Several great films in the horror genre were released last year, and Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” may go down as one of the best of all time. But horror is also a genre that at its worst embraces camp, cliche, and endless attempts to revive franchises that should have stayed dead.
2017 saw the release of widely-panned reboots and sequels, including “Rings,” “Jeepers Creepers 3,” and “Amityville: The Awakening.” There were also plenty of terrible original titles, including “The Bye Bye Man” and “The Gracefield Incident.”
In early 2018, the fourth entry in the “Insidious” franchise, “Insidious: The Last Key” has hit theaters. If the early critical response is any indication, this film has a chance of making a future version of this, 24/7 Wall St.’s 50 Worst Horror Films of All Time.
Bad films have their own place in the pantheon of horror movies. For some genre fans, bad acting, confusing plots, and schlocky effects enhance the movie-watching experience. Yet for most people, the prospect of sitting through a bad horror film is scarier than the film itself.
It is no accident that so many poorly made horror movies exist. For one, the genre doesn’t require large budgets for a movie to be successful. The original “Blair Witch Project” reportedly cost $60,000 to make and has grossed nearly $250 million at the worldwide box office. More recently, the found footage film “Paranormal Activity” grossed over $194 million worldwide on a budget of approximately $15,000. Many films set out for similar commercial achievements but fall extremely short.
The genre’s generally low budget requirements make it an appealing place of entry for inexperienced filmmakers who want to make feature films. While some directors – such as Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson – did well working in horror early in their careers and moved on to become successful directors in other genres as well, many directors find that perhaps they do not have much talent to work in the movie industry. Still, we are left with their horror “creations.”
Despite the higher risk of creating a bad movie – often the final product is actually expected to be a b-rated movie – producers have an incentive to fund low budget horror flicks. Horror is one of the few genres with a dedicated fanbase. This fanbase is willing to pay to see low budget, second-rate, and trashy movies. A film like “The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)” already has an established audience who will pay money to see it before it is released. For this reason, the quality of the actual film matters less.
A successful horror film will also – almost inevitably – inspire a sequel. These sequels unsurprisingly do not always recapture what it was about the original film that made it popular. Of the 50 films on our list, 15 are sequels. Another five are remakes, which suffer from the same issue of not capturing the original film’s special charm.