10 of the Cheesiest

Friday the 13th 3-10 (1982-2002)

These flicks are very simple. A group of horny camp counselors decide to open a youth retreat in an area the locals refer to as “camp blood.” Every year, some naïve teens become victims for Jason Voorhees’ machete. The first two movies are somewhat original, however, the remainder of the films fell into a repetitive trend. Apparently, for five of the seven sequels, hordes of teens stupidly venture into Camp Crystal Lake, seemingly oblivious to the fact that dozens of their peers died there just the year before. In fact, Jason is nothing more than a second-rate Michael Myers, minus the creativity. The only time Jason boldly stepped out of his “comfort zone” was to raise havoc in Manhattan and to boldly go were few serial killers have gone before — space. The Friday the 13th franchise had seemed to have run its course until New Line released the long awaited monster mash, Freddy Vs. Jason, which gave Jason something he hasn’t had since the mid- ’80s: a blockbuster. — Pablo Saldana

The Amityville Horror (1979)

The Amityville Horror is the final punctuation for a decade’s worth of horror films. Nothing says ’70s more than this film, especially its stars’ hairstyles (James Brolin’s ‘fro and Margot Kidder’s stringy look). More ’70s than the hairdo’s is the look of the film featuring harsh lighting and screen formatting that gives every shot a squishy, elongated look.

A young couple, George and Kathleen, move into a seriously discounted three-story colonial house. They overlook the fact that a family was brutally murdered there only a year before, even though the ominous signs and regular haunted house ploys are about as cloyingly obvious as a Jay Leno punch line.

The chemistry between Brolin and Kidder is awkward and backed up with the most trite horror themes: a big scary house, a little girl’s imaginary friend, Catholic priests and symbols and James Brolin’s fascination with an axe. To the unsuspecting viewer, this movie could at first be confused as The Shining, The Exorcist or The Omen. Look for laughs by way of plot devices and gratuitously introduced characters. — Harold Valentine

Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers (1990)

Vampires fear many things: garlic, light and even crucifixes. But not before Sleepwalkers was a vampire terrified of a cat. Stephen King has continually pushed vampire mythology to its limits, but unlike Anne Rice (who does the same), he adds ridiculously unbelievable characteristics to the legends from a fear of cats to a vampire that pilots an aircraft (The Night Flier). This movie starts with a young vampire introduced as a new student with a mysterious past. Everything is fine until he assaults a high school hottie which leads to a nearly fatal attack from a small, furry cat. The film comes to a fur- flying end that is predictable and extremely hilarious. And beware: Don’t attempt to watch this movie alone. Seek the comfort of some close friends and cats or you’ll live to regret it. — P.S.

The Howling III: Marsupials (1987)

The Howling is arguably the best werewolf movie ever made, but its sequels have been anything but original or even consistent. The Howling III: Marsupials took the classic werewolf and crossbred it with a kangaroo. Well, not really. Instead, it’s a relative of the marsupial wolf that became extinct in the 1940s. The film plays out more like parody than an actual horror movie with its feeble script and laughable special effects. This film was made in an attempt to recapture the cutting edge of the series’ original movie, but it just ends up making for some excellent comedic value. The Howling III: Marsupials is the worst entry in a series which, after this film’s release, became a straight-to-video franchise that spawned yet another three sequels. Marsupials should be given some credit for sticking its neck out creatively, but lack of direction and a humorous plot makes the film a guilty — extra cheesy — pleasure for fans of the genre. — P.S.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Next Generation (1994; re-release 1997)

1994 marked the passing of 20 years since the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre frightened audiences, and The Return of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre barely dented the box office. This was intended to be a remake of the classic 1974 film, but the popularity of Massacre’s then unknown cast led the film to be re-edited, re-titled (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Next Generation) and re-released in 1997 as a sequel. Both Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey star in this awful film that even features Leatherface in a rather unflattering red dress. Next Generation is at least one gig both Zellweger and McConaughey wouldn’t dare listing on their resumes. — P.S.

Vampire Journals (1997)

Vampire Journals must be one of the cheesiest vampire flicks out there. The problem is that the movie tries too hard to be taken seriously. But with dialogue such as: “You distract me with your sensuality” and “The air of malevolence warped my senses,” the unintentional hilarity makes this film worth its weight in comedic gold.

The plot centers around Zachary (David Gunn), a vampire who wants to be mortal again (think Louis from Interview with the Vampire), so he hunts down other vampires (think Angel from the TV series Angel). This story has simply been done too many times for anyone to care, but it makes for a few laughs.

In Vampire Journals, Zachary is hunting Ash (Jonathon Morris), a master vampire with an affinity for music. Ash has become obsessed with pianist Sofia (Kirsten Gerre) and is determined to claim her as his own. But first he must destroy Zachary and fulfill a prophecy.

This movie is great to watch with a group of friends. A game can even be devised for the group to count the amount of “boobage” on screen. Good times can also be found in determining exactly when the Eastern European accents turn into bad Mexican drawls. — Sherry Mims

Creepshow (1982)

Before latter-day box office blowouts hit the silver screen with their self-conscious homages to the horror genre, Creepshow, the brainchild of writer Stephen King and director George A. Romero (Dawn of the Dead), entertained and influenced the lives of many a children during the ’80s. Now they can look back and realize: “Wow, that’s Ed Harris dancing like a balding (not bald, mind you) dandy!”

This movie is a rare kind of cheese because it’s funny, but the artistic talent bubbling below this film’s corny surface engages the viewer. King is known for going too far with supernatural plot devices, but here they work well with Romero’s affluent use of pre-CGI gross-out effects. Also, the strength of King’s writing is in the colloquial detail of his characters, which is evident throughout the film’s five yarns.

Creepshow is a classically styled, ’50s pulp-horror project featuring actors that are humorous just because they’ve been cast out of their element. These actors include Ted Danson, Leslie Nelson and even Stephen King who plays an ignorant hick who thinks he hits the jackpot when a meteor falls on his farmland. — H.V.

Bad Taste (1987)

Peter Jackson is synonymous with Lord of the Rings films, but in 1983 he began working on a project that would prove to be more amazing than Legolas’ infinite quiver. The off-colored horror/action/comedy the Bad Taste provides a laugh-fest when aliens come to Earth and humans fight back. The low-budget film — complete with brains that look like chewed-up bubble gum and firing rockets carried by fishing line — took four years to complete and invented a new term in filmmaking: comedy splatter.

The movie, filmed in New Zealand, starts with Giles, one of the main characters, getting attacked and captured by humanoid aliens. At the same time, The Boys, a group sent in by the government to eradicate the aliens, begins working their way to the alien hive. After finding Giles in a marinade filled oil drum, they quickly find out that everyone they have come to rescue has been killed. To add to the mozzarella, the aliens box- up the bodies to supply Crumb’s Crunchy Delights, a fast- food chain on their planet. In a word: brilliant. — Rorik Williams

Strangeland (1998)

When the name Dee Snider is mentioned, cheesy ’80s music videos come to mind, not crappy 1990s horror flicks. Nevertheless, in 1998 the author of the tune “We’re Not Gonna Take It” came out with Dee Snider’s Strangeland. The former Twisted Sister lead singer wrote, co-produced and starred in this film about piercing, the Internet and heavy metal.

Despite the promise of these relatively new elements, the film’s razor-thin plot stops well short of being a real slice of horror film history. Snider is convincing as crazed sadomasochist Capt. Howdy, who surfs teen chat rooms looking to kidnap people for torture’s sake.

One other bright spot in this film is an appearance by Robert Englund as the drunken redneck, Jackson. The rest of the cast is left to struggle with poorly written dialogue (amongst other things), in a short film about a tortured freak who tortures others, it’s all cheese and no burger. — Jeff Novak

Trick or Treat (1986)

Trick or Treat is the epitome of bad ’80s high school horror. Bullied metal-head Eddie is a die-hard fan of a Satan-worshipping rocker named Sammi Curr, who died in a hotel fire. Eddie gets his idol’s unreleased album from a radio DJ (enter Gene Simmons sans makeup and tongue). Just like on all his other records, the artist records a message backwards. But, lo and behold, this message is from Satan himself. At the same time, the whole world is preoccupied slandering rock music. One oppressor just happens to be a reverend (enter Ozzy Osbourne sans long hair and drugs). The film also includes an unexplained monster, guitars shooting out electricity that vaporizes people and a handful of cheesy insults. For an old flick, this is absolutely no trick, just treat. — Olga Robak