Are these horror movies hell-raisers or hellish? -- On the eve of the new version of ''The Omen'' we rate a slew of films from the genre

By Chris Nashawaty
June 02, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Are these horror movies hell-raisers or hellish?

As clever as the new Omen‘s 6/6/06 release date may be, the marketing guys over at Fox didn’t really need to go through all of the trouble. After all, every weekend some new horror flick rolls into theaters and scares up a bundle of quick cash before moviegoers can get wise to whether the product’s any good. As most of us have learned the hard way, not all scary movies are created equal. There are the quality ones from big studios or big-name directors that actually deliver (which we’ll call the Good-Good horror movies), and similarly well-pedigreed ones that don’t (the Bad-Good). Then there are the ones that are awesome even though their low budgets or suspect lineages hint that they shouldn’t be (the Good-Bad), and the ones that promise nothing and deliver even less (the Bad-Bad). Confused? Here’s a breakdown.

GOOD-GOOD
High-class and bone-chilling

THE EXORCIST
(1973) Linda Blair is possessed by Satan, humps a crucifix, cranks her head 360 degrees, and yaks pea soup. Oscar swoons.

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
(1991) The sickest, most perverse film ever to win Best Picture (with the possible exception of Forrest Gump).

ROSEMARY’S BABY
(1968) Mia Farrow gets a sweet apartment, a bad haircut, and then worse news. Roman Polanski actually makes an art film about getting knocked up by Lucifer.

PSYCHO
(1960) Hitchcock’s masterpiece single-handedly turned a cowering nation back to taking baths and cast suspicion on any grown man still living with his mother.

THE OTHERS
(2001) The rare fancy-pants horror flick (Miramax + Nicole Kidman + foreign director) that delivers the gooseflesh goods. How rare? See Mimic.

BAD-GOOD
High-class and butt-numbing

THE RING
(2002) Same old story: Grabby Hollywood money hounds slickly remake nerd-fetishized Japanese horror flick. Screw it up royally.

EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC
(1977) Despite a top-shelf star like Richard Burton, this one manages to pull off what even rocker Ronnie James Dio hasn’t been able to: make Satan boring.

THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM
(1988) Or, for that matter, any horror movie directed by pretentious British art-house hack Ken Russell.

DARK WATER
(2005) Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly gets waterlogged with a flick about bad plumbing. About as scary as a litter of kittens.

MIMIC
(1997) Class isn’t always a guarantee, especially when it comes to giant-cockroach movies. Miramax + Oscar winner Mira Sorvino + foreign director = crap in any language.

GOOD-BAD
Low-rent and deliciously cheesy

EVIL DEAD II
(1987) No budget, schlocky F/X, sub-dinner-theater-level acting…and yet Sam Raimi’s pre-Spider-Man calling card is a pure gonzo masterpiece.

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
(1974) The power-tool-wielding Leatherface spawned 1,001 cheap bogeyman knockoffs. Don’t hold it against him.

THE DEVIL’S REJECTS
(2005) How good could a Rob Zombie flick about a sadistic clan of backwoods yokels really be? Prepare to be surprised.

CHILD’S PLAY
(1988) Chucky’s coming-out party is cool at first. Then kind of ridiculous. Then deeply unsettling.

RE-ANIMATOR
(1985) Hilarious and disgusting, Stuart Gordon’s grade-Z gross-out features one of the most committed performances by a no-name actor in cinema history. All hail Jeffrey Combs!

BAD-BAD
Low-rent and god-awful

DAY OF THE DEAD
(1985) After Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, zombie geeks (you know who you are) expected another George Romero cheapie splatterpiece. They’re still waiting.

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
(1978) The alternate title of this repulsive and amateurish slasher flick is Day of the Woman. Ironic, since it’s the most antiwoman horror film ever made.

THE DEVIL’S RAIN
(1975) Borgnine! Shatner! Travolta! You’re going to be hard-pressed to come up with a trinity unholier than that.

MAN’S BEST FRIEND
(1993) Ally Sheedy in a slobbery, hack-job Cujo rip-off without an ounce of Cujo‘s wit. Not that Cujo had any to spare.

ANY MOVIE WITH ‘WES CRAVEN PRESENTS’ IN THE TITLE
Exhibit A: Dracula 2000.

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