It’s that time of year when Complete PR puts away our public relations campaigns and writes about our favorite Halloween movies. This year, we take a look at those movies that are so bad that they are good. Keep reading (if you dare) for our team of experts’ favorite films that defy good taste, but we love anyway.
John Boyanoski’s picks
The Midnight Hour (1985) was a made-for-tv movie that came out just before Halloween 1985. It has a relatively interesting premise(in a town known for a Colonial-era witch panic, the descendants of those involved accidently bring the dead back to life ) and a strong cast (Shari Belafonte, LaVar Burton, Dick Van Patten, Lee Montgomery, Peter DeLuise and Kevin McCarthy). It even has some good visuals and a good soundtrack. So, why is this so bad it’s good? Well first, Lee Montgomery, who plays the pseudo-protagonist, wears a costume that makes him look like Shock G’s Humpty Hump. Second, there is a big dance number where the vampire-zombies (more on that in a second) do a song called “Get Dead.” It needs to be watched to be appreciated. Third is, well, the plot. A witch is reincarnated, but somehow is now a vampire, who turns people into zombies. Or something like that? It’s rather hokey. There also is a subplot with a good-girl ghost/zombie from the 1950s that is so transparent that they should have the character appear translucent.
Halloween III (1982): Halloween III is best known as the only entry in the Halloween franchise that doesn’t center around Michael Myers. It was a brave attempt to make the Halloween movies into an anthology, but American audiences just weren’t buying it in 1982. The reaction was so bad that it essentially killed the franchise for half a decade, which led to the likes of Jason Voorhees, Fred Krueger and Chucky becoming major horror icons of the Reagan decade. But back to the plot of Halloween III. It’s essentially a mystery as the protagonists try to figure out what is happening at the Silver Shamrock mask factory located in Santa Mira (yes, the town from Invasion of the Body Snatchers). It eventually gets to a plot explanation/villain monologue where an ancient Irish warlock has harnessed the power of Stonehenge and put it into fright masks that will kills their wearers with bugs when activated by a flashing television screen on Halloween night. It’s actually a novel idea, and probably deserves a reboot. However, the movie just isn’t that great. The pacing is off. The romance subplot feels forced, and the Silver Shamrock jingle is the true horror.
Blacula (1972): Blacula combines two cinematic 1970s movie genres – blaxploitation flicks and horror films set in modern times. The basic story is that an African prince seeks Dracula’s help in ending the slave trade, but instead gets turned into a vampire, renamed Blacula, and then Dracula immediately locks him a coffin. Why? I don’t know. Well, poor Blacula’s coffin eventually gets purchased and sent to America a few hundred years later. There, Blacula finds his reincarnated lost love, makes a bunch of other vampires whose makeup looks like it was done by middle-schoolers, and then kills himself by going into the sun. It ain’t good, but William Marshall does offer a great performance as the tortured soul vampire. His acting makes it enjoyable.
Howling III (1987): Joe Dante’s The Howling is one of the better horror films out there, IMHO. It combines a great plot with inventive scares, a sense of dread, some repulsive scenes and a strong cast. Its sequel is pretty forgettable, but since it and its original made money, a third movie was ordered. How do you get audiences interested in a third low-budget werewolf movie? Set it in Australia! Yes, American audiences were eating up anything from Down Under in the mid-1980s, so the producers rolled the dice. What they got was a rather smart movie that mixes comedy, drama, sex and bad acting all in one. Come on, it was 1987. Despite all of that, it works mainly because it shows the werewolves as less monsters and more large family/tribes scattered across the world. They fear the ways of regular humans as much as regular humans fear them. In probably the most inventive part, it shows the werewolves ( at least the Australian ones) as marsupials -- including carrying around their babies in pouches. It must be seen to be believed.
Troll 2 (1990): And now, with no further ado, let’s talk Troll 2. The original Troll came out in 1986 and is mainly a forgettable movie despite the presence of a post-Cher, Sonny Bono, a pre-Seinfeld Julia-Louis Dreyfuss, and the mother from Leave It to Beaver. It also is possibly best known for having a child protagonist named Harry Potter who teams up with a witch to battle the evil troll. No one was clamoring for a sequel so when a movie called Troll 2 came out in 1990, it was head scratcher. Even scratchier? It had absolutely nothing to do with the first film. More scratchier? There are no trolls. The bad guys are goblins. Scratchiest of all? A kid (not Harry Potter) pees on his family’s dinner in what is likely the most brilliantly original scene in this entire train wreck of a movie that comes up with a lot of crazy visuals and dialogue. Not to spoil the plot (people who have watched this movie will get that joke), but basically a human family does an exchange program with a country family living in Nilbog. It quickly turns out that Nilbog is goblin spelled backwards and that is who really lives in this town. It gets wackier because the goblins like eating humans that they have turned into vegetables.
Anna Rice’s picks
Terrifier (2016): I had extremely low expectations going into Terrifier, considering it was a straight to Netflix film with a budget of maybe forty five dollars. Two of the main things that make this movie "bad" are the ridiculous kills that yield more blood that the human body truly can hold AND the very cringe-worthy acting. If you look past these two things, you'll see that there are some very terrifying (haha) scenes in this movie, specifically in the diner where we're first introduced to Art the Clown. We all know how people feel about clowns. In my opinion, as far as scariness goes, Pennywise doesn't hold a candle to Art the Clown.
Martyrs (2008): I chose Martyrs for a slightly different reason. This movie is bad in the sense that it was genuinely miserable for me to watch, and yet I still come back to it. Martyrs, the French version, was a movie that I will never for as long as I live forget the way I felt after watching it. I had to take a melatonin to sleep, it was that dark. One of the most genuinely disturbing movies with not an ounce of comedic relief, but so well done. Reddit says that Martyrs is the "final test" for horror movie fans; do you want to take it?
Emily Miller’s Picks
Jennifer’s Body (2009): I’ll be totally honest, I had a hard time deciding if this one counts or not because it’s made quite a comeback in recent years, and has been watched by a different audience under a much different light. Starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer’s Body follows Jennifer Check, high school queen bee who, after a deadly fire at a club, develops a penchant for eating boys. The real tragedy of this film is the way it was marketed. The trailers and advertising showed Fox as the icon she became in Transformers, so when male audiences went to see the movie, they were left both horrified and disappointed. That, coupled with the cheesy-at-best special effects made Jennifer’s Body a flop in many critics eyes, and not a completely original exploration of the horror of being a teenage girl, which is how it should have been seen all along.
Ma (2019): As the wimp of the office, I love a terrible horror movie for no reason other than comedic value, and what list of comically bad horror movies is complete without Ma? This movie has a cast that SHOULD have made it a hit; the movie stars Octavia Spencer, as well as newcomer Diana Silvers (who was in Booksmart and alongside Steve Carrel in Space Force). Ma’s fatal flaw? The movie is oriented around four teenagers who couldn’t have been written by anything other than fifty year olds. It doesn’t help that the movie doesn’t really have any stakes, either, as the relationships and characters aren’t even close to fleshed out. By the end of the movie, you can’t help but think “I don’t think I cared about a single person in this.” Maybe this one is just bad, or maybe there is some redemption in hearing Octavia Spencer chant “Don’t make me drink alone!” to a sixteen year old.
Escape Room (2019): Was 2019 a bad year for horror movies or what? Escape Room had such an interesting premise that it’s no wonder it was such a let down. The movie goes something like this: A group of six strangers do an escape room together, except the escape room is actually multiple different locations and they are all built to kill the players. There are stakes to the movie, and the characters are all interesting, at least. Actually, the first hour and ten minutes of the movie aren’t bad at all. I wouldn’t say it’s scary by any means, but it’s at least engaging. So what makes this movie so bad it’s good? The ending. Rather than just creating one good plot twist to get audiences excited about the prospect of a sequel, Escape Room crams in about five mediocre plot twists, and by the end of the movie, you’re just kind of bored. As a final twist, there is a clear set up for a sequel, which I can only imagine is worse than its predecessor.