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Are you listening "Caerphilly" kiddies. It is that time of the year where our Netflix overflows with horror treats and we pull out that dusty DVD collection. Somewhere in between Wrong Turn 6 and Zombeavers there is sure to be some cheesy Halloween classics ripe for the watching. Grab your popcorn, and pour a big helping of molten cheddar over the top, because this is as gouda it gets when it comes to cheesy Halloween #horror.
13. The Gingerbread Man (2005)
- Best quote:
Amos Cadbury: "What the hell is that?" Millard: "It sure ain't the Pillsbury f*****g doughboy."
No, not the 1998 legal thriller with Robert Downey Jr. and Famke Janssen, the one where Gary Busey is baked into a possessed cookie!
Busey plays Millard Findlemeyer (great name), a maniac killer who is sentenced to death on the electric chair. After cremation his ashes are sent to his mother, who is a witch-cum-baker, who rolls her son's possessed ashes into a fresh batch of gingerbread. A local bakery seems down on its luck, only to find the mysterious dough on their doorstep. Cue reanimated killer in giant gingerbread form.
The Child's Play team must be fuming at this blatant rip-off of the "killer possesses object" genre, however, The Gingerbread Man is not without its merits. Busey has somewhat of a career revival as the crunchy killer, although steers clear of the inevitable sequels — including Passion of the Crust and Saturday Night Cleaver. Plumbing the depths of direct-to-DVD, 2013 brought a crossover with the Evil Bong series, titled Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong. I think we will just stick with the first one, thanks. Being the time of year for the gingerbread latte, why not grab a cup and tune in for Busey.
12. Club Dread (2004)
- Best quote:
"You've manacled me to my death-bed, you Piccadilly whore!"
It is a bit like Scooby-Doo: The Movie, but with more breasts. Bill Paxton has a truly bizarre pre-S.H.I.E.L.D. role, and it all goes downhill from there.
Coconut Pete's Pleasure Island invites the young and the sexy to a resort off Costa Rica. When a masked figure starts killing the resort staff, the rest must keep it a secret, while making sure everyone else is having fun. It turns out that the killer has to be someone among them, and it isn't long before the body count rises.
Brittany Daniel Sweet Valley High/White Chicks stars alongside Paxton as pretty much the only person you will recognize. Club Dread is a comedic send up of the likes of I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, coming off like Scary Movie on viagra. Holding more sexual innuendos than a Carry On film, Club Dread is unadulterated filth, with a thick, creamy, layer of cream cheese on top.
11. House Of The Dead (2003)
- Best quote:
Alicia: "Isn't it nice to know someone wants you for you body?" Rudy: "Yeah. Depending on what they want to do with it."
Proving exactly why some video games shouldn't be made into films, topping that list is House of the Dead. We have all spent a time cowering in an arcade when playing the SEGA rail shooter of the same name, but the same can't be said for the cinematic version.
A rocking R&B soundtrack, a stereotyped dancer named Liberty, and a mysterious boat Captain all find themselves at an island rave. Something isn't quite right when the group finds the party abandoned. The sexy teens (and one cop) seek shelter in the spooky haunted house (of the dead). It appears that the mansion is actually the cover for a lab, where some serious DNA modification has been going on.
There are some explosions, there is some sex, and most people die. There, I have just saved you 86 minutes of your life. However, if you are discussing cheesy horror, House of the Dead has to be in there for pure ham-acting and script work. While the film only earned $13 million (with a budget of $12 million), it is actually one of director Uwe Boll's ONLY successful films. Boll had pitched to make this year's Warcraft film, but was turned away by the studios. We can only imagine that car crash!
10. Ghost Ship (2002)
- Best quote:
"Wanna hear something funnier? We just found a bunch of dead guys floating in the laundry room."
If it weren't for the opening sequence, there would actually be relatively little to like about Ghost Ship, yet it is one of my most revisited DVDs in the collection.
A wealthy Italian cruise liner goes missing in 1962, only to be rediscovered years later by a modern salvage crew. Seemingly lost forever, it looks like the spirits are restless aboard the Antonia Graza, gunning for Captain Murphy and his crew. Greed gets the best of the salvagers as they put the riches on board ahead of their own lives. Miles away from land, with no way to call for help, are they destined to join the ghosts of 1962?
It's one of those macho films where people only call each other by their surnames; Gabriel Byrne is dire as the grisly irishman, and Julianna Margulies proves that she should stick to television... but it all works. The action scenes and flashbacks are a redeeming feature of the corn syrup-laden butchery. You may already know the big twist at the end, but still you find yourself drawn to watching Ghost Ship again and again.
9. Leprechaun In The Hood (2000)
- Best quote:
"A friend with weed is a friend indeed, but a friend with gold is the best I'm told."
Sure, the first Leprechaun made a star out of Jennifer Aniston, but this one has a weed smoking Warwick Davis back for more. It was a toss up between Leprechaun in the Hood and the equally cheesy Leprechaun 4: In Space, but the gangsters win it!
The evil spirit of the Leprechaun was imprisoned 20 years earlier by a record producer (Ice-T), and now he is back to not only take over the record industry but the hood itself. Low-crotched rappers attempt to defeat the man from the Emerald Isles using a magic four-leaf clover joint. WOW!
Davis was back for a fifth time as the titular Leprechaun in a truly wild affair; you end up asking: "Were the producers smoking while making this?". If you think the 2000 film was insane, it was followed in 2003 by a sequel to the storyline in Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood. The fifth film makes it purely for Davis's ending, rapping about being an evil leprechaun — "Lep in the hood, here to do no good"!
8. Mars Attacks! (1996)
- Best quote:
Richie Norris: "Should I go get Grandma?" Richie's Dad: "Oh forget Grandma! She's halfway into space already!"
This film... is... AMAZING. Sure, Independence Day won the big space battle of 1996, but Mars Attacks!'s cast wipes the floor with Will Smith. Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, S.J.P., Glenn Close, Ving Rhames, Danny Devito, and even Tom Jones star, to name but a few.
When an alien race visits Earth, we are all too ready to extend the olive branch of peace. The aliens clearly have hostile intentions, and attempt to take over the world by enslaving society. The survivors try to take down the aliens before the few of them left are wiped off the face of the Earth.
Based off the 1962 playing card series of Mars Attacks, Tim Burton took the big-screen adaption to our cinemas. Serving as an homage to the films of sci-fi director Edward Davis Wood Jr., Mars Attacks! was both a black comedy and political satire — it is probably more relevant now than ever!
7. Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes (1978)
- Best quote:
Dr. Nokitofa: "Technically sir, tomatoes are fags." Dr. Morrison: "He means fruits."
Packed full of jokes that wouldn't make it past the political correctness of today, Tomatoes is just downright insane. Something Variety dubbed "isn't even worthy of sarcasm," cheese-stuffed tomatoes that are as awful now as they were then!
Setting the precedent for most of this list, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes has a small American town gripped by an unknown foe. As the wave of tomatoes goes countrywide, the president assembles a team to infiltrate their camp and end the mutant menace.
Despite frequently comparing itself to the masterful Hitchcock's The Birds, and with a budget of less than $100,000, Tomatoes actually does remarkably well. It (somehow) spawned a franchise, including three sequels from 1988 – 1991, and an animated TV series from 1990. A remake was announced in 2008, but that seems to have been squashed... I guess the studios will just have to "ketchup" to the competition.
6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
- Best quote:
"No secret, it's the meat. Don't skimp on the meat. I've got a real good eye for prime meat. Runs in the family."
Widely criticized for its introduction of black comedy, director Tobe Hooper claims that we were all too enthralled by the horror of the first Chainsaw Massacre to notice the comedy. The second Chainsaw film was universally panned, but personally I think the wacky in Chainsaw 2 makes for a wholly fun romp through Texas.
Set 13 years after the original, and leaving the Sawyer farmhouse behind, the cannibal family is back to their murderous ways. After a car accident with Leatherface leaves two teens dead, a small-town radio station decides to play a recording of the incident. Hearing his murder played out, Leatherface and family head to the station to tie up some loose ends. It is up to to the female DJ and town lieutenant to stop the family once more.
With Dennis Hopper and Bill Moseley, arguably The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (sometimes known as The Buzz Is Back) had a much better cast, including Dennis Hopper and Bill Moseley, while Caroline Williams holds her own as the lone woman. The costumes are cheap, the script is gross-out gold, and not even Tobe Hooper took the second film anywhere near as seriously as the first time round. Everybody say "cheeeeeese!"
5. Chopping Mall (1986)
- Best quote:
"It's not you, Ferdy. I'm just not used to be chased around a mall in the middle of the night by killer robots."
The trailer alone should have you rushing into a bargain basement VHS shop, but if not, ask yourself, "Am I really a horror fan?". A staple of B-Movie horror, Chopping Mall is a cult Halloween horror.
Park Plaza Mall has installed a state-of-the-art security system, consisting of some rather nippy little robots to apprehend shoplifters with non-lethal force. A freak lightening storm causes the robots to break protocol and go on a Westworld-style rampage. With everyone else dead, four couples are left to duke it out until morning, or face the chop of the chopping mall.
There is enough cheese oozing from the title alone to give Chopping Mall a place on the list, but couple that with veteran actor Dick Miller playing one of his Walter Paisley roles, and you are onto a winner. Give it a shot!
4. A Nightmare On Elm Street III: Dream Warriors (1987)
- Best quote:
"Welcome to prime time, bitch!"
A Nightmare on Elm Street scared people from going to bed at night, but by the time the third film came out, Freddy was a clown of his former self. The franchise would descend into more and more cheap laughs, but A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors treads that fine line between silly and scary.
Patricia Arquette plays Kirsten Parker, a young girl committed to a hospital for troubled teens. Seemingly all sharing the same nightmare of a burnt man, the group doesn't know that they are actually caught in the horror of Freddy Krueger. Returning after a one film absence, Heather Langenkamp is back as original final girl Nancy. She reveals the truth behind the Springwood Slasher, but unknowingly pulls the kids into Freddy's world for one more round.
What makes Dream Warriors so good is its pick up of pace. Langenkamp was back, and the dire outing that was No. 2 seemed like a distant memory. The script is more pun-filled than this article, and the deaths range from human marionettes, to rogue wheelchairs, and syringe slasher gloves. You gotta love it!
3. Planet Terror (2007)
- Best quote:
"I've seen me a lot of weird shit in my day, but I ain't never seen a one-legged stripper. I seen me a stripper with one breast. And I seen me a stripper with twelve toes. I've even seen me a stripper with no brains at all, but I ain't never seen a one-legged stripper. And I've been to Morocco."
The Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez marriage of Grindhouse is literally defined as a mixed bag affair — where Tarantino's gritty Death Proof failed to hit the mark, things faired better for Planet Terror. Never taking itself too seriously, Rodriguez slams its runtime with ridiculous dialogue and cheap thrills. When did you last see a one-legged hooker gun down zombies off the back of a motorbike?
Something goes wrong at a military facility when soldiers begin testing chemicals on human subjects. A horde of zombie-like creatures attack a Texas town, and a cavalcade of miss-matched townspeople attempt to escape. Along for the ride is hooker Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan) and her ex-boyfriend, the mysterious El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez).
McGowan, Marley Shelton, Josh Brolin, and even Tarantino are perfectly cast as their OTT apocalypse counterparts, joined by cult actor Jeff Fahey. Rodriguez would continue the "all guns blazing" movies with his equally loud Machete films. But, for a top Halloween grilled cheese sandwich, it has to be Planet Terror.
2. Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)
- Best quote:
"I'm Jo-Jo the ice cream clown, we'll give you a stick, you'll give it a lick. And it'll tickle you all the way down. Ice cream, ice cream, we brought our goodies here to you! A tasty treat for while you screw!"
Pre-empting a cash in on the scary clown phenomenon of this year, Killer Klowns from Outer Space attempted to explore everyone's fear of clowns — with ridiculous results. Although Killer Klowns was easily replaced by Stephen King's IT when it came to the scare factor, the film is still one of the best Halloween movies for getting your cheese fill.
A circus of evil aliens (disguised as clowns) descends on a small American town. Taking humans for food, the Killer Klowns quickly rampage through the population who think it is a hoax. Armed with only an ice cream truck, a group of friends attempt to take on the clowns themselves.
Where many films use the whole "harvesting human life in cocoons," Killer Klowns gets the award for most imaginative. Aliens has nothing on being wrapped alive in a cotton candy tomb! Colorful, obnoxious, and ridiculous. A rumored Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space in 3D has been doing the rounds since 2013, but it is amazing that a sequel to Killer Klowns from Outer Space has taken so long.
1. House On Haunted Hill (1999)
- Best quote:
"Sure is a funky old house, ain't it?"
Some films are cheesier than deep fried mac 'n' cheese fondue, and House on Haunted Hill is just that. Somehow it still manages to be good (shoot me now). Geoffrey Rush channels Vincent Price in a remake of the 1959 black and white classic horror film.
A group of strangers is offered $1 million to spend the night in the former Vannacutt asylum — the only catch? They have to survive the night. Caught in between the bitter divorce of the Steven and Evelyn Price (Rush and Famke Janssen), the rest struggle to stay alive. As things start to go bump in the night, it looks like the house on Haunted Hill could really live up to its name.
A superb opening sequence, plus the cast doing their best with a truly hammy script — House on Haunted Hill became a trashy Halloween favorite. There was a direct-to-DVD sequel, but we will pretend that never happened. Where HoHH excels is that it shouldn't be good, but mixed with the soundtrack of Marilyn Manson's "Sweet Dreams", you can't get the film out of your head!
If you can stand wading through a sea of Shropshire Blue, then check out our Halloween cheese-fest, or shout out why your favorite hasn't made the slice. After the horror of Halloween is over, all that is left is a shed load of de brie — over and out!