10 of the Worst Horror Movies of All Time

'Plan 9 From Outer Space
Plan 9 from Outer Space | Valiant Pictures

Over the years, cinema has brought us countless horror classics, from early films like Nosferatu and Frankenstein to more modern films like 28 Days Later and The Conjuring. In fact, few genres boast as devoted a fanbase as horror, which is infamous for inspiring a host of franchises that end up remaining profitable long past the point when the terror has all but waned.

However, though it’s incredibly difficult to get horror so very right, it may be even more difficult for it to go so terribly awry. Today, we take a look at some of the worst movies the genre has ever seen. For the record, we are disqualifying sequels, since coming up with a worst-of list of those would be far too easy. Here is our list of the worst horror movies of all time, listed by release date.

1. Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)

Whenever talk of “worst movies” crops up, there’s no way of escaping Ed Wood, and this sci-fi horror mess has become the most well-remembered of his directorial efforts. Featuring the final screen appearance by Bela Lugosi, the film does not work on any level, from its shoddy special effects to its nonsensical story. So, naturally, it has become a cult classic cherished by many film buffs the world over.

2. The Creeping Terror (1964)

Creature features were certainly the way of things back in the 1950s and 1960s, but this one — which centers on a slug-like creature who wreaks havoc on a small town — is a particularly egregious example of it all going wrong. Directed by Vic Savage, there’s little here beyond a subpar Creature from the Black Lagoon.

3. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

Often heralded (along with Plan 9 from Outer Space) as the worst film ever made, this one has such an infamous reputation that it’s difficult to know exactly where to start. Ostensibly, the film is about a family terrorized by a cult, but audiences may have trouble making sense of the whole thing, as the numerous technical gaffes often result in a muddled, nearly incomprehensible disaster.

4. The Swarm (1978)

Poor Michael Caine, Henry Fonda, and Olivia de Havilland. We’re pretty sure that none of the talented actors involved had any clue just how bland and disappointing this film would turn out to be. Chronicling an invasion of killer bees, the film was ripped to shreds by critics upon its release and proved to be a massive box office misfire. Now that stings.

5. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

Chances are that you cinephiles and horror aficionados out there know all about this exploitation film. Notorious for its extreme violence and graphic depiction of rape, the film nonetheless has developed a cult following, spawning sequels and a 2010 remake.

6. Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Stephen King’s is a name synonymous with horror. Yet, the author crafted his own disaster by writing and directing this adaptation of one of his own short stories. Loaded with black humor and an overwhelming sense of campiness, this filmĀ is neither funny nor scary. So we’re still trying to figure out exactly how it ever saw the light of day.

7. Things (1989)

This low-budget horror flick centers on a couple who go to dangerous lengths to become parents, ultimately giving birth to a host of creatures. The Canadian release marked the mainstream film debut of adult film star, Amber Lynn, and is regularly regarded a cinematic abomination, though it has found some fans as a so-bad-it’s-good viewing experience.

8. Intensive Care (1991)

George Kennedy stars as a surgeon who awakes from a coma and enters a murderous rage in this Dutch slasher film. From its main star being replaced by a different actor halfway through, to literally no explanation for his motivation, this is one film that only the bravest souls — or, you know, those with time to waste — should even bother checking out.

9. Alone in the Dark (2005)

Honestly, we could probably do a whole worst-of list consisting only of films by director Uwe Boll. Loosely based on the video game series, this one stars Christian Slater, Tara Reid, and Stephen Dorff, and features some of the weakest narrative beats and production value in modern film. Not even fans of the games should give this a watch.

10. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)

Every once in a while, a film comes out that is so mind-numbingly awful that you can’t help but be amazed that it got made and released into the world. Birdemic is precisely that kind of film, as it features some of the worst acting and special effects you’ve ever seen. We get that it’s trying to be a modern version of The Birds, but their mission failed epically.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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