• Daniela Urzola

Top 10: Horror guilty pleasures

As I have said before, the horror genre has a wide variety of options to choose from. And it often can be flooded with terrible ones. But that doesn’t mean they are least enjoyable. I recently heard one of my favorite horror vloggers say something that I really liked: We must deconstruct the concept of “guilty pleasures”, because no one should feel guilty for liking what they like. And that is why today I’ve decided to post this list, one that will most likely make a lot of people think: Is she a real horror fan? And the answer is: Yes, I am. Because I can love The Evil Dead or Get Out and still enjoy the films in this list, however cheesy, exploitative, and downright horrible they may be. So, spoiler alert: This list has a lot of unpopular opinions. But they are opinions that I will stand by against any haters.

10. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997): This is a perfect example of the type of ‘90s teen horror that you know is bad but you still love it. I Know What You Did Last Summer is a modern classic today and I actually think it was one of the first horror movies I ever saw -or at least have a full memory of-. It used to be one of my sister’s favorites growing up and she used to watch it a lot, so I think that made me develop a taste for cheesy teen slasher movies. And that’s a pattern that you will see repeatedly on this list.

9. Dead Silence (2007): Following the success of Saw, James Wan and Leigh Whannel teamed up again for Dead Silence. Let me start by saying I think their intentions were good. They clearly wanted to create a classic ghost story. The problem is they tried too hard, and it shows in almost every aspect of the film. Dead Silence is extremely cheesy, and not in a good way. Wan and Whannel went overboard with the tropes, the creepy dolls, the jump scares, and the unnecessary plot twist. But in spite of it all, the film still managed to scare me a lot when I first saw it, so that made me enjoy it. I actually saw it a couple of days ago again and the conclusion is the same: The film is bad, but I find it scary.

8. Unfriended (2014): This is the most recent film on this list, so it’s actually one that I haven’t had the chance to re-watch yet. However, I know I will give it a second viewing -and third, and fourth probably- because I really liked it. Of course, after watching Host (2020), it is almost impossible not to compare both films and Unfriended is clearly the lesser movie. However, I was completely drawn to the whole vengeful-ghost-on-Skype plotline, and while I know it is not the best movie out there, I actually think it was well-done for its standards. It’s a cheesy teen flick in the online era, and that to me is reason enough to enjoy it.

7. The Saw Franchise (2004-2017): Back in 2004, Wan and Whannel joined forces for the first time to give us one of the most game-changing and influential horror films of the 21st century. This is fact. Whether you love it or hate it, as a viewer or critic, no one can deny that when it premiered, Saw was gory, shocking, and innovative all at once. Now, 8 movies later, it is definitely gorier, but innovative and shocking? Not so much. The Saw movies got objectively worse one after the other, but they gave birth to a franchise that is now a contemporary cult classic of horror, with a massive fanbase of gorehounds always asking for more. And however bad they may be (because most of them are pretty bad), I enjoy the Saw films. I recently watched the entire franchise again and it’s just fun. It pleases my need for meaningless exploitative gore from time to time, and even though I hate the plot twists and the storylines are borderline ridiculous at times, I never get tired of watching how creative the traps are. And yes, whenever I hear there will be a new movie for Saw I roll my eyes out. But I will still go to see it the minute it premieres.

6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003): No, I am definitely not talking about the 1974 Tobe Hooper film that gave us one of the most iconic serial killers in horror history. I’m talking about it’s very bad remake in 2003, starring Jessica Biel. As I have mentioned in other posts, the early ‘00s weren’t particularly a good decade for horror, and a clear example of this is the number of poor remakes that premiered during this time. I don’t know where that obsession came from, but all of a sudden, all horror filmmakers were intended to take an untouchable classic and turn it into some modern butchered version. This is one of those unnecessary remakes, but it’s one that I liked very much. Maybe it was because I was in my teens and had barely seen classics yet, or maybe it was all the gore in it -again, I love some good old gore sometimes-. But I actually remember renting it at Blockbuster and watching it over and over again for an entire weekend. Talk about obsessive. I haven’t seen it ever since, but I do want to do it to see what I would think of it today.

5. Cheesy shark films: Now this one may be cheating, but I had to include it here. This isn’t a particular movie, rather a subgenre altogether. I’ll forever scream this at the top of my lungs: I love cheesy shark movies. They are one of my guiltiest pleasures, and one that I resort to when I just want to have a good time in front of the TV. I love everything about them, from the unexpected appearances of the sharks to the almost required absurd endings. It is a subgenre that was actually born from an amazing classic, but somehow became more and more banal, with its films eventually being those type of “so bad they’re good” movies.

4. Jennifer’s Body (2009): The only reason why Jennifer’s Body is on this list is because the general consensus has rated it poorly. However, I strongly disagree with this, because I would argue that Karyn Kusama’s piece is actually a great example of modern horror -and a feminist one as well-. And I know I’m not the only who thinks this. A decade later, there is an increasing tendency towards the appreciation of Jennifer’s Body. And to me, this just goes to show that it was a film that was way ahead of its time, and that is why it was misunderstood by many people back in its days, myself included. Written by Academy Award winner Diablo Cody (Juno), this high school horror satire wasn’t well-received by critics, who felt it didn’t quite reach its subversive potential. But I find its feminist premise to be quite original and entertaining nonetheless, and I simply feel drawn to it all. Plus, it has a killer soundtrack and a ‘90s nostalgia vibe that speaks to my soul.

3. House of Wax (2005): Now this I can admit is 100% a guilty pleasure. House of Wax is another piece that stemmed from the dreadful decade of remakes that was the early ‘00s. The film is bad, we all know it. But a teen slasher starring Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Jared Padalecki, and Paris Hilton? Anyone who grew up during this time will appreciate and understand the importance of this film within popular culture. The film has everything a cheesy slasher must have: A group of teens camping, Paris Hilton being chased in her underwear, a creepy villain, and even an unnecessary twist at the end. It’s one of those films that, as a horror fan, you will enjoy watching, no matter how much you deny it to the outside world.

2. Freddy vs. Jason (2003): Back in 2003, this movie did the only thing that would make every horror geek out there get excited for yet another film in the extensive series of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. And that was to have two of the most iconic serial killers of all time facing each other in an unprecedented horror battle. Freddy vs. Jason did not receive a lot of praise from the critics. But that’s because they got it all wrong. The film is pure fan service. It never intended to be a masterpiece of horror, yet it’s absolutely legendary. Having Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees not only share the screen but actually fight each other to death was everything every horror fan ever dreamed of. So, no matter how poorly written, acted, or directed it was, it left a mark in horror history, and it will forever stay there. And I, for one, will return to it again and again.

1. The Final Destination Franchise (2000-2011): I might get oddly sentimental but let me just start by saying this franchise holds a very special place in my heart. I saw the first Final Destination when I was 8, and it instantly became my favorite movie. So, it was obvious that I kept returning to the franchise every time a new movie premiered, even if growing up I realized they weren’t all that good. Much like Saw, the movies in this series got increasingly gorier and poorly written over time. However, back in 2000, the original Final Destination set off the century with an original, entertaining piece of teen horror where a group of high school seniors had to endlessly cheat Death in order to stay alive. It was basically a slasher where the killer was Death itself, so it’s only logical that, watching it at age 8, my mind was blown. And it’s safe to say I have watched it many many times ever since, and even if I know now it is not the best horror movie there is, I keep loving every minute of it. As for the rest of the franchise? I’ll always be there to rank the deaths and cringe at the opening sequences.

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