I really wouldn’t call what you’re about to read a definitive list of anything. What it is, is a list of 5 “classic” films that I feel get much more attention than they deserve. Having seen most of them later in life with a hefty dose of perspective, I’ve been able to form unbiased opinions on them without being tainted by nostalgia. So here goes: 5 films that I find unbearably overrated.
5: My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Ugh… where do I start? This is one of those “classic slashers” you always hear people clamoring on about whenever the topic comes up. Inevitably, some newbie will stumble onto a message board and ask, “Anybody know any good slashers?” I guarantee you that 9 out of 10 people will recommend My Bloody Valentine… and that kid is going to hate them in the morning.
How the filmmakers were able to take such a great premise and screw it up is beyond me. You’ve got a holiday no one had used before, an incredibly claustrophobic setting, and one awesome looking killer. I couldn’t tell you if any of it was scary though, because I was too distracted by the atrocious acting and obnoxious Canadian accents. The murder scenes are decent and the ending is actually sort of interesting, but there’s one thing I always remind myself when thinking back on this film… I almost turned it off. I never turn movies off, but I was honestly a split second away from giving that one the axe.
The critics say: “One of my favourite slashers ever. Cut to shreds but still a damn good early 1980s slasher. They don’t make ’em like this any more.”
If by “this” you mean horrible and crappy, then i have to disagree, they definitely still make them like this. 4: The Amityville Horror (1979)
My hate for the original Amityville Horror is pretty well known among those who know me. It’s a film, from what I can gather, that is only listed among the “classics” because of its dubious ties to a story that most likely isn’t true. I have no plans to try and deconstruct the inconsistencies in the Lutzs’ story, but I have every intention of ripping this movie a new one.
Plain and simple, it’s boring. And not just boring in the sense that it’s dull, but more like boring in the sense that nothing really happens. People stare around dramatically at nothing, the father gets a little mad at one point, and there’s a scene with a guy who doesn’t seem to be nearly as bothered by all the flies on his face as he should be. That’s about it. The scariest scene in the entire movie is a split second shot during a nightmare by Margot Kidder when her husband brains her with an axe. The problem is that it’s the only exciting thing that happens the entire time, and it’s not even real.
And don’t even get me started on the ending. That was the scariest hole in the wall I’ve ever seen! I didn’t see the remake with Ryan Reynolds, but I’m pretty sure it had to be better than the original. I can’t think of a better condemnation than that. The critics say: “The classic horror movie, spiced up with a whiff of veracity, is the simple formula that made The Amityville Horror the blockbuster that it was. Even now, 25 years later, it has lost little of its power to shock and disturb.”
…Speechless. 3: Clownhouse (1989)
Picture this if you will. Two young brothers are eating breakfast at their table in the morning and generally acting like brothers do. Suddenly, the door opens and the third brother appears. A portly young boy of about 11 enters the kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of “tightey whiteys,” and the camera proceeds to pan down his body and promptly stops right in his most sensitive of areas.
It’s at this point in Clownhouse, Victor Salva’s 1989 ode to scary clowns and paedophilia, that I sensed I was in for a long ride. I’m just as uncomfortable with what Salva did as everyone else (it would later be found out that he taped himself in amorous dealings with the boy), but unlike most, I’m perfectly able to judge this film on its merits regardless of Salva’s improprieties. Unfortunately for him, Clownhouse is still bad.
To listen to people talk about this film on message boards you would think it’s one of the scariest slashers of all time. Perhaps to an eight year old, but as someone who saw it for the first time in his teens, I found it a tedious bore with nary a drop of blood or a bare breast to keep me interested. Unless of course shots of preteen boys in their underwear are your bag. In the end, it’s an utterly suspenseless, terribly acted movie that is better suited being mentioned among the worst horror films of all time than the best. The critics say: “Clownhouse is the only film in the entire cycle to conjure anything approaching the eerie suspense of Halloween .”
If that doesn’t hurt your head… nothing will. 2: Suspiria (1977)
Ahhh, finally we’re getting to the films on this list that have the potential to give our readers a coronary. How could I possibly say that Dario Argento’s 1978 “masterpiece” is overrated? Simple… it’s BORING. There, I said it. Now I’m going into hiding because I shall surely be crucified for this (just wait for my next pick).
The first 10 minutes of Suspiria are certainly pretty great. Goblin’s pounding score, the frightening storm, and those deliciously violent murders. It’s all great in my opinion. The problem for me starts when they begin to unravel the plot, because there just isn’t much of it. An American ballerina enrolls at a prestigious European dance academy, and strange things are happening. That’s really about it. As a horror fan, how I’m supposed to relate to a snotty little ballerina girl is beyond me. There are a few creepy things that happen for about the next hour or so, but really the action doesn’t pick up again until about an hour in, when the blind guy gets eaten by his own seeing-eye dog (irony!).
What’s more blasphemous than me not liking Suspiria? Probably the fact that I like its sequel, Inferno, better. Oh man, I can really hear you guys foaming at the mouth now. Inferno took the potential of the original and really capitalized on what the first film needed. The Nancy Drew-esque detective game is much more fascinating to me than watching some prissy dancers. Plus, the murder sequences in Inferno are masterworks, and there’s a lot more of them.
The critics say: “It’s always fascinating to watch; the thrills and spills are so classy and fast that the movie becomes in effect what horror movies seemed like when you were too young to get in to see them.”
Yeah, right. 1: Dawn of the Dead (1978)
And here we finally arrive at our destination. When George Romero released his first Dead sequel in 1978, the film went on to become a rousing underground success, finding a particularly high level of interest in the drive-in movie scene. It’s there where a legion of fanboys got their first taste of zombies, and because their experience was tainted by so much nostalgia, they’ve been unable to look at the film with an objective eye ever since. Their enthusiasm is now trickling down to younger generations, who are carrying the flag that Dawn may very well be the best horror film of all time. In my opinion, it’s not even close.
Dawn of the Dead suffers from the same problems that Suspiria does. It’s got a fantastic opening, a fantastic ending, and way too much crap in between. I do actually enjoy the part where our protagonists are rotting away in the mall trying to amuse themselves, but it’s the part before that that always bores me.
I mean seriously, how long did I have to watch these guys run around, drive around, and roll around before they were able to clear all of the zombies out of the mall? Romero shows his over-indulgent side during this film, by making us watch almost an hour of set-up before getting to the real meat, where our characters finally come to the realization that material wealth is not all that it takes to be happy. Had the middle portion had a bit brisker of pace, I very likely would buy that this was the best horror film ever made.
As it is though, it’s just an okay one. An interesting zombie film that explores some interesting themes but ultimately takes too long to make it’s point. Nothing more, nothing less.
The critics say: “Widely considered that rare sequel which is better than the original.”
Better than Night of the Living Dead? Sorry folks, I’m just not buying it.
So there we have it. I’m sure you’re frothing at the mouth to tell me how wrong I am, but I don’t take my opinion nearly as seriously as this article might suggest, so feel free to leave surly tongue lashings in the comments if you disagree…
Check out more from Eric at BloodyGoodHorror.com.