Most horror fans agree that the past few years have been good for us. From Jordan Peele’s entire filmography to Ti West’s double-hitter with X and pearl, every gorehound’s appetites feel full to bursting. These films “taste” like the richest chocolate.
But sometimes we don’t want gourmet steak or fancy lobster. Sometimes what every horror fan wants is junk food cinema. Pure and unmixed trash.
And what better kind for that? Horror movies have always been a B-movie Shangri La. Horror hosts proudly present schlock for an audience that can’t get enough of it. Parodies of these grimy little tunes are written and rewritten. Some fans even obsessively wash their favorite little mistakes every Halloween.
Still, if you’re looking for a place to start this underrated tradition, or a B-movie veteran who wants to relive some fun times, you’ve come to the right place. In honor of Halloween, here are four Halloween B-movies that will give you the perfect littering craving.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Chances are, even if you’re a “normal,” there are three B-movies so infamous you’ve heard them before. if it’s not Sharknado and if it’s not Plan 9 from outer spacethen it’s definitely Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
Indeed, our favorite alien clowns have even become popular! Spirit Halloween offers a slew of Killer Klown merchandise on its website. Why, this year alone, a Killer Klowns from Outer Space asymmetric multiplayer video game has been announced!
This mainstream popularity, however, exists for a reason. A comedy-horror film written, directed, produced and featuring special effects by the Chiodo Brothers, many fans consider Killer Klowns from Outer Space the cream of the crop in a very rotten bouquet. If you went by premise alone, this reaction seems ridiculous. An entire race of alien clowns invading the planet? Who cocoons his victims in cotton candy for consumption? And this race of aliens just arrived look exactly like Earth’s cultural idea of what a clown is?
Surprisingly, in the execution, Killer Klowns from Outer Space bears witness to the passion of our directors for genre films. The film is an affectionate parody and love letter to ’50s alien invasion cinema, offering an ’80s-style remix. an entertaining watch. Even some of the sets are downright amazing considering the film’s $1.8 million budget.
If you only have time to choose one movie from this list to fit your Halloween viewing, you probably won’t go wrong with it. Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Get ready for an extraordinary experience.
The Mortal Spawn (1983)
After the success of Ridley Scott Extraterrestrial (1979), several films attempted to take advantage of the popularity of its premise. John Carpenter The thing (1982), now widely regarded as a classic of the genre, was even considered a shameless rip-off by contemporary critics!
1982 The Mortal Spawn is just one of many alien scams. However, among all, it is perhaps one of the best.
When I first spotted this little gem streaming on Shudder, I have to admit I was pretty skeptical. Its plot, centering on a shapeshifting alien monster that invades Earth, has been brought to life. I couldn’t recognize any of the actors. Even the film’s broadcast quality looks more than a little suspect.
Nevertheless, an actual viewing thrilled me!
For one thing, despite a tiny budget of $25,000, the practical effects of Deadly Spawn sound marvelous. These alien worms make delightfully disgusting little creatures. The sound design, while simple in concept, also brings the titular spawn to gruesome life. Every moment these creatures have appeared on screen is a precious miracle of the genre’s goodness.
Well, what about the characters? One of the biggest problems with B-movie cinema is really uninteresting and uninspired human actors. Therefore, imagine my shock at discovering that The Mortal Spawn actually features some really good characters. Each of the humans in the film react realistically to threat or use clever problem-solving skills that are simply not common in horror movies. Special mention has to go to monster boy Charles, played by Charles George Hildebrant. He truly plays a relatable and intelligent soul, delivering the rare charismatic performance of a child.
Of all the movies on this list, The Mortal Spawn remains the most misunderstood, and this absolutely must change. If you’re willing to take the risk, catch this baby on Shudder. It deserves to be one of your favorite cult classics.
Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
As all horror fans know, the first impression of a movie cover makes or breaks your decision to choose a movie. Many former horror fans first found their favorite movie by browsing through a whole selection of titles and choosing the cover that spoke to them first.
Looking at Slumber Party MassacreI’m sure many of you will come to similar conclusions. Oh, another B-movie. Probably a schlock festival with lots of fanservice and terribly acted out scenes while you inevitably wait for that bloody punchline.
However, Slumber Party Massacre manages to be full of surprises. Oh, there’s a lot of weird dialogue and low-budget nonsense. The women in the film are clearly at the early 30s, nowhere near actual high school age. Plus, how many times does a horror movie have to use the escaped mental patient to strike again?
Which makes Slumber Party Massacre the work, however, lies with the daring women who shot the film. Directed by Amy Holden Jones and written by lesbian author Rita Mae Brown, Slumber Party Massacre knows what it’s all about, what influences he draws inspiration from and what he wants to talk about. The film manages to be fun while commenting on the sexist and feminist undertones of slasher. It’s all about the writing, the overly phallic weapon used by the killer, the killer’s obvious sexual gratification in murdering women, and the girls learning to overcome by working together rather than a solo heroine.
Sometimes the covers really fool you. Slumber Party Massacre packs a lot of cheap thrills, but there’s plenty more beneath the surface if you know where to look.
Van Helsing (2004)
Alright, I know what many of you might be thinking. Must be a cheat, right?
When it was released in 2004, Van Helsing clearly tried to be a blockbuster hit. The cast even included many big names at the time, such as Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh and fresh off David Wenham. the Lord of the Rings!
However, basically Van Helsing works like a B movie. The effects look cheap but fascinating to watch. The plot, essentially functioning as a very edgy monster mash suitable for the 2000s, is absolutely bonkers. But the biggest aspect, the biggest cheesy factor of the movie, is the acting. Because boy, this cast was having fun, and every moment of the movie refuses to let you forget that. Richard Roxburgh as Dracula and Shuler Hensley as Frankenstein’s Monster especially chew up any scenery they can find. This allows for glorious viewing.
Oh, and by the way, did I mention the climactic features of a Van Helsing werewolf battling a vicious Dracula bat monster gargoyle? And that it is full of homoerotic scenes between Kate Beckinsale and the Brides of Dracula? Not to mention the gay nuances of Dracula and Van Helsing’s relationship? While featuring some of the best werewolf designs in cinema?
More than any other B movie out there, Van Helsing allows for perfect Halloween viewing. Don’t let some contemporary views get in the way. Take the time to look at this baby and try it out for yourself. If anything, you might find a new graveyard smash.
Taken together, these selections make up a tiny, tiny fraction of all the junk food cinema you want. Now, more than ever, as a horror fan, you have access to all kinds of cheap, pure craziness you might never have experienced before the internet. Sure, there are mountains and mountains of poop if you choose to go the B-movie path, but the gems that exist create one of the most unique experiences you’ll have as a movie buff. Whichever you choose, vampire hunter or clown, alien worms or slasher, just know that you have a long and arduous journey ahead of you. One you won’t take alone.
Lyana Rodriguez (she/they) is a queer Cuban-American writer living in Miami, Florida. His greatest interests include monsters, animals, writing about nature and staring too long at birds in their backyard. You can find more of Lyana’s writings in their intersectional horror blog, Dark Intersections.
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