A great movie monster taps into our most primal fears, be it existential dread (ghosts) or the current paranoia of the day (radioactive Taliban zombies). But as we have previous discussed, creating an effective new monster is sometimes more of a challenge than the writers and producers are capable of overcoming, and we are left with things like a man with a turkey head and a refrigerator that eats people.
#7. Death Spa
As the title suggests, Death Spa is the bone-chilling tale of a haunted spa that kills anyone fool enough to tone their Herculean lats within its four walls. It unleashes its fury on its hapless victims via bone-cracking exercise machines, volcanic saunas, and exploding vanity mirrors.
It also inexplicably wields frozen fish, because the producers quickly realized that there are only so many ways a person can die at the gym.
Presenting No. 17.
Getting murdered by inanimate objects has proven to be a successful formula -- just look at all the sequels for The Omen and Final Destination -- but Death Spa is unique in that it requires people to be inside a 1980s health club to be in any sort of danger. This is a somewhat limited pool to draw from, and once word got around that people were getting killed by the exercise equipment, we imagine the membership fees would dry up.
You can understand the brilliance of great films by watching terrible ones; for instance, here you suddenly understand that whole plot point in Jaws about how the town depended on tourism and intentionally gave beachgoers a false sense of security about the shark. Otherwise the audience is going, "Damn, can't these people just not go swimming for a while?" We dare say that Death Spa did not put as much thought into it. Beyond pointing out the obvious fact that a butterfly press cannot possibly kill someone the way it does in the film, no matter how much weight you put on it ...
Seriously, it can't pivot back beyond its own fulcrum. Read a book.
... what's to stop people from just not going in? Couldn't the people of the 1980s exercise at home, or at the YMCA, or at any number of other non-possessed spas and rec centers, with absolutely zero chance of getting drowned in the lap pool by a ghost? The Death Spa would claim one, maybe two victims before everyone in the city decided to never go near the place ever again and just sit on the couch eating diet pills in front of a Knots Landing marathon.
... wait, one of the cats?
The producers of Strays were looking to make a horror movie about the terrorizing rampage of killer animals and settled on house cats, presumably because the only thing they could agree on was that it hadn't been done before.
"Spielberg did it with sharks and dinosaurs, right? Why not cats? Why not cats?"
The trailer attempts to sell us on the palpable threat the cats pose of frightening children and the elderly, because those are literally the only groups of people that are in any kind of danger from a house cat.
After all, there are precisely two types of incidents you have ever read about wherein a cat has killed a person (or cats, to be fair to the film's premise): suffocating a baby in a crib, or converging on an old hermit. And in pretty much every case, the old hermit was already dead, as in "Prune-Faced Millie the Cat Lady had a heart attack in her living room, and by the time the cops found her body, her 97 cats had eaten her head." That's hardly enough of a premise to sustain 90 minutes.
Searching for the one cat turd that didn't make it into the litter box is more suspenseful than this movie.
There is a reason why a house cat is always the fake scare in a horror movie when the characters are stumbling around in a murder cabin investigating strange noises, only to have the harmless old tabby jump out of the closet. No virile adult is getting brought down by a cat unless he trips over the freaking thing and falls down the stairs, and if we wanted to see ridiculous haunted accidents, we'd go back to Death Spa.
What's worse is that it seems like the makers of Strays understood this, and yet went ahead with production anyway -- one of the only deaths in the movie is a nameless power company technician who looks like he could break Admiral Whiskers' spine with a glare. How do the cats manage to kill him? One of them jumps on his back and he trips and bashes his head into a pipe.
They should've added grammatically poor Impact font subtitles and tried to sell it off as a comedy.
#5. The Refrigerator
The Refrigerator is about a murderous icebox clenched in the talons of Satan himself, who is using the fridge to claim souls for the underworld. It is unclear whether the dark prince is simultaneously allowing it to continue with its intended function of preserving food, but it's safe to say that blood won't be the only thing this twisted refrigerator curdles.
A young couple finds an apartment for super cheap, because the landlords are willing to make a few compromises in order to rent a space with a haunted modern convenience. The A/C doesn't work, so the sprightly pair decide to prop the demon box open to blow cool air over their backs while they have sex in front of it, which you may notice is something that no one has ever, ever done in the history of time:
The fridge starts drooling blood, because that is how evil gets boners, and it begins snapping people up in its soft-glow-bulb-lit jaws soon after. The two main characters are made aware of the fridge's demonic possession by a knowledgeable plumber, because apparently that was a class at Plumbing College. The fact that they called a plumber to diagnose their satanic refrigerator suggests that they don't have the strongest grasp on how appliances work to begin with, so he arguably could've told them that refrigerators are natural predators that eat people all the time and they probably would've believed him.
As works of the devil are concerned, this one kind of seems like small potatoes. Why would he bother possessing a dusty old Kenmore in a dumpy Manhattan walk-up? He can only eat people who walk inside that specific apartment and stick their heads into the refrigerator. What's to keep people from tying the thing shut, which incidentally someone in the movie totally does?
Furthermore, the movie goes out of its way to emphasize the fact that the apartment's rent is so low because of the demonic refrigerator (it's even the movie's tagline) ... so why wouldn't the landlords just go out and buy another one? Leave the hell-demon box on the curb and pick up a new fridge on the cheap from the scratch-and-dent aisle at Lowe's. Let the devil eat a bunch of hobos. Problem solved, roll credits.
Slugs is about a town besieged by man-eating slugs that were exposed to toxic waste and somehow gained flesh-eating superpowers instead of slug cancer.
Peter Parker's earlier, shittier origin.
The slugs horrifically (and we do mean horrifically) dispatch their victims, leaving a trail of corpses that look like the aftermath of a boiled meat explosion.
Or James Brown during his drug days.
One guy accidentally eats one of the abominable slugs in his garden salad, which apparently multiplies inside his body, because a freaking army of them bursts through his eyeballs in a spray of squiggly projectiles the next day. And if you think that's the only time in this film that somebody's eyes explode, you're wrong. Dead wrong.
"Can you please do the other eye, too? I'd rather not see the rest of this movie."
The extreme gore seems to be an effort to make up for the fact that they know it's hard to picture a slug as a threat. The things are only a few inches long, and are one of the slowest members of the animal kingdom. They have no appendages and no vertical leap to speak of. If you are standing upright and wearing shoes, a slug cannot possibly hurt you. Even mutant slugs with a mouth full of baboon teeth wouldn't be able to chew through a pair of sneakers, and even if they could, what's to keep you from simply stomping them into boogery oblivion? So the over-the-top blood and guts seem their way of saying, "Yeah, but just imagine the damage these suckers can do once they get hold of you!" Never mind that you'd need to lie motionless in your yard for several hours for that to happen.