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9 of The Best Camp Horror Movies Ever Made
A Fun Filled Scary Time
Some of the best horror movies scare the daylights out of you and some of the worst make you cry…from laughter. The difference between a good horror movie and the ‘so bad it’s good’ horror movie is simple. You can’t really talk about a good movie, except to say that it’s scary because you don’t want to give away the twist, the ending or who dies. The ‘so bad it’s good’ horror movie is good watercooler conversation and you don’t have to worry about spoiling anything; especially if the movie is purposefully camp filled. If you like movies in the vain of Zombieland (Fleischer, 2009) or Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004) check out these Camp Horror flicks. They are to die for.
Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (Raimi, 1987)
It is the baby daddy of all camp horror films of the modern era. I don’t know what’s better: the fact that this film picks up after the first film sans Ash’s sister, best friend and his best friend’s girlfriend without mention or that our hero cuts off his possessed hand and sticks it under a bucket which he covers with books, the top of which is A Farewell to Arms? Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.
Somehow it’s fun to watch the over the top Bruce Campbell go insane and it’s hard not to laugh when everything inanimate object in the room is laughing with you. And why go with one bucket of blood when you can break open a swelling damn of Technicolor gore? It’s such a fun ride everyone needs to try it at least once.
Night of the Comet (Eberhardt, 1984)
If you’ve never seen this film, it has everything a ‘80s horror movie should have: valley girls, Uzis, zombies and more stereotypes about the era than Valley Girl (Coolidge, 1983) and Fast Times and Ridgemont High (Heckerling, 1982) combined. The premise of the movie is simple. Halley’s Comet arrives and disintegrates everyone who wasn’t protected by steel dies. The only people left on earth are two valley girls, a trucker, some government agents and zombies. So where do we end up? The mall, of course. There are real attempts at horror here, but time has only polished that plastic into a kitschy bauble. Fun to watch, but not to take seriously.
Dead Snow (or Død Snø, Wirkola, 2009)
This Norwegian film is in the likes of the original Evil Dead (Raimi, 1981). A bunch of friends go to a secluded area on vacation. Horror ensues. The difference is that the original Evil Dead was a pure attempt at horror and this film makes no bones about its tongue in cheek point of view. It even goes so far as to pay homage to Evil Dead II, having a vacationer cut off an arm. But, this movie doesn’t get high marks because it follows in the same vein of other horror films. It gets bonus points and then some for having Nazi zombies attacking self aware victims who seem to understand the situation in the same way the teenagers of Scream (Craven, 1996) understood theirs.
Who doesn't just love Nazi zombies
Tokyo Gore Police (or Tôkyô Zankoku Keisatsu, Nishimura, 2008)
Starring Audition’s (Miike, 1999) Eihi Shiina, everything you need to know is in its title. The premise is one made for gory camp: she’s a futuristic cop hunting genetically engineered mutants, who absorb the object that kills them and reincorporates the weapon into their system.
After watching this film, you will be armed with interesting new words to incorporate into everyday conversation such as ‘meat bullet’ and ‘gator-vag’. Check out the picture to the left. I'd post the picture of 'meat bullet', but the gun is a bit too over the top to show.
It takes the tendencies of Evil Dead 2 and emerges it into a Japanese pop culture melt down where commercials for hari kari and cutting are the way of life. Grotesque, sick and twisted? Check. Check. Check. If you’re the type of person who laughed out loud when Vincent Vega splattered Marvin’s brains all over the back seat in Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994), then this movie should have you in stitches.
Dead-End Drive In (Trenchard-Smith, 1986)
There are so many things about this Australian movie that screams, “Must be like Mad Max!”(Miller, 1979). It fails on that front, but it misses it by such a huge margin it becomes a moment in ‘cheesy horror flick’ time. A couple finds themselves trapped in a drive in filled with every derelict, social reject and punk rocking teenager in Australia. Ironically, the movie is a fun ride with a nice steady pace.
Vamp (Wenk, 1986)
What makes this movie any different that the other thousands of vampire films out there? There are a lot of bonuses that pushes this above and beyond other vampire films. It’s not the acting or the plot. I can’t lie, neither are good, let alone great. It’s not the lack of sparkling fanged ones, although bonus points must be given in that regard. It’s not the intentional and sometimes not intentional hilarity of it all. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Kuzui, 1992) has all that in spades and I mean the original movie starring Kristy Swanson, Luc Perry, Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer and Pee-Wee Herman not the TV show, which belongs on a list all of its own. What makes this one different? Grace Jones. There’s also a good chance you haven’t seen this film. Most people haven’t, because it’s worth the watch; especially if you’ve seen some of the other movies on this list since it's a fun lightweight.
Trailer for Vamp
April Fools Day (Walton, 1986
Here’s an off the path slasher film from the ‘80s that has all the great tropes from that era. A group of teenagers in a secluded area with a crazy killer on the loose that no one seems to know exists while they are picked off one by one? The only thing that could be better is a twist ending! M. Night Shyamalan is that you? Don’t get this one confused with a remake of sorts from 2008. That direct to video disaster isn’t scary, campy or worth the time or effort.
Bubba Ho-Tep (Coscarelli, 2002)
Bruce Campbell knows how to do camp. This time he plays Elvis in a nursing home fighting an evil Egyptian entity. Not enough for you? How about the legendary Ossie Davis playing President John F. Kennedy? I could theoretically go on further, but I’m giggling as I write this. Seriously? No. There’s very little serious about this movie, but in the end it somehow works. If you are the type of person whose thoughts are a little warped, a little off center or a little off balance, give this movie a try.
Trailer for Bubba Hotep
House (Miner, 1986)
This movie stars William Katt, who is no stranger to the horror genre, Carrie (De Palma, 1976). This Greatest American Hero finds himself looking for a lost son in the house his aunt commits suicide in. The action goes over the top, but in ways that are still scary and keep you guessing.
If you’re looking for some off the wall movie that has a nice mix of scare and laughter, check these films out. Some bring gore, some bring scare, but all have some sort of humor, even if it may not have been intentional.