Let’s be real, there are a lot of bad horror movies out there. Part of that is due to the fact that there are more entries in the horror genre than perhaps any other. That is the case because they can be made so quickly and so cheaply. With VOD and DVD, and streaming, there are so many options for bad, low-budget horror content. But let’s be totally honest here, bad horror makes up a ton of what we watch.
Sometimes, we go into something blind, sometimes we know how bad it’s going to be and that’s part of the fun. But things are rarely all bad. Even the most mind numbingly stupid horror features often have at least one effect, set piece, death, or character of merit.
It’s memorable characters from otherwise bad films I want to focus on here, because they tend to stand out the most, especially in the sort of films we’re about to outline below. Great characters, even just weird, eccentric performances can make awful pictures totally watchable.
They can be the diamond in the often very rough world of low-budget B-horror. But that’s also how we wind up with over-the-top, quirky characters that help get us through otherwise miserable experiences.
Slick in Prom Night
Yeah, I’ll come right out and say it, the first Prom Night is not good. We’ve got great actors in there like Leslie Nielsen and Jamie Lee Curtis, but even they can’t save it from itself. The best decision Prom Night made as a franchise was ignoring the original. But the first movie at least has Slick. This guy doesn’t care what anyone thinks, he’s cruising his way through life, and he even wins the heart of a lovely young lady before his unfortunate death.
OK, I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t actually think Witchboard is that terrible. It’s a higher-energy, and much more fun predecessor to films like Ouija. But it’s still pretty static compared to the great medium who comes in to settle the spirits halfway through. Zarabeth is quirky, offbeat, even annoying but she is a supremely memorable presence in the film. She’s easily the most memorable thing about Witchboard and even if her appearance is short-lived, she has the best death scene in the flick.
Creedence Leonore Gielgud in Troll 2
There are a couple of stand-out performances in Troll 2, believe it or not, but none that really rival the wild-eyed intensity of the movie’s antagonistic witch. Just her name alone is delightful. Somebody wrote this character, gave her those lines, and found the only person who could convincingly bring her to life.
Torgo in Manos: The Hands of Fate
Torgo is one of those once in a lifetime performances. Torgo can never be duplicated. Can never be replicated. I’m sure people 100 years from now will still be talking about Charlie Chaplin, they’ll still be talking about Anthony Perkins in Psycho and De Niro in Taxi Driver, and they’ll be talking about Torgo. Manos is never going anywhere, kids, and Torgo is the main reason why.
Vilmer in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is a bizarre, pseudo-reboot full of bad ideas in which original co-writer Kim Henkel injected his own conspiracy theories to make a version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre that would (to him) be more believable. Mind you, the original was so believable it tricked people into thinking it had actually happened and continues to do so 40 years later. Yet Next Generation is about a chainsaw-wielding family who kill teenagers to balance the scales of good and evil for an Illuminati secret society. Alas, there’s Matthew McConaughey who’s almost refreshing in his over-the-top performance as Vilmer.
Freddie in Halloween: Resurrection
Busta Rhymes’s Freddie is not the worst part of Halloween: Resurrection. I’m not saying he’s spectacular, but it’s so weird that he takes all of the blame when literally everything else in the movie is terrible. Busta Ryhmes, at the very least, looks like he’s the only one in that film that actually wanted to be there. Watching him alone in his apartment watching kung fu is the only great scene in what is by and large a total mess.
Ricky in Silent Night, Deadly Night 2
You’d think an entertaining villain would generally save a horror film, but Ricky isn’t actually in it all that much because this sequel is comprised mostly of stock footage from the original. He only really gets to go “full Ricky” in a rampage scene that’s impossible not to love.