A Bloody Good Time 05.29.14: Ten Horror Movie Monsters That Aren't Scary
Posted by Joseph Lee on 05.29.2014
From misunderstood powered teenagers like Carrie and leprechauns to mummies, killer babies and more, 411's Joseph Lee counts down the top 10 movie monsters that aren't really scary!
Opening Logo courtesy of Benjamin J. Colón (Soul Exodus)
There are a lot of things in horror movies that are legitimately scary. Clowns. Spiders. Home invasions. Demon possession, if you're religious. But there's a lot of times when horror movie producers try to make something scary that just isn't. I've selected ten movie monster concepts that are just flops when it comes to scaring anyone. Some of these may scare you, but as always this is my opinion and I've never found any of these things scary, for the most part. Here we go.
#10: Sharks (Shark Attack, Shark Night 3D, Sharknado)
Can we all agree that the only time a shark has ever been scary was Jaws? Even then Steven Spielberg had to create a giant shark that was larger than normal and spent a good deal of screen time hyping it up to get us ready. When it comes to the movies, sharks just aren't scary. It's probably why many low-budget CGI flicks uses sharks (or giant reptiles). I see this as more of a missed opportunity than anything else.
Sharks can be scary. They're capable of it, but they usually aren't. They're large animals with razor sharp teeth that love to eat meat. However in real life, shark attacks are very rare. Sharks hardly ever even go to populated areas. Plus, just from my personal point of view, I live in the middle of America. I doubt I'll be at a beach any time soon. I'll probably never see a shark. Why should I ever be scared of one?
#9: Misunderstood teenagers with powers (Carrie, Chronicle, Tamara)
These movies are never scary to me for one simple reason. I wouldn't be making fun of the unpopular person. I wasn't exactly the most popular person in high school myself, so I'd be more likely to be friends with this person. I'm not saying I could prevent their rampage with my friendship but it always seems like if these kids had an actual friend over the years they wouldn't snap, Carrie in particular. Even if the rampage still happened, doesn't seem likely that they'd target the people that didn't hurt them.
These also are very isolated incidents in these movies. The teens are only going after the people that tormented them and aren't likely to attack innocents. That dosen't make them scary killer, that makes them anti-heroes. Sure, you could get killed by mistake, but that seems very unlikely. I've just never found these movies scary because I usually just felt sorry for the person that turns into a "monster". The same idea applies to teens who are "killed" in an accident and come back as a serial killer, only without the powers.
#8: Internet ghosts/killers (The Lawnmower Man, Ghost in the Machine, Pulse)
These were more popular in the 90s when computers and the Internet were still relatively new, but they still pop up occasionally. These are mostly not scary due to the fact that most of these movies have no idea how the internet works. We live in a world where a lot of things are connected online but you're not going to kill someone with it. The computer isn't going to suddenly cause your house to explode or cause you to go instantly insane.
The Internet itself can be scary, mostly because of all the weird people that inhabit it. But these people aren't ghosts and they hold no actual power. The idea of an internet ghost is just ridiculous, and is part of the reason why there's never been a good movie in which the Internet is used as a plot device to kill people. In fact, some of them are outright terrible. The same rule can be applied to killer video games like in Stay Alive.
#7: Mummies (The Mummy, Dawn of the Mummy, Tale of the Mummy)
I've said this before, but mummies aren't scary. They just aren't. You'd think a rotting corpse walking around killing people would be perfect for horror but I guess that's why zombies are still around and mummies have faded away. Here's one reason why the mummy isn't scary. It's a slow, rotting corpse. The reason zombies are scary is because they're multiple, slow rotting corpses. They have numbers on their side and you only have so much ammunition/energy before you eventually succumb.
Mummies, on the other hand, usually aren't plural. It's just one ancient Egyptian (usually a ruler) who comes back from the dead due to a curse and kills people one by one. But it's fragile thing that shambles towards it's kill and somehow always catches up to it. It's easy to evade and should be easy to stop from strangling you. It's a skeleton with rags. How hard of a fight could it be?
#6: Witches and Voodoo (The Craft, Drag Me To Hell, Ritual)
You know, I don't believe in ghosts or demons but I still find movies like The Haunting and The Exorcist scary. I don't believe in witches and voodoo either and just think those movies are silly. A person suddenly gains the ability to anything because of magic. I'm sorry but my suspension of disbelief only goes so far. Witches and voodoo priestesess usually have no limits to their abilities in these movies and that removes by ability to fear them.
I'll explain why. Every other horror movie monster has a weakness of some kind. Even Godzilla can be killed. Hope is the reason horror works. You build up your story around a character and the reason you're scared for that character is that there is hope they may get away. That's suspense 101. With witches, all bets are off. There's no hope so there's no reason to get invested. I'm sure the idea of voodoo or witchcraft is scary if it were happening, but it's not real so that doesn't pose a threat. It doesn't help that I've yet to see a witchcraft movie that actually does a good job.
#5: Leprechauns (Leprechaun)
There's really only been one big Leprechaun series to go on here, but I think it's safe to say that it speaks for the idea in general. The reason Leprechaun had to be a tongue-in-cheek horror film in the first place is because there's just no way that anyone is going to find the mascot from Lucky Charms to be frightening. Making him ugly as sin and giving him magical powers isn't going to help. Leprechauns actually have weaknesses in the movies, but there's still no suspense because they're laughable.
Think about this. Magic or not, it's a little midget with an obsession for gold. Don't take it's gold. There. Problem solved. It will never bother you unless you get in its way or take its things. Seems like just a normal person. You're not going to get beat up (usually) if you're minding your own business. Of course, you could accidentally acquire the gold but just get rid of it.
#4: Little monsters (Ghoulies, Critters, the dwarves in Phantasm)
In some cases, size does matter. While the Gremlins actually scared some people in their first movie, for the most part anything with a tiny little monster isn't going to scare anyone. I can step on you. Why should anything you do frighten me? Even the Critters, who they had to give paralyzing darts, sharp teeth and the ability to form a giant person-eating ball, aren't really that scary. They're still really easy to kill if you can be smart about it.
At least these movies can be good at times. Critters is really fun. Most of the time, however, you get movies like Ghoulies instead. I've never talked to anyone that found a Ghoulies movie to be good, let alone scary. Of course, the jawa-like monsters in Phantasm are the least scary part about it for the same reason. They're small and have no power, making them easily defeated.
#3: Killer animals that normally don't kill (Slugs, Night of the Lepus, Frogs)
I'm not talking about the movies that intentionally play these concepts for laughs like Black Sheep or Tremors (although, oddly enough, the graboids are a scary concept). I'm talking about the movies that play the nature run amok idea as deadly serious, even if the monster itself couldn't scare a baby. Fluffy rabbits or scaly frogs that suddenly have teeth and decide to eat people? That's riduclous. What's more, they're easily killed so it's not as if you're in any real danger.
It gets even dumber when it makes a normally harmless insect into a carnivorous monster. They've done this with worms (Squirm), Slugs (Slugs), even cockroaches (The Nest). Unless the monster is giant, why should we fear it. It's one thing to be scared of spiders or scorpions, they can kill you if you cross the wrong one. But a slug isn't kill anyone ever. An honorable mention here goes to killer plant life, which has never worked.
#2: Possessed inanimate objects (Amityville sequels, Maximum Overdrive, The Mangler)
There's a reason most of the Amityville sequels are seen as horrible jokes. Evil mirrors, haunted lamps and possessed clocks that suddenly gain supernatural powers just because evil spirts are in them is a ridiculous concept that has never worked. At a certain point you just have to wonder who sat in these meetings and thought that it would be a good idea. Just because there's some force causing a car to run people over or an elevator to have a thirst for blood, it doesn't make for a good movie.
Who would get terrified at the thought of a microwave suddenly developing the need to kill? Why would anyone actually rent a movie about a killer refridgerator? By the way, in case you think I'm making these up, I'm not. Google them. Every household object you can think of has been turned into a killer. There's even a movie about killer condoms.
#1: Killer babies (It's Alive, Grace, The Devil Within Her)
I can understand the thought process behind this. I really can. Expecting parents always have the worry that something may be wrong with their baby and while the idea that a baby can be born with a thirst for human flesh is ridiculous, it would qualify as "something wrong". However to the rest of us, there's just no way a killer baby is scaring anyone. It falls under the same idea as the little monsters or the leprechaun. You can overpower a baby. It doesn't even have the ability to use its limbs correctly yet.
It's Alive is the closest any of these movies have come to being scary and it still misses the mark. It's an interesting movie, sure (and I love the tagline), but you have to draw the line somewhere at what is an acceptable movie monster. Killer kids are one thing, killer babies are something else. The only reason you should be afraid of a baby is if you have a fear of parenthood. Even then that's on you, not the infant.
That's it for me. Leave some comments here, on my Twitter or my Facebook. I'm going to leave next week's topic up to you! What kinds of things do you want me to talk about? I'll pick the best one from the comments!
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