This article is part of our ongoing series, 31 Days of Horror Lists.
You ever go dumpster diving through the horror section of your local streaming service and stumble across a bona fide gem? You ever look that gem up on a review-aggregator site only to find that your beloved romp is widely considered to be a big ole’ turkey? It happens to the best of us. Really, if there were genre film initiation rites, enjoying the hell out of critical rejects would be a necessary requirement.
In honor of delightful duds, we’ve assembled ten of the best. The crème de la poubelle, as it were. Our criteria? Entertaining horror flicks with Tomatometer scores coming in at 20% or less. Rest assured, the films on this list are not guilty pleasures. We have nothing to apologize for, and neither do you, dear reader! Hold your trash close! Tell the world about it! Joy is a precious resource these days, and if you must dig through VOD landfills to find kernels of happiness, so be it!
To celebrate fantastically fun trash, keep reading for the top ten entertaining (and rotten) horror films as voted on by Anna Swanson, Brad Gullickson, Chris Coffel, Jacob Trussell, Kieran Fisher, Rob Hunter, Valerie Ettenhofer, and myself.
10. Black Christmas (2006) — RT 15%
Look, Bob Clark’s original Black Christmas is a seminal slasher film that’s regarded by many fright fans as a classic. Without it, we wouldn’t have movies like Halloween and the slasher boom that followed. It’s an important movie. With this in mind, I completely understand why people don’t enjoy this remake, which exchanged the suspenseful and ambiguous qualities of the original in favor of gore and stupidity. However, gore and stupidity is just as good as that stuff when it’s handled with this much disregard for good taste. Black Xmas gave us incest in the attic, cannibalistic Christmas food, and eyeballs being ripped from skulls. If it had a different title I firmly believe that this would be regarded as a holiday slasher classic in its own right. Time will prove me right on this one. (Kieran Fisher)
9. House II: The Second Story (1987) — RT 9%
House II: The Second Story comes from the same sequel school as Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Who cares what went on before? The important thing is that we have a house and shenanigans are afoot. The quicker you put your memory of the original film out of your head, the better you’ll be, and that shouldn’t be too hard once the cowboy zombie ghost named Gramps appears. Screenwriter Ethan Wiley and director Sean S. Cunningham take a germ of a story from Fred Dekker and jettison any chance of making a spooky story. They’re making a goofy-ass comedy with pterodactyls, caterpillar dogs, a serial killer specter, and John Ratzenberger‘s electrician/part-time adventurer. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, our heroes stumble into an Aztec sacrifice. Is none of this making any sense? You’re damn right, and it’s glorious. (Brad Gullickson)
8. The Seventh Sign (1988) — RT 15%
Any film “based on the final chapter of the bible” is destined to be a good time, no further questions your honor. Abby Quinn (Demi Moore) is a woman in need of a tenant and when David comes around she’s all too grateful. That is until it becomes apparent that he’s trying to nab the soul of her unborn child. Unbeknownst to Abby, David is Christ incarnate and intends to break the seven seals and unleash chaos upon the world. And he’s already broken six! Keep your slow burn demonic possession snoozefests, The Seventh Sign has bells, whistles, apocalyptic baby sacrifice, and GOAT Jürgen Prochnow as Jesus Christ! Tell me that doesn’t sound like a good time to you. It’s an atmospheric, uncynical end of the world thriller about baby sacrifice that is well made, woefully forgotten, and a hell of a good time. (Meg Shields)
7. The Wicker Man (2006) — RT 20%
Neil LaBute is trash, with no work more evident of this truth than his remake of Robin Hardy’s classic of folk horror The Wicker Man. It’s a remake so egregiously bad that you should reconsider everything LaBute has ever written or directed. But you can’t think of Robin Hardy’s classic – or even LaBute himself – when watching the 2006 remake because the film lives and breathes in the lungs of Nicolas Cage. The same lungs that scream about bees, that provide oxygen as he runs through a May Day celebration in a bear costume, that give him the strength to drop kick any woman who stands in his way! He takes a film that should have been forgotten, relegated to the bad memories of the mid 00’s remake machine launched by Platinum Dunes, and makes it work – sort of. It’s a kaleidoscope of bad ideas, saved by the steady hand of an actor who knows how to go off the rails when a film calls for it. And The Wicker Man remake calls for it. (Jacob Trussell)
6. House of 1000 Corpses (2003) — RT 20%
You’re telling me the film with a villain named “Doctor Satan” is…silly? No. Surely not. House of 1000 Corpses is a bad trip with a funny bone that’s incoherent in the way a good grindhouse should be. It’s the closest Rob Zombie has ever got to recreating The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and it’s a hell of a good time. There’s a slow-mo shootout set to Slim Whitman! Sid Haig and Karen Black are firing on all cylinders! Check your fancy-pants “hon hon hon did you know Tobe Hooper made art films?” attitude at the door because House of 1000 Corpses doesn’t even want to sit at the adult’s table. It wants to make skin suits, skeleton corridors, and give obnoxious midnight audiences an unrelenting punk rock carnival ride. It’s a haunted house maze that wished very hard to be a real movie and sometimes, that’s just what the doctor (Satan) ordered. (Meg Shields)