5 Embarrassing Low Points Of Fearsome Horror Movie Villains
As a wise burn victim with a coin fetish once said, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. But what if you're already on the other side of the good vs. evil spectrum? Well, turns out that bon mot's even more straightforward: you always die a villain … but then you come back anyway and live long enough to see yourself turned into a goofy sub-par version of yourself, eliciting all the wrong kinds of laughter as your box-office receipts shrink down to something that could fit inside a child's shoebox.
Horror movies, as a genre, do not have a great track record of retaining their dignity. Almost every franchise goes from groundbreaking and scary to direct-to-video and campy in an alarmingly short period of time. And, along the way, the nigh-unstoppable boogeymen born straight from our nightmares are reduced to (occasionally literal) cartoon characters ...
Michael Myers Gets His Nuts Electrocuted by Busta Rhymes
The first Halloween is legendary. Michael Myers is an unknowable, unkillable automaton, stalking his prey with nary but a knife and a bleached William Shatner mask. It's a master class in suspense. Director John Carpenter did a lot with very little. And then he stopped doing anything, and the train kept rolling anyway.
Halloween: Resurrection, the film upon which we set our sights now, is the eighth film in the franchise, or the fourth, depending on if you believe in the retconned mythology of Halloween: H2O. A sequel to a course correction, Resurrection was so bad that it seemingly killed the franchise and led to Rob Zombie's remake, which itself only got one sequel before everything was scrapped, and 2018's Halloween just straight-up called itself a sequel to the 1978 original.
Given that Resurrection's climactic final scene ends with Busta Rhymes awkwardly electrocuting Michael Myers' balls, we can't say we blame them.
Look, in real life, is shoving a live wire into a serial killer's nutsack a good way to stop said killer and save your life? Of course! Should you find yourself in that specific situation, you should absolutely go for it. Fry that evil man's junk right off!
But does that moment fit within the Halloween franchise? Is shocking a man's testicles and sending him windmilling backward into even more wires anything but a Three Stooges-ly slapstick way to dispatch a villain? The answer to both of those questions is a resounding no.
Also - and, look, no offense to Busta, he was trying, and a hell of a lot more than the script was – but there are far too many Halloween references in far too short a time in that scene. It's Halloween, and the movie's also Halloween. We get it. But if you're going to shout "trick or treat" as some kind of Die Hard-esque walk-off quip, you should probably already have your weapon in hand. You can't shout your cool phrase and then start the process of looking around for a shovel.
The Shark From Jaws Roars Like A Cartoon Mouse (And Then Explodes)
Jaws: The Revenge is the fourth and final film in the Jaws franchise, succeeding in entirely undermining the history-changing original. It does this by throwing every shred of reason out the window, then jumping out after it, stomping on it, and urinating on the bleeding remains of what's left of logic. Roy Scheider's decision to sit this one out might very well have been the best career decision of his life – and Michael Caine's decision to be in this turkey was easily his worst.
So, how does the movie accomplish this heretofore unprecedented level of stupid? By having the shark roar repeatedly, then detonating it for literally no reason.
Let's start with the first problem: sharks don't roar; they literally can't. As, y'know, fish, they don't possess lungs and can't actually make noise. That's a big part of what makes the shark in the original Jaws so scary. Quint, in his famous speech, even says that sharks appear "lifeless" and that during an attack, the only sound is of their victims screaming. This lack of sound is such a big deal that whether or not a single kind of shark is capable of audible underwater burps is a hotly debated topic among sharkologists.
So, seeing as there's no such thing as a .wav file of a shark roaring, the sound effects team did the next best thing: they borrowed a stock sound effect from the Universal Studios library. Reasonable, except they apparently went straight to the pile reserved for kids programming.
You can hear the scary shark's roar right here … at 2:30 in this Tom and Jerry clip. Or maybe you recognize it as the roar of the Bumble in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
And then, adding insult to an already insulting injury, there's the fact that the damn shark just explodes after being stabbed by a boat. That, by the way, was something they added after the fact. That was a correction.
You see, in the original theatrical version of Jaws: The Revenge, the prow of the boat is rammed into the shark, and the shark kind of just bleeds out – though, as Roger Ebert points out, the scene's shot so poorly it's hard to tell what's going on. For overseas release and its eventually home video debut, the filmmakers went back to "fix" the ending. They un-killed Mario Van Peebles, which was good, but they also decided the best way to clarify that the shark got stabbed by a boat was to have it detonate into chum for literally no reason.
The scene's intercut with a flashback to the original, better Jaws, so maybe we're supposed to believe that Chief Brody's ghost did it? And he brought the ghost of an oxygen tank along with him and placed it inside the shark? Or maybe the shark was a vampire. As dumb as those theories are, they still make more sense than anything we actually got in the movie.
Jason's Outwitted And Hacked to Death By A Child Corey Feldman
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is the fourth installment in the Friday the 13th series. You know the movies: various serial killers are, or pretend to be, a jumpsuited handyman with aspirations of being a hockey goalie named Jason, who enjoy nothing more than murdering countless scores of horny teenagers at summer camp in ridiculously violent ways.
Intended to be the last movie, the producers of The Final Chapter decided that the best way for the franchise to go out – the best way to end this convoluted excuse to add fake blood to half-naked women – was to introduce a literal child into the mix. Because TV Tropes didn't exist yet, and no one involved had seen the last season of The Brady Bunch, apparently.
Anyway, that's how Jason, the invincible, perpetual murder machine, is hypnotized by Corey Feldman's short shorts and then murdered by a 12-year-old. We're kidding, of course. What actually happens is that Feldman yells out that his mother's name is Martha, too! No? Are we confusing are ridiculous plot elements?
Okay, we double-checked, and, for real, the truth is that Corey Feldman comes down the stairs in a shitty bald cap and hastily-applied eye makeup, reminding Jason of his traumatic childhood drowning – because the bottoms of haunted lakes are notorious for having lots of mirrors around? – and then he's murdered by a 12-year-old.
And let's not forget the next part of the scene, where Feldman's young Tommy hacks the ever-loving hell out of Jason's corpse while screaming "Die! Die! Die!" while all of it is inexplicably shot in slow-motion.
The subtext of the murder, and the movie as a whole, seems to be that the recently traumatized Tommy is going to be the next masked machete-wielder. But any parallels between him and Jason are immediately forgotten, as the next Jason is actually just a copycat killer named, uh, Roy. Tommy would then go on to accidentally raise Jason from the dead, Frankensteining his corpse with a bolt of lightning and turning him into a super-powered zombie in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, because … eh, screw it, writing movies just isn't that hard.
Skateboarding Super Freddy Attacks A Cardboard Cut-Out
The Nightmare on Elm Street movies have always straddled the line between Good and So Bad It's Good, getting an inexplicable number of genuine scares out of a kid-killer in a fedora who operates on dream logic and speaks almost exclusively in corny dad-jokes. And, yeah, okay, Freddy Krueger also sometimes murders minor celebrities before turning into a TV set and smashing someone's face through the screen/his chest while Laurence Fishburne looks on. Not anyone's best work, but you at least get the point.
By A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, though, the thighs of the creators were apparently getting tired of all that straddling. Rather than riding that fence any further, they decided to give up entirely, climb off, fall to the ground in a heap, and then crawl over into So Bad It's Hysterically Terrible territory. To wit:
The scene is basically a time capsule of the 1980s in under five minutes. It starts with a riff on A-ha's "Take On Me" video, puts Freddy on a skateboard for some reason, includes a fairly creepy moment with a porcelain doll, makes some sort of commentary on the then-prevalent gritty, 'roided-out superhero comic book fad, unironically uses the phrase "Super Freddy," and then has our titular Elm Street nightmare go in for the kill while yelling about how comics will rot your brain.
So, does Freddy then actually rot our hero's brain? Go into his head and watch it wilt away? Pull it out of his head and stomp on the festering grey matter? Or do we follow up on the Punisher-esque gun battle, reveling in gratuitous violence? Does he remember that he came in on a skateboard and start ollie-ing off the guy's face? Nope! None of the above!
Our burned badass instead turns his victim into a cartoony drawing – one that doesn't resemble the art of any of the comics they were riffing on – and then Freddy viciously attacks a literal paper cut-out. Close-ups of his iconic glove slicing up construction paper do not have the intended effect. Unless, of course, that effect was for the audience to be all, "Oh, crap, this movie is not good."
Cenobite Camerahead Zooms a Guy to Death
In the sprawling pantheon of monster movies and slasher flicks, the Hellraiser series has always stood on its own. They are, as Katie Rife of The A.V. Club once called them, occult art projects, intellectual horror films obsessed with flaying people alive and making haunted Rubik's cubes seem not stupid. They're also big on speeches, delivered with legit gravitas, about the thin line between pain and pleasure and how Cenobites are considered demons to some and angels to others. Like this:
The first Hellraiser also reveled in gratuitous gore, putting on a damn masterclass in practical effects.
And then there's Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth. Whoever was in charge of creating new Cenobites – you know, the S&M-looking torture angels – kind of ran out of ideas. Sure, there's Barbie, a flame-spitting demon wrapped in barbed wire; that's some solid Cenobiting right there … but then there's Camerahead and CD.
Camerahead is a former cameraman with a camera in his head. That's his whole deal. When he decides to murder a guy, he just zooms the camera in his face through the other guy's face, all while making a Freddy Krueger-style pun. Not to be outdone, CD murders people by ejecting compact discs from his chest and then throwing them like he was Gambit locked inside a Circuit City.
I guess it's a commentary on, I don't know, consumerism? The media? The film was made in 1992. Grunge was just getting big and people were getting very cynical, even if they didn't always know where to aim it.
What's really messed up is that this isn't even the worst Hellraiser movie; Hell on Earth is actually one of the better ones. Camerahead and CD stand out because there's still something halfway decent around them. Because, unfortunately, the Hellraiser movies are pretty much the definition of diminishing returns.
But, hey, maybe the gritty reboot coming will fix everything.
Eirik Gumeny is the author of the Exponential Apocalypse series, a five-book saga of slacker superheroes, fart jokes, and assorted B-movie monsters, and he recently added werewolves and assassins to The Great Gatsby. He’s on Twitter a bunch, too.
Top Image: Miramax Films