Is it really that time of the year? Have we already exhausted 2013′s cinematic catalog for all it’s worth? Wow, I fell like it was only yesterday where I was grumpily counting down my thirteen least favorite horror films of 2012, but apparently since then I’ve seen about 100 more horror movies, and it’s time to embrace the awfulness once again. Well, OK, not so much embrace, but warn you good-hearted readers of the atrocious horror films I forced myself to sit through this year so you don’t have to. I mean, some of you will anyway, or you have, and to you wayward souls I commend your ability to seek out all types of horror films, and I’d also suggest you follow my daily postings as my reviews come out in real time. Save yourself the trouble of purchasing a movie ticket only to be let down by yet another genre clone. I’m here to help, let me be your Sherpa up the blood-soaked mountain that is the horror genre!
On a positive note, 2013 was a mighty year for horror, one of the best in recent memory, so my “Best of the Year” list is going to be an absolute gold mine of recommendable content. But with the good comes the bad, and before I can come to you with smiles and rainbows, I’ve got to wade through the murky bog of terrible, rotten, no-good horror movies not worth an ounce of your effort. These are the horror movies that test your patience, push no boundaries, and flop around lifelessly like a fish out of water, waiting to be rescued by the horror Gods – but salvation never comes. We cry out, we ask for the misery to stop, but these films just never give up, all the way until the bitter, sour end.
My list is pretty varied this year, containing reboots gone awry, sequels that aren’t really sequels, independent films that forget to be creative, mainstream flops, and novel adaptations with the worst of intentions. There wasn’t one finger to point, but multiple fingers pointing in all different directions, including at one of the most iconic horror directors to come out of the Giallo era of Italian horror filmmaking. Don’t define 2013 by these duds, as there are PLENTY of horror movies I’m going to be praising unconditionally, but just do yourself a favor and don’t become another victim claimed by these gruelling headaches.
Alright, enough jabbering, time to start counting down the 13 worst horror movies of 2013!Next
13) Texas Chainsaw 3D
Texas Chainsaw 3D should be thanking the other twelve films on this list, because when I did my mid-year horror assessment, John Luessenhop’s poorly plotted sequel was fighting amongst the worst of the worst. Fortunately for Leatherface, some absolutely horrid stinkers reared their ugly heads in the months to follow, but that doesn’t mean this sad excuse of a franchise entry escaped bottom of the barrel honors completely. If you’re talking the worst of the worst horror films from this past year, there’s no leaving out this egotistical, insufferable, unnecessary reboot.
Some people claim that if Texas Chainsaw 3D was released in the 80s, fans would absolutely love it. Here’s a movie that picks up where Tobe Hooper’s leaves off (more or less), re-writing the history of Leatherface. All those other sequels and cast members can be forgotten, because according to Luessenhop, his sequel is the only film that matters. Yeah, fat chance, and you can rest assured whether it be 1985 or 2020, I’m still going to have the same qualms about such a misguided film.
Leatherface is absolutely deconstructed this time around, and what’s left is a shell of the most iconic mask-wearing slasher of all time. Granted, he’s nothing but a scared, simple man throughout every film, but Luessenhop’s film sympathizes entirely too much with the beast. There are enough plot holes to fill another feature film with explanations, we’re given a killer that’s more like a lap dog, potential is wasted around every turn (NO CARNIVAL KILLS?!), and not even budding scream queen Alexandra Daddario can save this rotting slab of meaty misery.
I go into much more detail in my theatrical review of the film, which I obviously encourage you to read, but just understand there’s a reason why Texas Chainsaw 3D is kicking my list off. Well, actually, there are plenty of reasons, but we don’t have time to discuss them all here…Previous Next
12) World War Z
Surprisingly, I actually gave the mainstream horror movement a lot of credit this year – except for World War Z. The biggest injustice done to the horror genre had to be teasing fans by optioning Max Brooks’ far superior novel, ignoring everything that made his socio-political story so brilliant, and delivering some hack-job story that did absolutely nothing to advance the horror genre. Take Brad Pitt, throw him in Hell, CGI some super-freak zombies, add a little product placement, and boom – you’ve got a zombie snoozer that’s nothing but hollow, empty, big-budget effects.
Pitt’s character Gerry Lane is a borderline superhero, prancing about the globe on a quest to solve the zombie epidemic while sustaining a multitude of injuries that should have put him down. How could they do that to the film’s protagonist, though?! Patch him up and get him back in action, there are zombies afoot! All the realism and grounded sincerity from Brooks’ book vanishes along with respectability once it becomes painfully evident that Gerry Lane can do no wrong, making the rest of the film feel like a simple formality.
Mix all that tomfoolery with true boredom, a dreadful misconception about fast zombies being inherently scary, more epic plot holes, a re-shot ending featuring one of the absolute worst sequences in horror history (Pitt taking a commercial-grade swig from a nice soft drink), and cinematic deceit – still sound like the adrenaline rush film you’re expecting?
World War Z was actually received with open arms by a solid collection of critics, but I couldn’t stop myself from leaving my screening in an underwhelmed state of agony. Chalk up another loss for the zombie genre!Previous Next
11) The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia
It’s always confusing when a horror movie has two locations in its title. There’s a haunting in Connecticut, but the ghosts are in Georgia? So are we in Connecticut? Georgia? Yes, this “sequel” does nothing but try to piggyback on title alone, creating a completely recycled and regrettable watch. Enter a struggling family looking for some peace and quiet, the spooky, obviously haunted house they movie into, and their small child who connects with a local urban legend type of ghost. Why is it always the children who see the horrifying ghost? Oh the young, malleable minds who let the undead enter their abode – this is why I’ll never have children.
All joking aside, The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia is a sad rehashing of the paranormal genre that relies on nothing but more of the same. Sure, there’s a bit of Southern history (supposedly), but by the time we learn about the slavery backstory on our unsuspecting family’s property, we’ve been bored to tears by lackluster jump scares and a lumpy urban legend – none of which connects to the earlier happenings in Connecticut. The only parallel here is that there’s a ghost story, and some of you may or may not be scared. Personally, I wasn’t chilled in the least, and where I wasn’t impressed by The Haunting In Connecticut, this Georgian sequel does even less for me.
Ladies may love the fact that Chad Michael Murray is the leading man, and the young Emily Alyn Lind does her best to lead us on this haunting journey, but scares are at a disappointing minimum here. Don’t worry, The Haunting In Connecticut: Ghosts Of Georgia: Taking Place In New York is coming soon enough. I’m not kidding, welcome to a horribly unnecessary franchise.Previous Next
10) Butcher Boys
Coming in at number ten we have Butcher Boys, a Texas Chainsaw Massacre knock off from the co-writer of Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Seriously, the marketing campaign obviously talked up the “From The Creator Of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” angle, but true fans are going to be let down when they realize Tobe Hooper didn’t touch this project with a ten-foot-poll. What we’ve got here is a cannibal story from Kim Henkel, the man who collaborated with Hooper and did a little producing in the act. He hasn’t really been relevant in the horror genre since, and Butcher Boys could be just as bad as his horribly, no good Leatherface sequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Yup, Hinkle was to blame for that monstrosity, and his destructive reign still hasn’t ended.
Butcher Boys is part Grease, party deadly story about people-eating cultists, minus all the singing and dancing. Just look at the picture above, aren’t you just cowering in your boots viewing these slick-backed bad-boys from the 1960s? Starting at a horrendous pace, eventually we meet another group of eccentric characters who have a taste for human flesh, but by this point, we’ve realized that Hinkle’s story is audacious for no reason, the cannibal arc is eerily similar to his previous work, and this backwards town doesn’t have a lick of entertainment to be found. Ali Faulkner does her best to avoid her doomed fate, but in a story that doesn’t make us care about her survival, there’s not much worth rooting for. Boring, bland, and about as tasty as month-old flank steak.
No matter how you dress up this putrid meal, Butcher Boys isn’t even a meal fit for a peasant – the lowliest, most starved of peasants.Previous Next
Hey, remember that time Wesley Snipes vanished from Hollywood for a little while, doing jail time for a wee bit of tax fraud he committed? Remember the movie he was permitted to finished before being hauled away to the hoosegow? Probably not, and honestly, I don’t blame you, because Gallowwalkers was that movie he was allowed to finish, and even though all this happened back in 2006, this zombie Western isn’t seeing the light of day until 2013. Hey, but films like Cabin In The Woods were shelved unjustly as well, aren’t you being a little hard on Gallowwalkers? No, no I’m not. Films like Cabin In The Woods were shelved because of studio rights bullshit and bankruptcy – Gallowwalkers was shelved because no one had any idea what to do with it.
Gallowwalkers is about Wesley Snipes’ character Aman, a bounty hunter of sorts who must kill the undead forms of gangsters he already put in the grave. It’s a mix between horror and action, heavily playing off the gun-slinging period Aman lives in. Sounds like it could be fun, right? Wrong. The whole ordeal seems silly and cartoonish, as we watch Aman strut around and pull off long-distance shots from rocky mountain tops with a simple six-shooter, having simple comedic fun with his sidekick Fabulous – yes, that’s his stereotypical partner’s name. I’m a tad bit bummed because there’s definitely room for B-Movie antics, but it all comes off as absolutely snooze worthy, no matter how badass Wesley Snipes still is.
I honestly wish Gallowwalkers was never shelved, because I could have gotten this negative review out of my system years ago. Oh well, here’s one more film to populate my bottom thirteen horror picks, it was bound to happen sometime.Previous Next
8) Embrace Of The Vampire
What year end list of terrible horror movies would be complete without the inevitable vampire remake that I didn’t even know was a remake? Yes, apparently Embrace Of The Vampire already happened years ago with Alyssa Milano as leading lady, but it wasn’t a particularly hearty vampire flick – and neither is its remake. Well, I say remake as in they have the same title, and feature a vampire story in some regard, because thankfully our new films tries to deviate from the already established source material. Unfortunately, by deviating and attempting something now, Carl Bessai takes two steps backwards in the quality department, making a laughably tame movie that momentarily forgets vampires are even involved. Wait, Embrace Of The Vampire isn’t about a confused lesbian dreaming of sexy time?!
Yes, Embrace Of The Vampire doesn’t give us any true vampire action until about ONE HUNDRED minutes in, when our antagonist finally flashes his fangs and gives us a villain worth biting into. Although, by this point it’s all too late, which is a recurring theme amongst my least favorite horror films this year, as we’ve already been tortured by a whiny lead character, gratuitous nudity amongst sexy co-eds, and terrible character work missing even the slightest bit of tension. We’re supposed to be watching a poor girl accept her fate as vampire slayer, or something along those lines, but instead we watch her fall asleep, dream something gross that doesn’t happen in real life, and then we find her waking up in a sleepy haze. That’s about it, and that’s about as exciting as it gets.
Embrace Of The Vampire is more like having your neck gummed by an incredibly hapless vampire for over an hour, only to have it give up and slink back in disgust. At this point, you’d probably even want to be bitten, let down by the promise of vampire action. Too bad I have to save my vampire puns until later in the list, otherwise I’d have a few choice zingers for this waste of genre space.Previous Next
7) I Spit On Your Grave 2
I Spit On Your Grave 2 is some of the most vile, repugnant, reprehensible horror filmmaking I’ve ever seen – and not in a good way. The original film, the one made in the 1970s, pushed boundaries by making females the dominant sex in the horror genre, something that could be utilized for shock-value entertainment at the time. Fast forward to the recent remake, and you’ve still got a horror film about one woman’s disgustingly repulsive night of being raped, and the vengeance she seeks. Fast forward again to this year’s sequel to the said remake, and you’ve got a film that not only displays just how much of a one-hit wonder the original I Spit On Your Grave is, but how sadistic it is to utilize such a horrifying scenario to repeated “torture porn” fame. A film franchise can’t be built on rape and hedonism. It just can’t be.
I Spit On Your Grave 2 is far too much of our main character’s kidnapping and sexual assault, and far too much emotionless revenge. At this point, creator Steven R. Monroe has thrown away everything that made Meir Zarchi’s original such a cult hit. This time around, we’re given a character savagely broken down with little connection, and then a destructive path of Kill Bill style retribution with equally abysmal build-up. Monroe simply wants to create the most gut-wrenching, vomit-inducing kill sequences possible, like a low-rate Saw franchise rip-off. The problem is, he’s doing so utilizing something as absolutely horrendous as rape, and we’re forced to sit through every excruciating, draw-out second. Gross, disgusting, and inconceivably insensitive – and this is coming from someone who sat through 90 horror movies this year.
I can’t express how sad I am that these movies are spawning a franchise, and I seriously hope the buck stops right here. If there’s another I Spit On Your Grave coming in the near future, you better believe I won’t be happy about reviewing it.Previous Next
6) Red Clover
I’ve seen some pretty good After Dark series specials, and I’ve seen some pretty awful ones as well. Red Clover, originally titled Leprechaun’s Revenge, falls into the latter category, barely even watchable compared to those laughably cheesy SyFy specials that air every Saturday night. There’s an original idea present, one that tries to take advantage of the underused Leprechaun myth, but everything about Red Clover feels overly amateur and incredibly inexperienced, dragging out even the dumbest gags for what seems like hours on end. Leprechauns were once scary like Billy Zane was once a good actor – but Red Clover does nothing to make me believe either statement holds up today.
According to Red Clover, Leprechauns aren’t these jokey little Irishmen searching for gold and spitting one-liners, because they’re actually cursed fairies that are in fawn form. Pissed off after years of being trapped, this evil Leprechaun starts running free and killing townspeople, and by killing, I mean pulling actors off camera so a cheap splatter of blood can shoot against a wall. Yes, everything about Red Clover is low-budget, right down to the rubber creature suit and weak off-screen effects, and while some independent films are able to mask such setbacks, no amount of filmmaking trickery can hide the sad, silly state of Red Clover.
If you want to play a fun drinking game to this flick, drink every time Billy Zane makes you laugh. Disclaimer: if you play this drinking game, you will die 30 minutes into Red Clover. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.Previous Next
A movie with Danielle Harris and John Jarratt should not be this bad. Seriously, she’s the Scream Queen of our generation, and he’s one of the best psychopaths of our generation. This teaming should have been a bit of horror history, but instead it’s a bit of bargain bin horror drivel not even worth the mostly ignored direct to home video release. There’s poor acting, a horrible spoiling of talent, not an iota of terror, and the positively worst killer I’ve seen all year. Again, this is JOHN F#CKING JARRATT, he belongs nowhere near a worst of the worst list – unless we’re talking about his portrayal of “The Griffin” in Shiver.
The more Shiver tried to make Danielle Harris a helpless victim, the worse it became. Harris plays the aggressor so damn well, yet here we’re forced to watch Danielle Harris rely on every character around her for safety – as they all fail miserably. Jarratt’s killer character turns into one of those superhuman murderers who happens to be absolutely everywhere, no matter where Danielle goes. Shiver is a cat and mouse game with absolutely no strategy or intelligence, with John Jarratt killing the mood every time he opens his mouth to spout increasingly ridiculous dialogue. Danielle runs, Jarratt is right behind her. Danielle falls asleep, Jarratt is in her house. Danielle breaths, Jarratt is breathing right behind her. Can’t she get even the slightest of breaks?!
Shiver is serial killer fodder that absolutely fails in establishing a tense chase between killer and victim. It’s a shame Danielle was part of this production, because it didn’t call for any of her She-Woman talents. Miscast, poorly written, and struggling to remain an entertaining horror film – that’s Shiver.Previous Next
4) Fright Night 2: New Blood
Alright, a terrible remake is one thing, but a terrible remake masking itself as a sequel to a much more superior remake produced only two years ago is a completely different beast. Fright Night 2: New Blood isn’t a follow up to the Anton Yelchin/Colin Farrell starring rehash from 2011, but instead it’s yet another remake of the same exact story with different actors, a different setting, and a confusingly inferior production that might be one of the most unnecessary films of 2013. I’m not talking just horror, I’m talking in all of cinema. I rather enjoyed Craig Gillespie’s remake, as it brought new life to a vampire story that fights back against the Twilight era, but Edurdo Rodriguez’s film does absolutely nothing to raise the dead. Rodriguez’s entry is about as dead as a doornail, bested in every sense by Gillespie’s.
The first red flag to me occurred when actor Chris Waller appeared as Evil Ed in full human form, meaning he wasn’t taking over for Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s previous character, but instead re-inventing him. Why would he need to be re-invented? Well, I found that out the hard way, as I sat through a Fright Night re-imagining that stumbled down an all-too-familiar path. More vampires in hiding, more pre-teen relationships being threatened by dark forces, except this time instead of Colin Farrell we got the smokin’ Jamie Murray as our vampire antagonist. Not even the salacious vixen could save us viewers from a lackluster fate though, as all the pools of blood and sexy girl-on-girl vampire action couldn’t make Fright Night 2: New Blood a movie worthy of replacing Craig Gillespie’s far, far better effort.
With all the plot points and characters this time around, there’s only one question raised by Fright Night 2: New Blood: Why?Previous Next
3) The Demented
I love supporting independent cinema with every breath in my body, which is why my dislike for The Demented hurts so much. Low-budget fun, minimalist storytelling, more free-thinking filmmakers – these are all the things that make independent filmmaking such a treasure. Christopher Roosevelt unfortunately doesn’t embrace ANY of those aspects, and his zombie flick The Demented ends up being one of the most boring horror watches of the year. It’s a tired formula that Roosevelt implements, one that so many similar directors mistakenly believe is a formula for success.
In The Demented, a group of sexy hardbodies party obnoxiously at the most fratty friend’s family vacation home, a rogue CGI missile infects some of the American population with a rabid infection (zombies, don’t kid yourself), and our terrible excuses for human beings are forced to fight for their lives any way they can. First they try holding out in the lavish mansion, but when that doesn’t work, they try heading out into the danger zone for a daring escape. Of course, the action is beyond bland, the characters are about as wooden as Christmas nutcrackers, and the independent nature of Roosevelt’s film becomes a negative detractor instead of freeing device. Where such an opportunity should only create dangerous moments of genre gutsiness, The Demented refuses to step outside the constricting box its feet are firmly planted in.
Sex appeal – that’s the only thing The Demented worries about. Not acting, not scares, not thrills, chills, or anything that makes the horror genre fun. What. A. Crock.Previous Next
2) The Last Exorcism Part II
Oh, I’m sorry, did you really believe The Last Exorcism would be the LAST exorcism? Well, you’ll wish it was after watching The Last Exorcism Part II, one of the worst horror sequels I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Ashley Bell does her best as the possessed Nell, who contorted her body like a Russian gymnast to some pretty decent acclaim in Daniel Stamm’s original, but all the back-breaking moves couldn’t save incoming director Ed Gass-Donnelly from derailing this Eli Roth produced franchise. Trust me, any other year this film would have easily ran away with “Worst Of The Year” honors, but this was a special year – so it’s only the second worst.
In the first film, we’re faced with cultists, killers, and an evil spirit driving poor Nell criminally insane. This time around, Nell develops a romantic relationship with the satanic demon Abalam, and instead of midnight scares, we get to watch Abalam and Nell interacting in some weird, evil hanky-panky. Seriously. She’s not writing in pain, there’s no horror, just a girl getting freaky with the darkest force of all. I mean, sure, there’s some apocalyptic story going on in the background of this “heartwarming” love-story, but considering the scariest portions of The Last Exorcism Part II are nothing but flashbacks to the mildly entertaining original, to say Ed Gass-Donnelly dropped the ball is a VAST understatement. He drops the ball, it rolls down into the Grand Canyon, flows all the way down a random river, and is never heard from again. Goodbye ball! Goodbye quality!
If you like your possession films without the slightest bit of genre know-how and with a terrible love story involved, then look no further – do I have the sequel for you!Previous Next
1) Dracula 3D
Dario Argento made this steaming pile of “cinema.” Honestly, I’m not joking. Let that sink in for a while. Have you had a minute to comprehend such a mind-bending fact? Yes, the man behind Deep Red and Suspiria is responsible for THE worst vampire film I’ve ever seen, and this is coming from someone living through the Twilight dark ages.
There are so many places to start with this one, it’s hard picking just one pain point. Personally, for me, the entire movie is one massive pain point, as I can’t think of a single redeeming factor from Argento’s most phoned-in attempt at genre lore. The 3D looked awful, the special effects were even worse, and Rutger Hauer appeared to be drunk on set in every scene. How anyone could edit this mess together without hitting the delete button is beyond me, subjecting the public to a GIGANTIC blemish on Argento’s coveted resume. Dario Argento – I still can’t get over that.
Alright, let me try to keep my frustrations in order without writing another thousand word essay. Acting? As I already mentioned, Rutger Hauer plays an absolutely out-of-whack Van Helsing character, fighting Thomas Kretschmann’s cartoony Count Dracula, while Dario awkwardly films his daughter Asia Argento in a random nude scene. All the actors here are terribly over-acting (or under-acting, I still can’t tell), taking visible cues from Dario. Then you’ve got a vampire story that reverts to much older mythology, which is enjoyable to some degree – then Dracula turns into a giant Praying Mantis, because that’s what vampires used to be able to do – turn into any creature. Anyway, I use the gigantic bug example because it segways perfectly into my next complaint about CGI graphics that could barely pass for a 90s computer game cut-scene. Bleeding characters saw nothing but pools of pixelated blood underneath them, Dracula’s transformations look like they cost all of $20 to create – the best descriptive word that comes to mind is cheap. In a time when 3D movies can achieve some pretty hypnotic visual spectacles, Dracula 3D is nothing short of embarrassing.
I can’t even anymore. I wrote a full review for a reason, so I really don’t feel like re-living what could possibly be the worst horror film of this decade. If you’re really that interested in a gigantic insect vampire, I encourage you to ready my full review so you’re fully prepared for the traumatizing experience you’re about to partake in.
Dracula 3D is the worst of the worst, that I can promise you. It’s like Argento showed up to the science fair with a cup of dirt, and he’s just looking around at all the other kids with their replica solar systems and their fully-erupting volcanoes – and he didn’t even spell “dirt” right. If you need to see for yourself just what I’m talking about, then check out the trailer below.
Alright horror fans, now is your chance to tell me which of these films you personally enjoyed, and which films I missed that you absolutely despised. I think you can find the comments section from here, no? Feel free to drop me a message on the Twittersphere as well, I’m always down for a discussion!
Matt Donato Follow @DoNatoBomb