We frequently disagree with movie critics on their critiques of horror films. It seems that the majority of mainstream critics are not able to accept horror films for what they are intended to do: scare the audience and entertain. Not every horror film is meant to be taken seriously or to make a profound statement and we think that’s ok.
We are left wondering if mainstream film critics dismiss horror films as a lesser art form and perhaps tend to view them as not worth their time. In light of that, FEARnet has been running a recurring a piece exploring good horror movies that received ‘rotten’ reviews on the aggregate film rating site Rotten Tomatoes. Since the series has proved popular, we are bringing you a third installment.
The House on Sorority Row 20%
This is a tried and true classic and it’s disappointing to learn that 80% of critics think The House on Sorority Row is a waste of your time. This slasher classic is an early example of the template that is so frequently used in modern revenge horror films. The film has just about all of the basic elements a horror fan can ask for: sex, nudity, creative death scenes, and a several instances of witty dialogue. It’s not perfect, but it’s a very fun film and the its low ‘TomatoeMeter’ score should not deter any horror fan that hasn’t yet checked it out. The House on Sorority Row caught flack for being typical slasher fare with disposable characters, but anyone expecting a horror film to be filled with richly developed characters and void of clichés is typically asking to be let down.
My Bloody Valentine (1981) 40%
Critics complained that My Bloody Valentine lacked originality and was nothing more than a Halloween knock-off. Realistically, almost every slasher film to come out after John Carpenter’s Halloween has been influenced by it in some way. It was unique that the film had a cast representative of what people actually look like. My Bloody Valentine doesn’t have the type of cast where every member looks like they were carved from cream cheese. I’m not really against watching beautiful people frolic around and die but it’s nice to see a more realistic slasher effort from time to time. My Bloody Valentine was plenty violent. In fact, it was so brutal that, reeling from the backlash that was caused by the ‘excessive violence’ in the theatrical release of Friday the 13th, The MPAA forced the filmmakers to cut a large portion of the film. The footage wasn’t made available to fans until MBV secured a special edition’ DVD release. The DVD finally gave viewers the opportunity to watch the film with the numerous cuts restored. My Bloody Valentine is a great time. I have nothing but good things to say about it and demand that anyone that hasn’t had the pleasure take the time to give it a look.
The Collector 31%
Sure, The Collector isn’t a perfect film. It is a touch excessive and falls within the often-maligned ‘torture porn’ sub-genre and unfortunately, a lot of critics seemed to immediately write it off based on that. Several of the reviews called it out as a disposable entry in the ‘torture porn’ style. But it is an enjoyable film with some fun twists and brisk pacing. The Collector is one of a pretty small handful of horror films with a male protagonist and it works. The lead character, Arkin (Josh Stewart) is well developed and really likable; he’s flawed, but has plenty of redeeming qualities. Though critics were especially hard on The Collector, it is still a quite enjoyable popcorn flick.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 33%
Lots of critics bashed Buffy the Vampire Slayer for lack of intelligence or being filled with clichés, but we think it was an enjoyable precursor to the series and definitely not a bad way to spend 86 minutes. There is no argument that the series is a superior effort, but without the film, there may never have been a series. Kristy Swanson is enjoyable, as Buffy, after her character undergoes a dramatic personality change. The picture is light on violence but there’s plenty of chuckles to make up for that and furthermore, it has a very solid cast (look for Ben Affleck in an early role as a member of the basketball team). Though Buffy the Vampire takes a few missteps and it didn’t personify Joss Whedon’s vision like the series it is still nostalgic ‘90s fun.
The House by Cemetery 38%
Those familiar with the unique aesthetic and style of Italian horror filmmakers are much more likely to appreciate and enjoy their films. If I had to guess, I would speculate that part of the reason The House by the Cemetery wasn’t well received by mainstream film critics is that they didn’t necessarily understand Lucio Fulci’s unique style. Italian horror fare is so much different than American made horror (though the giallos of the ‘60s and mid ‘70s had a big influence on the slashers of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s). Critics slammed The House by the Cemetery for being incoherent but coherency isn’t that common amongst Italian horror films and that’s not by accident or due to lack of experience. Lucio Fulci has made few films that anyone would accuse of being cohesive but that is part of his signature style and a large part of what makes his films memorable. Fulci approaches his movies like a work of art and like a painting or sculpture, not everyone is going to ‘get’ it. In spite of poor reviews, the film is absolutely worth checking out.