So, I’ll cop to enjoying–actually enjoying–watching horribly made, low-budget, inept, misconceived, and altogether stupid horror movies. It’s the main reason I’m a terrible at reviewing movies–I can always suspend disbelief and see the good in even the silliest films. So, trolling through the IMDB for some new material to get into, I started to keep tabs on the absolutely lowest rated horror films.
Before we get into the films, maybe a note of caution is in order about using IMDB’s numerical rating system for anything like assessing the quality of films–mainly, that it’s pretty arbitrary. Not every film is rated, some films are rated more than others, and there’s no standard way of arriving at a user’s subjective rating. So no real conclusions should be drawn from this at all. But this is about finding new films to watch, not making actual important decisions from–so I’m not going to too wrapped around the axle on research designs or justifying methodologies.
Looking at all the films that IMDB classifies as horror–although that is a slippery definition in some cases–and then filtering down to only those films with a user rating of between 1.0-1.9 stars of a possible ten, we get a little more than 100 nominations for the worst horror movie ever. To show how bad these can get, consider that Twilight is a 5.2; Fifty Shades of Grey and Plan Nine From Outer Space–both are touted as contenders for worst movie ever, and both rate a whopping 4.0. We’re going all the way the end of the rabbit hole here.
Starting with the highest rated of these–scoring a 1.9–we have 35 films. I don’t have time, inclination, or space to go film-by-film, but this cohort includes gems like Manos, the Hands of Fate (1966), Birdemic 2: Resurrection (2013), and Biker Zombies From Detroit (2001). Note that Manos, often derided as “the worst film ever made,” is in the highest rated cohort here. There are films worse than Manos–all the way to the end of the rabbit hole, indeed.
19 films received a rating of 1.8, with the standouts being Bimbos B.C. (1990), Sleepaway Camp 4: The Survivor (1992–IMDB says this is a 2012 film, clearly an error); Sorority House Vampires (1998), the original Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010).
Jaws in Japan (2009) and 12/12/12 (2012) are the only films of the ten that received a 1.7 that seem in any way noteworthy.
Likewise, the of the next ten films that rated a 1.6, only Ring of Terror (1962)–because it is the oldest on the list–and O.C. Babes and the Slasher of Zombietown (2008)—because of the ridiculous title–are ones that I’ll be trying to track down.
Coming in at a star-and-a-half we get 14 more films, including the I-don’t-think-its-porn-but-I-could-be-wrong Barely Legal Lesbian Vampires: The Curse of Ed Wood (2003). It’s not porn, since the whole film is available on YouTube. Also here is a remake of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven (2006), but something must have gone horribly, horribly wrong for such a classic tale to end up on this list.
Vapid Shallow Models Must Die! (2006) seems the only highlight of the eight films rating a 1.4. Note the trailer is posted to Myspace. The creators of these low-budget movies might be accused of being stuck in their own world.
Finally, with films rated 1.3 and lower, we are getting close to the proverbial bottom of the barrell. Ankle Biters (2002), and Curse of the Zodiac (2007), a riff on the Zodiac Killer by the prolific horror/exploitation director Ulli Lommel. Lommel also directed The Raven.
In Ankle Biters, we get midget vampires, from director Adam Minarovich, whom you’ll remember as Carol’s abusive husband from season 1 of The Walking Dead.
Ax ‘Em (1992) and Kracker Jack’d (2003), are coincidentally, both African-American-themed slashers, and both come in at 1.2 stars. Treatment of race is an interesting question for low-budget horror–and in horror reviews–but I’ll have to leave these for another time.
Nearing the worst of the worst, as rated by that mass of humanity that rates films on the IMDB, are Scott Shaw‘s Crimes of the Cupachabra (1998) and Frozen Flesh (2008). Shaw is noteworthy, or something, in that he is highly prolific, directing 7 films last year alone and believes in “zen filmmaking” that doesn’t bother with confining elements of the craft, like written scripts. Justin French brought us Frozen Flesh, a cannibal flick apparently filmed entirely through a red filter.
This brings us down to the lowest rated horror film–2010’s vaguely titled Deception. This is a pretty amateurish affair directed by one Vitaliy Versace, in which cameras shake, mic stands are occasionally visible, and behind-the-scenes crew can be heard over the cast. Deception was remastered in 2012, so maybe some of these errors are dealt with. In any case, this is what I love about low-budget films these days–seeing advanced amateurs plying their craft, errors and all. Some hit the big time, like Adam Minarovich, but that’s not always the goal. Some revel in the silly premises of their films like Scott Shaw, and others keep on pumping out their visions on film, like Vitaliy Versace. Regardless, there’s a lot more to understanding and enjoying bad films than Manos.