Friday, May 29, 2015

Stephen King Cinema/Werewolf Flicks: Silver Bullet (1985)

Silver bullet poster.jpgI don't remember exactly how old I was, although I do know it was some time from middle-school to early high school, but I do have a pretty vivid memory of the first time I became aware of this little gem of a movie. After spending one Friday evening with my uncle and grandmother, I walked back over to my aunt's house and as I came in, I saw her live-in boyfriend watching some movie where two kids and a guy were in a house and were unknowingly being stalked by someone or something outside. Upon seeing the shot of the "bad guy" watching the house and hearing his deep breathing, I figured it was something like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees but, when I asked my aunt's boyfriend about it, he told me that it was actually a werewolf. I wasn't sure if I believed him at first since I'd never seen a movie where a werewolf methodically stalks someone the way this one apparently was but I quickly realized that he was right when the thing burst through the wall of the living room and attacked. That climax was pretty exciting, and it was quite eerie to see the werewolf slowly change back into who he really was after he was killed, but after that quick glimpse of its ending, I didn't think much about Silver Bullet for a while, even though I did see more pieces of it on TV here and there afterward. The sad truth is that this was before I had learned to form my own opinions and so, since I read that the general critical reaction to the movie was fairly ho-hum, I would always say that I felt the same way about it whenever I was asked. It wasn't until I bought the movie on DVD just on a lark when I was 16, which was after I had learned to stop going by what the masses felt, that I began to really appreciate this movie for what it is. As it stands now, I feel that this is a very well-made, well-acted, entertaining, and unjustly underrated werewolf movie. While there are also certainly many, many better Stephen King adaptations out there as well, I think this movie should get more credit on that score too, especially since King himself wrote the screenplay and nicely streamlined the story of the novella that the film is based on. It may not be a classic but it still deserves a lot more attention than it gets and, to me, is a perfect example of a movie that fares better being a fixture on television where it can more easily reach a wider range of people than at the theater, much like Tremors.

It's 1976 and for the small town of Tarker's Mills, one full moon night in May is about to kick off a long period of absolute terror when railroad worker Arnie Westrum is decapitated by a monstrous creature. Although his death is initially ruled an accident due to his history of chronic drinking, it soon becomes apparent that's not the case when a depressed, pregnant woman who's about to commit suicide due to being unmarried is brutally slaughtered when the beast breaks into her bedroom one stormy night, a murder that is quickly followed up by two more, the latter of which is a young boy. The town is soon gripped with fear and the citizens begin obeying a strict curfew imposed by the sheriff, while a local gun shop owner who's fed up with the authorities' inability to do anything forms a vigilante group to hunt the killer down, which proves disastrous when the monster ambushes them in the woods and manages to kill several of them. In the midst of all this carnage is the story of the Coslaw family, which consists of parents Nan and Bob, teenage daughter Jane, and her 11-year old, disabled brother Marty. Jane and Marty's relationship is quite strained since the former is always being forced to watch and take care of her brother and tires of her parents always taking his side, no matter what he does, because of his disability. Marty, in turn, really looks up to his uncle Red, who is often on thin ice with Nan due to his constant drinking and less than stable lifestyle, which has now resulted in three divorces, with her fearing that Marty is one day going to give up, just as Red has. All of this family drama comes to a head when, one night, Marty sneaks out of the house and uses the Silver Bullet, an engine-powered wheelchair that his uncle built for him, to go into the woods to shoot some fireworks Red also gave him. It's then that Marty, who had suspected that the killings were the work of something inhuman, meets the monster face-to-face and learns that it's indeed a werewolf. He barely manages to escape by shooting a rocket into the monster's left eye and after telling Jane what had happened, she soon discovers the werewolf's true identity when she goes around town, collecting cans and bottles for a church drive. Realizing that no adults will believe them, the two kids must come up with a way to defend themselves before the werewolf, who is aware that they know who he is, hunts them down.

Dan Attias 2011.jpgSilver Bullet was initially meant to be directed by Don Coscarelli, the cult filmmaker behind the Phantasm movies, but after creative differences between him and producer Dino De Laurentiis, he pulled out of the project and was replaced by TV director Dan Attias. However, from what I've read, it seems like material that Coscarelli shot may have ended up in the film since production began without the look of the werewolf having been decided on and, according to Wikipedia, Coscarelli left after shooting the stuff that didn't involve the monster since by that point, he was unsure what was going to happen with the film. That would logically mean that by the time Attias was brought on to replace him, all he had to shoot was the stuff with the werewolf but that's apparently not the case since Attias has talked about working with both Stephen King and Gary Busey on the dialogue scenes involving Uncle Red, where Busey ad-libbed a lot of his dialogue. In the end, I'm not at all clear on what exactly happened behind-the-scenes and since there's no making of documentary on the movie's DVD (there's not even a freaking trailer), all I have to go by is information on sites like Wikipedia and IMDB, which aren't always accurate. For sake of argument, let's just say that Coscarelli was originally meant to direct but was replaced by Attias, savvy? In any case, this remains the only theatrical movie that Attias has ever directed; otherwise, he's stuck to directing a lot of television, having been involved with numerous shows since the 80's like Miami Vice, 21 Jump Street, Beverly Hills, 90210, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Sopranos, and Six Feet Under, just to name a few. I always wondered why he never did another movie after Silver Bullet since I felt he did a really good job both with the character scenes (again, if he did indeed direct the majority of them, as we're assuming) and the stuff involving the werewolf but, after reading up on it, I wonder if the reason is simply because he's more at home doing TV and that he only stepped into this film because he was the only person they could get to replace Coscarelli at the time.

Upon rewatching this film again in order to do this review, I hit upon some interesting things about it that I had never thought of before, aspects that make it rather unique amongst both other werewolf movies and horror movies in general. For one, this is one of the few werewolf stories that I can think of that is actually set in America, let alone rural America. If you think about it, most movies like this are set in Europe, specifically the UK, with the werewolf prowling around the fog-shrouded moors or in the dark, fairy tale-like woods, but here, we have a werewolf story that takes place in a typical, small American hamlet where everybody knows each other and are mostly good old blue collar, working class people. As a result, and this is not at all meant as a knock against those other werewolf movies, Silver Bullet is a bit easier to relate to than other films of this type. For another, usually your main character in these movies is the very person who becomes the werewolf and you're watching them trying to deal with this horrible curse that's been placed upon them but here, your main characters are those who are being terrorized by its actions, with the werewolf's true identity not being revealed until quite a ways into the film. Other than maybe Dog Soldiers, I can't think of another werewolf film that took an approach similar to this. And finally, this movie has a feeling about it that you don't find in a lot of horror movies, especially those made today. While this is certainly a movie you wouldn't want to show to a little kid since it has a fair amount of gory violence, freaky images, and foul language that warrant its R-rating, it also has a sense of innocence about it due to the fact that the main character is a young boy. Amidst all of the blood and carnage are scenes that kind of capture the feeling of childhood, like when Marty is having fun with his friends, zooming down the road on his motorized wheelchair, and sneaking off into the woods to light some fireworks. It also kind of says something that it's a little kid who turns out to be right about the killer's identity while everyone else would scoff at the idea and ultimately has to be the one to confront the monster at the end. In fact, in spite of the gruesome killings, the film's tone never gets too dark and even the werewolf scenes, while certainly filmed to be suspenseful and scary, are not as out and out frightening and horrific as they could be. It's an interesting way of doing a horror movie that you don't see that often, especially nowadays when horror films are often as grim as you can get.

I had never heard of Corey Haim before I saw this movie. I was vaguely aware of Feldman at that point but I had never come across this guy, and certainly had no way of knowing that he became a pretty big kid star in the 80's, especially when he started making movies with Feldman, until I saw his performance here. Looking back on this movie, it is a real shame that Haim was never able to overcome his addiction to drugs, which completely destroyed his career and eventually caused him to die in poverty, because he was a very talented kid. He's extremely likable as Marty, having both the face of an angel and, aside from some mischief he gets into, including taking part in a fairly mean prank on his sister, the heart of one too. Other than being disabled, he's just a typical kid who likes hanging out and having fun with his friends and his Uncle Red but, unlike a lot of kids, though, he has to deal with some heavy stuff in his life, both due to his disability, which makes for less than peaceful interactions with his sister Jane, to whom he's often unintentionally a burden, and the strained relationship that his beloved uncle has with the rest of his family, especially his mother. You do also get the impression in one scene when he watches some kids playing baseball that Marty does miss being able to walk and it's something that he thinks about from time to time. And then, on top of everything else, you have the gruesome murders that begin happening arounds Tarker's Mills, which eventually results in the death of his best friend, his girlfriend leaving town with her family, and the cancellation of the fair and fireworks show that he was looking forward to. Marty, in his innocence, suspects early on that the killer is actually some kind of monster, particularly a werewolf, and soon discovers how right he is when he encounters it face-to-face and just barely manages to escape with his life. Even then, he's far from safe when the werewolf's human form learns of him and becomes determined to kill him, which Marty is smart enough to realize and it forces him to turn to both his sister and his disbelieving uncle for help. And while it's not a surprise that it ultimately happens this way, it is satisfying that Marty is the one who ultimately kills the werewolf with the silver bullet, especially since he's the one who suspected that it was such a monster in the first place and knew that it was going to come for him.

Just as likable and sympathetic is Megan Follows as Marty's sister, Jane, who is often forced by her parents to look after Marty and act as a caregiver to him, much to her irritation. She also tires of her parents never seeming to care about her feelings and always taking Marty's side no matter what happens, even if it does happen to be his fault (although, there is one scene where she's intentionally trying to push Marty's buttons and acts like it's not her fault when her parents scold her for it). She often tells Marty that she hates him as a result and while that is definitely harsh, if you've ever had a younger sibling or relative who, for one reason or another, often does stuff that pisses you off and makes your miserable, you can totally understand where she's coming from. However, her relationship with Marty begins to change when he tells her about encountering the werewolf and she eventually learns that he's telling the truth when he discovers that Reverend Lowe is now missing his left eye, which is where Marty said he shot the werewolf with a rocket. Knowing that they can't rely on adults, although they do tell Uncle Red, they try to come up with ways to take care of the problem themselves, including sending Lowe letters telling him that he must kill himself. When Marty is nearly killed by Lowe in his human form, they get Uncle Red to contact the sheriff to check the reverend out and when that doesn't work, she and Marty give Red to a crucifix and a medallion to be molded into a silver bullet that they can use to kill the werewolf when he does come for them. After they're attacked by and finally kill the werewolf, you see that the experience has brought the two of them closer together, with Jane telling Marty that she loves him after he says so to her, and the movie ends with the voice of the adult Jane, who has been acting as an occasional narrator for the story, confirming that she can now most definitely say that without any hesitation. There's also an added poignancy to it in that she says, "I love you too, Marty. Good night," which makes me wonder if Marty did eventually die, with the fact that Corey Haim himself is gone adding even more to it in retrospect.

I said this back when I reviewed Predator 2 but I'll say it again here: I miss the time when Gary Busey actually acted. Before he went completely nuts after that motorcycle accident and became nothing more than a parody of himself, he was capable of giving some very entertaining, genuine performances and his role of Uncle Red may be my personal favorite role of his. He plays Red as a guy who's very likable but is far from perfect: he's an alcoholic and has had numerous divorces, which has really put him on his sister's bad side, who is afraid that Marty, whom she feels is very impressionable and she knows looks up to Red, is going to be influenced by him and will just give up on life one day like she feels he has. During their argument about it, Red tells Nan that he doesn't feel that way about Marty at all and tells her that she thinks her only responsibility is to tend to Marty's needs when there's a lot more to him than his just not being able to walk. In other words, he doesn't think that Marty is as helpless as she seems to think he is, which is why he built him a motorized wheelchair called the Silver Bullet, which he makes a powerful upgrade to, turning it into pretty much a motorcycle. It's very clear from this and the way he interacts with Marty that he genuinely loves the kid and would do anything he could for him, although he, as expected, scoffs at the idea that a werewolf is what's killing people in Tarker's Mills, let alone that it's Reverend Lowe. He gets rather harsh when he finds out that Marty and Jane have been sending Lowe letters telling him to kill himself, telling Marty that he sometimes thinks that his common sense got paralyzed with his legs and that he would expect something like this from him, although his reaction is understandable given the circumstances, but when he finds evidence on the back of the Silver Bullet that Lowe did try to kill Marty with his car, he does decide to go to the sheriff about it. He still doesn't believe that Lowe is a werewolf at this point but decides to have Marty's medallion and Jane's crucifix molded into a silver bullet nonetheless and, just to be safe, sees to it that their parents are gone on the night of the next full moon. He's just about to give up on the whole thing and call it an elaborate joke on his part when the werewolf bursts into the house and throws him around like a ragdoll when he tries to defend the kids, forcing them to kill the monster themselves. In addition to how he portrays this great character, Busey is also just simply a riot to watch in this film. He ad-libbed a lot of his dialogue and as a result, the way Red talks and interacts with people comes across as very natural, like a genuinely funny guy. He has some hilarious lines like, "Holy jumped up, bald-headed, Jesus palomino!" and, "I'm a little too old to be playing 'The Hardy Boys Meet Reverend Werewolf!'" and the jokes he tells are also pretty damn funny. In short, this movie really benefitted from a little slice of Gary's mad genius.

As Reverend Lowe, Everett McGill has probably the most complex role in the entire film. Unlike the typical portrayal of people afflicted with werewolfism, Lowe knows full well what he did while in his wolf form and justifies it as being part of God's good work, saying that by killing Stella Randolph, the pregnant woman who was going to commit suicide, he saved her soul from damnation, and also gives the same reason for why he can't kill himself. Even more interesting than that, though, is how his affliction appears to affect his sanity and rational thinking as the film progresses. At first, he seems to be absolutely horrified at what's going on and what he's doing, trying to stop the group of vigilantes from going after the killer, knowing what'll happen to them once night falls, and also appears remorseful at what he's done, such as when he presides over young Brady's funeral and tries to assure the townspeople that this will pass, apparently hoping himself that it will. His horror is no more apparent than when he has a nightmare about all of the townspeople turning into werewolves in his church and wakes up screaming, saying, "Let it end, dear God. Let it end." But, after Marty shoots him in the eye with a rocket and then sends letters to him telling that he knows what he is and that he needs to kill himself, Lowe becomes a much more sinister person, terrifying Jane when she learns herself that he's the werewolf and attempting to kill Marty by running him off the road. So enraged is he when Marty manages to get away that he decides to wait until the next full moon, when he will become a full-blown, uninhibited werewolf, to come after the kid and kill him once and for all. That's another interesting thing about this werewolf: his condition appears to hit him every night, full moon or not, with the only difference being that the fuller the moon gets, the more unrestrained and savage he becomes. Again, it's clear that he knows exactly what he's doing when he's the werewolf, probably meaning that his mind is still in there but his instincts and need to kill become harder and harder to keep in check the closer it gets to a full moon, an idea that is further fueled by the fact that he never eats any of his victims but just simply kills them. This could indeed point to some sort of an agenda by Lowe's human mind that drives the werewolf's bloodlust, especially given how he climbs up the trellis at Stella's house to reach her bedroom and how he specifically targets Marty during the climax. There are also some nighttime scenes where we see Lowe in his human form, suggesting that those are during the low ends of the moon's cycle and he doesn't change at all during that time. These continuous cycles of werewolfism probably took a toll on his human mind and led to him gradually losing his sanity over the course of the movie. And finally, the fact that we're never told how Lowe became a werewolf, with Jane and Marty suggesting that he probably doesn't even know himself, adds some creepy mystery to it, especially when you realize that the town never had any trouble before then, suggesting that Lowe, who has been a long-time resident of the town, suddenly began transforming just recently with no explanation.

I didn't even know that Terry O'Quinn was in this movie until I watched it again for this review (I think the reason is the last time I watched it, which was a while ago, I didn't know who he was) but, regardless, he plays the beleaguered Sheriff Joe Haller who does all that he can to maintain order in Tarker's Mills as the body count rises and the townspeople become more and more hysterical but it soon gets out of hand when, after he's unable to prevent the death of young Brady Kincaid, a vigilante group is formed that Haller is unable to stop. Haller, like everyone else, scoffs at the idea that Reverend Lowe is a werewolf but he soon afterward learns the hard way when he sneaks into Lowe's garage and he turns into the monster right in front of him and kills him. In addition to Haller, you have his deputy, Pete Maxwell (David Hart), who, like his superior, does what he can to help maintain order and often gets into arguments with Andy Fairton (Bill Smitrovich), a loud-mouth gun store owner who is constantly talking crap about Haller's inability to do anything to catch the killer. He and Maxwell almost come to blows at one point over the issue and Andy is also the one who forms the vigilante posse, determined to do Haller's job for him. Normally, Andy would be that really unlikable character whom you can't wait to get killed but, personally, he's in so little of the movie and doesn't do anything worse than run his mouth that I can easily overlook him. He's hardly the most despicable character that Stephen King has ever conjured up. In any case, what ultimately prevents Haller from breaking up the lynch mob is a really strong berating he gets from Brady's grief-stricken father, Herb (Kent Broadhurst). This guy doesn't have a lot of screentime but his performance is so emotionally gut-wrenching that he doesn't need anymore. The scene where he sees his son's mutilated body and screams at the top of his lungs is very powerful and so is the scene where he angrily tells Haller that he has no idea what the words "grief stricken" and "upset" mean, going on to blast him for lecturing them about "private justice", suggesting that he go out to the cemetery, dig up what's left of Brady, and tell him about it. This immediately stops Haller from breaking up the lynch mob and he just stands there, unable to speak, as everyone heads out. Some other notable characters in the film include Owen Knopfler (Lawrence Tierney), the local bar owner who uses a baseball bat called the Peacemaker whenever things get out of hand at his bar and is ultimately beaten to death with it by the werewolf; veteran actor James Gammon as Arnie Westrum, the werewolf's first victim who gets decapitated by him while working on the train tracks; Brady (Joe Wright), Marty's prank-pulling friend who gets torn apart by the werewolf; Tammy (Heather Simmons), Marty's young girlfriend and her mean, beer-drinking father (James A. Baffico) who gets killed by the werewolf in his shed; and Nan (Robin Groves), Marty and Jane's mother who is perhaps a little overprotective of Marty due to his disability and often treats Jane unfairly as a result.

One of my personal favorite aspects of Silver Bullet is the setting of Tarker's Mills itself, mainly because the place reminds me of where I live. I live in a very rural area with a lot of woods around and where the biggest nearby town probably isn't much larger than Tarker's Mills (it might actually be just a bit bigger). Like Tarker's Mills, it's one of those small places in the south where everybody knows each other and where there are plenty of rednecks to be found (unfortunately, it's not nearly as tight nit of a place as Tarker's Mills). Whenever I see a pair of deer antlers on the wall in someone's house, as you see in that scene in his house right before Tammy's dad goes out and gets himself killed, I always feel like this is something that could be happening in the same general area where I live. In fact, the woods around Tarker's Mills look a lot like what you see around here, which makes sense given how this film was shot in North Carolina and I live Tennessee, which look virtually the same. However, it makes me wonder whether or not this is meant to take place in Maine, like a lot of King's stories. I'm sure that the novella takes place in Maine but I'm not entirely positive if this film is meant to since, even in the context of the film, this place looks and sounds a lot further south. Granted, I've never been to Maine myself but I've seen a lot of films shot there and I don't remember one where it looked like this. Plus, maybe I just suck at geography, but I can't imagine a place that borders Canada looking like North Carolina. But, again, what do I know? In any case, I really love the locations in this film since they feel very authentic and real and the fact that it's small town America help it to, again, stand out from other werewolf movies. The only time where the location goes along with some of the tropes you typically see in these types of movies is when the werewolf stalks the lynch mob in the middle of some fog-shrouded woods that are straight out of The Wolf Man but they help add so much to the mood and atmosphere of that scene that I'm not going to complain.

As he usually did for any movie that Dino De Laurentiis was involved with, Carlo Rambaldi handled the special effects. The transformation scenes are pretty much what you expect from a werewolf movie made around this time: they make use of the same bladders and "change-o-head" techniques that Rob Bottin and Rick Baker had used on The Howling and An American Werewolf in London to make it look like human faces are stretching forward into snouts, human ears are becoming long and pointy, hair is sprouting everywhere, and so on. The transformations you see up close are when Lowe changes in front of Sheriff Haller in his garage and when he slowly turns back into a human after being killed at the end of the movie and while they do look cool, as these types of effects always do, there are moments where they do look a bit dodgy. I'm mainly talking about a shot in the former transformation where you see Lowe's face beginning to bulge outward: that looks more than a little artificial and fake, mainly because the camera lingers on it for too long and it's not lit as well as it could be, but the follow-up shot of his head turning as he just about becomes the full-blown werewolf looks pretty impressive. The reverse transformation at the end, though, is pretty much flawless and is actually downright eerie due to how quiet it is except for the sounds of the flesh scrunching and pushing back in and the freaky music that plays as well. You get to see a lot of people in various stages of werewolf transformation during this dream that Lowe has where his entire church congregation changes right in front of him, although none of them come out looking like the ultimate werewolf since we only see snips of their transformations, where they look like the classic werewolf designs from the 40's (there's one that reminds me a little bit of the way Oliver Reed looked in The Curse of the Werewolf), and the scene eventually goes dark. While that is a very cool, freakish scene, with a lot of good makeup effects happening all at once and the nightmarish image of a werewolf banging on an organ in the dark, there's a shot of one guy's arm stretching outward and becoming progressively hairier that I've never thought looked good. Granted, we don't get to see all of it but still, the bit we do get to see makes it look the guy's turning into an ape rather than a werewolf. That said, though, I'll take these types of effects, perfect or not, over bad CGI any day.

That'll bring us to the ultimate werewolf himself, who they keep mostly off-camera for the majority of the movie, save for some quick glimpses that are often obscured either by the lighting or by the framing, until the end when you do see him in all his glory, especially his face. I always thought this werewolf looked really cool, like a more bulked up version of the bipedal wolves seen in The Howling, although I also did feel that there was something odd about his design that I could never put my finger on until I read up on the production. Stephen King wanted the werewolf to have a very "plain" and "ambiguous" look to him, which Rambaldi and his crew accomplished by making him look less like a wolf and more like a bear, which was what I unconsciously hit upon all those times I watched the movie: he does indeed look like a bear, especially in the face when you see it up close at the end. This design was what ultimately led to Don Coscarelli leaving the film because Dino De Laurentiis hated it and demanded that it be changed to something more traditional, which both Rambaldi and King refused, resulting in the production getting behind schedule. As I said before, since there was a long period where they weren't sure whether or not they were going to use this design, Coscarelli decided to leave and was replaced by Daniel Attias, although after he was brought onboard, De Laurentiis reluctantly agreed to let them use this werewolf design. But De Laurentiis still wasn't done complicating things because he then criticized the movements of the dancer that they originally hired to play the werewolf, leading to him being replaced by none other than Everett McGill himself. I don't know if this was really something McGill wanted to do or if he was just forced into it but, regardless, this made for something that doesn't happen a lot in the making of these types of movies: a monster being played by an actual actor rather than a stuntman or a circus performer and the like. While I'm sure it was uncomfortable performing in that suit, I think McGill did a capable job and the suit, for the most part, looks really good. I say for the most part because the close-ups of the face do sometimes look a little artificial and when you get big close-ups of the eyes staring down, the fur around them looks like what you see on a stuffed animal to me (I've read it was supposed to be real bear fur, though). But, overall, he's a cool-looking werewolf and I think he's used and filmed well, especially in the scenes where he's stalking his prey and we hear him breathing heavily while doing so, although I wish he howled more than he does.

While hardly the goriest movie ever made, Silver Bullet is no slouch in the blood and guts department. The werewolf often leaves quite a gruesome mess when he kills people, with movie opening with him slicing off Arnie Westrum's head with one swipe of his claws, sending it flying through the air and landing by the tracks, where it still is the next day when a train comes through. His second victim is Stella Randolph, who he kills by bursting through her bedroom window and slicing her to pieces, with us getting a nasty close-up of his claws running down her back before the scene ends with the housekeeper finding her mutilated body laying on the bed. Milt Sturmfuller gets it when he goes outside to check on a racket in his shed, thinking that it's some kids messing around, and ultimately gets pulled through the floor in a way that causes him to get impaled on a splintered board before getting pulled down completely. We don't see Brady's murder but the image of his yellow, smiley-face kite splattered with blood and what little we do of see his remains are enough. The gore quotient drops down after this scene. We do get some makeup effects, like a really painful one of one of the members of the lynch mob stepping into a bear trap (I'm not kidding when I say that actually hurts to look at) and a shot of a guy's head getting gored by the werewolf's claws when he ambushes the mob in the fog, although that doesn't look the best, but the other people in the mob get killed off-camera, such as Owen Knopfler, where we only see the baseball bat going up and down in the fog and the werewolf's hand holding it as he beats him with it. The shot of the werewolf getting a rocket right in the eye and then pulling it out to reveal a bloody socket does make me wince but other than that, there aren't many other gore effects save for some blood when Haller gets bashed on the head with the bat and when the werewolf's other eye gets shot out at the end, making for a nice image of the dead Reverend Lowe with both of his eyes hollowed out.

On top of everything else, it doesn't hurt that this is a very well-made movie technically as well. Not only are the locations very well shot, especially at night and during the fog-shrouded scene where the lynch mob gets ambushed, but so are the scenes where the werewolf is stalking his prey, which we often see through his POV as he creeps through the brush or what have you, waiting for the perfect time to strike. His attack scenes are also well-handled in that, like I said, they're shot in such a way that you only get a vague sense of what he looks like, with quick cuts, dark lighting (helped by his dark-colored fur), and framing helping to give you small glimpses of him while it mostly focuses on the carnage he causes, which is more than enough to satisfy you until the climax when you finally do see him. Said climax is also very well orchestrated, with a nice build-up to it where you see the werewolf stalking the outside of the house, Jane panicking upon seeing him looking through the window, Uncle Red creeping to the window and looking outside but seeing nothing, the werewolf cutting the power, and finally a moment where Red draws his gun on the front door when the werewolf bursts through the wall behind him. The climax is short but it's exciting, with Red doing his best to fight the werewolf off but gets thrown around the room and into pieces of furniture instead (Gary Busey apparently did his own stunts) as the monster closes in on Marty and Jane. There's an added bit of tension because Red had taken the silver bullet out of the gun before the werewolf burst in and dropped it through a heating vent when he did and now Marty is trying to get the bullet back, which he manages to do but not before the werewolf is almost on top of them. The movie ends when he shoots the werewolf in the right eye, killing him instantly and causing his body to turn back into Reverend Lowe. One other sequence that's very well done is when Reverend Lowe tries to kill Marty on the road with his car, which is not something you usually get in a werewolf movie. It goes on for a while and is quite suspenseful, with Marty doing his best to avoid Lowe's car and pushing the Silver Bullet to its limits until he crashes into a condemned, covered bridge where the Bullet runs out of gas. Lowe corners him in there and slowly closes in for the kill, preparing to throw him into the river and justifies his actions as being part of God's plan as well as telling Marty that he actually doesn't want to kill him but he must. Fortunately for Marty, a local farmer drives by on his tractor and he manages to get his attention, forcing Lowe to retreat.

Back when I said that this film, despite how gory it does get, has a feeling of innocence and of childhood about it, one of the aspects that contributes to that feeling is the music score by Ray Chattaway. While he certainly writes a lot of creepy, suspenseful music for the horror scenes, including a menacing theme for when Jane discovers that Reverend Lowe is the werewolf and a very eerie piece for when the werewolf is turning back into Lowe after being killed that has the sound of soft wolf howls accompanying it, a lot of the music is stuff you'd expect to hear in a family-oriented movie. The film has an upbeat theme song called Joyride that's written by Chattaway and plays over the ending credits but is also used as an instrumental theme for the movie, played in a whimsical way over the opening credits or faster and more exciting when Marty takes off in the new, pumped up version of the Silver Bullet that Uncle Red builds for him. The song itself is, admitted, a little schmaltzy and when I first heard it, I wasn't crazy about it since I didn't think that horror movies should have this kind of music, but I've warmed up to it over time and I think it helps make the movie distinctive. Even the music that plays during the climactic battle with the werewolf is more exciting than it is scary and it reinforces something that you already knew: these kids, despite what's going on, are going to make it and kill this monster. But, again, this score does help the movie stand out amongst its peers.

While I don't think that Silver Bullet is a classic or anything of that nature, I do think it's an unjustly overlooked little gem of a werewolf movie and a Stephen King adaptation that deserves a lot more credit. It has some really good actors, including a very likable kid as the lead (which is hard to come by), a nice setting that sets it apart from other werewolf movies, good cinematography of the location as well as some great atmosphere, a well-told story that keeps going at a great pace at just 94 minutes, good special effects that, despite occasional bits of artificiality, are better than any bad CGI, a cool-looking werewolf, a fair amount of gore, well-done and orchestrated setpieces like the car chase and the climax, and a surprisingly whimsical but nonetheless fitting music score. Other werewolf movies of the time like The Howling and An American Werewolf in London may have more of a place in the history books due to the new types of special effects they introduced and whatnot but Silver Bullet doesn't deserve to be completely ignored either. As an example of the type of, "Tell me a scary story," material that you expect from King, it works very, very well.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Top 30 Worst or Most Disappointing Sequels In My Opinion

While I know that there are plenty of you who enjoyed that list of underrated sequels that I put out, I'm sure that, in reality, you all really wanted to see this list, didn't you? Well, you sadists, I'll give you what you want and talk about the sequels that I think deserve all of the flack that they get. (Actually, I had this list in the back of my mind when I came up with the idea for that previous one.) The structure here is going to be a bit more complex than that of the previous list, though; whereas on that one I numbered the movies based on how unjustly overlooked and dumped on I thought they were, here I'm starting with some movies that I do acknowledge are bad but I still get some enjoyment out of nonetheless before heading into a bunch of sequels in the middle that are mainly just mediocre and bland before finishing off with some truly retched movies leading towards the number one. And like before, I ended up with an extra movie that I decided to put out here just as a bonus in order to keep the list at an even number. This particular movie was originally going to be on the list at the very bottom but, when it originally came out at 31, I decided to move it out of the list since, even though I recognize its badness, I get more enjoyment out of it than any of these other flicks. In addition, I was initially going to stay away from direct-to-video sequels since I think they're way too easy (you could easily fill an entire list with the myriad of unnecessary sequels Disney has made to their classic animated films, as well as all of those direct-to-video Children of the Corn, Hellraiser, and Howling sequels) and that it's more of a failure when a movie that was meant to go to theaters and had the budget to prove it turns out bad but, I eventually realized that there are some that are so horrendous that they deserve to be on here. Also, while I never stated it outright, on the previous list I tried to restrict it to sequels to movies that I actually liked but here, anything goes, especially if a sequel turns out to be even worse than the first film in my opinion. And finally, there are a lot of movies that many of you are going to be shocked to find aren't on here and the reason for that is simply because I've never seen them. Amazingly, even though I've seen a lot of crap in my day, I've managed to make it this far without watching notoriously bad flicks like Exorcist II: The Heretic, Caddyshack II, The Hills Have Eyes Part II (the one directed by Wes Craven), and Piranha 3-DD, among others, and even though I'm sure they deserve the flack they get from everything I've heard about them, I always try to be fair and not talk about movies that I haven't seen before (I was planning on actually watching some of those to see if they would make the list or not but I decided that these 30 that I did come up with were plenty). Maybe one day I will do another list like this with some of those movies on it but, for now, you'll have to make due with this. So, with all of that out of the way, let's dive in.

Extra: Halloween: Resurrection (2002). Here's the movie that I was originally going to put on the bottom of the list but moved it out here as an extra because, believe it or not, I do get enjoyment out of it. Yeah, it's as by-the-numbers as you can get, completely negates what appeared to be a definitive ending for the series in Halloween H20 (although, if you watch the making of for that movie on the Halloween Blu-Ray set that Shout! Factory put out, you'll find out that wasn't meant to be the end of the series from its conception), and it sends off the character of Laurie Strode in a less than satisfactory way, but all of that aside, there are a number of things about this movie that I do like. While they're far from great, I don't mind the cast, and, even though he shouldn't be kicking Michael Myers' ass as easily as he does, I can't help but like Busta Rhymes. I just like his energy, some of his lines and, even though what his character was ultimately doing was far from decent, I still like him (that part where he runs into Michael while he's dressed up as him and bitches him out always makes me smirk, as does that part where he's really getting into that kung-fu movie). I thought the production design of the Myers house was nice and used well, I didn't mind the webcam gimmick of the film, Brad Loree did a nice job as Michael, and I really liked the music score, with the rendition of John Carpenter's original theme being the best in a long time in my opinion. Yes, like I said, it's nothing that original, it was clearly only made to squeeze some more dollars out of the franchise, the film doesn't look like it takes in autumn at all, and it is most definitely a product of the post-Scream era, but I don't care, I still enjoy it and would much rather watch it over the Rob Zombie movies that followed it (in fact, this is the last genuine Halloween movie to me).

30. Jaws: The Revenge (1987). There really was no need for this movie to be made, especially after Jaws 3 ended up being regarded as a complete joke and didn't do that well at the box-office, but studios are really stubborn and often refuse to believe that a series can't generate just a little bit more dough, which is how you get movies like this. The plot of the film is just ludicrous, with the great white shark now apparently stalking the Brody family, particularly the now widowed Ellen (because they knew that there was no way they were going to get Roy Scheider back), following them all the way down to the Bahamas and stalking her son and his Jamaican colleague, the shark itself is more fake-looking than ever, and the ending, with the shark inexplicably exploding when he gets rammed by a boat's pointed bow, makes no sense whatsoever. So, yes, the movie is indeed a turkey from those standpoints but I've always found it to be an enjoyable turkey, mainly due to the acting, which is much better than a movie like this deserves. I think Lorraine Gary does a commendable job given what she has to work with, as do Michael Caine (who somehow manages to swim from his seaplane to a boat without getting all that wet) and Lance Guest, and I enjoy Mario Van Peebles, even with, or actually because of, his bad Jamaican accent (because of this movie, every time I see him in anything else I always expect him to have that accent), although it makes no sense at all that he survives being eaten by the shark. Even though it's repetitive, I enjoy the music score, I think the cinematography on the ocean is beautiful, I don't mind the sequences with the shark, as bad as the damn thing does look, and the film is, on the whole, an easy sit for me, going by rather quickly. I understand why so many people hate it and it is undeniably a bad movie but as for me, I've seen a number of sequels that I find to be much, much worse.

29. Rocky V (1990). While time and the creation of the much more satisfying series cap Rocky Balboa has somewhat vindicated this movie, there's still no denying that this is indeed the weakest entry in the franchise. Above everything else, it's a major buzz-kill after the triumphant end of the previous film (akin to how it is when you go from Aliens to Alien 3, albeit not nearly as severe) given how you learn that Rocky has sustained permanent brain damage from his bout with Ivan Drago and that his accountant has squandered all of his money, forcing him and his family to move out of their mansion and back his old neighborhood in Philadelphia. I get that the idea is to bring Rocky full-circle, especially since original director John Avildsen is back after Sylvester Stallone directed all of the films in-between, but it's still depressing to see this befall him immediately after all of the crap he went through in the previous movie. If the film had taken place some time after the events of Rocky IV instead of immediately after it, it might have fared better but as it stands, it's just too much. In addition, it would have fixed the major continuity error of Rocky's son now being much older than he was before. I don't mind Stallone's late son Sage's performance or the story arc of him learning to fend for himself as well as reconnecting with his father, who's spending all his time training Tommy Gunn, but his age is really distracting. And as for Gunn, I don't mind him as an antagonist and the idea of him becoming who Rocky possibly could have had he not had someone like Mickey guiding him but, ultimately, it all culminates in a climactic street fight between the two that resolves nothing. While it's satisfying to see Rocky beat this punk senseless, as James Rolfe said in his review of the film, it doesn't change the fact that Rocky's still poor and Tommy is still the heavyweight champion. There was nothing on the line this time and what's more, for what was originally intended to be Rocky's last bout, the fact that it doesn't take place in the ring is rather disappointing (at least they didn't go with the original idea of having Rocky die!) All in all, while it's not as harmful in the grand scheme of things as it used to be now that Rocky Balboa exists and is, at the very least, watchable, it's still small wonder why so many, including Stallone himself, have a very low opinion of it.

28. Jaws 3 (1983). I know it's hard for a lot of people to believe, especially someone who gave me grief over it in the comments of the actual reviews, but I've always found Jaws: The Revenge to be more of an enjoyably bad movie than this one. This flick certainly has its camp value, like the very cheesy 3-D effects (especially the infamous shot of the shark swimming towards the camera in a way that makes it look like nothing more than a cardboard cutout that's being pushed forward), some less than believable mechanical effects with the shark itself, and the whole B-movie notion of the shark rampaging through Sea World, but I've never had as much fun with it as I have the fourth. I guess I just find the idea of a shark seeking revenge and Mario Van Peebles speaking in a bad Jamaican accent to be more enjoyable. I don't mind the acting, particularly from Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Louis Gossett Jr., and Simon MacCorkindale (Lea Thompson is also really cute here), and I've always found the moment where MacCorkindale gets caught up inside the shark's mouth and is slowly chewed to death to actually be rather frightening, but something about the setting in Sea World has just never grabbed me. I also don't care for the music score at all and the 3-D effects, while enjoyably hokey at first, tend to quickly wear out their welcome and become merey distracting (Friday the 13th Part 3's 3-D shots don't annoy anywhere near as much). All in all, I don't think this deserves to be called one of the worst movies ever but it's not one I pop in all that often either.

27. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993). (I would like to apologize in advance to Ramboraph4life from YouTube, who is a big fan of this movie and who I'm pretty sure will take a look at this list.) I still maintain that there is no Friday the 13th movie that I out and out hate but, that said, I'd be lying if I said that I think this is a good movie because I don't. Like a lot of people, I'm not too keen on the idea of Jason Voorhees suddenly being able to jump from one person's body to another. It's different, yeah, but it completely flies in the face of what had been established in the eight previous movies, not to mention that you also learn that Jason has a sister, which had never, ever been hinted at before, with Mrs. Voorhees herself stating in the first film that Jason was her only child. I also don't care for the score to this film and the look of Jason here, which I find to be rather over-done. On top of everything else, writer-director Adam Marcus tries to justify it in a way that says to me that, while he may indeed be a big fan, he can't come up with a decent story to save his life and pulls stuff out of thin air, and also doesn't seem to understand at all why so many people hate this film (he contributed to the writing of another bad horror franchise sequel that we'll see later on). All of that really gets on my nerves and while it doesn't make me despise this movie, it does help to make it my least favorite of the series. That said, the film does have good notes to it: the characters are pretty likable and memorable, especially John D. LeMay as the lead (not too keen on the bounty hunter Creighton Duke, though), the makeup and gore effects by KNB, especially in the unrated version, are top-notch and the nastiest the series has ever seen, and the film goes at a nice pace and is never boring, which is nice. But, still, all of the ridiculous ideas that are added to the Jason mythos in this film (come on, another member of his family having to kill him with a magical dagger is pretty silly) bog it down for me and the director's attitude towards it and those who dislike it don't help its case that much either. (And in case you're wondering, Jason X is not on this list because, despite its stupidity, I find its attempts to be different less distracting and more entertaining than this film.)

26. King Kong Lives (1986). I put this one pretty low on the list because I have some childhood affection for it since, as sad as this sounds, it was the first film featuring King Kong that I ever saw and I rented it a number of times from my local video rental store along with the 1976 version that this acts as a sequel too... but I also can't deny that this movie is a major turkey. I know a lot of people don't like the aforementioned '76 film with Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange (I do) but you still have to admit that it's a bonafide masterpiece compared to this. Putting aside the idea that they expect you to believe that Kong survived being shot to pieces by a bunch of military helicopters with machine guns and then falling off the World Trade Center, having been in a coma all this time, the film's story is impossible to take seriously: Kong is given an enormous artificial heart after receiving a blood transfusion from an enormous female ape that's inexplicably discovered down in Borneo and shortly afterward, breaks loose, is smitten upon seeing his Lady Kong, as she's dubbed, and heads off into the wilderness with her. The actors do the best job that they can with what they have to work with and Dino De Laurentiis and director John Guillermin (who also helmed the 1976 film) seemed to have their hearts in the right place but, again, this story is just ludicrous, with the scenes of the Kongs being all lovey-dovey with each other being particularly embarrassing. The ape suits and animatronic effects for the Kongs, designed by Carlo Rambaldi, aren't terrible (although I could do without Lady Kong's unseemly breasts) but, again, the conception of the Kongs as characters make them moot. Despite a nice score by John Scott and all the other compliments I've given, the movie ultimately doesn't have much else going for it except how utterly silly it all is and isn't quite as exciting or entertaining as it should be. Small wonder why De Laurentiis' plans to do a third Kong movie were dead in the water by the time this film bombed horribly in theaters.

25. Godzilla Raids Again (1955). I debated for a while on whether this film or King Kong Lives deserved to be higher on the list and ultimately, it came down to two variables: one, the latter was a sequel to a good remake while this is a lackluster sequel to an awesome, original movie, and two, King Kong Lives is pretty memorable, albeit in a very bad way, whereas this is one of the most forgettable films I've ever seen, especially for an entry in a franchise that I absolutely adore. I didn't see this movie for the first time until it was finally released on DVD in 2007 and after years of wondering what the very first step of Godzilla becoming a franchise could have been, I was extremely let down by how utterly underwhelming this movie is. After Ishiro Honda gave the first film such an indelible stamp and made it into much more than just another monster movie, single-handedly giving birth to the "kaiju" genre in the process, this movie comes across as a standard, 50's monster movie with no of the original's power. The characters, with the lead being portrayed by future Japanese sci-fi veteran Hiroshi Koizumi, are very bland, the story isn't the most interesting, the pacing is really sluggish, with a very slow, boring middle, and the music by Masaru Sato, who would eventually become one of Japan's greatest composers, leaves a lot to be desired for. The monsters are the only things to really get excited but even their conception is plagued with problems. Godzilla looks really odd, coming across as downright awkward in a number of shots, and the battle between him and Anguirus shows the growing pains of the burgeoning kaiju genre since it's much more animalistic and, as a result, not as exciting to watch as the wrestling-style battles that would come later. The model-work is top notch but, again, the fight is ultimately very underwhelming, with the accidental fast-motion section looking really awkward, and repetitive, and the same goes for the finale where the military bombs a frozen island that Godzilla is on until he's buried in ice. Ultimately, it falls in-between the major impact of the first film and the major entertainment value in the following films and, in retrospect, only serves as something of a stumble before the series started hitting its stride. (I didn't count the 1959 American version, Gigantis, the Fire Monster, since the American distributors very stupidly tried to make the public think that it wasn't a sequel to Godzilla at all. Plus, I didn't want to have to talk about that version again; you can go read my review for that.)

24. Escape from L.A. (1997). John Carpenter is one of my favorite directors ever but, that said, I've never been all that fond of Escape from New York. I can understand why it's such a beloved cult film and it definitely has that cool style that only Carpenter could bring to something back in his prime but nothing about it (the story, the concept, or even the character of Snake Plissken) ever grabbed me. So, going into the sequel, I wasn't expecting much, even though I had definitely heard that it was considered to be vastly inferior to the first film. Good God almighty, were those people not kidding! This is the only sequel that Carpenter has ever directed and I sometimes wonder if it should stand as an example of why he shouldn't do them at all. Little about this movie works. The only compliments I can give are that the acting is solid, Carpenter makes good use of the $50 million budget he was given, and the music by him and Shirley Walker is nice (hate the Rob Zombie song over the ending credits, though), but other than that, the film is a major misfire. The story is a very lackluster retread of that of the first film, only without the style and dark edge that Carpenter brought to it, the setpieces, particularly the basketball game Snake is forced to play and the scene where he surfs with Peter Fonda, are lame, the CGI is embarrassingly bad, and the film, overall, doesn't seem to have much of a point except to serve as a reunion for Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Kurt Russell. Speaking of the latter, while I like Russell very much as an actor, I've never found Snake Plissken to be that interesting, coming across as a cliched anti-hero in conception, so I honestly don't care about following him on this journey. I'll admit that I do kind of like the ending because it's possibly Carpenter's ultimate middle-finger to authority and the establishment, which he's well-known for and is what so many, myself included, love about him, but on the whole, I do agree with the consensus that Escape from L.A. is one of his weakest films (the fact that Carpenter himself finds it to be better than the first one proves the old notion that you can't trust an artist to properly judge his own work).

23. Quantum of Solace (2008). None of the Bond films appeared in my list of the most underrated sequels because this movie is the only true sequel in that franchise and is certainly not under-appreciated in my opinion, which made it prime for this list. What makes this flick such a disappointment is that it acts as a direct continuation of Casino Royale, one of the best Bond films ever and the film that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Daniel Craig was the right bloke to take over from Pierce Brosnan, and the story goes in just the absolute wrong direction. While the acting by Craig and others like Judi Dench and Jeffrey Wright is up to snuff, not much else is. One problem is that Marc Forster was not the right director for this type of film and for two very good reasons. One is that he's often doing stuff that's overly stylized and artsy throughout the movie, with the fancy location cards and visual graphics, and it's just distracting. The other is that the way he films action sequences is just awful. As many others have noted, they're so rapid, shaky, and quickly edited that you often don't know what's going on until you slow the film down and become disorienting rather than fast and exciting. In addition to that, the story doesn't conclude Bond's need for revenge over the death of Vesper Lynd from the previous film in a way that's at all satisfying and it, in fact, often feels like it detours away from it, it's rather confusing most of the time and feels rushed due to the rather short 106-minute running time, the Bond girl, Camille (Olga Kurylenko), isn't very interesting, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) is a weak villain, the music is uninspired and the song and title sequence are instantly forgettable, and the climax in the hotel out in the desert is not as fulfilling as it was meant to be. Make no mistake, Quantum of Solace definitely falls in the disappointing category and all I can say in conclusion is thank God for Sam Mendes and Skyfall.

22. (Omen III:) The Final Conflict (1981). I've never seen Omen IV: The Awakening but, given how bad and ridiculous I've heard it is, particularly from the clips I have seen, I'm sure that it would have ended up here if I had seen it; however, I don't know if it would have let this film off the hook because this is still a very lame ending to what started off as a really good trilogy. The original Omen from 1976 by Richard Donner is an awesome and unfairly overlooked flick in my opinion and I think that, despite its flaws, Damien: Omen II is an enjoyable sequel. This movie, however, is a boring, dull affair with a finale that's virtually the definition of an anticlimax. The best thing about the movie is Sam Neill as the now adult Damien Thorn. He is excellent in this role: he's now fully emboldened by his evil lineage and doesn't care what he has to do to ensure that Jesus Christ will return to Earth and destroy him, even if he has to kill all of the newborn babies in Great Britain. He manages to swing from being charming and seductive to sinister and calculating and finally to downright menacing and purely evil without missing a beat and proves himself to have truly been an inspired choice for the role. I will also say that the other actors, like Lisa Harrow, Rossano Brazzi, and Don Gordon, do commendable jobs as well and that director Graham Baker keeps the same sophisticated look and style that the other films had but that's where the accolades. As I said, the film's biggest problem is that it's boring. It just plods along for 108 minutes and never picks up in momentum or feels like its leading to some epic grand finale. All we're watching during that running time is Damien easily outwitting these monks who have taken it upon themselves to kill him but ended up getting themselves killed in the process, as well as bedding Harrow's character, seducing her son to do his dirty work, and putting in motion a horrible plan to kill all of the recently born babies in the country, which is something I did not need to see or think about. Other than the grisly suicide of the former U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, the elaborate deaths that had become staples of the series aren't as impressive this time around, the music by Jerry Goldsmith isn't as chilling or memorable as it was in the previous two movies (although I do really like the soaring music that you hear when Damien is defeated at the end of the movie), and the depiction of the Second Coming and the final confrontation between Damien and Jesus is about as epic as a fart. A very disappointing cap to an otherwise really good series.

21. Texas Chainsaw 3-D (2013). I debated about whether or not I should put this movie on here since I do enjoy it more than the other two Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies that we'll see later on down the line but, when I thought about it, I realized that this movie has enough stupid flaws and unforgivable errors that it deserves to be on here. After acquiring the rights to the franchise from New Line Cinema and Platinum Dunes, Lionsgate decided that they were going to do the first "true" sequel to the original 1974 film (despite the fact that Tobe Hooper himself had already done that back in 1986), one that begins right where that film ended and whatnot. While I will give them props for very accurately recreating the house from the original film and giving Gunnar Hansen, John Dugan, and the late Marilyn Burns some nice cameos, this movie ultimately does more harm than good. I'm not going to get into the whole thing about there suddenly being more members of the Sawyer family than there were originally because I don't think it's that hard to believe that there were others living in the town near the house, particularly since we didn't get to see much of the town in the original, who come together when the police gets called on them, and for another, that's really the least of this movie's problems. One of the major ones concerns the timeline. This film picks up in 1973 right after the events of the original movie and, after the Sawyer house is burned down, we see a baby girl who was part of the family get adopted by two of the townspeople. The movie then fast-forwards to present day, meaning that baby should know be pushing 40, right? Nope, she's in her 20's, a mistake that they even mention in the special features on the Blu-Ray and then wave away, saying that hopefully no one will give them too much grief for it. No, now that's just inexcusably stupid and shows how desperate they are to have good-looking twenty-something year-old leads in these types of movies. The biggest problem this movie has, however, is how it tries to say that the vigilantes who attacked the Sawyers and burnt their house down are worse people than these cannibals who prey on unsuspecting, innocent people and how it tries to make Leatherface into an anti-hero (Adam Marcus proudly proclaims that was his idea, which is more proof as to how much of a dumbass he is). What's more, even though Leatherface had previously butchered her friends, the lead girl, Heather (Alexandra Daddario), eventually sides with her cousin when she finds out the truth about her heritage and what happened, ultimately helping him kill one of the remaining vigilantes, which the sheriff actually goes along with. Even though I do enjoy Dan Yeager as Leatherface, the gore effects, and the mayhem, I was absolutely flabbergasted by the story and how it ended. There are two other films in this franchise that I think are worse but still, this was just unreal.

20. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991). I'm surprised that most people consider the previous Nightmare on Elm Street film, The Dream Child, to be the worst of the series because, while that movie is definitely not a classic by any means, I can find more things to like about it than this, which I find to mostly just be embarrassing and stupid. In fact, this film feels very disconnected from the rest of the series to me, with it being set ten years in the future, the idea that Springfield has been reduced to a shell of its former self where all of the adults have gone insane, and the overall skewed tone that was meant to be akin to Twin Peaks, which means nothing to me because I've never gotten into that show. Moreover, the characters aren't the best or most memorable to me, Robert Englund is still entertaining as Freddy but I think his performance is far too goofy for its own good and makes it hard to take him seriously as a threat, even when they show you glimpses of his past (his makeup design here is pretty weak too), the cartoony vibe and feel to the dream sequences is too much (those video game and parachute ones, the latter of which almost becomes like the Road Runner, are especially ridiculous), the effects are horribly dated and the kills aren't that memorable or gory for the most part, the random cameos are just odd, and the ending is just pathetic and was not a good way to end the series at all, which it fortunately didn't. Again, I know lot of people do find something enjoyable about this movie because of how goofy it is and I can see how that could be possible but for me, other than the abysmal 2010 remake, this is the lowest point for Freddy Krueger (and as a result, I always get irritated when I hear director Rachel Talalay criticize other entries, especially Freddy's Revenge, given that this is what she came up with when she got her shot after years of being part of the series in other capacities).

19. Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996). I know the Hellraiser franchise became very hit or miss when it started going direct to video but I think this is the one that really deserves to be on this list mainly because of how it killed the series' theatrical potential and also how its production was a colossal mess that eventually involved two directors and was ultimately labeled as an Alan Smithee film. Although this is the one that's often described as, "Pinhead In Space," only a quarter of the film can be described as such, whereas the rest of it attempts to tell the story of how the Lament Configuration came to be and how the descendants of the man who made it have been cursed. It's a pretty ambitious story for a movie whose budget was a mere $4 million and it had a lot of potential but, unfortunately, the film's troubled shooting and constant script rewrites spoiled it all. Doug Bradley, as usual, is good as Pinhead and the film's production values and makeup effects look good but, on the whole, the movie is just not interesting at all and the story really plods along without much happening (which especially sucks given how its only 85 minutes long), with the climax that takes place on the space station in the year 2127, which is where the film also begins, being nothing whatsoever to write home about. Sorry about the lack of detail here but I actually haven't seen the movie in a long time and it's so forgettable that the only thing I really remember about it is that it was, at the end of the day, a real "nothing" movie. Small wonder why the franchise has since gone direct to video and will probably never return to theaters and also why Clive Barker has ceased to be involved with it (oh, yeah, and you only hear Christopher Young's original theme only once and in a very truncated form, which I find unforgivable).

18. Seed of Chucky (2004). Once again, I debated about whether I should put this or Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare higher up since to me, they both suffer from the same issues: they're far too silly for their own good. Ultimately, I decided to go with this one since I feel like it's much more of a farce and embarrassment than Freddy's Dead. I know that, like Freddy, Chucky had already begun to get silly by the time this movie rolled around (I also know that many don't think that he was ever scary to begin with, which I beg to differ with) but, I feel that Bride of Chucky managed to strike a nice balance between black humor and genuine horror; this movie throws that out the window and decides to be just an outrageous, John Waters-esque comedy with tiny touches of horror in it and while some may find it funny, it doesn't work for me. Again, I know that Chucky was already funny by this point but here, it's pushed so far that there are moments where he comes across as downright stupid... and I really did not need to see him masturbate in that one scene. The same goes for Tiffany, who seems more vapid and dumb here than she did before and the idea of Jennifer Tilly being here playing herself as well and getting impregnated by Chucky's sperm is just... aah! I don't mind their son, Glen, although I think writer-director Don Mancini was pushing his own personal struggles with his homosexuality and how his father handled that a little too far with that character, but I didn't really care for Redman or John Waters himself in his role as a sleazy paparazzi and I've also never liked the movie's actual look. I don't know how to explain the latter it's just kind of... cheap-looking to me. I will admit that some of the jokes do make laugh (even though he kind of makes a fool out of himself here, Brad Dourif, as always, is very entertaining as Chucky), the puppet and gore effects are top notch, and the music by Pino Donaggio isn't too bad, but the overall film and type of humor that it goes for just aren't my taste and the ending left me scratching my head. I personally hope that this is as far as it ever goes with it.

17. Halloween 5: (The Revenge of Michael Myers) (1989). Now we're beginning head into the real crap with this, one of the most disappointing and ill-conceived sequels that has ever been put to film. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers was an excellent way for the series to return to the original story after the well-done but financially disappointing offshoot that was Halloween III but, as Moustapha Akkad himself confessed, they got drunk off of that film's success and rushed into Halloween 5 without thinking it through, which made for a lot of problems in the long run. This movie is just a shopping list of bad decisions: wimping out on the ending of Halloween 4 and instead having Jamie Lloyd now suddenly be mute with a psychic link to her evil uncle, killing off Ellie Cornell's likable character of Rachel early on and then replacing her with the excruciating character of Tina, having Dr. Loomis lose his mind to be the point where he's not all that likable anymore, creating the character of the Man in Black and then doing nothing with him, giving the first hint of the Thorn cult idea, and so on. In addition to those problems, the movie isn't scary or suspenseful at all, it feels like it goes on much longer than it should and also doesn't end when it feels like it should, the look of the film makes it feel more like the middle of spring rather than October, the music by Alan Howarth is run-of-the-mill, Michael Myers' mask, while looking better here than it did in the previous film in my opinion, isn't the best and neither is the idea of having him cry, the characters that are introduced in this film are typical slasher movie victims who you don't care about, and the kills are nothing special. I still like Danielle Harris as Jamie, I don't think that Don Shanks did that bad of a job as Michael (if you listen to the audio commentary and watch the new documentary on Shout! Factory's Blu-Ray box set, he comes across as a really cool guy), Dominique Othenin-Girard, despite often coming across as a guy who doesn't know what he's talking about, does manage to create some nice visuals and some atmospheric moments, and the climactic chase through the Myers house is pretty well done (even though the house doesn't look at all like it did in the previous films) but, other than that, this is a movie that is riddled with too many problems for me to really enjoy it and is one of the weakest Halloween movies ever in my opinion.

16. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). I was once of the opinion that Superman III was the worst of the original Christopher Reeve movies and that this, despite hardly being a classic, was an improvement over that film. Well, if you saw my list of underrated sequels and then came over to this one, you would know that things have definitely changed. Despite the sincerity of Reeve both in terms of his performance and his desire to create a story where the Man of Steel deals with a real-world issue, Superman was no longer super by the time Cannon Films got done with him. That really is what happened with the movie: Cannon's penny-pinching method of slashing the reasonable budget it started out with in half and then cutting 45 minutes out of it following a bad test screening left only an empty husk of what it could have been. This led to two major problems with it. One is that it's very plodding and unfocused, with a story that's all over the map and plot points that are never resolved or explained at all, and is ultimately rather boring to sit through; the other is how the slashed budget made the effects look like a joke and the film itself look like a cheap, made-for-TV movie, a far cry from the incredible production values of the previous films. In addition, Gene Hackman does nothing more than go through the motions in playing Lex Luthor for the third and final time, Mark Pillow's Nuclear Man is an uninspired and forgettable villain, the battles between him and Superman are just so boring and poorly choreographed, the music score is mostly just a rehash of John Williams' original music that doesn't sound nearly as good, and ultimately the major themes that Reeve wanted to address with the film are either glossed over or get lost completely within this colossal mess. Again, Reeve is still great as Superman and some of the other returning actors like Margot Kidder and Jackie Cooper do what they can but, in the end, it doesn't matter because what they're in is nothing less than complete and utter rubbish. It's a very sad sendoff for Reeve's career as Superman.

15. Predators (2010). If you've read my list of underrated sequels, you would know that Predator 2 was my pick for number one and I still stand by it: that movie is fast-paced, well-made and acted, and entertaining as hell, which is a lot more than I can say for this lame movie that many feel is superior for some ungodly reason. Anybody who feels this way is more than entitled to their opinion but, regardless, I don't see what makes this a better movie than Predator 2. At the end of the day, this is nothing more than uninspired rehash of the original film, with the only major difference being that it's set on an alien planet rather in the jungles of Central America. Nothing about this film works for me: Adrien Brody is not a good lead, the idea that Topher Grace is in here at all is a joke, one of the characters is an unrepentant death-row inmate who is impossible to care for, the characters that are actually interesting either don't do much or get killed off very quickly and easily, Laurence Fishburne is completely wasted in his small role, the movie is not exciting at all and has very little action, the attempt to make a new race of Super Predators come across as badder than the classic ones doesn't sit well with me or even work at all (neither does the film's treatment of the classic Predator), the climax is a joke, the music is forgettable, and, ultimately, the movie is so in love with the original that it never becomes its own film and only succeeds in making you want to watch the first one again. The creature, makeup, and digital effects are well done and the film is well-shot but, other than that, there's nothing to recommend this film. If you like it, fine, but, to quote the Cinema Snob, I'll stick with Predator and Predator 2, thank you very much.

14. Terminator: Salvation (2009). Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines may have been little more than yet another chase movie set in the present time like the first two movies and Arnold Schwarzenegger might have started to look too old to continue playing the role but at the least film has some entertainment value and had a very ballsy, bleak ending. This movie, however, is an over-budgeted, unoriginal bore that thinks it's doing more than it is. I applaud the filmmakers for realizing that they needed to do something different and deciding to set a film in the apocalyptic wasteland of the future but, that idea aside, there's nothing appealing about this movie. Christian Bale is a great actor but he was uninspired and dull as John Connor, once again doing that raspy, Clint Eastwood-like voice that's really getting old, and the other actors, such as Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, and Bryce Dallas Howard, don't fare that much better. The action sequences, which are enormous in-scale, feel more akin to the Transformers movies than The Terminator and are about as fun and exciting as those movies, the film's lack of vibrant colors makes it feel very bland (I know what they were going for but it might as well have been in black and white), the music score has to be one of Danny Elfman's most uninspired, and by the time of the climax, I was just waiting for the movie to be over. The animatronic effects used for the Terminators and other machines are nice and the CGI effect of the young Arnold's face being placed over a body double looks a whole lot better than I think anyone expected it to but the film is just not that fun, is not thoughtful at all like the first two, and it makes you wish that they had gotten a much better director than freaking McG to helm it as well as a better script. When the only noteworthy thing to come out of a movie is an audio clip of Bale yelling at someone like a madman, you know you're in trouble.

13. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998). I'm not the biggest fan of I Know What You Did Last Summer but it's still a decent, post-Scream slasher movie that I can watch as a time-waster; this, however, is a very by-the-numbers, bland sequel that does absolutely nothing new, has a cast of mainly disposable characters, is not tense or scary at all, and even rehashes a number of elements from the first film. I thought the idea of setting the movie on an island in the Bahamas was a decent one given the inherit isolated nature of the place but it's not used as well as it could have been; Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr. give decent performances but the other main actors like Brandy and Mekhi Phifer have nothing to them, Jack Black is very annoying in his uncredited role, and I really feel bad for Jeffrey Combs for having to play the thankless role of the hotel manager; the film is very boring for the most part and the final act is so ho-hum that you're really just waiting for it to end by that point; and the fisherman doesn't do anything that makes him any more frightening than how he was in the first film (frankly, I can think of a number of horror villains who are much scarier than him). It also doesn't help that the way Hewitt and her friends are lured to the island makes them look rather dumb (hey're in college and yet they don't know that Rio de Janeiro is not the capital of Brazil?) and that the revelation that one of her new college friend is the fisherman's son isn't shocking at all due to the lack of caring on the viewer's part. There's really not much else to say about the movie because of how little it gives me to work with.

12. Batman & Robin (1997). It's become standard to put this on any list of bad movies and I also don't know what I can say about it that hasn't already been said but, regardless, this movie is such a colossal failure on every level that I think it deserves all of the thrashing that it can possibly get. Another debate came up concerning this film, which was whether it or Superman IV deserved to be higher up since both are notoriously bad comic book movies that killed their respective franchises for years and ultimately, I decided that this was the bigger failure since this movie had all of the money in the world whereas Superman IV had nothing. The budget is definitely up there on the screen given how massive and well-designed the sets are but that's one of the few compliments I can give this movie. As everyone else has stated, the cast sucks: George Clooney doesn't even try when playing both Batman and Bruce Wayne, Chris O'Donnell's Robin becomes a whiny little brat, Alicia Silverstone does absolutely nothing as Batgirl, Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a fool out of himself with his constant, corny ice and snow puns as Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman hams it up so badly as Poison Ivy that it's excruciating, and Jeep Swenson turns Bane into a musclebound moron who talks like a caveman. Only Michael Gough in his last performance as Alfred manages to come out of this with dignity and a touching scene where Bruce tells him that he loves him is another one of the few compliments I can pay the movie. On top of that, the film's tone is camp overload, which really sucks when you consider the tone the series started out with, the gadgets and vehicles that the heroes and villains use are just ridiculous (do I even have to mention the Bat Credit Card again?), the film is not nearly as exciting or fun as it should be, with the climax meaning absolutely nothing, it's so packed to the gills with stuff that it eventually does topple from its own weight, the music score is forgettable, and it's very obvious that the only reason the movie was even made was to generate revenue for the studio, particularly from toys made to promote the movie. To this day, it still stands a colossal failure and a prime example of studio excess where the goal is simply to make money rather than a good movie.

11. Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007). Alright, 20th Century Fox, the first Alien vs. Predator ended up being an underwhelming, PG-13 turd directed by the very incompetent Paul W.S. Anderson but, hey, here's your chance to make up for it, particularly since you're going for a hard R-rating this time. What could possibly go wrong? The short answer: a lot. First off, you hire the Brothers Strause, a pair of special effects artists who've never directed anything other than TV commercials before, to helm the movie and they proceed to shoot it in such an overly dark, murky way that you can't tell what's going on half the time. You also allow them to hire a bunch of bland, no name actors to play characters that you don't give a crap about and whose only purpose is to help pad the movie out and act as cannon fodder for the monsters. Finally, you hire a writer who pens a very uninteresting, poorly-paced story set in a place that had a lot of potential but is not used all that well and which ends on a hint towards the future-set Alien franchise that is done in such a throwaway manner that it means nothing. The only reason to watch this movie are the great, practical creature effects by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr., some nicely nasty gore, and to see a real badass Predator come to Earth to take care of business and exterminate the small horde of Aliens that are loose in the town. All of that stuff is great... again, when you can see it! That is a major source of frustration with this movie: you know that there are a number of really cool monsters on display but you're constantly straining to see them because of how dark it is. And since they're your only source of entertainment due to how bland the characters are and how uninteresting the story is, you're really up shit creek without a paddle. As it stands, I don't know which is worse: this or the first AVP film. I may need some time to think about it. (By the way, I love how they put, "Requiem" in the title, as if they honestly thought that this movie would act as redemption for the whole idea after the first movie.)

10. Scream 4 (2011). Sometimes, you just have to face up to the cold, hard truth that a series has long since run its course and is no longer relevant in a new day and age. Unfortunately, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson didn't learn that lesson and went on to make this very unnecessary fourth chapter in the Scream franchise, which was popular in its day and age but now, feels rather old hat. I know a lot of people don't like Scream 3 but I think it's better than everyone gives it credit for and acts as a nice cap on the trilogy, wrapping everything up nicely. This, however, completely undoes that and, again, comes across as out of place in this day and age. It was nice that they got the original cast back and they all do their jobs well but the whole notion of the killer playing by the rules of the slasher genre and the satirical slant that's meant to have towards it isn't original anymore, even though they try to make it fresh by taking it into the realm of the remake trend that proliferated the 2000's. There are some nicely gory bits, as there were before, but for the most part, the movie just plods along for its 111-minute running time and isn't that engaging or tense and while it is nice to see the Ghostface killer and hear the voice of Roger Jackson over the phone again, it's still just like, "This is all very played out." And the reveal that the mastermind behind it is Sidney's cousin who's jealous of the fame and attention she received due to the events of the past films? Give me a break. Even though this was meant to be the start of a new trilogy, I hope that never happens and that this series can put to rest before it becomes even more of a hackneyed joke than it already is in the eyes of audiences today. And in addition, between this and My Soul To Take (admittedly, this film is much more tolerable than that), Craven needs to either shape up or just retire.

9. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006). Yeah, yeah, this is a prequel but, regardless, this movie is so loathsome that it deserves to be on this list (plus, I put Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on the previous list and that's technically a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, so it's all relative). I love the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and when I heard that a prequel was being made, although I thought it was odd to do one for a remake, I was interested in seeing it. Unfortunately, this film did exactly what I didn't want it to do, which was become a Hostel clone. It's debatable whether or not the so-called "torture porn" subgenre has existed long before that franchise and the Saw series and may include the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre but, regardless, I've never been a fan of horror movies that just focus on people suffering and this film wallows in that in a way that comes across as mean-spirited even for this franchise. The acting is solid and the gore effects by KNB are very well done and realistic but, for the most part, all I'm doing is watching these kids suffer endlessly at the hands of the Hewitt family, more specifically Sheriff Hoyt. Yeah, it's done in a very realistic, gritty manner and doesn't pull any punches but it's not fun to watch. And incidentally, for a movie that's meant to be about how Thoms Hewitt became Leatherface, we don't see a lot of that. It glosses over his childhood during the opening credits, we don't learn how he became fascinated with the chainsaw (the way the movie plays out, it looks like he sees it and just picks it up), and we only get the slightest hint of how and why he became obsessed with wearing other people's faces. Most of the movie focuses on Hoyt and while R. Lee Ermey does get to make him even more sadistic, deviant, and utterly evil than he was before, I wanted to see a movie about Leatherface, not him. And finally, I normally don't complain about this aspect of prequels but here, the fact that you know going in that everyone's going to die hurts the movie even more. Not a good movie and I think it's a good thing that they didn't go further with this continuity.

8. Critters 4 (1992). Here's the first of three direct-to-video sequels that I just had to put on this list. I actually feel kind of bad picking on this one since I know they had virtually no money to work with and so, I'm not going to rag on the less than believable special effects, but that's no excuse for just how unentertaining this movie is to me. While I didn't mind the lead kid and Don Opper once again playing Charlie, I really didn't care about the other characters. I like Brad Dourif as an actor but he has nothing to do here except chew gum and spout technobabble, Anders Hove as the captain is an utterly unlikable asshole, and the rest of the cast I don't remember much about. The Crites themselves are barely in the movie, which is a big problem especially given how there are only two for the most part, and what I really didn't like was Ug, the main bounty hunter from the first two films, showing up as a corrupt businessman who wantonly kills Dourif and then threatens another crew member to make them give them the Crites. Like Charlie, I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing when that happened. This is ultimately going to be a much smaller entry since the film is so forgettable for the most part and I can very easily pinpoint what I didn't like without having to expand upon it very much. Many don't care for the third one where the Crites get loose in an apartment building but even that, while not the greatest, has more entertainment value to it in my opinion than this lackluster final film.

7. The Final Destination (2009). Like Critters 4, this is another movie that I may not remember the full specifics of but I do know exactly what made me hate it and in this case, it was the condescending attitude towards the fans on the part of the studio. As soon as the movie got going, I could tell that the thinking behind its by-the-numbers set up, forgettable characters, and bland death scenes, which are mainly done through very poor CGI, is that, "Aah, these fans will go see anything with the Final Destination name on it, so we don't have to try." What's really sad is that they weren't exactly wrong since this is the highest-grossing film in the series but, regardless, I felt really insulted by how, after three genuinely well-made films (yes, I think Final Destination 3 is done well), they decided to do a movie like this that caters to the lowest common denominator and doesn't try to even be somewhat intelligent or have a bit of substance behind it. (The fact that the same writer and director who did Final Destination 2, one of the series' best, were behind this is equally baffling and sad.) And by the way, why not just call it Final Destination 4? What, were they expecting this to be the last one (which I find hard to believe given how studios loves to milk something that's successful) and so, they gave it a title that has some finality to it? All it did was really make it stick out like a sore thumb in the midst of a series that is otherwise numbered. In any case, it's a good thing that Final Destination 5 followed a couple of years afterward because it would have been a real shame if this had been the last one.

6. Piranha II: The Spawning (1981). A movie about flying piranhas may not be Oscar-worthy but it should at least be fun in a B-movie way. That couldn't be further from the truth when it comes to this incompetent dud, which served as James Cameron's unceremonious directorial debut (I like how recent copies of the film on DVD have proudly proclaimed it as being from the director of Titanic and Avatar in an attempt to sell it). I don't blame Cameron for how the film turned out since he was originally hired to be in charge of the special effects but replaced the original director after he was suddenly replaced by the Italian producer, was forced to work with a bunch of Italian crew members who didn't speak English, and often battled with the aforementioned producer and was not allowed to see the footage that he had shot or to be involved in the editing. That, however, doesn't change the fact that this movie is dull and boring, with mostly forgettable and bland characters (not even Lance Henriksen,as cool as he is, could save this movie) and not nearly as much camp value as you would expect from a movie like this. The flying piranhas are fun to watch when they attack and they're designed well enough, even if the flapping of their wings is most certainly mechanical, but it happens so infrequently throughout the movie that you're mainly just stuck with dull characters, waiting for something to happen. And no, the climax has no impact whatsoever and the music score is as generic as the movie itself. The only good thing that came out of this movie is that Cameron got the fever that led to him having the dream that served as the inspiration for The Terminator and he's also lucky that this movie didn't destroy his directing career before it began.

5. Diary of the Dead (2008). Again, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, I'm sort of cheating with this one since this is actually a reboot of George Romero's zombie franchise rather than another sequel but I dislike this film so much that I couldn't leave it off this list. I haven't seen Survival of the Dead at this point, which I hear is even worse than this, but I don't know if that film would annoy or depress me more than this one does, especially in terms of how it makes Romero come across completely out of his depth. If you've been following my blog from the beginning, you'd know that Romero's "dead" franchise were the first reviews I ever did and that I have a lot of respect for the man (I've met him on a couple of occasions and he's one of the nicest and most genuine people you could ever hope to meet). That said, though, I'd be lying if I said that I like everything that he's done and this, for me, is one of his lowest points. Aside from there being no characters that I give a crap about, since they're either bland or just plain annoying (with the lead, student filmmaker Jason Creed, being more overly concerned with documenting what's going on than anything else and their faculty advisor, Andrew Maxwell, being so overly pretentious and philosophical with what he says that it really gets on my nerves), as well as an abundance of really bad CGI, what really aggravates me about this movie is how blatant and heavy-handed Romero is in conveying his message. Since he always tries to put political and social commentary into his films, it was only natural that he would one day do a movie that takes on the media and the internet but the way he does it here makes it not only seem like he's forgotten how to slip his messages into a movie that's mostly just meant to entertain but also that he doesn't know much about what he's trying to discuss. We see news footage being re-edited to cover up the fact that the dead are rising and we see that Jason's footage of what's going on is getting a lot of hits on the internet but, in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, who the hell would be sitting around, watch TV or browsing on the internet? And the melodramatic, pretentious narration by the lead girl, Debra, and the way she goes on about the media and the internet makes Romero look like an out of touch, old man who's wagging his finger, saying, "You kids and your internet!" (Plus, I wish he would get over that whole ridiculous argument about why zombies shouldn't run, which he has someone explicitly defend not once but twice.) George, I love you, but this and some of your other recent films haven't done much good for your otherwise solid legacy.

4. The Descent Part 2 (2009). Talk about a letdown! Okay, first off, I want to make it clear that The Descent from 2005 could quite possibly be my favorite horror film of the 2000's. I thought it was a very well-made, nicely-acted, extremely claustrophobic, and scary as hell little film, particularly the original British cut with the more downbeat ending, which fit the story much better in my opinion. While I didn't think that it was a story that warranted any kind of continuation, I was nonetheless interested in what the sequel would be. So, you can imagine my disappointment when I finally saw the film and felt that it did everything wrong that the first one got right. While it's nice that Sara (Shauna Macdonald) and Juno (Natalie Mendoza) return (although it makes me wonder if this movie even exists in the continuity of the original British cut given how that one ends), none of the other actors here were at all interesting, with Gavin O'Herlihy being downrigh unlikable as the sheriff, and even worse, the feeling of intense fear and claustrophobia that pervaded the first film are nowhere to be found here. The film is lit far too brightly, ruining the atmosphere that the deep darkness of the first movie provided, and it also makes you well aware that this is indeed a set, whereas before it looked like a real cave. It also doesn't help the Crawlers, who are still nicely designed but aren't nearly as scary since they're not lit as creepily as before. While it is nice to see those two characters from the first film again, the idea of Sara suddeny developing amnesia upon escaping the cave and Juno having survived down there in the dark all that time with an injured leg is just dumb and lazy. And finally, the ending involves something that comes so out of left-field with no explanation that I was utterly dumbfounded. I had heard rumors before that there was another movie planned but I hope that this movie's bad reception scuttled that idea because it did enough damage to the legacy of a really good movie (I think the scene where you see a Crawler take a crap sums the whole thing up better than I ever could).

3. I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer (2006). So how do you make a movie that's even worse than the bland, uninspired I Still Know What You Did Last Summer? You make a movie that's monumentally stupid, that's how. While this is indeed a sequel, it mainly plays like a crappy remake of the first movie, only this time with a group of kids playing a prank involving the fisherman that results in someone getting killed, which prompts them to cover up what happened and then get stalked by someone wearing a slicker in a fashion similar to that of the first movie. While the first movie isn't a favorite of mind, I don't mind the story or the mostly likable cast of characters, which is more than I can say for this movie. I didn't give one flying crap about any of these idiots, and the revelation that the killer is actually the same guy from the other movies as a murderous corpse is jaw-dropping in how stupid it is (the really sad thing is that it's the likable Don Shanks playing the killer; man, this guy needs to play villains in better movies). It's almost pointless to say that the movie isn't scary or thrilling at all since you already guessed that and the look of the film is that ugly, muted-color, music video look that was the norm for much of the 2000's. As bad as the second movie is, I would much rather watch it since at least it had Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr. and actually looked like a movie, whereas this will go down as one of the all-time worst examples of direct-to-video dreck.

2. Beware! The Blob (Son of the Blob) (1972). Here's a riddle: what do you get when J.R. from Dallas decides he wants to make a sequel to a beloved 50's cult classic and spends the summer of 1971 filming it mainly through improvization, even though there is a script? An extremely shitty, micro-budget movie that, fortunately, has pretty much been forgotten, that's what. I know that there are people out there who don't care for The Blob from 1958 and while I can understand why they wouldn't, the movie has a special place in my heart, which is why I really didn't like seeing this virtual mockery of it. I've heard that Larry Hagman was really strung out on drugs while making this movie and it really shows. This film does not take itself a bit seriously, going for an overly comedic and, at times, downright bizarre, tone (the freaking thing opens with footage of a kitten playing amongst some flowers accompanied by some very weird and silly music), with a number of goofy characters, such as the guy who brings the Blob home whom we learn likes to camp out in his living room, another guy who gets attacked by it while he's in the bathtub and manages to escape in his birthday suit, and a number of overt hippies and bums, the later of whom are played by Hagman himself and Burgess Meredith (where's Rod Serling and Sylvester Stallone when you need them?) The music, as I mentioned, has to be heard to believed and the Blob effects are so cheap here that it makes those in the original movie look like the work of ILM. At least in the original, the Blob had some mass and structure to it; here, it often looks like it's either water dyed red or the cheapest of red jelly (much more so than the original ever did). And speaking of the original movie, why is it playing on the TV in a movie that's not only meant to be a sequel but actually alludes to how it ended? Are we running into a paradox here? And finally, the actual leads, who are teenagers like the first movie, are forgettable, which is why I didn't mention them before (the lead guy is no Steve McQueen by a long shot). Bottom line: this movie is neither funny nor scary and is not even so bad that it has some camp value to it. It's just a weird, drug-inspired movie that's a chore to sit through. If you want to see The Blob, either watch the original or the awesome 1988 remake.

1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre) (1994). As was the case with the underrated sequels list, I knew what was going to be number one here as soon as I came up with the idea for it. There may be slews of bad sequels out there but I can't think of one that is more vapid, more random, and more utterly idiotic than this... thing (I hesitate to even call this is a movie, it's so bad). Except for maybe Renee Zellweger, there is not one redeeming thing about this whole affair: the story is more or less a shitty rehash of the original movie, the main group of kids are either stupid (that moronic bitch, Heather, and Zellweger's apparently stoned boyfriend) or unlikable (that asshole, Barry), Leatherface is turned into a full-blown transvestite (I know there were hints of that before but it's more overt than you'd ever want here) who is also a whimpering, screaming coward, Matthew McConaughey is just loud and annoying in a movie that's already loud and annoying, the other two family members are just stupid, the movie has an ugly, cheese-orange look to it and the plot, after a while, just becomes Jenny (Zellweger) repeatedly escaping and then being captured again in addition to annoying, drawn out scenes with the family, there's random stuff like mafia people suddenly showing up to remind the family that they're meant to instill horror and Jenny being saved by a crop-duster that comes out of nowhere to kill Vilmer (McConaughey), and the music sounds like it's making fun of you at points. The most baffling thing about the movie is that it was written and directed by Kim Henkel, who helped write the original with Tobe Hooper and who made this because he didn't like the two films in-between. Even more nuts is that, from what I've heard, he's actually proud of this movie. I for one would like to see him say that to all of the people who hate this movie just for the reaction that he would get! As always, if you get some enjoyment out of this movie, power to you. I'm not going to rag on you. I just don't get it and never will (Joe Bob Briggs calling this the best horror film of the 90's still confounds me). For me, this movie is a crazy, stupid, annoying clusterfuck that about drove me nuts when I actually reviewed it and, as such, deserves to be called the worst sequel I have ever seen.