10 Entertaining Horror Films with Awful Rotten Tomatoes Scores

One genre dork's trash is another genre dork's treasure.

Tomatoes

5. Down (2001) RT 20%

The Shaft

The only person capable of doing Dick Maas is Dick Maas. That’s why when it came time to remake his 1983 classic about a killer elevator the only director that made sense was Dick Maas. The Dutch director’s second ride down the lift is more or less the same but polished up with a bigger budget. There are some minor plot adjustments here and there, but this is about bringing in bigger names — Naomi Watts, James Marshall, Michael Ironside, Ron Perlman, Dan Hedaya — and making it for an American audience. Unfortunately, it was released in 2001 and takes place in New York City with a few ominous references to terrorist attacks. As such its planned theatrical release was mostly scrapped, leaving the film to find a small audience and even fewer critics. And don’t get me started on those critics that did see it because they’re all fools. This is a bonkers, uniquely Maas film that’s a wild ride from the first floor to the penthouse suite. It may be deemed rotten, but I’ll happily ride down Dick’s shaft. (Chris Coffel)


4. Dead Silence (2007) RT 20%

Dead Silence

I usually hesitate to call a film ahead of its time, but there truly isn’t a better way to describe Dead Silence. The film follows Jamie (Ryan Kwanten), a recent widower who returns to his hometown to figure out what a mysterious puppet turning up on his doorstep has to do with his wife’s brutal death — sidenote: how can you read that plot and not love the movie already? James Wan’s first foray into supernatural horror was released in 2007 while visceral, gory horror was in a bit of a heyday, partially thanks to Wan’s own Saw franchise. This was just a few years before the genre turned towards more of an embrace of spooky horror. This turn allowed Wan to find his stride in supernatural horror with 2010’s Insidious, but let us not forget that he hit it first with Dead Silence. It’s a clever and unnerving film that has never gotten its due and is deserving of much more than a 20% fresh rating. (Anna Swanson)


3. Urban Legend (1998) RT 19%

Urban Legend

A blatant Scream ripoff with horror tableaus pulled straight from Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark playbook? What’s not to love! Jamie Blanks’ college-set slasher might not exactly be good per se, but there’s also nothing overtly bad about it either. The urban legend-loving killer stalks horny and unaware teens in a pattern that follows well-known cautionary tales, while Jared Leto, Tara Ried, and friends attempt to investigate and/or party through the chaos. If that still doesn’t sound entertaining enough, the film throws in an amateur kidney surgery scene, a pop rocks-related felony, and — a particular genre favorite of mine — a life-or-death moment playing out live over the local radio station. The movie never digs as deeply as it could into the social fears that are foundational to these cautionary tales, but it does take a winking look at the cultural practice of telling gruesome stories just for kicks. (Valerie Ettenhofer)


2. Maximum Overdrive (1986) RT 17%

Maximum Overdrive

Stephen King will be the first to tell you that Maximum Overdrive is the least of the films based on his work, but while he’s entitled to his own opinion, it’s clear that he’s remarkably off base here. It’s never smart and features some sketchy performances, but King’s sole directorial effort ⁠— based on his short story “Trucks”⁠ — is a ridiculously entertaining, over the top romp. From King’s hilarious cameo to the now iconic Green Goblin semi-truck to the scene where a kid gets run over by a steamroller, this is gloriously messy fun that wouldn’t work nearly as well any other way. (Rob Hunter)


1. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) RT 20%

Friday Th Final Chapter

Slasher films were winding down by 1984. Paramount Pictures and producer Frank Mancuso Jr. were done with Jason Vorhees, and it was finally time to put the hockey-masked killer to rest. Unfortunately for them, The Final Chapter is just too damn fantastic and demanded many, many, many more sequels — none of which compare to this beastly little beauty. You could enjoy the film squarely on the camp factor. Crispen Glover‘s spastic blitzkrieg boogie is noteworthy unto itself, requiring thoughtful consideration for those seeking confidence on the dance floor. But you should dare not dismiss Friday the 13th Part IV with mere mockery. Director Joseph Zito (fresh off The Prowler, another deliciously demented slasher) did not want his Friday to be just another onslaught of teenage dimwits and insisted on adding the Jarvis family alongside the rest of the film’s young fodder. If the Friday the 13th franchise has one great hero (that’s not Jason), then it’s Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman). The kid is a little Tom Savini in the making, losing himself to his monster makeup creations and serving as a champion for all us weirdos in the audience. His climactic assault on Jason is the result of a mind well-versed in horror movie mythology, attacking the killer psychologically rather than physically. His victory is bittersweet, as such an act of violence perpetrated at a young age is undoubtedly traumatic. This could have served for a savory narrative in the sequel if only the A New Beginning writers had a clue. (Brad Gullickson)

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