Here’s an unusual list, not because it’s out of the ordinary to ironically appreciate bad horror movies, but because Madd and Wolf disagree so vehemently about a) the movies on this list, and b) the entertainment value in bad movies. So just know that, though there are bones of contention aplenty, we’re still happy with the final six. How about you?
6. House (Hausu) (1977)
If Takashi Miike’s Happiness of the Katakuris were to marry Pee-wee’s Playhouse, this would be their offspring.
A spoof of sorts, Hausu tells the story of six uniform-clad high school girls named Gorgeous, Fantasy, Sweet, Melody, Kung Fu, and Mac. The nomenclature alone should clue you in on the film’s lunacy. The giggling sextet spend spring break at an aunt’s spooky house – or, in fact, a cheaply made set of an aunt’s spooky house. Not a single thing that follows makes sense, nor is it really meant to.
Expect puppets, random musical sequences, remarkably bad backdrops, slapstick humor, and an amazingly sunny disposition given the sheer volume of human dismemberment. The trippy nonsense wears a bit thin eventually. Luckily director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s film clocks in at under 90 minutes, so the screen goes dark before the novelty wears off.
Score: Hope does not consider this a bad movie in any respect. George considers it so bad it’s just bad.
5. Motel Hell (1980)
It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters, so swingers looking for a cheap motel in which to swing – be warned! Fifties heartthrob Rory Calhoun plays Farmer Vincent, who, along with his sister Ida (a super creepy Nancy Parsons) rid the world of human filth while serving the righteous some tasty viddles. Just don’t look under those wiggling, gurgling sacks out behind the butcherin’ barn!
Motel Hell is a deeply disturbed, inspired little low budget jewel. A dark comedy, the film nonetheless offers some unsettling images, not to mention sounds. Sure, less admiring eyes may see only that super-cheese director Kevin Connor teamed up with Parsons and Calhoun – as well as Elaine Joyce and John Ratzenberger – for a quick buck. But in reality, they teamed up to create one of the best bad horror films ever made.
So gloriously bad!
Score: Hope and George agree completely on the absolutely entertaining badness afoot in this one.
4. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
A seriously subversive film with blatant homosexual undertones, Sleepaway Camp is a bizarre take on the summer camp slasher.
It may be the shocking finale that gave the film its cult status, but it’s writer/director Robert Hilzik’s off-center approach to horror that makes it interesting. Dreamy flashbacks, weirdly gruesome murders, and a creepy (yet somehow refreshing) preoccupation with beefcake separate this one from the pack.
It’s not scary, certainly, but it is all manner of wrong. The kill sequences are hugely imaginative, and the subversive approach to the entire film makes it hard to believe more people haven’t seen this gem.
Score: Once again, George and Hope are in total agreement. This one’s a keeper.
3. Squirm (1976)
Writer/director Jeff Lieberman drops us off in rural Georgia, where small town hottie Geri (unrepentant ginger Patricia Pearcy) receives a visit from big city pal and possible boyfriend Mick (Don Scardino). Natch, the down home folk don’t take kindly to this city slicker – especially Roger, a menacing rube who wants Geri for his own.
So, the low budget gem creates a little of that Deliverance dread, but the payoff is, of course, the worms brought out by the pantload via voltage from a downed power line.
Lieberman does a fantastic job with the worms. They are everywhere, they’re nasty, they make that gross gummy noise as they squirm around on top of each other, and they may not only eat you but bore right into your face to turn you into a monster. That’s what happens to poor, lovelorn Rog, and it is awesome!
The acting and writing entertain, if ironically, but the movie offers a few real freakout moments and it goes in unexpected directions more than once. It’s weird, start to finish, and that’s always welcome.
Score: George does not care for Squirm, ironically or otherwise. Hope’s still smiling with joy just thinking about this movie.
2. Slugs: The Movie (1988)
Mike Brady (Michael Garfield) must save himself, his town, and his lustrous waves from the menace of man-eating slugs– acting ability or no! And if Sherriff Reese and Mayor Eaton can’t get their heads out of their asses, then dammit, Mike Brady will take care of this himself!
Once it’s discovered that the entire population of mutant slugs is in a single area, Mike Brady makes the level-headed, finely coiffured decision to literally explode the entire town from beneath. Why not dose their hive with salt, you ask? What are you, a wuss?!
But that’s beside the point because Mike Brady has a town to save! He’s getting scant help from the Brit chem teacher who can’t even lift a manhole cover. Weak limey! Do Mike Brady and his hair have to do everything?
The epic saga finishes with a hearty embrace. Mike Brady squeezes his puffy-coat wearing wife, and we all ignore the untold damage he’s just done to the town he singlehandedly blew to pieces. People were killed, certainly. Perhaps an arrest was more in order than a hug. But Mike Brady doesn’t do arrested.
Score: George really hates this movie and considers it an almost criminal waste of his time. Slugs: The Movie fills hope with glee and she’d gladly watch it again right now.
1. The Night of a Thousand Cats (1972)
Oh my God.
This one has to be seen to be believed. It moves at a dreamlike pace, as chopper pilot/monk/playboy/cat lover Hugo (Hugo Stiglitz!) flies his helicopter menacingly close to sexy women lounging poolside, and they act like that’s not weird at all. He mouths flirtations toward them as their towels and lawn furniture blow hither and yon. Eventually they find this dangerous harassment charming enough to be wooed.
Oh, you trusting, slutty ladies.
But things don’t always go smoothly for the handsomely wooden Hugo – as flashbacks to Head in the Jar #2 attest. It’s a deeply weird movie full of cannibalism, bad parenting, questionable facial hair decisions, and a blatant disregard for the dangers of sun damage. Plus, a thousand cats.
I know. Bad movies are often just not worth it. This one is. I swear it.
Score: Even George has to admit that the awe-inspiring incompetence of this film begs for your viewing.
Listen to the whole conversation on the FRIGHT CLUB podcast.