Crash Reports: Top 13 Most Over-rated Horrors

Whenever we watch a film, we bring our life experiences to the screen. Due to our individuality, background, and belief systems, the movies we indulge in either work, or Aliens-Ripleythey do not. Simple as that.

As for horror, there are iconic films placed on pedestals constructed from bone and sinew that rise up into the bitter darkness of a thunderhead that spews Tesla inspired lightning. However, just because horror fans and/or critics love the hell out of them, doesn’t mean they need to be worshipped by every horror aficionado. After all, in our experienced backgrounds, certain movies, no matter how much appreciated, just don’t work at all for a variety of reasons. In essence, however, “most over-rated” can easily be “movies that irk me.”

What follows is obviously my opinion, like everything else on this site, and nothing more. If you love the movies I don’t particularly care for, then I’m happy for you. Believe me, I sometimes wish I could enjoy these films as much as everyone else, but they simply don’t resonate, and I give my reasons as to why. And no, I’m not trying to change minds, though I hope lovers of these movies can see how others might perceive such works differently.

Enjoy my top thirteen. I set up the list so the very last horror is the number one most over-rated.

 

Ringu (Japan, 1998) – ½ star

Hideo Nakata’s film is highly acclaimed by horror movie buffs. However, if you’re like me, the film is perfect for boring you into a strong and solid slumber. Yes, the Japanese-American co-production remake is phenomenal compared to the original snooze-fest. Nakata’s version, has a gentle hold on a more profound story, and the scares are sorely lacking. The remake’s mystery, atmosphere, and tension, with its exceptional special effects makeup, cinematography, and tone, is far more compelling. My favorite Nakata film: KAIDAN (Japan, 2007).

 

You’re Next (2011) – ½ star

What the hell was all the hype about? We’ve seen this home invasion horror far too many times. Idiocy abounds from those who penetrate a home, and from those who reside there. However, if not for Sharni Vinson and her intelligent “fight or bust” character, this lame attempt at horror wouldn’t even be worthy of a ½ star. Scenes like these really made me roll my eyes: Mom’s been murdered but no one checks for a killer, or I’m going to slam a blender on your head and somehow it will burrow into your brain and kill you, or a moron runs out of the house and gets her neck slashed by a cord though the attackers didn’t know how high to hang the wire. Dumb, comical, and ludicrous. My favorite Wingard film: I’m still waiting…

 

Aliens (USA/UK, 1986) – 1 star

This movie is so loaded with James Cameron’s poor attempts at original storytelling, I almost threw up in the theatre. Decades in the future a ragtag group of Colonial Marines sound like they came right out of Vietnam, slang and all, with an untested lieutenant to boot. And Hudson makes an illegal alien joke? How trite. Ripley’s more like a smarmy Rambo (we called her Rambette at the time) instead of the strong and engaging woman audience’s fell in love with in the phenomenal ALIEN (USA/UK, 1979). Worst still, Newt’s so annoying I couldn’t wait for an alien to rip her to shreds. Surprisingly, even the aliens can figure out how to work an elevator – and even go to the right floor. And poor Lance Henriksen has to hop out of his hole to grasp Newt to the point where we see the lower half of his body. Oh, and I love how strong Ripley is because she can climb up a ladder instead of being thrust into the vacuum of space. And that big reactor explosion that went off like a nuclear detonation? Yes, I could go on and on… My favorite Cameron film: THE TERMINATOR (UK/USA, 1984).

 

Cabin Fever (2002) – 1 star

Why Eli Roth received so many accolades for this one is beyond me. I had such an unpleasant experience, I can’t even remember the damn thing too well, but I remember longing for the credits to roll. There were too many tropes that just got under my skin – like a virus: young people alone in the woods in a remote cabin, some of them are smart, others need to become victims. The best part was seeing the wonderful Jordan Ladd and Rider Strong. (I’ll take the crazy sequel any day.) My favorite Roth film: I’m still waiting…

 

The Last House On the Left (1972) – 1 star

Wes Craven blew it with this one. He had the audience by the throat – but kept allowing them to breathe by cutting to the two bumbling deputies for comic relief. I never saw a filmmaker undermine suspense so often, making this one of the biggest mistakes in all of cinema. This is why I prefer Dennis Iliadis’s version, but only by one more star (both films are ultimately lackluster). Otherwise, it’s the same old sickos on the prowl cliché with some questionable music. My favorite Craven film: SCREAM (1996).

 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – 1 star

By the time I saw this Tobe Hooper mainstay, I had seen so much horror that I was bored to tears and completely unimpressed. Sometimes tedious and sometimes silly when it shouldn’t be, only Edwin Neal’s Hitchhiker really impressed me out of the entire picture. Watching characters get caught up in lunacy and not reacting as swiftly as they should have to save themselves unnerves the hell out of me. My favorite Hooper film: LIFEFORCE (UK/USA, 1985).

 

Halloween (1978) – 1.5 stars

I love John Carpenter, but this film didn’t cut it. As always,  I enjoyed Dean Cundey’s cinematography and the great contrasts of color and shadow, but the musical cues detracted from every scare. Although I hate to know what’s coming, the music worked in JAWS (1975) because the shark could come from any angle. Myers was limited by gravity. I even laughed when he pinned a victim to a wall with a knife to the belly – because the guy never fell forward. And the whole “Is the evil bastard really dead?” crap was already old and tired by then. At least I got to see PJ Soles. My favorite Carpenter film: THE THING (1982).

 

Suspiria (Italy, 1977) – 1.5 stars

The bad dubbing and the characters’ over-the-top reactions to stimuli always leave me laughing. The sound effects also have much to be desired. Even so, the story is slow and tedious at times, and the production is completely scare free. However, I do love the lighting and cinematography. Why Dario Argento’s considered a horror master is still a mystery to me. My favorite Argento film: INFERNO (Italy, 1980).

 

Carnival of Souls(1962) – 2 stars

I know people who despise horror movies but love this film with a strange intensity. Regardless, Herk Harvey’s film is long-winded with some questionable acting and lackluster transitions. Worst still, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out in short order how this precursor to the FINAL DESTINATION franchise will end. Regardless, there are some beautiful moments here, especially with Maurice Prather’s camera work, and those netherworld entities roaming about as if patiently waiting for Romero to get his zombie franchise up and running. My favorite Harvey film: This is his only feature.

 

Dawn of the Dead (1978) – 2 stars

Yeah, yeah, blasphemy on my part, I know. Granted, this film has its moments beyond George A. Romero’s thematic commentary regarding consumerism, such as character development and interaction, as well as Tom Savini’s quality special effects makeup. But the film falls back too far into comedy to make it work for me, including one of the silliest caricatures of a motorcycle gang I’ve ever seen. I’ll take Zack Snyder’s serious remake. Regardless, I enjoy Romero’s films, but this one is near the bottom of the list for me. My favorite Romero film: THE CRAZIES (1973).

 

Nosferatu (Germany, 1922) – 2 stars

For many a horror fan, this is gold. But I think some just worship FW Murnau’s film because they feel they have to. Yes, it has its moments and brings the creepiness, but every time I watch this thing, I fall asleep – and I’ve seen many a silent film. This is also the movie that tainted the entire vampire mythology forever. According to the old folktales, a vampire could go out in the sunshine, though they weren’t as powerful. Oh, well. At least Max Schreck is fabulous. My favorite Murnau film: FAUST (1926).

 

The Conjuring (2013) – 2.5 stars

When James Wan’s film came out, people went nuts proclaiming this ho-hum horror as genius as if they’d never seen a horror movie before. Yes, the film had a couple of scares and amazing acting, and Wan proved he can direct kids like George Lucas never could, but the redundant story and anti-climactic end did little to ultimately thrill the soul. Plus, the overdone trailers gave away too much, thus preventing more jolts from the audience. And even though this is a low budget horror, with the stellar cast of Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor, and Patrick Wilson, this definitely had a mainstream feel. And mainstream means: no kids will be harmed in this horror. Sigh. This truly could have been a stellar film but Wan played it safe. And what’s with the title when nothing was ever conjured? My favorite Wan film: DEAD SILENCE (2007).

 

The Exorcist (1973) – 2.5 stars

Yes, this classic is my number one most over-rated film, even though, for many, this Friedkin flick is “the scariest movie of all time.” Yet, from the first moment I saw the movie I just laughed like a crazy person. I even watched it again last week and couldn’t hold back the chortling. After all, the sound editing is weak, the demonic voiceover is off and damned funny, and poor Regan’s antics are a gut splitting riot (though I’m sure Linda Blair wouldn’t think so). The worst of it all is Norman Gay and Evan A. Lottman’s harsh “hack and slice” editing that did little to create a cohesive and seamless story. Overall, their editing was far more jarring than any “fright” in the film. However, I give the re-edited version with the spider crawl scene three stars. My favorite Friedkin film: KILLER JOE (2011).

 

I know some on the list may have you blowing a gasket, but it’s just my perspective, and I’m not attacking anyone for loving these movies. I can certainly see why people would enjoy most if not all of them, but that doesn’t mean I have to play along.

Please leave me a list of the horrors you feel are over-rated in the comments because I’d love to know.

(ALIENS photo from Bloody Disgusting.)

23 Replies to “Crash Reports: Top 13 Most Over-rated Horrors”

  1. Many thanks, perfessor, for posting this piece. It made me think about movies, something I haven’t done in a long time. I wonder if it’s mere coincidence that six of your
    Overrated Thirteen are films from the 70’s – your formative years. With only maybe
    one or two exceptions, your supporting thoughts are reasonable and fact-based,
    which validates the inclusion of every film on your list, even though I disagree
    with a couple of your choices.

    But rather than engage you in _that_ debate, allow me to use your space to list a baker’s
    half-dozen of horror films that I would put on an overrated list, with a few
    words of explanation for each. They are in no particular order:

    1. The Phantom of the Opera (1925): Go ahead, describe for me the most memorable scene in this movie. Okay, now describe any other one. I rest my case.

    2. Dracula (1931): A stage play on film. Static, static, static film shots, combined with gawdawful campy acting, it’s the movie that killed Tod Browning’s directorial career.

    3. The Blair Witch Project (1999): Someone had the bright idea to put a live action role-playing game (LARP) on film and wrap around it an ingenious marketing campaign. Hip people swooned over this piece of crap, while I just became pissed off that I’d spent $6.50 and an hour and twenty-one minutes of my precious time to sit through it.

    4. Night of the Living Dead (1968): Not a bad movie – in fact, a pretty good one – but it makes the overrated list because it’s only the second-best movie made from its source material and only a few people remember best one. Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend was done four years before NOTLD as The Last Man on Earth, and TLMOE was a much scarier, better written and acted movie than George Romero’s first effort.

    5. The Shining (1980): A movie built on the reputation of its three principals: King, Kubrick and Nicholson. The good scenes are well done, but the movie moves along in spurts, like an old Chrysler with fouled sparkplugs, and it certainly doesn’t belong on any of the top ten lists it makes on the reputation of its three principals.

    6. I Walked With a Zombie/Cat People (1943): This one’s on me, because I never understood the fascination with Val Lewton films. They’re B movies, not classic films.

    7. House of Wax (1953): If you don’t see it in 3-D, it’s overrated.

    Thanks, Bill, for allowing me into the discussion. Hope we can debate yours and mine
    someday. By the way, I don’t think you know it, but the entire story of Fight Club takes place in the narrator’s mind… BWA_HA_HAAAA!!!!!

    1. Someone else who thinks THE SHINING is overrated?!

      Bill, find another co-host for the show, because I plan on having a heart attack after posting this…

      1. You ain’t goin’ anywhere, Jonny Boy! Many think THE SHINING is over-rated – and I understand why. However, the movie gets to me and that’s why it’s not on this particular list. Stay healthy, Jonny!

        1. all adult viewings of the shining have left me restless and uninspired, but as a child watching it there was so much magic and mystery to it. The parents were easy to identify with in all stages, the woman in the bath was both scary and sexualized, and ghosts, children, and animal costumes were all part of my imagination’s vernacular.

          1. I’ve had that same change in mind and spirit with so many other films. However, I also appreciate movies, art, and books that in my youth made me scoff. It’s amazing how we adjust to stimuli as we learn more about our world.

    2. Ha! You’re killin’ me! I know you hate BLAIR WITCH, but I love your list and comments. I agree about THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (loved the atmosphere and makeup, but it was melodramatic), DRACULA never thrilled me (I liked the Spanish version more), NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is good, but not strong enough, and I totally agree with I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE and CAT PEOPLE because they were not good by any means. Granted, I enjoy THE SHINING on many levels, but it’s certainly not in my top 10 or 25 for that matter. Let’s discuss soon – in person. Email me and we’ll set a date!

  2. You guys talked about the pros and cons of Carnival of Souls in the podcast too. I was wondering if you have seen the movie Sole Survivor (1983) based on the book Walkers by Gary Brandner and if so your thoughts on it?

    1. I actually have seen SOLE SURVIVOR, and though it’s been a while, I remember appreciating the atmospheric approach to the plot – which did remind me a lot of CoS. Now I want to unearth my bootleg VHS copy and give it another look…

    2. Hey, Jason! SOLE SURVIVOR is trapped at the top of my Netflix queue in that quagmire known as “very long wait.” I’ll get there – someday soon, I hope.

    3. Just watched SOLE SURVIVOR last night. I was impressed! Great story! I really got into the film. Thanks so much for the recommendation, Jason!

    1. Original or the remake, Annette? I didn’t care for the original (though I enjoy EVIL DEAD II very much). The remake is atrocious.

      Now, I think I need to create a “part two” to the list.

      Thanks, Annette!

      1. The original!

        Your comment regarding THE EXORCIST’s sound editing is interesting…I never noticed anything horrible about it, so now I’m curious to re-watch the movie. It won the Oscar for ‘Best Sound’!

        1. I know! The problem is that the different elements weren’t captured on the same equipment for consistency purposes. You can hear that certain sounds/voices simply don’t belong where they’re placed within the film. Once I recognize that difference on an aural level, things don’t seem to match up so well. Now, since you’re a sound editor, is it just me?

          1. No, it’s not just you! Now I want to get ahold of the ’73 version to compare the sound edit with the Director’s Cut version.

  3. Gotta agree with you on Suspiria, Bill. I never could finish that movie. Just bored the shit out of me. Cabin Fever, TLHOTL and The Conjuring (which I did actually like) are indeed over-rated as well (I thought The Conjuring was ok but not this masterpiece many make it out to be).

    The rest of the movies I really enjoy and personally love. I must commend you on putting your legitimate reasons and opinions out there for your readers to think about. For example, you made me kind of think about ALIENS in a different light for a moment there.

    Like you said, you are not out to change anyone’s minds and I really appreciate that. It’s hard for some (like myself) to go against the grain with some films that many hold in high regard. So, on that note, I really dig this post. I may do a similar one when I have the time.

    Great work on this list and post, Bill. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much, Vic. I greatly appreciate your words. And you know I definitely look forward to seeing your list in the future.

      Be well and enjoy!

    1. Oh, man! I hated that thriller – though I like the cast. And Milano definitely wasn’t Vinson in this one.

      Great reminder, Jason! Thank you!

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