Audiences have always been afraid of the things that go bump in the night, especially when those objects can be found in their own homes.
Films like “Poltergeist” and “The Evil Dead” effectively brought inanimate objects like clown puppets and books to life to fill their audiences with terror. Yet, for every movie like them, there’s one that inspires more laughs than dread.
Friday’s Video on Demand release of “Rubber,” a film about a killer car tire, offers an entry into the surprisingly crowded genre of ridiculous movies about deadly everyday items.
The Oracle looks at six such killer inanimate object movies.
Director Quentin Dupieux’s film “Rubber” confounded many critics upon its premiere at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Reviews all posed the same question: Is it a comedy or a horror film?
Following the story of a vengeful car tire named Robert, it’s easy to understand why a film about treaded rubber that goes on a killing spree and makes heads explode may not be a critical darling.
Judging by its teaser trailer, which features elements of slapstick humor and a spooky score, the movie appears to be pure offbeat fun.
Since its Cannes screening, “Rubber” has actually earned positive buzz on the film festival circuit for its tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and innovative approach to the genre.
“Death Bed: The Bed that Eats”
“Death Bed: The Bed that Eats” was released in 1977, but was only available on pirated DVDs and VHS prior to its official video release in 2003.
The film’s director George Barry claimed in the DVD intro he forgot he made it until he discovered a fan site dedicated to “Death Bed” while surfing the Internet.
In the movie, unsuspecting victims who lay on the bed are consumed entirely by foamy yellow saliva. Nobody is spared from the Death Bed – especially priests, children and promiscuous teenagers.
Comedian Patton Oswalt noted the film on his 2007 comedy album “Werewolves & Lollipops,” saying that, “Of the four movies I’ve sold, I’ve started 10 other screenplays, get halfway through … This guy thought up ‘Death Bed: The Bed that Eats People’ and f—— finished it!”
Nobuhiko bayashi, who is better known as a television personality in his native Japan, directs 1977’s “House” as if he were presenting his own worst nightmare.
While the disorienting, queasy feeling “House” leaves you with may be too much for some to stomach, few moments can beat the inspired inanimate terror that takes place in this secluded Japanese home.
Between a blood-spewing cat painting, a violent chest of drawers and a human-devouring piano, “House” is likely to leave you with a few nightmares of your own.
The film was finally released on DVD last year under the Criterion Collection.
“Amityville: The Evil Escapes”
It’s hard to believe that turning on the light switch would lead you to physical harm or supernatural possession. Yet that’s exactly what happens in “Amityville: The Evil Escapes.”
The fourth in a long series of “The Amityville Horror” haunted house films, the movie features a household lamp from the infamous Long Island home that has found its way to a picturesque California mansion.
With the simple flick of a switch, the lamp can conveniently activate garbage disposals and chainsaws – as well as shove the family bird in a toaster and give one of the mansion’s tenants tetanus.
While “The Amityville Horror” franchise has never been very respectable, “The Evil Escapes” certainly stands as its lowest point.
Perhaps it’s fitting that the most notorious killer inanimate object film was written and directed by the “Master of Suspense” himself, author Stephen King.
“Maximum Overdrive” satirizes America’s dependence on electronic inventions like televisions, soda machines and 18-wheeler trucks. Naturally, all of those things kill off overly indulgent humans during the course of this cult classic’s running length.
The film’s production was plagued by a cocaine-addled King and even real inanimate object terror.
While filming a scene with a remote-controlled lawnmower tormenting a young boy, the machine ran over a wooden block, showering cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi with splinters and causing him to lose an eye.
Between the previously mentioned “Maximum Overdrive” and “Christine,” which follows a 1958 Plymouth Fury, Stephen King has proven that he is no slouch when it comes to killer inanimate objects.
Director Tobe Hooper, who effortlessly pulled off inanimate terror in “Poltergeist,” adapted King’s short story “The Mangler” into a far less frightening 1995 film.
The story follows Laundromat owner Bill Gartley (Robert Englund) as he finds victims to offer a laundry-folding machine with a taste for human flesh.
Chances are “The Mangler” won’t scare you away from the laundry room, but it certainly offers a lot of campy fun for those looking for more laughs than scares.