Halloween is the time of year when cable TV runs marathons of various horror movie franchises, and I seem to find myself drawn in even when I can’t actually stand watching. This is not limited to the Halloween season for me, though. I occasionally find myself watching bad knock-off slasher films on Chiller, or second-rate horror movies on HBO. Not too long ago, I was flipping channels and came across the beginning of Final Destination 5. Perhaps it was the sight of Dave Koechner getting covered in hot tar while dangling from a bridge (yea, that was a spoiler, but it happened in the first ten minutes), but the next thing I knew, I had watched the whole damn thing. I admire the creativity the writers have shown in killing off characters across five movies, but I have to wonder if that creativity could be better spent elsewhere.
At least the Final Destination films show some creativity, albeit of the most formulaic sort. The Saw films made a valiant effort to maintain a complex continuity across seven films, and it required a new sort of suspension of disbelief. Rather than forcing the audience to believe that a slow-moving berserker could deftly pursue sprinting teenagers, the Saw films asked us to believe that a cancer-ridden civil engineer could build, maintain, and oversee multiple Rube Goldberg-esque schemes, both from his deathbed and from beyond the grave, with only the help of a handful of emotionally crippled proteges who remained unaware of one another’s involvement. That’s far less plausible than a burly masked man keeping pace, at a walk, with a sprinting eighteen year-old, but it is at least slightly more engaging for the higher functions of the brain.
Most horror movies, of course, fall into the quickest-route-to-a-scream category, and some seem not to care if the audience even finds it scary or not. Case in point, the 2011 film Bunnyman:
At least a few of these movies fall into the so-bad-it’s-good category, although I would say not many. Thanks to the magic of viral internet memes, I learned about 1987′s Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 (The “2″ is not a typo–there was actually a “1″ that someone thought merited a sequel.) Sometimes a movie is so bad, it transcends so-bad-it’s-good status and ventures into something that I don’t think even has a name. This scene depicts the main villain’s moment when he goes from a disturbed individual to a cackling spree killer. I seriously doubt that many of the most talented comic actors could even fake acting this bad.