13 of the Absolute Worst Horror Movies Ever Made
The Exorcist. The Shining. Nightmare on Elm Street. These are not the films you’re going to find on this list. Oh no, while those films strike the perfect balance between the morose and the macabre, the tasteless and the frightening, the films on the list range from cheesy to overwrought to downright offensive. There are a lot of stinkers in the horror genre, but these are the 13 of the absolute worst films we’ve ever seen. There’s a lot of scary stuff that happens in October, but nothing as frightening as having to sit through one of these.
There’s a lot that’s wrong with the 1996 horror flick, Jack Frost. From the premise itself (a convicted serial killer gets blasted with toxic waste during a snow storm… turning him into an evil snowman) to terrible creature effects (the murderous snowman looks more like a stuffed animal than a possessed ice monster), every part of this film seems calculated to disappoint. And then, just when you think it can’t get any worse, our titular snow-maniac shares a very traumatic shower scene with a young Shannon Elizabeth that will have you seriously worried about the mental state of the people who made this movie.
Like Jack Frost, this low-budget gem is another entry in the “serial killer gets blasted with toxic waste and gets turned into whatever is nearby” genre of horror flicks. If you’ve already inferred from the title that the creature in this film is a monster made out of human feces, congratulations, you are certainly more mature than anybody involved in the making of this film. A lot of the films on this list could be considered steaming heaps of crap; this one was brave enough to make that front and center.
House of Wax (2005)
How do you improve upon a classic piece of cinema from famed horror star Vincent Price? If you answered, “by filling it with a bunch of bland TV teens including reality star Paris Hilton,” good news, you too could make a piece of schlock like House of Wax. Casting the hotel heiress in this role resulted in a performance less lifelike than any of the wax figurines that populate the titular house, but her death scene is gruesome and violent, and provided many of us with a much-needed catharsis during the days of The Simple Life.
The opening minutes of Ghost Ship provide one of the goriest and most memorable scenes in recent horror history. It’s a real bummer that the producers of this film didn’t bother to come up with any other thrills and chills to round out the movie’s ninety-one minutes. What starts as a story of a haunted ship ends up being about how the Devil likes to tempt the souls of any salvage ships that try to tow an abandoned luxury liner to shore. Yes, because if the Devil were real, that would definitely be his focus.
I Know Who Killed Me
There are few things about Lindsay Lohan’s fall from grace that aren’t terrifying, and sadly, her attempt at horror in I Know Who Killed Me is one of them. Playing a college student who is writing a story about a stripper, Lindsay ends up pulling double duty when it is revealed that the student is actually writing about her twin sister who was separated at birth and who is linked, psychically and metaphysically to her sister. This bizarre angle results in perhaps the nadir in Lindsay’s career, a scene in which her prosthetic leg powers down and she is forced to drag it with her.
Leprechaun: In the Hood
Horror films aren’t usually known for handling issues of race delicately, so it should come as no surprise that this fifth entry in the apparently-popular Leprechaun series runs roughshod over all sorts of modern sensibilities. Packed with wannabe rappers, pimps, and other offensive stereotypes, Leprechaun: In the Hood goes out on a real low-note as everyone’s favorite Irish monster raps over the end credits, proving that sometimes at the end of the rainbow, there’s just a pot of garbage.
What is it about wax figurines that inspire such terrible movies? Maybe it’s the insistence on drawing comparisons between the wax models and the actors but the terrible line readings in Waxwork live up to the hype. From a rebellious girl who remarks that midnight is a “good time; after dinner but before breakfast” to a high school dork who ponders aloud if one of his friends has dosed him with LSD again, every line in this film is more incomprehensible than the last. But all of that pales in comparison to an extended sequence in which good girl Sarah enters a diorama of the Marquis De Sade, only to become the subject of a lengthy and gratuitous whipping scene. Although, if we’re looking for logic in Waxwork, we’ve come to the wrong place.
Manos: The Hands of Fate
Most of the films on this list are here because of bad scripts, wooden performances, or laughable monster makeup, but Manos: The Hands of Fate is here because of a bet. When fertilizer salesman Harold P. Warren met a screenwriter, he claimed that it was easy to make a horror film and set out to do just that. What resulted is a tale of polygamist Satanists wracked with numerous technical and artistic issues ranging from an unsynchronized soundtrack, disconnected plot points, and acting bad enough to make Paris Hilton look like Meryl Streep. Oh, and there’s a character named Torgo. What more do you want?
The Wicker Man (2006)
These days, people approach Nicolas Cage movies with a sense of caution that dates back to the release of 2006’s The Wicker Man. An unnecessary remake of a 1970’s classic, this update throws out all the moodiness and tension of the original and instead focuses on Cage’s unique and confounding brand of acting. It’s no surprise that his performance in this film’s now legendary “not the bees” scene has become the watermark for bad horror acting.
Billed as a horror comedy, The Creeps is purposefully short on laughs. When a mad scientist uses an “archetype inducer” to bring forth the monsters from famous literary manuscripts, the power goes out halfway through, resulting in the creation of a vampire, mummy, Frankenstein’s monster, and wolfman who are only three feet tall. This is the totality of this film’s concept. They’re monsters, but they’re little people also. Get it? If you have any lingering doubts about the subtlety of this film’s script, there’s another scene in which a lesbian librarian checks out a copy of Jane Eyre and makes love to it, because sure, I guess that’s what lesbian librarians do.
Look, we’re willing to suspend our disbelief long enough to believe that a bunch of archeologists could dig up a werewolf skeleton, get scratched by said werewolf skeleton, and slowly turn into werewolves themselves. It could happen! But the propensity of the cast to pronounce the word werewolf as warwilf? That’s unforgivable. Throw in some gratuitous and super-cheap looking werewolf transformations and you’ve got an utterly forgettable take on a classic monster that will leave you longing for Taylor Lautner’s acting chops.
Exorcist II: The Heretic
Following up a successful film with a cash-grab sequel may seem like a modern technique, but some of the best films in history have been diminished by flimsy sequels. Take, for example, Exorcist II: The Heretic. Completely devoid of any of the claustrophobic, demonic horror of the original, Exorcist II attempts to weave in psychobabble nonsense and a storyline about psychics and locusts that makes about as much sense as that description does. The film was so bad, rumor has it that Warner Brothers executives were chased down the street by angry audience members at the premiere.
While the last film on this list was known for diminishing the reputation of its predecessor, Troll 2 has little in common with the original Troll, other than sharing the same score and sense of whimsical disregard for common sense. But while the original Troll at least looked like a real movie, Troll 2 has the amateurish look of something that could only be the result of an overconfident megalomaniac. In fact, the star of Troll 2 was so perplexed by the insanity of the film that, decades later, he made a documentary that delves into the deluded mind of the film’s director and the cult status that resulted. Considering that the film contains no trolls (only goblins in this one), cursed milk, and a witch named Creedence Leonore Gielgud who prays to Stonehenge (which is in her house sometimes), it’s no surprise that it’s enthralled viewers for 25 years now.
Did we miss a horror movie you think is terrible? What are some of your favorites? Let us know!