actually requires you to eat it to kill isn't the silliest thing. Born of Reagan's America, business moguls are completely fine with the brain-melting as long as the bottom line is secure and apparently the FDA, police, FBI and every other government regulatory agency feels no need to get involved.
5. Night of the Lepus: Let's make a rule, shall we? If you take a regular animal, make it 20 times larger and people still react with "awwwwwww" instead of "AHHHHHHHH!" then you need to rethink your horror film. Night of the Lepus did not follow this rule, and no matter how hard they tried to pull it off, you just cannot instill terror into the hearts of an audience with a giant Cuddles O'Hare regardless of how much fake blood you spray. When it comes to man versus rabbit, we are always going to assume that the man deserved it.
4. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats: There is absolutely nothing I can say about Death Bed that Patton Oswalt hasn't said better than I ever could. Still, even he didn't talk about just how little effort went into giving a fuck when they started trying to kill people using a freakin' bed. In my absolute favorite scene in the movie, our heroes, who already know the bed eats people, decided to fight back by leaving and coming back with a butcher knife. A butcher knife! I don't think I couldn't even kill a regular bed with a knife, let alone a possessed one. The result: A man's hands are dissolved to the bone, and he could not possibly care less.
3. Birdemic: Wow, they made really crap movies way back in the...2008? Really? James Nguyen was trying to make a sexy remake of The Birds, and all he really did was prove that A) No blond is pretty enough or half-naked enough to save the worst movie ever made, and B) Just because an asylum inmate can learn how to do CGI birds for your movie as part of their occupational therapy, it doesn't meant you should necessarily go with that. Did I mention the birds explode when they hit the ground? Because they totally do and it's the most believable thing about the film.
2. Terror of the Autons: Originally, I was going to talk about Doctor Who: The Ark in Space here, what with its monster made entirely of green bubble wrap, but then someone told me that the Master murdered someone with a damned plastic chair and I just couldn't let anything so ridiculous pass. The Autons are a fairly frightening race of plastic people who have made great appearances in DW over the decades, but sometimes that whole living synthetic things makes the writers go mad enough to pen scenes like this.
1. The Happening: This is what happens when someone has a Michael Savino idea but an M. Night Shyamalan budget. The Happening tried to catch the same unspeakable terror in Ray Bradbury's story The Wind, but failed miserably through an overdose of Mark Wahlberg talking to trees. Sure, it's all about a deadly neurotoxin that causes the afflicted to commit suicide, but in the end it is scenes of people running from a brisk breeze. I can only assume that Shyamalan had kidnapped the actors' families in order to get the proper emotion out of the incredible stupidity of the situation.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events