October 26, 2023
WRITTEN BY: QUENTIN
It’s October, which means that almost everything out there is focused on Halloween. Scary this, spooky that. For example, there are at least nine new horror movies dropping this month (10, if you count Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour), not to mention several new horror series releasing across multiple streaming platforms. We aren’t immune either, having already dropped one horror-themed Bitesize Top Five (with another on the way), daily horror recommendations on Twitter (HERE), and having a few horror-driven articles coming soon. However, a lot of the content out there gets a little repetitive. I mean, how many articles can I read about slasher franchises of the 80s, the brilliance of Get Out, or “Scariest Movies on Netflix?” With that in mind, I wanted to go in a bit of a different direction. But first, let me ask you a question...
How many times have you been scrolling through a VOD library…or for my fellow old people, rummaging through a DVD bargain bin at Blockbuster…only to come across some cheap, schlocky-looking horror flick that makes you think, “haha, what the hell is this?!” I’m talking about the Sharknado-tier of movies that have titles made up of two random words drawn from a hat. Or movies with a premise so ridiculous, it’s as if a group of stoned writers won the lottery and decided to make one of their wild edible-driven movie ideas a reality for shits and giggs. These are the movies that we always hear about in meme form, but rarely ever from a person who has actually seen them.
This is where I come in. I’ve taken the time to watch seven such movies, doing the legwork to check out what’s actually behind the most ridiculous loglines, pun-tastic titles, and grindhouse artwork I could find. Are they good? Bad? So bad they’re good?
For better or worse, you're gonna learn today…
Synopsis: A medical student sets out to recreate his fiancée, who was tragically decapitated in a lawnmower accident, by building her a new body made of Manhattan prostitutes.
With Frankenhooker being the oldest movie on this list, it’s hard to tell if its cheesiness stems from an effort to be cheesy or just because it’s over 30 years old. To be fair, it’s probably a little column A, a little column B; either way, it has the same dated cheesiness as 80s classics (I’m using the term loosely) Once Bitten and Re-Animator. For me, I loved those movies growing up, so the mere fact that Frankenhooker stirred up feelings of nostalgia even though I had never seen it gives it a leg up. On top of that, it has some great 80s nonsense: a buff, mustachioed pimp named Zorro (Joseph Gonzalez) wearing a Mr. T starter kit of gold chains? Check. Absurd practical effects? Double check. More T&A than you can shake a stick at, including 1988’s Penthouse Pet of the Year as the titular character? 36Triple-D check. All of this is to say that 13-year-old Q would have loved this ridiculous take on Weird Science and Frankenstein, which means that 42-year-old Q has a bit of a soft spot for it too.
Synopsis: A homicidal car tire, discovering it has destructive psionic power, sets its sights on a desert town once a mysterious woman becomes its obsession.
On one hand, I respect writer-director Quentin Dupieux for coming up with an original (if silly) idea and just going for it. On the other hand, this surprisingly meta movie is a total bore. There is little to no actual storyline, and the basic message seems to be that movie fans are wasting their time by watching movies that have “no reason.” Granted, that’s not exactly inaccurate, but relaying that message through a dumb movie seems a little hypocritical. Why are you biting the hand that feeds you, Dupieux? That aside, it plays like a darkly malicious Wall-E, with almost no dialogue outside of the random meta asides. I dunno…. I just think that a movie about a killer tire should have a little fun with the premise, and this movie, seemingly by design, is self-deprecating from the get-go. If the filmmakers don’t think I should watch their movie, then what are we even doing here?
Synopsis: A fun weekend turns into madness and horror for a bunch of college kids looking for fun in a beaver infested swamp.
Two things caught me by surprise when starting this movie: 1… I didn’t realize it was a Universal Studios joint. I thought it was a low-budget indie, so seeing a major studio logo threw me for a minute. And 2… the opening scene features Bill Burr and John Mayer (yes, that John Mayer). I thought for sure I had the wrong movie. But nope! And the surprises didn’t stop there. Zombeavers is actually a pretty solid parody of the “kids at the cabin” horror genre. Granted, it’s not near as sharp as The Cabin in the Woods, but all the familiar characters and tropes are here and adequately skewered. The local mountain hunter, the jock, the dude who is always in a knit cap, the girl who just wanted to be with her girlfriends after a breakup, the horny slut (I’m not shaming!), beer, drugs, sex, and so on. Plus, as the name would suggest, the movie is completely self-aware, making beaver jokes aplenty and using certain camera angles to accentuate the pun (there are even funny outtakes during the credits). Add in the fact that it goes much further with the simple premise than I expected, Zombeavers is easily the best movie on this list.
THE VELOCIPASTOR (2017)
Synopsis: After losing his parents, a priest (Greg Cohan) travels to China, where he inherits a mysterious ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur. At first horrified by this new power, a hooker convinces him to use it to fight crime. And ninjas.
I’ve been seeing this movie on my various feeds for a while now, so I finally pulled the trigger for this article, for you. Unfortunately, and perhaps expectedly, I was right to keep dodging this drivel. Even at only 68 minutes, it overstays its welcome quickly. For a movie about a guy who turns into a dinosaur like The Incredible Hulk, there is a surprising lack of dinosaur action. And you might be thinking it’s because they couldn’t afford the CGI, which would be fair. However, there is no CGI. It’s a dude in a ridiculous-looking, Party City-level dinosaur costume. I can’t deny I laughed when it first showed up on screen, but that was more disbelief than anything else (I also laughed at cocaine-peddling Christian ninjas). Otherwise, between the unsurprisingly terrible acting, out-of-place punk music needle drops, and taking-themselves-too-seriously-at-not-taking-themselves-too-seriously vibe, it doesn’t hit the self-aware B-movie schlock that it’s going for.
Synopsis: When a possessed pair of jeans begins to kill the staff of a trendy clothing store, it is up to Libby (Romane Denis), an idealistic young salesclerk, to stop its bloody rampage.
Slaxx is tough to review because it’s certainly not good. However, it is kind of awesome. I mean, it’s about a murderous pair of pants. Going in, like with most of the movies on this list, you’re hoping for, at worst, a so-bad-it’s-good masterpiece. And while masterpiece might be a step too far, I can’t deny that Slaxx is gloriously bad in all the best ways. We’re talking cheesy, over-the-top acting. We’re talking absolutely bonkers death scenes. We’re talking about a cast and crew that are 100% in on the joke. Plus, at only 77 minutes, it’s a fairly breezy watch. It has “future cult classic” written all over it, especially given the timely satire and relatively sharp commentary on corporate responsibility.
AFRICAN KUNG-FU NAZIS (2021)
Synopsis: A kung fu disciple seeks bloody revenge against Adolf Hitler and his army of goons in Ghana.
IMDB lied to me. It identified African Kung-Fu Nazis as a horror action-comedy, but there is no horror here. There are lots of hilariously cartoony blood and gore, but nothing attempting to elicit actual scares. If you were to put Bloodsport, Iron Sky, and the extremely amateur YouTube videos of people doing martial arts in their backyard in a blender, this would be the resulting smoothie. And while I can’t say it’s good or even so-bad-it’s-good, if you can manage to give in to the uber-cheap campiness of it all (it cost $20,000 to make), there are moments of charm to be found. Between the surprisingly great kung-fu choreography, the cast of Africans in whiteface as Nazis, a luchador doing a Macho Man Randy Savage impression, and advertisements for Ghanaian liquor Adonko Bitters being featured prominently in the background, I can’t say I didn’t laugh a few times. But I don’t need to see it again.
Synopsis: Emily (Lisa Ambalavanar) wants to be elected as her sorority's president. She adopts a cute sloth, thinking it can become the new mascot and help her win, until a string of fatalities implicates the sloth as the main suspect in the murders.
Look, I get that I’m old and curmudgeonly, but Slotherhouse’s overall Gen Z-ness and CW-style sorority college drama exhausted me almost immediately. It’s a lot of constant cat fighting, mean girls, and “social media is important!” nonsense, all of which plays itself out in the first 15 minutes. Then, a sloth starts using a laptop, Instagram, and taking selfies. I was mentally done quick, fast, and in a hurry. I get that this is a tongue-in-cheek movie about a murderous sloth, but for fuck’s sake is this shit dumb. The acting is crazy bad, the “humor” does not hit at all, and it doesn’t feature any fun kills. It’s just annoying from top to bottom, including a ham-fisted message about why wild animals as pets is a bad idea. All that said, I’m fully aware that it may work better for a younger person (the soundtrack was decent too), but for an old crusty like myself? Nah, dawg.