Halloween is fast approaching, and you know what that means! It’s time for horror movies (as if you needed an excuse). You’ve seen all the classics, sure. (And if you haven’t, then stop right now and check them out.) However, if you’re looking for some new treats to put in your basket, something tasty and disposable, full of empty calories and bizarre ingredients, something to make you say “What the hell is this?” then have I got a list for you. Here’s a batch of 10 horror films (and the definition is rather loose at times) guaranteed to give you a fun-size bar of WTF. So, pop some popcorn, invite your snarkiest friends over, and have a FBOTU-inspired film festival of the most bizarre, campy and ridiculous horror movies ever made.
NOTE: Some of the YouTube links below may be considered NSFW and/or may give away plot spoilers…but are you seriously watching these for plot?
The Initiation of Sarah (2006)
A TV movie that is itself a remake of a TV movie from 1978 about a pair of twin sisters who look nothing alike entering their first year of college. Like most freshmen, they have to decide if they want to join the sorority of devil-worshiping witches led by the campus mean girls or the sorority of the white witches led by Jennifer Tilly. You know, typical college stuff. While the film is reasonably competent, it does feature plenty of laughably bad special effects, stumbling attempts at establishing an internal mythology, dueling campus hunks, a pre-Firefly Summer Glau and Morgan Fairchild being her usual fabulously campy self.
Good Against Evil (1977)
When your lead actor is bisexual and named Dack Rambo (no, seriously), you know a movie's going to be good, especially when it's a failed TV pilot that's a total rip off of every 70s horror film that came before it with a fraction of the budget. Dack is your average macho man who falls in love with the girl who just happens to be destined to be the bride of Satan. I mean, we've all been there, right? Along the way to rescue his girl, he teams up with a priest to help an old flame, played by a 21-year-old Kim Cattrall who hadn't entirely lost her British accent, to do what amounts to a dinner theatre version of the final scenes in The Exorcist. Notable for the scene where women are terrorized by demonic cats thrown at them off-camera by underpaid stage hands.
Dead Alive (1992)
Before Peter Jackson became the official ambassador to Middle-Earth, he was known for making bizarre, intensely graphic films that gleefully teetered on the line between horror and black comedy. In Dead Alive, suffering mama's boy Lionel has to deal with a zombie outbreak after his mother is bitten by a mysterious animal. Lionel tries to hide his mother's condition from the community, but soon his desire for decorum is undone by Mom's desire for brains. Often called the goriest movie ever made, it's also one of the funniest and a far, far cry from Rivendell.
Black Sheep (2007)
A New Zealand horror film about killer, mutated sheep is a joke that practically writes itself, and this film is all that and more. Henry Oldfield is about to sell his half of the family sheep farm…mainly because he suffers from a crippling fear of the fluffy white beasts. When his brother's genetic experiments on the sheep get out of hand, it turns into a full-tilt, splatter-filled zombie film, only with murderous sheep instead of the walking dead. The creature effects are handled by Peter Jackson's WETA Workshop, and did I mention that there are weresheep. WERESHEEP! What more do you need?
Messiah Of Evil (1973)
From the husband and wife team that brought you Howard the Duck! In this psychedelic riff on Carnival of Souls, a young woman travels to an artist colony after the recent death of her father, unaware that the place is overrun at night with vampire/zombie hybrids. Her main ally is the suave, mysterious Thom and his two female groupies. In an interesting bit of possibly unintentional metatexutalness, the lady-loving Thom is played by Michael Greer, one of the first openly gay actors to work in Hollywood. While the leads turn out great performances, and the mood is appropriately nightmarish, its wildly out-of-left-field musical cues, non-existent plot and ridiculous monster attack set pieces make it an under-appreciated camp classic.
Bloody Mallory (2002)
Undoubtedly the most unabashedly goofy entry on the list, it's the age-old story of an elite paranormal strike force on a mission to rescue the pope from demons. There's Talking Tina, the mute pre-teen telepath; Vena Cava, the mixed-race drag queen with an electric blue wig and machine guns in her platform boots; Father Carras, a hunky kickboxing priest in a leather cassock; and all of them led by Mallory, a kick-ass chick in cherry red vinyl and hair to match. There are several gory set pieces, a surprising amount of pro-LGBT material and oh…it's all in French. Bon appétit!
The Devil's Rain (1975)
Nothing says "terrifying emissary of the Prince of Darkness" like Ernest Borgnine. What on its face looks like a typical low-budget Satansploitation film is really in fact a typical low-budget Satansploitation film featuring Ida Lupino, Tom Skerritt, John Travolta and (drum roll) William Shatner. The plot makes no sense, the effects are awful, its internal logic is nil, and it effectively killed the director's career, but it may be the most "authentic" film about devotees of the Horned One ever made: none other than Anton LaVey himself is credited as the film's technical advisor.
Troll 2 (1990)
Inarguably one of the worst films ever made in the history of cinema, Troll 2 must be seen to be believed. Its cast was made up largely of inexperienced actors, its script was written in stilted English by Italians, and there aren't even any trolls in it. Not a single one. There are so many things wrong with the film that it would take forever just to list them, since absolutely nothing in the film is done competently. But that's part of its undeniable charm. It's rightfully gained a midnight movie audience in the past few years, and its sheer amount of "The hell…?" makes it perhaps the most entertaining bad movie ever. And remember: you can't piss on hospitality!
Bay Cove (1987)
The film's original title, Bay Coven, deserves a spoiler warning of its own. Yes, it's another horrible TV movie, but this is the only one on the list that features Barbara Billingsly as a Satanist. Also featuring Jeff "Kenickie" Conaway and Woody "pre-whackadoo" Harrelson in supporting roles, it's about a young married couple moving to the titular community only to find that it's populated almost entirely by evil, centuries-old witches. Because of course it is. But really, Barbara Billingsly as a Satanist is all you need to know. Speaks jive, raises Beaver Cleaver and summons dark forces from the pits of hell to do her bidding and not a hair out of place.
Anything by David DeCoteau
Voodoo Academy, The Brotherhood, 2:Voodoo Academy, 1313: Haunted Frat
Voodoo Academy, The Brotherhood, Leeches!, 1313: Haunted Frat, take your pick. In each one you'll find some of the most inept attempts at horror in recent memory, a landscape full of anti-acting and plenty of homoerotic young men in designer briefs. It must be a David DeCoteau fetish…I mean, movie. Ostensibly horror films, the openly gay DeCoteau really just makes films so he has excuses to tell a rotating cast of aspiring actors/models—like Charmed's Drew Fuller or Desperate Housewives' Josh Henderson—to touch themselves while having "nightmares" in their tighty-whities. With amazingly bad special effects (the "leeches" in Leeches! are obviously hand puppets); dialogue so clunky it's almost rhomboid ("I'm as wet as a honeypot! What are you gonna do about it?"); and people who act with their chests (male and female alike), what's not to love?
Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922/1968)
If you want some spooky laughs, but also want to feel intellectually superior, you can't do worse than a Danish documentary from 1922 that may or may not be in on its own joke. While it is one of the best silent films ever made, and extremely risqué and graphic for its time, it's also one of the wackiest. Ostensibly, it's a serious documentary on witchcraft, but it devotes plenty of time to a lurid, and ghoulish (although technically impressive for 1922) re-enactment of a witches' sabbath that's more absurd than frightening and a hilarious episode featuring a convent full of nuns succumbing to mass hysteria. And those are just a couple of the highlights. For an added bonus, check out the re-cut 1968 version, which features William S. Burroughs delivering a narration so purple that it almost prevents the film from being classified as "black-and-white."
And with that, in the words of our favorite Mistress of the Dark, I bid you "Unpleasant dreams..."