It’s happened to all of us: we tell our friends about this amazing horror movie we've just watched and they look at us like we'd just crop-dusted the confessional at church. They push us to the ground and scream that this particular movie we love is the dumbest, stupidest pile of garbage the world has ever pooped into existence, as they repeatedly kick us in the head. Before losing consciousness we tell ourselves this movie is obviously a “guilty pleasure,” and we'll probably just keep our opinions to ourselves from now on.
Okay, maybe that’s never happened, but you get my point.
We have to categorize things; movies, books, music, etc. They need labels so we can know what to avoid and what to embrace. Horror movies are no different, and they generally fall into four basic categories: The Great, The Terrible, The Meh, and a very special list I call, “I really shouldn’t love this, but I just can’t help it.” Here are 5 horror movies that have always caused me to sing “If Loving You is Wrong...I Don’t Wanna Be Right!”
Joy Ride (2001)
I don’t think anyone would call this a terrible movie, but most people probably watched this little gem and immediately tossed it into the “Meh” pile. I disagree. They must have watched it while studying for finals or cleaning the bathroom, because it’s a whole lot better than that. Joy Ride takes a fairly generic premise: people being stalked and tormented by an unseen predator, and manages to infuse it with some truly great tension and atmosphere. Add a razor sharp script and some excellent performances (RIP Paul Walker), Joy Ride rises above the massive garbage heap of forgettable horror/thriller fare.
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
My favorite zombie movie of all time. Yep, I said it. I love it more than Dawn of the Dead (both versions), 28 Days Later, Day of the Dead, Zombieland, and even Shaun of the Dead (but that’s a close 2nd). The Return of the Living Dead is quite possibly the most entertaining movie I’ve ever seen. No joke. There isn’t a second of this horror/comedy that isn’t a joy to watch. The performances are hilarious and over the top (James Karen is AMAZING), the gore is plentiful and over the top, and the story is ludicrous, over the top, and fantastic. If you haven’t seen this yet I can’t express how much I recommend it. Just see it.
Kiss of the Damned (2012)
Kiss of the Damned is a strange one. It’s gory, it’s extremely sexy, and it’s got style to burn. Critics praised its look, but dismissed it as being shallow, with cardboard characters. That was fair, I guess, but sometimes a movie that is just gorgeous to look at is enough. Directed by Xan Cassavettes (daughter of cult director John Cassavettes and actress Gena Rowlands), her first full-length feature shows a remarkable skill behind the camera. Kiss of the Damned is flawed, and is kind of a love it or hate it film; but I kinda loved it.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
It isn’t widely known that Tobe Hooper was honestly surprised by the audience reaction to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While certainly not intended to be a full-fledged comedy, apparently Mr. Hooper thought his little classic was so over the top (especially once poor Sally Hardesty is finally caught and sat at the head of the family’s dining room table) that the audience would have no choice but to laugh. That didn’t happen. Instead, viewers were so horrified by what they were witnessing that the original is now considered one of the scariest horror movies of all time. Well, Tobe Hooper wasn’t having that, so he decided the sequel would be the insane, so-horrifying-it’s-almost-funny gorefest that he’d dreamed of making. Part 2 is crazy, it’s fun, and it’s a truly unique viewing experience that still divides horror fans to this day.
Troll 2 (1990)
Okay, what can be said about Troll 2 that hasn’t already been said a thousand times. It’s so terrible that it has the rare distinction of being a masterpiece of ineptitude. Watch it with friends and a lot of alcohol and, I promise you, 10 minutes into this absolute mess of a movie you’ll be laughing, cheering, and screaming, “Oooh...My...Goooooooooooooood!!!”
I love a good Guilty Pleasure, and these are but a few of my favorites. Feel free to mention your own secret shames below. I love comments almost as much as I love these movies!
But remember, In the immortal words of George Hardy: “Do you see this writing? Do you know what it means? Hospitality. And you can’t piss on hospitality! I WON’T ALLOW IT!”