- Horror movies can be fairly hit or miss – with many movie buffs claiming there are far more misses.
- Some of these lacklustre movies like “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” and “Troll 2” are so bad, they have amassed a cult following.
- Others, like “Death Bed: The Bed that Eats” have not had such luck.
- Here is a list of 12 of the worst horror movies of all time.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Horror movie fans are a forgiving bunch. The ratio of great to terrible horror movies is far from even, but sometimes all it takes is an interesting idea or innovative kill for a bad one to win over its audience.
The films on this list have no redeeming qualities - they’re just bad to the point of being offensive.
From sequels that completely betrayed the spirit – and plot – of their predecessors to low-budget efforts that seemed as if they were made by aliens who had never seen a movie before, the titles included in this list are 12 of the worst movies of all time.
Preemptive disclaimer: There are many deep-cut titles and shot-on-video films that horror fans will hate to see left off of this list. The dozen films that made the cut are ones that readers can easily track down on the internet and watch today, should their curiosity get the best of them.
Without further ado, here are the 12 worst horror movies of all time.
‘Troll 2’ (1990)
Of course the film that inspired the critically acclaimed documentary “Best Worst Movie” needs to be on a list of the worst horror movies of all time.
“Troll 2” was marketed as a sequel to the 1986 film “Troll,” but there is no sanctioned connection to the original. The plot centres on an American family being hunted by vegetarian creatures who try to turn them into vegetable paste so they can eat them.
Mild spoiler: There isn’t a single troll in the entire film. In fact, the movie was originally titled “Goblin,” but was rebranded to capitalise on the “Troll” name.
Even the film’s leading actor Michael Paul Stephenson – who was 10 years old when “Troll 2” was shot – has criticised the film years after it went straight to video.
“It was the perfect maelstrom of events to create this unintentional comedy,” Stephenson told the Guardian. “Everyone wanted to make a good film and we failed. You can’t replicate that.”
You can’t piss on hospitality – that’s an actual quote from the film – but you save yourself from this train wreck.
‘Death Bed: The Bed That Eats’ (1977)
George Barry wrote, produced, and directed this late-1970s gem – and, thankfully, told audiences everything they needed to know in the title.
The term “arthouse” is often used to describe this bizarre film about a cursed bed that dissolves hands until they’re nothing but bare skeleton, but the movie only takes a few bites out of an apple and returns the core.
If there is deeper meaning hiding in the 80-minute runtime, no one has found it in over 40 years – and with a 31% Rotten Tomatoes audience score, it might be safe to say no one ever will.
‘The Mangler’ (1995)
Robert Englund is a classically-trained actor and a horror legend who will hopefully be remembered as Freddy Kreuger from the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, not as Bill Gartley from Tobe Hooper’s “The Mangler.”Based on a short story by Stephen King, the titular star of the film is a laundry press with a taste for blood.
“That silly contrivance, along with lacklustre story and thesping, should guarantee the would-be frightfest a short spin and quick fade at the box office,” Godfrey Cheshire wrote for Variety.
If you’re asking how or why multiple people got close enough to be murdered by the machine, then you’re probably overthinking it. Ted Levine (Buffalo Bill from “The Silence of the Lambs”) is the cop on the case, but even he can’t solve the mystery of why this film is so bad.
‘Manos: The Hands of Fate’
Released in 1966 and written and directed by Harold Warren, “Manos” – whose title does indeed translate to the very redundant “Hands: The Hands of Fate” – is an indie cult film that owes much of its notoriety to its inclusion in a 1993 “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” instalment.
The plot, according to IMDb, centres on a family that gets lost on the road and stumbles upon an underground cult led by the “Master” (Tony Neyman) and Torgo (John Reynolds), his servant. Master wears a black flying squirrel poncho with giant red hands that almost form the Wu-Tang hand sign when he raises his arms, which happens more often than not.
The film feels like a small-town stage play that someone recorded for personal use but accidentally forwarded to the world. The acting is terrible and the script is somehow worse. The only redeeming quality may be the Master’s cute dog who deserved much more screen time.
‘The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?’ (1964)
It’s an incredibly long title for a strange horror musical that you are probably better off not watching.
Another “Mystery Science Theatre” favourite, this 1963 film was written and directed by Ray Dennis Steckler, a filmmaker whom The New York Times referred to in his 2009 obituary as a “low-budget auteur.”
Steckler also starred in the film, under one of his many pseudonyms, as Jerry, one of three friends who encounter a zombie-making fortune teller at a carnival. The rest of the plot doesn’t really matter because it won’t make the experience any better. At least the poster art was cool?
‘The Giant Spider Invasion’ (1975)
Giant bug movies were cheesy in the 1950s, but drive-in crowds still found them entertaining. Director Bill Rebane and his crew on “The Giant Spider Invasion” tried to recapture the magic of that bygone era, but somehow missed the mark when it came to telling a coherent story.
The people who were paid to fabricate giant webs and totally un-scary spiders out of Volkswagens deserve a round of applause, but that’s about it. The film apparently made millions on its $US300,000 budget and contributed greatly to the economy of Merrill, Wisconsin, where it was filmed.
The not-so-silver lining, according to Rebane, is that it is among the most pirated films of all time, and none of the money reached his pockets.
‘The Happening’ (2008)
M. Night Shyamalan’s star began to fade when “The Village” turned out not to be the terrifying horror film that trailer watchers expected. Then came “Lady in the Water,” which swam its way to a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes.
“The Happening” was strike three. The eco-horror thriller stars Mark Wahlberg as a high-school science teacher who becomes the de facto leader of a group trying to survive a mysterious event that is causing people to suddenly and violently kill themselves. The twist, if you can call it that, is that the trees are responsible.
Tim Grierson and Will Leitch of The New Yorker wrote “it’s the strangest big-budget thriller to come out in the last 25 years. It also might be the worst.”
‘Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2’ (2000)
Do the exact opposite of what the filmmakers responsible for “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” did.
Released just 15 months after “The Blair Witch Project,” “Book of Shadows” exists in a universe where the original fictional movie has become a cult phenomenon. The main characters visit the woods where it was filmed and spooky things begin to happen.
Smart idea, but the execution is muddled. Real footage of Roger Ebert’s review of “The Blair Witch Project” is shown in the sequel, but that cameo couldn’t save it from a 2-star rating.
“One viewing is not enough to make the material clear, and the material is not intriguing enough, alas, to inspire a second viewing,” he wrote. He added that a sequel to the original film was “inevitable, but this is not the sequel, I suspect, anyone much wanted.”
‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ (1959)
Directed by Ed Wood, the black-and-white sci-fi picture has aliens, the resurrected dead, and gothic horror icon Bela Lugosi, but it still manages to go off the rails. Cheap effects, poor writing, and atrocious acting combined to make the film a laugh riot even though it was not intended to be a comedy.
Wood reportedly once referred to the movie as his “pride and joy,” but others did not appreciate his singular vision. There have been several articles and think pieces written over the years by critics looking to reevaluate and defend “Plan 9,” but it will take more than a few essays to make this film better.
‘Jaws: The Revenge’ (1987)
For one thing, the shark roared like a lion, which was a questionable choice and not at all scientifically accurate. It also had a telepathic link with Chief Brody’s wife, Ellen. Michael Caine was in this film, and it cost $US20 million to produce, not including advertising fees. Despite being predicted to be a box office hit, it only brought in a fraction of the expected revenue.
Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times called it “dumb beyond belief, hollow, bloody and nonsensical, it’s Universal Studios’ vanity movie, a way of providing employment yet again for its Great White icon.”
‘Birdemic: Shock and Terror’ (2010)
Directed by Vietnamese software salesman James Nguyen, the indie film was initially rejected from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Determined to see his dream fully realised, Nguyen began promoting it on the streets with a van, stuffed birds, some fake blood, and flyers.
Word spread about the awful film and it achieved cult status, landing on the front page of The New York Times and in actual movie theatres where its lacklustre special effects and stilted dialogue played like gangbusters to late-night crowds.
‘Creepshow 3’ (2006)
“Creepshow” is often regarded as one of the best horror anthologies of all time, and there are segments in “Creepshow 2” (i.e. “The Raft”) that horror fans mention in conversations about the best vignettes they have ever seen.
Those things definitely don’t apply to “Creepshow 3.”
Neither George Romero nor Stephen King were involved with the third instalment of the franchise, which was a red flag from the beginning. Not only did it fail to reach the high bar set by the previous two, but it barely made it off the ground. “Tales From the Darkside: The Movie” is often called “the real Creepshow 3” because those who have seen it don’t like to acknowledge that the 2006 film exists.