When it comes to awful or cheesy movies, the horror genre is the only genre that has made a tradition of celebrating the worst of the worst. These are the kinds of movies that people once perused the aisles of Blockbuster for, looking for the most ridiculous title or cover art. And when you find the right film that’s failing at all the right things, it can be comedy nirvana.
Here are nine cheesy horror movies that you have to see at least once.
9. The Wicker Man
The Wicker Man is a remake of the 1973 British cult classic of the same name and tells the story of a police officer whose search for a missing girl draws him to an island where paganism is afoot. While it was only released in 2006, the film has already gained a cult following due in large part to Cage’s wonderful over-the-top performance.
The film is a treasure trove of unintentional comedy that keeps on giving until the last moments of the film. Two of the finest moments include Cage punching a woman while dressed as a bear and another where bees are poured onto his head with the infamous cries of, “not the bees!”
8. Don’t Be Scared
Don’t Be Scared is a movie so awful and amateurish that it almost doesn’t deserve to be talked about. But when a horror film is written and directed by Master P on a $10,000 budget, it’s probably worth a look just to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes. A cheap knockoff of films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, the film also inexplicably includes the ghost of a little girl who seems to be there just because that sometimes happens in the horror genre.
Then there’s the fact that Master P stars as a college student along with extras that gawk at the camera and the overall look of a freshman year film student. The fact that Don’t Be Scared is only 45 minutes might be the kindest thing Master P has ever done.
7. Jason X
A movie about Jason Voorhees in space doesn’t have any right to be this entertaining. In the 10th installment of Friday the 13th, we travel to the year 2455 where a group of students on a field trip discover the cryogenically frozen remains of Jason and decide to revive him. It shouldn’t be any surprise that this all goes terribly wrong and what follows is a ridiculous scenario in which Jason massacres his way through a spaceship before later undergoing a transformation into a hulking cyborg.
One of the highlights includes a head dunked in liquid nitrogen that is then smashed to pieces on a table. Unfortunately, Myth Busters busted this scenario, but we won’t hold it against the filmmakers.
6. Birdemic: Shock and Terror
When it comes to production quality, Birdemic: Shock and Terror is in the running for worst on this list. The film follows the budding romance between a software salesman and a fashion model as their town is descended upon by hordes of birds — some of which spit acid and explode upon impact.
Written and directed by James Nguyen, who had previously worked as a software salesman in Silicon Valley, the self-funded film is a complete mess when it comes to any formal rules of movie-making. But the absolute worst (read: funniest) thing about the film is its special effects, which include birds that look so terrible it’s hard to believe it was actually meant to be serious.
5. Killer Klowns From Outer Space
Killer Klowns From Outer Space comes from the minds of The Chiodo Brothers (three of them) who have made a name for themselves as special effects artists in films like Critters and Team America: World Police. The film revolves around a group of evil aliens who have come to earth to capture humans so they can kill and harvest them.
The kicker? These specific evil aliens happen to look like clowns with a whole host of circus-themed weaponry ready for any unsuspecting humans. This includes a gun that shoots popcorn larvae and balloon animals that can spring to life.
4. Leprechaun: In The Hood
Leprechaun: In The Hood is the classic example of a time when films slowly achieved cult classic status in the aisles of Blockbuster Video rather than somewhere on the internet. The title alone is one reason why the film became such a cult hit in the early 2000s, but the plot itself is just as absurd.
The film follows three Los Angeles rappers who accidentally free an evil leprechaun imprisoned by a record producer 20 years before. The leprechaun soon finds himself dealing with police brutality, the rap game, and smoking weed. While hip-hop themed blaxpoitation can be hit-or-miss, Leprechaun: In The Hood‘s bizarre mix of ingredients make it worth a watch.
3. Manos: The Hands of Fate
Manos: The Hands of Fate rose to infamy as one of the worst films ever made after it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the early ’90s. Released in 1966, the film revolves around a vacationing family who find themselves trapped by a polygamous pagan cult after losing their way on a road trip. Directed by Harold P. Warren (who also wrote, produced, and starred in it), the film is a complete mess from top to bottom with an intelligible plot and technical problems galore. When it comes to bad horror movies, Manos: The Hands of Fate is the undeniable heavy weight when it comes to a pure train-wreck.
2. Plan 9 From Outer Space
Director Ed Wood is a legend when it comes to terrible B-movies, and Plan 9 From Outer Space is his magnum opus. The film tells the story of an airline pilot and a detective who must team up to stop aliens from enacting “Plan 9” — a program that involves bringing back the dead to stop humanity from creating a doomsday weapon. Plan 9 From Outer Space is also famously Bela Lugosi’s final film appearance, having been spliced into the film from various sources that he and Wood had been working on together.
What makes Plan 9 From Outer Space such an enjoyable experience is the spectacle of watching something so hilariously bad made with the best intentions. It isn’t a film that was made under false pretenses or with an eye on money. Wood truly believed this would be a great film deserving of attention, and he eventually got it, although probably not in the way he originally intended.
1. Troll 2
When it comes to Troll 2, it’s hard to even know where to start. Released in 1990, the film follows a family who arranges for a home vacation exchange in the town of Nilbog — “It’s goblin spelled backwards!” — which just happens to be the epicenter of a group of vegetarian goblins who turn humans into plants. What you won’t find in the film are trolls. As it turns out the film was named Troll 2 as a marketing ploy to make it appear like a sequel to 1986’s Troll.
In recent years, Troll 2 has acquired cult classic status as one of the worst films ever made and was chronicled in the acclaimed 2010 documentary Best Worst Movie. What really sets the film apart is its sheer watchability. There’s an earnestness and care given to the film that you can’t help but feel while watching. It’s also really, really stupid. In a good way.
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