Category: 2008


0023I recently had the pleasure of listening to the original 1938 radio play of War of the Worlds, and watching the classic 1953 film, and I was thinking wouldn’t it be cool to pull together all the film adaptations in one place? I found seven feature-length films and a short-lived TV series. Here you go:

1953

Starting off with a bang, the original film adaptation is still the best outing.  It was a smash success, and won an Oscar for special effects. Way ahead of its peers in the “monster from out space coming to eat you” genre–this one was actually quite a believable flick. The Martian spaceship effects were recycled about a decade later for Robinson Crusoe on Mars, which is another classic definitely worth your time.

While we’re at it, check out this quick interview about the visual effects for this first outing:

 1988-90

After a 35-year hiatus, as far as I can tell, the next iteration was a two-season (42 episode) series that was more or less a direct sequel to the 1953 film. The opener included a couple shots of, or re-created to look like, the original film. In this iteration, we get War of the Worlds mashed up with The Thing in which the Martians are taking over the bodies of people from Earth. Two re-treaded Red Scare/Cold War allegories for the price of one!

2005

Fifteen more years of hiatus and we get not one, not two, but three variations on the theme! Of course there was the blockbuster directed by Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. The Spielberg version is certainly a serviceable B-movie flick, though somewhat forgettable, even if nominated for a couple sound and effects Oscars.

The rip-off version, properly known as H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, is a C. Thomas Howell straight to video monstrosity with god awful visual effects–it is perhaps unfair to compare a film with a million dollar budget to one with a $132 million budget. This video was clearly aimed at exploiting the notoriety the Spielberg version was sure to get. It was shot quickly in February 2005, made it through post quickly to be released within days of Spielberg’s version. And it got a sequel in 2008.

More interesting than either of the above is the Thomas Hines version of the story, set earlier in history in the late 19th century, which is truer to Wells’ original story. This one was shot earlier than the other two–in August 2004–and represents a more imaginative, if badly executed, take on the source material (on film). Most interestingly, Hines & Co. comes back with another version of the story in 2012.

2008

As threatened, we get to the sequel of the C. Thomas Howell version called War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave. It’s two years after the initial invasion, and “the next wave” of the invasion arrives. Meanwhile, we send a space fleet to take the battle to Mars. This sequel was made on half the budget of its predecessor, for half a million dollars. It shows all over the place–I don’t think there’s even 30 seconds of new material in the trailer, for instance.

2012

This is easily the best year for WotW flicks, mainly due to how the two films released in this year re-imagined the original material. War of the Worlds: The True Story marks the return of Thomas Hines to this material. This time around, the story is given a docu-drama treatment: the attack happened around 1900, and the last living veteran of the invasion/war conducts an on-camera interview before his death in 1965. I love this premise, though its execution may leave something to be desired.

The other one for this year, and the latest iteration of the story as far as I am aware, is an animated version, War of the Worlds: Goliath, set in 1914 and 15 years after the original invasion. This is WotW: Steampunk Edition. Heat rays, armored blimps, steam-powered tripod walkers to fight the Martians, and flying biplane carriers abound. As does Adam Baldwin.

It is a great testimony to H.G. Wells’ original material–first penned 120 years ago–that War of the Worlds continues to fascinate and inspire new interpretations as the years go by. Countless stories of humans vs. aliens have been told over the years, especially on film, but this story more or less introduced the concept, and did it best.

 

Movie-Matrix-Morpheus

Twilight gets 5.2 out of 10, according to user ratings on IMDB. You can do far, far worse than this.

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.

alice murderland

Speaking of rabbit holes, check out this 1.9-rated film, Alice in Murderland (2010).

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.

dead box office

2005’s Dead at the Box Office, also a 1.8

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.

Zombies Gone Wild (2007) also lives in One-Point-Five-Land.

Also not porn: Zombies Gone Wild (2007) also lives in One-Point-Five-Land.

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.

adam-minarovichIn 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.

Scott Shaw appears in many of the posters for his own films.

Shaw appears in many of the posters for his own films.

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.

It’s Christmas in July! This is a great way to spend 16 minutes (and change). Not sure what I like better: that the main theme music from Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is recycled in this gem, that the trees sound like Ewoks, or the best line of dialogue I’ve heard in a while:

It’s Christmas, I just wanna fuck!

These are a little too contemporary for me most days, but these are worth checking out.

Round 1 was a great success–thanks to all who voted!–and the results are in: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Christine, She-Devils on Wheels, and Grizzly are all moving on, while Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Amityville Horror, Chopper Chicks in Zombietown, and Rattlers are done for this year.  Here are the official results:

Classic 50s Horror/Sci-Fi

  • Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)–8 votes (57%)
  • Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)–6 votes (43%)

80s Horror, or Close Enough

  • Christine (1983)–9 votes (69%)
  • The Amityville Horror (1979)–4 votes (31%)

Schlock on Wheels

  • She-Devils on Wheels (1968)–7 votes (78%)
  • Chopper Chicks in Zombietown (1989)–2 votes (22%)

Animals On the Loose

  • Grizzly (1976)–9 votes (90%)
  • Rattlers (1976)–1 vote (10%)

Here are the next four contests–my schedule only allows me to do about four matches a week.  As I said on Twitter a bit ago, this is only going to get harder as we go on. . .

Battle of Crazy 70s Cult Leaders!

Here we get two similarly-themed films, with cult leaders led by sadists! Horace Bones v. Alan Ormsby!

I Drink Your Blood (1970)

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1973)

A Troma Classic v. Vengeful Christmas Trees

One’s a classic Troma, another is destined to be a classic (but not from Troma).

The Toxic Avenger (1984)

Treevenge (2008)–full movie (it’s a 16-ish minute short, featuring a Cannibal Holocaust soundtrack!)

Horror: 1960s v. 1970s

Battle of the best horror decades! The 1960s and 1970s.  This is where things get tough.

Black Sunday (1960)–a very good intro sequence for its time.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Sci-Fi: 1950s v. 1960s

Two great classics a decade apart–which monsters will you choose?

Them (1954)

Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964)–The original frenemies!

As with last time, I’ll allow a week to vote, and we’ll get into round three roughly this time next week!

Here, Mrs. I Love Terrible Movies and I put together a fun little 32-team bracket featuring bad guys/monsters/villains of horror and exploitation films I’ve seen in the past year or so.  In case you forgot who’s who, I’ve embedded the film trailers below.

Tweet me or comment on this post by a week from today (1 April) for your faves to advance to the Sweet 16.

Yeah, yeah, I know this is going to finish up well after “March Madness” will–sue me.

Klaatu vs. Gill-Man

From Outer Space … A Warning and an Ultimatum

Clawing Monster From A Lost Age strikes from the Amazon’s forbidden depths!

Asa Vajda vs. Dr. Phibes

The Undead Demons of Hell Terrorize the World in an Orgy of Stark Horror!

There are two sides to Dr. Phibes…..both of them EVIL!

Jaws Ripoff-a-Thon!

They’re waiting to slither you!

18 Feet of Man-Eating Terror!

The Man vs. Fuad Ramses

She Escaped Death. Now It Wants Her Back!

A Weird, Grisly Ancient Rite Horrendously Brought To Life In Blood Color!

 John Carpenter Face Off!

Man is The Warmest Place to Hide

It is night. It is cold. It is coming.

Birds vs. Lepuses

…And remember, the next scream you hear could be your own!

How many eyes does horror have? How many times will terror strike?

Mothra vs. Them!

SEE the armies of the world destroyed! SEE the BIRTH of the world’s most terrifying monster! SEE the war of the GIANTS!

A horror horde of crawl-and-crush giants clawing out of the earth from mile-deep catacombs!

Jeff Morrow Slapfest!

PLANET ROBBER TRAMPLES EARTH…STEALING ENERGY FOR OTHER WORLDS!

Flying beast out of prehistoric skies!

Cars vs. Houses!

Body by Plymouth. Soul by Satan.

Houses Don’t Have Memories

Battle of the Nihlistic Cult Leaders!

Let it be known, sons and daughters, that Satan was an acid head.

You’re Invited To Orville’s “Coming-Out” Party…It’ll Be A Scream…YOURS!!!

Recent Zero-Budgets!

Why did the eagles and vultures attack?

Gobble, Gobble, Motherfucker!

The Devil You Say?

The beauty of woman, the demon of darkness, the unholy union of “The Devil’s Bride”

Somewhere between science and superstition, there is another world. The world of darkness.

Vampire Madness!

His bite was outta sight!

It will cost you sweat and tears, and perhaps… a little blood.

Badass Bitches!

The most dreaded Nazi of them all!

Russ Meyer’s ode to the violence in women

Treevenge vs. Troma

The first Super-Hero… from New Jersey!

Badass Biker Babes!

They’re Looking for a Few Good Men.

See! Female Hellcats Ruling Their Men With Tire-Irons As Their Instruments Of Passion!