If seeing Bob Flanagan nail his penis to a board makes your genitals hurt and you don’t have the stomach for the ass-to-mouth digestive track sharing of Human Centipede, here are a few more agreeable films to enjoy this Halloween. They may shock you, but it won’t be because of the cringe factor or because they’re inciting any real fear. No, I’ll leave the screaming and squirming to Alan’s nightmare inducing list. Rather, these bridge the gap between the bizarre and the hilarious, the campy and the so-good-because-it’s-so-effin-bad. This list is by no means comprehensive, so get wild in the comment section and add your own favorites.
Japanese commercial director Nobuhiko Obayashi was asked to make a Japanese equivalent of Jaws– a horror movie that would be as frightful and successful as Spielberg’s blockbuster. Some would say Obiyashu failed, because the result was a hallucinatory supernatural mind-fuck that is equal parts Sailor Moon, Sam Raimi camp horror, and John Hughes teen comedy. The plot is all over the place but here’s the gist: Gorgeous’ (that’s one of the character’s names) aunt lives alone in a house in the Japanese countryside, so she takes six of her friends (named Kung Fu, Sweet, Mac, etc.) to go visit her. Bad idea. The house is haunted and Gorgeous’ aunt apparently died years ago but is staying alive in a sort of afterlife by feeding on the bodies of the young women who visit her. What ensues is several days of cats projectile vomiting blood, the unexplainable deaths of the girls, and great Japanese pop-rock by the band Godiego.
WTF Moment: From the flying furniture to the dancing skeleton to the painted backdrops, the whole film is a WTF moment. But my favorite comes early in the film when Mr. Togo, a man who’s supposed to accompany the girls to the house, falls down the stairs and, in a ridiculous stop-motion sequence, gets his butt stuck in a bucket. If not that, it’s when one of the girls, Prof, gets eaten by a piano.
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Sleepaway Camp is in many ways a run-of-the-mill slasher film. Putting a bunch of children in the middle of the woods and setting a killer loose is the concept of countless films from the genre. But what sets Sleepaway Camp apart from its contemporaries is the wildly shocking ending (refer to WTF moment for more details, but be warned, it’s spoil city down there). Soft spoken and blatantly disturbed Angela accompanies her cousin Ricky to sleepaway camp. Over the course of the session, Ricky protects Angela from the abuse of the other campers while mysterious deaths start occurring at the embarrassingly mismanaged camp. When the population of the camp has dwindled down to a mere twenty five children, the counselors decide to call the cops and seek out the culprit. Ultimately, they find the murderer, but it’s certainly not who or what they expected…
WTF Moment: Spoiler alert! Seriously, stop reading if you haven’t seen it, because the ending is where all the fun is at. Like, I’m really serious. Ok. The ending of Sleepaway Camp is the definition of a WTF moment. After quiet, tortured Angela terrorizes the camp, two counselors discover her by the waterfront, cradling the naked body of her pseudo-boyfriend as she hums a lullaby. When she stands up and turns around, it’s revealed that Angela is gnawing on his decapitated head! Oh wait, sorry, that’s not the weird part. What’s weird is that Angela is actually a guy! And you get to see he/she’s frontal pre-teener wiener in all its glory!
Bad Taste (1987)
Peter Jackson’s first film features the Lord of the Rings helmer and his friends gallivanting around rural New Zealand as a uniformed crew of dimwitted aliens and an equally dimwitted crew of vigilantes trying to save the already scant population of New Zealand. It’s pretty much your standard tale of a bunch of regular schmucks saving the world from zombie-like, cannibal aliens, except Jackson infuses it with an impressive amount of vomit, brains, and sheep murder. This is also the third film of three I’ve listed that includes some measure of cannibalism (the aliens have come to earth to get human meat for an intergalactic fast food chain).
WTF Moment: The film was shot with an incredibly low budget, but Jackson was still able to amp up the gore throughout. I’ll probably go with the visual motif of brains spewing out of skulls like pudding as the overriding WTF facet of the film, a fact I found particularly unsettling because I saw the film while enjoying an egg-salad sandwich, which is of course, the salad equivalent of brain. In one notable scene, a young Peter Jackson is eating brains with a spoon out of the blown out skull of one of his alien brethren.
NOTE: I had to stop myself at Bad Taste and Sleepaway Camp, simply because the 80’s have an unfair advantage when it comes to campy horror films. Honorable mentions include Re-Animator (WTF Moment: the decapitated head going down on his daughter) and Basket Case (mmm… so much gratuitous violence).
Troll 2 (1990)
The aforementioned films are all listed because they have some merit beyond the sheer absurdity of their content. But Troll 2 is much like women’s baseball: it’s in a league of its own. As legend tells it, director Claudio Fragasso was shopping around a script about goblins, but he could only get funding for a sequel to Troll. So, Fragasso went with it. Without changing a word of the original script, he made a film called Troll 2 without the appearance or mention of a single troll. This probably would have been mildly excusable had the film not boasted arguably the most atrocious acting in cinematic history. The film has garnered a massive cult following and even spawned the aptly titled documentary Best Worst Movie.
WTF moment: Between the scene where Holly accuses Eliot of being gay or Grandpa Seth’s entire character, it’s difficult to choose just one, seeing as the entire film is wtf?! inducing. But my personal favorite, and one that has amassed nearly two million hits on youtube, is the infamous “OH MY GOD” line, delivered when Arnold witnesses the goblins devouring the green pulpy remains of his girlfriend.