A Bloody Good Time 06.23.11: Top Ten Worst Horror Movie Endings
Posted by Joseph Lee on 06.23.2011
From Friday the 13th Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan and Halloween H20 to My Soul To Take, The Exorcist Part 2 and more, 411's Joseph Lee ranks the 10 worst horror movie endings of all-time!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
Welcome to A Bloody Good Time. Last week I looked at the straight-to-video serial killer film crazy that took place early in the 00's. Let's look at some feedback before we continue.
Drew asks: From what I heard, isn't "The girl next door" based mostly on a real case? I also recall hearing it's not an easy sit, not because it's bad (actually heard real good things) but because it's a truly disturbing film.
Yes, you're right. It's mostly based on the case of Sylvia Likens. However, the woman who eventually murdered her wasn't a serial killer, and the film came out after the time period I was talking about. You also heard right, it is not easy to watch. It's one of the rare horror movies that I won't watch again. It's not bloodier than anything you see these days, but it's just uncomfortable to watch, especially knowing this actually happened. As someone else in the comments pointed out, An American Crime is based on the same story. It's not as effective of a film, though.
BB says: you didn't mention Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer. i thought the movie was okay. i do believe it went straight to video. the acting was mediocre, but it really gave you the gist of what henry lee lucas and his borderline retarted sidekick otis were up to. the one thing about the film that is most disturbing is that it shows a 'good' side to henry, making the monster seem a bit human.
The reason I didn't include it was because it came out in the 80's, and I wasn't talking about anything that didn't fall in that very specific time period. Henry is a great character study though, and both Michael Rooker and Tom Towles give excellent performances.
Dr. Doctor continues a Wolf Creek debate: "The actual killing stuff is okay, but it takes forever to get there." Generally referred to as a "slow burn" or "building of suspense/tension" Jesus.
The problem is that there is no suspense or tension built. It's just a few people having conversations with someone who may or may not be crazy. Add in the fact that the victims are dull and uninteresting and the guy playing the killer is comical in his over-the-top performance and I just don't care by the time it gets to anything that might be considered "horrific".
Guest#9817 asks: Any movies out there about Arthur Shawcross? He's from my neck of the woods, and I would be interested in seeing a movie about him if one exists.
Quick check of wikipedia says no, and I personally haven't seen any. If I come across one, I can always post about it on here. I'd wager the reason is because he's not as well known as others and less likely to earn any money.
Moving on to this week, and I'm going to look at the worst horror movie endings. You may recall the backlash I received when I said I didn't enjoy the ending to The Mist. I'm not going to scratch at that old wound, but I'd wager it's a better ending than anything on this list.
In my opinion, a movie is only as good as it's ending. In horror, the climax is when things get really scary and our hero/heroine makes a last ditch effort to survive/stop whatever evil thing is happening. Sometimes there's a twist, sometimes there isn't. If your ending isn't strong, or doesn't gel with the events that led to it (my problem with The Mist), then the ending could be enough to ruin a film. It could also just cap off what was a terrible film-going experience.
What causes a bad movie ending? You could have an awful twist. Sure, not every movie can be Frailty, but at least don't throw tired cliches at the audience. Even worse, don't throw out an absolutely stupid twist just to have a twist. If you're building up to a climax, then give a climax. Don't end the movie suddenly and leave the viewers unfulfilled. I know endings are the hardest part of a story. Anyone who has ever written fiction of any kind can tell you that. But there's trying and failing to give a good ending, and then there's being lazy and delivering an incompetent one.
I'll go ahead and tell you there are spoilers here, but considering most, if not all of these films are bad, I don't think you should mind much.
#10: Halloween: H20 (1998)
This is exactly what I was alluding to above when I mentioned a movie ending anticlimactically. Say what you will about the awful Halloween 5, but at least that film had a good ending. I'd argue that was the only good thing about it. Who was the mysterious man helping Michael, and what will happen to Jamie? A nice little cliffhanger that was promptly ruined by the next film. That's probably why they went back to basics with Halloween H20 and brought the focus back to Laurie and her battle with Michael. It's been twenty years, and Michael really wants to finally kill her. The ending starts off great. After dispatching all of the secondary characters we're down to Laurie and Michael. Laurie's a stronger woman now. She doesn't need Dr. Loomis or anyone else to help her. Her character has evolved into a survivor.
She's against this inhuman force of evil and she throws knives, uses an axe, tries to outsmart him...it's a nice little battle. So why does it make the list? The last five minutes or so. It always stuck with me and I always hated it. You probably don't agree, and that's fine. But Laurie decides Michael isn't dead (a reasonable assumption) and takes control of the ambulance. The two crash, Laurie chops off his head and that's the movie. And that's what bugs me. After seven movies, they just end Michael by cutting off his head and close the movie on that. No resolution, no drama, just black screen. You couldn't film an epilogue? You couldn't show Laurie finally moving on? It has always bothered me.
#9: Vacancy (2007)
For those who have ever argued that all I like are happy endings, I give you Vacancy. I realize that Vacancy isn't perfect. It's just a nice little throwback to old school horror films with a nice tense game of cat and mouse between the killers and our heroes. It didn't need gore or too much violence to get its message across, which is also odd because it's about killers who make snuff films. About halfway through the film (maybe three-fourths), Luke Wilson's character is assumed to be dead. He's stabbed, they give no hints he might make it, we think he's dead.
There's why this ending makes it. Luke Wilson survives. I don't hate Luke Wilson, I don't really care about him. But he is stabbed a while before the film reaches its conclusion. We spend a lot of time with Kate Beckinsale fending off the psychos before she wins and we finally see that he's barely alive. He shouldn't be alive at all. Why is he? I'm not positive, but I guess it had something to do with test audiences. Either way, it just doesn't make sense for him to live. He's just there to give a happy ending. I'm all for a happy ending just like I'm all for a downer ending, but don't throw out logic just to get there.
#8: The Number 23 (2007)
This movie could have been so much more than what it was. It had an interesting story, a dramatic turn from Jim Carrey that was good and some mind-screwing throw in for good measure. The story is about a man who finds a book called The Number 23, which seems to hint that everything is connected by that titular number and it shows that there are similarities between himself and the main character, which begin to drive him insane with obsession. The movie carefully walks a line between ridiculous and suspenseful, before the twist is revealed and it jumps off the deep end.
The twist is that Jim Carrey wrote the book. He killed a girl after going crazy and tried to kill himself. He survived, went to an Institute with no memory of the incident where he met his current wife. Why is this so stupid? Because the movie is hinting at the supernatural, or at least a conspiracy all movie. To end with this is just disappointing. Not only that, but it raises so many plotholes. Sure the movie was having trouble filling them as it went along, but the end is meant to resolve everything, not raise more questions. The worst part, ultimately the number 23 really has nothing to do with anything. Carrey's just obsessed with it because of his dad. It means nothing.
#7: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
This ending was so bad that when New Line got the rights they pretty much decided to ignore everything completely. That gave us Jason Goes to Hell, which may have sucked, but at least it gave us Jason going to Hell in the end. This one not only barely had Jason in New York (don't promise what you can't deliver), but he dies in the sewer. Just like the franchise almost did, am I right?
Jason is chasing our heroes through the sewer when we learn that the city of New York apparently floods their sewer system with toxic waste every night. Yes, floods out the sewers with hazardous chemicals (that apparently work like acid) right out to the harbor. So now we have a time limit to get away from Jason. They're almost out, Jason grabs him and it's midnight. The sewers flood and Jason suddenly has his face melting off. It gets worse. After the sewer tunnels are empty, our heroine looks down at Jason, and he's apparently magically turned into a little boy. Do I even need to add anything to that?
#6: My Soul to Take (2010)
I've been wanting to talk about this pile of crap for a while, but never really had the chance until now. This movie reaffirmed my faith that Wes Craven is not some master of horror that he's claimed to be and when left to his own devices he will usually put out a terrible film (Nightmare on Elm Street and the Scream films excluded). I don't like him. But we're talking about this movie, which is quite bad. It doesn't really know what it wants to be. Does it want to be supernatural? A basic slasher film? Some weird amalgamation of both?
We sit through some bland kills, blander stalk scenes and awful, unlikable characters to get to the ending. The movie had been hinting all along that our killer was Adam or "Bug" (his dumb nickname) and we get the reveal that not only is it not him, but its his friend. Okay. This Scream-lite mystery put the entire focus on making Adam the red herring that you knew that there was no way he could be. It's a twist that really wasn't a twist. Anyone with a brain could have seen that the killer would be someone else. But I doubt anyone would think that it could be anyone else, because there are never any hints, any possible reasons to suspect anyone else. You know why Scream was good? It gave hints that anyone could be the killer. So when it was revealed to be Billy, we were shocked because he was the one we thought it would be. He was made the red herring so that we wouldn't suspect him of being the real killer (which was helped by the fact he was "stabbed"). My Soul to Take is the worst attempt at a mystery I've seen in a long time.
#5: The Village (2004)
I'm sure you already know how this one ends, but I'll spoil it for you anyway because it's awful. Let's talk about M. Night Shyamalan. There was once a time when the man was an acclaimed filmmaker. The Sixth Sense was an Academy Award-nominated film. But that seems so long ago compared to the string of bad film after bad film that the man has directed. Lady in the Water. The Happening. The Last Airbender. The man doesn't seem to have any idea of how to make a good movie anymore. Although, of all his movies I'd much rather watch The Happening. That movie is hilarious.
The Village had some interesting trailers. We're led to believe that this village is in the late 1800's, but the film decides that nope, it's set in modern day. It was actually developed in the 1970's and it's basically a bunch of people who cut themselves off from the outside world. But unlike the Amish, they don't even want to acknowledge it exists. So anyone born in the village has no idea there's anything else out there. The "creatures" in the woods? Not real. It's just to keep the people from going too far. What about airplanes? Silly, it's a no-fly zone. Someone wandering into the area? Nope, the rangers of a park are paid to stop that from happening. I think this is the exact point that everyone threw their hands up in the air and gave up on Shyamalan.
#4: Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
One would think that with so much going wrong in The Exorcist II, they could get at least one thing right. But no, this movie is just awful from start to finish. If you haven't seen it, just trust me. I'm not exaggerating. This is one of the worst films of all time. But let's talk about the ending. After a film full of confusing scene after another, Father Lamont takes Regan back to her old home in Georgetown to finally settle things with Pazuzu.
Pazuzu tries to seduce Lamont in a clone of Regan's body, which is just creepy. I don't care if she's eighteen when this movie was released, she was sixteen in the film and besides, she still looks a lot younger. So seeing her writhe around sexually was uncomfortable for the wrong reasons. I'm guessing they were trying to recreate the scene from the original with Reagan yelling "FUCK ME", but there's a difference. Anyway, then a plague of locusts start coming towards the house for some reason. Lamont then kills the doppleganger and banishes the locusts with some ritual. Somehow that makes everything okay. I stopped caring by the time this happened anyway.
#3: Godsend (2004)
Godsend is pretty stupid one its own, but the reason given for Adam (the little boy in the movie)'s evil is even dumber. For those who haven't heard of this movie, let me fill you in. Greg Kinnear and Rebecca Romijn are parents to a little boy who is killed in a car accident. While they are grieving, Robert De Niro (who plays Robert De Niro if he were a doctor) tells them he can clone Adam and give them their life back. After some faux-moral debate they go along with it. Then weird things start happening and their clone doesn't seem quite right. Dead things should stay dead, don't play God, yadda yadda yadda.
It turns out the reason that Adam is warped is because the doctor mixed his DNA with the DNA of his psychotic son Zachary. He did this because he didn't want to clone Zachary's damaged DNA. Even though his son killed his own mother with a hammer, I'm sure it'd be okay to put that into another couple's kid. Why not? Just before the "Zachary" portion kills Romijn, Kinnear stops him and that's sort of it. Then we get an "OR IS IT" ending just for kicks. Considering the incredibly weak resolution I'm wondering if anyone in the audience even thought for a second it would be over. If there was ever a clear example of a screenwriter not knowing how to end his story, this was it.
#2: House on Haunted Hill (1999)
I really like the original film this is based on. The remake isn't exactly great, but it's okay. That is, until the ending. The story is about a group of people who are offered $1 million dollars to spend the night in the haunted house for one night. Spirits begin killing everyone until it is just Eddie and Sara who are alive. We get a big chase through the house as they try anything to get outside where it's safe. When all seems lost, Chris Kattan's ghost saves the day. Just to cap things off, all of the checks for the people in the house magically appear outside with our heroes, making them rich.
Yes, it's a big happy ending. Nevermind the fact that it makes no sense at all to end that way, but it's the fact they still get their money that angers me. Did this movie need everyone to die? No. But we also didn't need a silly "and they all lived happily ever after" bit at the end, either. Isn't it enough to know that the characters didn't die? Sometimes in horror, that's okay!
#1: April Fool's Day (1986)
I know I'm going to get some hate for this but I don't care. I can't stand the ending to this movie. This is very little in film that I hate more than the "It was all a dream" ending. Only The Wizard of Oz can get away with that. This movie spends eighty minutes playing like a slasher and then ten minutes telling you that you wasted your time and everything was one big joke. Some people thought it was clever, I thought it was stupid. If I pay to see a horror film, I want to see a horror film. I don't want to get invested in your story only to be told that I'm an idiot for daring to care about your movie.
Then to top things off, it has another fake death before revealing that too was a prank. Say what you will about the nine films above, but at least they told a story. They had beginnings, middles and ends. This one just tells a joke. A stupid, unfunny joke.
That's it for me. What horror ending did you hate? Leave some comments here or on my Twitter. Next week I'm going to discuss the Leprechaun films.