There’s a wide spectrum between good and bad in horror. Genre movies aren’t simply good or bad. There’s a lot of gray area. Some movies that aren’t as well made on a technical level still have a lot to say, and some campy features still have other noteworthy attributes. Some titles are even well aware of how campy they are and use that to their advantage. At the same time, there are movies that are gorgeously made on a technical level and have absolutely nothing to say. We are about to look at some movies that are actually bad. There’s no debating that they’re bad. These are cheaply made movies that fail in much of what they set out to do and are kind of awful—but each one of them has a certain kind of charm in spite of being an utter disaster. Even if you might not want to keep watching, you do anyway. And even if you might feel dumber for the experience, these movies will keep you entertained. The fact that three of these movies are available on a single 8-Movie DVD pack should say enough about their quality.
Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College
The second Ghoulies is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the reigning kings of 1980’s B-Movies. It’s got weird little monsters, funny characters, and a ghoulie growing to enormous size and eating the others all while being set around the appropriate backdrop of a traveling carnival. The first movie didn’t realize that the ghoulies were what made people want to see Ghoulies, so they were in it for about five minutes while the rest of the feature dealt with a supernatural, Satanic Jim Jones-ish plot. The third movie doesn’t have the weirdness of the first or the effectiveness of the second. It’s the first R-rated movie in the series and ironically feels like it was made for kids. This film is so juvenile and amateurish that it’s hard to believe it got made. It basically ports the ghoulies into an Animal House sort of plot, only sometimes they kill people in utterly bizarre ways. Mostly, they try to spy on naked girls, drink beer and smoke pot. The entire thing feels like a grade school kid’s essay on what he imagines college is going to be like, but it’s so nonsensical that it’s hard not to love in its own stupid way.
This was originally developed as Return of the Living Dead 3 and thank God we got that underrated, fantastic sequel instead of a movie like this sullying that franchise—ten years before the SyFy Channel would get around to it. This movie is horrifically, mind-bogglingly stupid. It starts off when two teens steal a corpse from a top-secret military compound. In addition to being the foster dad from Child’s Play 2, this corpse happens to be a C.H.U.D. named Bud. What follows is less of a zombie epidemic and feels much more like a movie made by actual zombies in a desperate attempt to remember what fun felt like. Every scene is an overly aggressive attempt at comedy, throwing every kind of possible joke at the wall and hoping like hell that at least one thing sticks. It also features an obnoxious theme that constantly repeats the movie’s title, which is very useful if you stumble across it on TV and want to know what to blame for your sudden numbness and lack of hope. Yes, I am still recommending you watch it, because you won’t believe it exists otherwise.
That’s right. Not Troll 2, because people have subjected themselves to that enough over the years. Troll 2 has hogged the bad movie spotlight for so long that people are forgetting that Troll was a bad movie too, and that’s a shame. This movie has a bit more budget and actual actors but it’s still awful. The cast for Troll includes Sonny Bono, Michael Moriarty, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Some of them were at the beginning of their career and some have no excuse. This is a horribly misguided attempt at fantasy, aimed more at children than other Empire Pictures productions, and these efforts only make it somehow even creepier. It begins when a young girl chases her ball into the basement of her new apartment building. A troll lives down there and takes over her body and her life. He begins to turn others into trolls by using the guise of a little girl to trick adults into letting it into their apartments, which is uncomfortable to even type. The girl’s brother teams up with the witch that happens to live upstairs in order to put an end to the troll takeover of the building. This is also the movie that former Empire CEO/current Full Moon Features CEO Charles Band uses to try to convince people that he created Harry Potter. Obviously.
Chopping Mall sounds like a great slasher in the vein of My Bloody Valentine, The Burning or The Prowler. Even the poster art seems to suggest that. But in actuality it is about five-foot robots that are introduced as a new form of mall security. These wheeled robots, who cannot even conquer stairs, stalk a group of teens who sneak into the mall after dark. The robots in Chopping Mall are the least threatening imaginable, even if they are armed with lasers. That’s all part of what makes viewing it such an experience. These kids feel like they are in absolutely no danger, even after one of them gets their head blown off in a sequence that is admittedly fantastic. [Editor’s Note: I love this movie.]
Leprechaun 3 is sort of the representative of its entire franchise here. It’s simply the most, well, Leprechaun of the Leprechaun movies. I’ll admit, it doesn’t gel with the other films on the list because it succeeds at everything it sets out to do and it succeeds admirably. The movie knows exactly what it is. It embraces that, from the stupid limericks to the obnoxious cultural stereotypes. This feature is in love with itself. You have to admire the confidence of a movie like Leprechaun 3. It has more imaginative magic and death scenes than the first two, but less money to pull them off. The acting is at its all-time cheesiest too. Caroline Williams, knowing exactly what kind of movie she’s in, is a highlight and Warwick Davis—a legitimately wonderful actor—has clearly never had more fun as the character.