We frequently disagree with mainstream critics on their critiques of horror films. It seems as though the majority entertainment journalists 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 viewed as an allegory or make a profound statement on the current state of American society.
Recently, FEARnet ran a piece exploring good horror movies that received ‘rotten’ reviews on the aggregate film-rating site Rotten Tomatoes. In the previous piece, we speculated that mainstream film critics seem to dismiss horror films as a lesser art form and perhaps tend to go in to screenings with the preconceived notion that the picture they are about to take in is automatically not going to be worth their time. Since the piece proved popular, we have elected to bring you a second round.
Since we fancy ourselves as fair and equitable people, we are bringing you a second round of horror titles that received a ‘rotten’ score on the film rating site Rotten Tomatoes that we think were too harshly judged. Read on for our selections!
Child’s Play 2: 43%
It’s been argued – mostly in hindsight albeit – that the second installment in the Child’s Play franchise is actually better than the first. Regardless of your opinion on the matter, we don’t think Child’s Play 2 is at all deserving of a ‘rotten ‘score on the aggregate film rating sight Rotten Tomatoes. The original Child’s Play film holds a fresh score while the sequel is rotten with a score of 43%. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that critics have a tendency to be more critical of sequels. Or maybe Child’s Play 2 was ahead of its time in light of the fact that people seem to have come to appreciate it more now than upon its initial release. One critic complained that it lacked originality and another accused it of being completely standard sequel fare. Whatever your opinion on the film, it’s hard to imagine why it received such a low score.
April fool’s Day 36%
April Fool’s Day has one of the most likable casts of any ‘80s slasher film and a brilliantly executed twist ending – yet it scored barely half of the required aggregate score to be constituted fresh. I have trouble assessing how even a non-horror fan could take issue with such a breezy, yet entertaining slasher gem. Browsing through the blurbs on Rotten Tomatoes, one critic simply quoted it as “Stupid,” and another said “I have seen this before as an episode of The Golden Girls.” Seriously? That type of negative reaction makes me think that a lot of mainstream film critics may be letting their personal dislike for the horror genre take away from their objectivity to assess whether or not a film is well made.
Hellraiser II 50%
In doing research for this piece, I didn’t think there was any chance Hellbound: Hellraiser II would have an aggregate rating of rotten. The first Hellraiser film holds a ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s hard for me to understand why the highly enjoyable sequel wouldn’t as well. One journalist asserted that the film is dissatisfying and ultimately collapses, while another claims the film lacks purpose. As far as sequels go, Hellbound: Hellraiser II gets props for maintaining most of the original cast. The film was also highly entertaining and was deftly produced and co-written by franchise creator Clive Barker. It seems that critics are frequently harsher on sequels, even if they do right by the original. Hellbound: Hellraiser II isn’t a better film than the original, but it’s still a damn good sequel.
Student Bodies 29%
I think that Student Bodies may have just come out before its time. The film preceded pictures like the satirical Scream by over a decade. Student Bodies was among the first films to recognize the sometimes-silly slasher film tropes and did so in what seemed like a good-natured way. Though the film does get a little bit tedious and over-the-top at times, it is often that farcical nature that makes the film so enjoyable and easy to laugh along with. However, one of the film’s key detractors surmises that Student Bodies isn’t nearly as funny as the films it lampoons.
Fun Fact: Several actors from Student Bodies had not acted prior to starring in the film and did little to no acting afterwards. For instance: Kristen Riter (Toby) never did another feature film after Student Bodies; Matthew Goldsby (Hardy) only worked on one other film; Joe Talarowski (Principal Peters) had one minor acting gig prior to Student Bodies but Student Bodies wound up being his last acting role; and Student Bodies was Carl Jacobs’ (Dr. Sigmund) one and only acting role.
I was absolutely stunned to learn that Pascal Laugier’s brutal masterpiece didn’t have a certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is brilliantly written, beautifully photographed, keenly directed, and boasts phenomenal performances from its leads and even its supporting characters. While some of the imagery is disturbing, it’s not gore for the sake of gore – the intense moments are designed to make the viewer uncomfortable and tell a brutal and visceral story. Unfortunately, a lot of mainstream critics didn’t get it; they lambasted the film for being too violent and accused Martyrs of losing its way in the second half of the film.