With the pending release of Sharknado 2: The Second One, the hotly anticipated sequel to Sharknado, it seems appropriate to look back at some of the masterpieces that set the ball rolling on this new spate of terrible horror films that you just can’t help but enjoy.
The horror genre really lends itself to the “so bad it’s good” tradition of cinema (see also: Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Room). It does admittedly detract from the scare somewhat – you’re probably laughing more than you’re jumping – but there’s a different type of pleasure to be gleaned from them. After all at the end of the day, these films are pieces of work that someone worked hard on; they shouldn’t just be written off.
There definitely is value in these gems, just maybe not of the sort their creators were aiming for…
5. The Howling IV
Some people may think that the original is always the best and that most sequels are just poor attempts to cash in on the glory of the original. Well, The Howling (Part 4) certainly puts pay to that notion!
Its full title is The Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, and it doesn’t disappoint. A classic werewolf film with some of the cheesiest dialogue known to man and monsters that, in the wide shots, look a lot like your common-or-garden mutt.
Defining moment: The burning of the barn that led to the prosthetics guy deciding that melting Plasticine over a dog skull to be the best way of achieving the look of an authentic flaming lycanthrope.
4. Waxworks 2: Lost In Time
The original Waxwork was a cheesy horror comedy about some teens breaking into a waxworks museum and being sucked into the worlds of the wax statues: sort of like an adolescent Pagemaster but with less literary aspirations. Waxworks 2: Lost In Time, however, decided it didn’t want to share anything with the original except its name.
In this brilliantly devised film, our teenagers are now sent from dimension to dimension, experiencing all the classic horror characters such as Dracula and some evil knights, but never really approaching anything close to a plot. There is no through-line other than “Ahh! Let’s get out of here. That was close. Where are we now? Ahhh!”
Defining moment: A magnificent cameo by Bruce Campbell (of Evil Dead fame) as a man on a crucifix with his chest cavity open to the elements. In an ill-fated attempt to stop Dracula, salt is thrown directly into Bruce’s open chest and then he is dropped, chest-first onto the stone floor! Always one for dignity our Bruce.
3. Leprechaun in the Hood
Another example of how the later films in a horror series can be better than the first: the original 1993 Leprechaun may have had an as-yet unknown Jennifer Aniston to its credit, but Leprechaun in the Hood takes it to a whole ‘nother level. We’re talking Ice T, transvestite singers, magic hi-hop flutes, and some of the clunkiest dialogue known to man.
This film is a great example of someone having an idea, in this case, “What about a hip-hop horror movie?” and then running with it, no further thought required. What makes this film special is how committed the actors are to being “cool” even when faced with a rapping Warwick Davis dressed as a leprechaun – yes, rapping).
Defining moment: The first death in the film comes from the Leprechaun stabbing a man in the neck with his own afro-comb. ‘Nuff said.
The film that has reinvented the terrible-premise horror for a new audience by asking the question, “What would happen if a tornado was full of sharks?”
Sharknado manages to spend nearly all its budget on CG fish so when it comes to simple things like driving in a car, they have to make the background a white as possible because they can’t afford green screen or a truck cam for these scenes.
We can forgive the obvious stock footage of sharks in the ocean cut in as if they are right next to the actors, we can forgive that at most points the actors are running in shin-deep water when a ten-foot shark will suddenly burst out of the water to bite them, but we can’t forgive whoever decided that Tara Reid still had a career.
Defining moment: MAN. SHARK APPROACHING AT SPEED. CHAINSAW. WOW!
1. Redneck Zombies
For all you D-list horror lovers out there, this is the film for you. It has everything: illiterate redneck stereotypes consuming military grade, radioactive waste; a group of teens who’ve lost their way and a man with a bag over his head talking about the dangers of eating too many sweets.
Redneck Zombies is a film that has at its heart, a group of friends who wanted to make a movie and have a good time doing it that. They don’t have money, they don’t have experienced actors and they sure as hell don’t have any appreciation of the 180 degree camera angle rule, but they love what they do.
There is a large amount of casual racism, which can sometimes jar but in a funny way, (at one point they subtitle a black man… who is speaking in English). Still, it’s all done with an sense of irony, poking fun at the unquestioned prejudices that were very much a part of horror classics back in the day.
In all, a great watch if you can find a copy…anywhere!
Defining moment: One of our heroes is cornered by a group of zombies, but instead of panicking, he adopts a zombie stance and moan and then ushers his new zombie pals toward his mates… with hilarious consequences!
But what do you think? Was The Howling IV actually quite good or have we missed off your all-time schlock classic? Sound off in the comments!