5. Blood Hook (1986)
Blood Hook is one of two Jaws riffs to find its way onto this list. Granted, it’s the much lesser of the two, but it’s not without its charm. Peter van Cleese has recently inherited the family lodge where he witnessed his grandpa disappear under strange circumstances when he was a small boy. He decides to take a group of his friends to the lodge for a visit, and they arrive during the town’s annual fishing festival, “Muskie Madness.” Shortly after their arrival, people begin to get dragged into the lake and murdered by a giant fish hook. Thankfully, Peter is a music major, and he’s able to determine that the chirping of cicadas combined with certain music is responsible for the killings. Seriously. I didn’t just make that up. Watch the movie, and you’ll see. You’ll all see! (Chris Coffel)
4. Blades (1989)
If there’s a theme across the films that made this list it’s that the best Troma films are the ones Troma didn’t make themselves, and that holds true with this acquisition too. It’s an unlikely gem – a Jaws spoof that trades the killer shark off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard with a killer lawnmower on a New Jersey golf course – that manages to be both legitimately funny and true to its own narrative without getting lost in the “spoof” designation. The film is often hilarious, and it plays the homage with a perfect blend of seriousness and cheeky awareness that makes for a fun, thrilling ride into battle against the bloodthirsty lawnmower. We get riffs on all of Jaws’ main characters and beats, all smartly tweaked to apply to groundskeepers, golf courses, and unruly machinery. It’s a blast. (Rob Hunter)
3. Def by Temptation (1990)
I’m not much of a Troma fan, but in a lot of ways, Def By Temptation doesn’t seem like a Troma movie. The only movie to date written and directed by School Daze actor James Bond III, it’s a surprisingly not-so-schlocky entry into the Troma Entertainment filmography that follows two longtime friends – one a big city actor (Kadeem Hardison), the other a second-generation minister (Bond) – who are tempted into sexual transgression by a succubus (Cynthia Bond).
With blaxploitation influences, a great soundtrack, and a plot that digs into its lead characters’ unique hopes and fears much more than most horror flicks of its time, Def By Temptation is a worthy watch not just for Troma-ites but for genre fans in general. Its aesthetics obviously straddle the line between the ‘80s and ‘90s, meaning it’s not necessarily outright scary for a modern audience, but it still has a slightly sleazy visual allure propelled by the cinematic framing of Cynthia Bond’s bloodthirsty Temptress. (Valerie Ettenhofer)
2. Cannibal! The Musical (1996)
Full disclosure: I did not want to participate in a Troma list. After a couple of ventures into the world of Troma, I realized these films were decidedly not for me. But democracy won out, and a Troma list was decided on, and I bravely watched Cannibal! The Musical expecting to hate it. And then… I didn’t. This wacky take on the notorious Alferd Packer, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is hilarious, bizarre, and features some genuinely catchy tunes. So even if you think Troma might not be up your alley, don’t be so sure. Sometimes the most pleasant of surprises can be found in a black comedy musical about a nineteenth-century cannibal. (Anna Swanson)
1. Dead Dudes in the House (1991)
Dead Dudes in the House, also known as The Dead Come Home or The House on Tombstone Hill, has no right to be as great as it is, and yet, it is. A group of young friends buys a run-down house in the middle of nowhere with plans to fix it up. Once they arrive, they find an elderly woman still living in the house. They ask her to leave, and she decides to start offing them one by one. But in this house, the dead don’t stay dead. And the living can’t leave.
Dead Dudes in the House takes a bunch of horror tropes, throws them in a pot, mixes them up, and it all kind of works. It’s a slasher in a haunted house with supernatural elements and zombies. And for some reason, it has a poster that references House Party. Recommended for fans looking for a good prequel to Ti West’s X. (Chris Coffel)
Leaving Tromaville but wanting more horror? Check out the rest of our 31 Days of Horror Lists!
Related Topics: 31 Days of Horror Lists