A Bloody Good Time 01.24.13: The Ten Worst Horror Films (From Good Directors)
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Welcome to A Bloody Good Time.
I was going to do this as a list of the worst horror movie directors currently, but then I realized that many of the movies that I hate came from directors that either don’t do much work at all or just did the one horror movie. So it’s kind of hard to come up with that list. The only one doing constant work in the genre really is Uwe Boll, and I have only seen half of his filmography (plus Rampage is actually a good movie).
So I had to come up with another idea quickly, and that idea became the worst movies by great (or at least good) horror movie directors. Just a list of ten bad horror films directed by people that may surprise you. Obviously Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take makes this list, but there are others.
As for which directors I picked, well I just looked at lists of the worst horror films, and only selected the the ones that 1) I agreed with and 2) were by directors who aren’t known for making bad films. They’re of course in order of best to worst, and by “best”, I mean, not as bad as the others.
#10: Bruiser (George Romero, 2000)
Some might say that Survival of the Dead should go here, but at least that had some zombies and laughably bad CGi gore. I’m not sure what Bruiser has going for it other than an interesting concept attached to an incredibly dull movie. That’s this movie’s biggest problem, it’s dull. I don’t really care what happens to Henry Creedlow because he’s a very boring individual. Yes, I know that’s part of the point. He’s supposed to be dull so that when he loses his face, it allows him to exact his revenge.
The problem is that he’s also dull during his big revenge plot which amounts to a whole lot of nothing. Romero could have done anything with this plot. In your imagination, you can probably think of all kinds of things you’d like to do if you had no face to be recognized. This film just plays it safe with its premise to deliver a generic revenge movie.
#9: Bug (William Friedkin, 2006)
I know there are some people who like this movie and will just tell me that I didn’t get it. If you liked it, fine, but this movie is ridiculous. This is one of those movies that I hated initially, then was told to give it a second chance, did, and hated it more. I will give the film credit for its acting. Michael Shannon is a great actor and shows signs of it here and Ashley Judd is very good. They play off of each other well and you can buy that these people are either insane or heading there.
They are good at times. Other times, they ham it up. Then there’s the fact that the film’s ending is completely dumb and the pace in general is quite slow. I think with some editing, maybe another pass at the script, this could have been something. Unfortunately I don’t think it ended up reaching any potential it may have had. It just kind of meanders from one crazy moment to the next with no real flow until the disappointing conclusion. I really would like to see the original play this is based off of, however. I personally don’t like this film, although I can kind of see why others would. But even the people who like it should probably admit that it’s very flawed.
#8: The Terror (Roger Corman, 1963)
Let’s be honest, Roger Corman is the king of schlock. No one’s ever going to list him among the great directors in the world. There’s a lot of his produced films that are awful, and there’s a lot of that are still bad, but fun. He does have some great B-movies in there too (like Galaxy of Terror). He makes something for every kind of horror fan in the genre. Just don’t go expecting anything big budget. I’m not going to slam a guy who has way more money and fans than I do, even if he seems to be in the movie-making business just to make money. Anyway, this is just a look at the films he directed, which are far fewer than the films he produced. The worst of these is The Terror.
Corman only directed portions of this film, which is otherwise directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Monte Hellman, Jack Hill and even Jack Nicholson. You can tell that it took five different directors to make this because it’s a mess. This film is a must-see simply as an oddity, but it’s still a completely dull sit that makes little sense. If you want to see it because it has Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson, don’t. Karloff isn’t really trying and Nicholson is indistinguishable from any other actor of the time. It’s a cinematic curiosity at best.
#7: The Messengers (The Pang Brothers, 2007)
I’m still not sure what the hell happened to the Pang Brothers. The Eye is one of my favorite horror films of all time. The Eye 2 is a decent, if flawed sequel. Then came The Eye 3, followed by this, their American debut. The Messengers is a movie that I was excited for when it was first announced. As I said, The Eye is a great horror film and I didn’t see The Eye 3 until after this. This was also, I should mention, before I knew to avoid anything with Kristen Stewart.
I still want to believe this could have been good. Maybe if Todd Farmer’s script had been kept as it was when he submitted it (it was originally intending to be psychological horror), it could have. Maybe it was just too much of a studio release to allow the Pangs to excel at their directing style. But it’s still an unoriginal, unentertaining waste of time. The ghosts aren’t scary, the acting is too unemotional to be good or bad (just watch Dylan McDermott sleepwalk through his lines) and you can’t even tell this is from the same people who brought the world The Eye.
#6: The Langoliers (Tom Holland, 1995)
For those unfamiliar with Tom Holland, he directed the original Fright Night and Child’s Play. He also directed this and Thinner. I was tempted to go with Thinner, but at least that had some decent special effects towards the end (the fat suit was obvious, the “thinner” make-up was top-notch) that help it win over the horrendous special effects in this movie. Yes I know it’s a TV movie, but I also know it was always meant to be one which is why they never should have attempted the CGi abominations that show up in the climax.
There is also Bronson Pinchot in a gloriously over-the-top performance. It’s fun to watch because of how bad it is, but frustrating to watch for the same reasons. At least Pinchot is trying, unlike the rest of the cast who are phoning it in (shame on you, Dean Stockwell). The story itself isn’t one of King’s best to begin with, and stretching it out into a mini-series length film (it was originally a novella) was a bad, bad idea.
#5: Crocodile (Tobe Hooper, 2000)
Tobe Hooper is a director that is the definition of career downfall. It’s well known he had a lot of issues during his peak (it’s rumored that Steven Spielberg was the one who actually directed Poltergeist), and that definitely shows when you see just how far and how fast he fell from the heights of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The Mangler, Night Terrors and this, Crocodile.
I consider Crocodile the worst because it seems like this is the point where Hooper completely gave up and didn’t care anymore. The Mangler was stupid, but it was based on a stupid story. This was a straight-to-video “killer animal” movie released in the wake of Anaconda and Lake Placid. It came out the same year as Python. It’s ahead of its time in the sense that Syfy hadn’t started making a glut of “giant whatever on the loose” movies in earnest yet. I’d actually rather watch Sharktopus over this.
#4: Day of the Dead (Steve Miner, 2008)
I’m not going to call Steve Miner a great director, because that would be silly. He is, however, a good director that has made several films that I enjoy. He made House, Warlock, Halloween H20 and two Friday the 13th movies, including Part 2 which seems to get better with multiple viewings (although Part 3 hasn’t aged as well in some ways). He’s had quite an impressive run of movies even if they’re not what you would call great. They’re still enjoyable and in some cases fun.
Day of the Dead is neither enjoyable or fun. It’s an absolutely awful remake with terrible zombies that can apparently climb on walls, nods to the original that end up making you groan rather than smile and Nick Cannon stinking up the joint in his role. Cannon just delivers awful one-liner after awful one-liner and it’s painful to watch. This is one of the worst remakes out there, and not many people know about it because it never went theatrical. That was probably for the best.
#3: The Ring Two (Hideo Nakata, 2006)
It made all the sense in the world to get Hideo Nakata to direct The Ring Two when Gore Verbinski decided not to. He directed Ring and Dark Water, so if anyone could make a Ring sequel, it’s him, right? This was after Takashi Shimizu directed a remake of The Grudge, so Hollywood thought that bringing in the original director for an American take could easily match that film’s success.
There are people who think that The Ring isn’t scary or good, and while they’re in the minority and I disagree, that’s fine. But Ring is usually regarded as one of the best Asian cinema has to offer in the genre. That’s probably why seeing Nakata neutered by the studio for this mess of a film is so disappointing. This movie tries so hard to explain Samara and how she works that it forgets to be scary or suspenseful. It somehow makes the character of Aidan even more annoying and even screws up the rules of how Samara works. It’s no wonder the series never continued. Well, that and the fact that VHS was on its way out.
#2: My Soul to Take (Wes Craven, 2010)
I’m not going to slam Wes Craven again, because he’s not all bad. This movie, however, is. It’s all the more disappointing considering he made Scream 4 a year later (and unlike some, I really liked Scream 4). I just talked about why this is bad last week, so it seems redundant to do so again. So instead I’ll talk a little more about the director.
Wes Craven deserves his place in horror history as a “master” of horror. He’s overrated, sure, and I think some of his so-called “classics” are terrible, but he still made A Nightmare on Elm Street. He still directed the Scream franchise. He has good ideas and great movies under his belt. He is, however, very inconsistent. The fact that he made this and Scream 4 a year apart (or Cursed and Red Eye in the same year) is proof of that. You just never know what you’re going to get from him. But nothing Wes Craven has ever made will be as bad as this. At least Vampire in Brooklyn tried to be something. This was aimless, pointless and worthless.
#1: The Ward (John Carpenter, 2011)
I still don’t think John Carpenter went off the rails. Sure, Ghosts of Mars wasn’t great and Escape From L.A is a poor imitation of its original at best, but there’s still something to enjoy in even his mediocre films. And he still made the Masters of Horror episode Cigarette Burns, which I think is one of the best in that show’s run. The Ward was his first coming off a nine-year absence.
When you look at great horror directors putting out terrible horror movies, this has to be considered the worse because of how far it falls from Carpenter’s great films. If you watch this against his earlier work it doesn’t even seem like the same guy is directing. Anyone could have made The Ward. You expect this kind of movie from any generic horror filmmaker out there, not the best of all time. It’s a bland, dull, uninspired horror film with zero tension, unintentional laughs and an absolutely horrible ending. There’s nothing to like about The Ward. I hope John Carpenter returns to directing again, because I really don’t want this to be the last film he’s remembered for.
That’s it for me. Leave some comments here on or my Twitter. I conclude my look at horror directors with a trip to Italy and the ten best films of Dario Argento.
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