100 worst horror movies of all time, according to critics
A tradition as old as the genre itself, bad horror films fluctuate from guilty pleasures to unwatchable train wrecks. While most have been forgotten in time, a choice few persist as the stuff of midnight movie legend. Directors such as Ed Wood and Uwe Boll endure as kings of camp, occupying their respective spaces in the annals of cinematic history. It might be bad cinematic history, but it’s history nonetheless.
Thanks to the work of these anti-pioneers, the nearest streaming service contains a treasure trove of clunky dialogue, cheesy special effects, atrocious acting, and all-around poor execution. And remember: just because there are copious amounts of gore, that doesn’t mean the film is actually scary.
To prove that buckets of blood don’t necessarily make for a passable horror flick, Stacker is listing the 100 worst horror films of all time, according to the critics. Each one was culled from the last five pages of Metacritic, a site that compiles movie reviews from the professionals (though it also has a user section). In order to qualify for the list, each film needed at least four reviews or more; the data was updated Dec. 13, 2018. Ties were broken by the number of reviews, counted by Metacritic. So grab the popcorn, pull up a chair, and prepare to laugh at movies that were aiming for at least one scream.
Counting down from really bad to completely terrible, here are the 100 worst horror films of all time, according to the critics.
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#100. Maximum Overdrive
Director: Stephen King
Horror legend Stephen King learned he should stick to writing the hard way, when he directed this adaptation of his own short story in 1986. In the film, Emilio Estevez and others do battle against homicidal vehicles and appliances at a truck stop. As reviewer Ken Hanke put it: “This is why other people usually direct King's writing.”
#99. Sorority Row
Director: Stewart Hendler
Starring Rumer Willis, Audrina Patridge, and Carrie Fisher, this campy misfire falls far short of the cheesy slasher flicks it tries to imitate. The terror begins after a group of sorority girls accidentally kills one of their own during a prank gone awry. As the sisters cover their tracks, a sadistic killer hunts them down one by one.
#98. Piranha 3DD
Director: John Gulager
On the heels of a trashy cult hit came this 2012 sequel, which was just plain trash, according to critics. In the film, deadly piranhas with an appetite for bosoms and blood terrorize a newly opened waterpark. Despite the gory premise, most critics took the film to task over its plodding pace.
#97. One Missed Call
Director: Eric Valette
“One Missed Call” is a “wrong number,” according to Entertainment Weekly. Based on a Japanese horror film, which was in turn based on a novel, the 2008 movie finds a group of people receiving mysterious voicemails from their future selves. Included in the messages are details of each respective person's impending death.
#96. The Pyramid
Director: Grégory Levasseur
History has all but forgotten this paltry excuse for a horror movie, in which archaeologists unleash a deadly creature inside a lost pyramid. As the creature hunts down its prey, audiences struggle to stay awake. It's no wonder that The Hollywood Reporter dubbed this film “a stinker in every sense.”
#93. Saw 3D (tie)
Director: Kevin Greutert
The “Saw” franchise opened on a high note in 2004 and went downhill from there, wallowing at rock bottom by the time this 2010 installment came along. It follows a group of the villain Jigsaw's survivors as they fall under the leadership of a self-help guru, eventually becoming ensnared in a new set of sadistic torture games. No amount of 3D gimmickry could save this one from the trash heap.
#93. Stay Alive (tie)
Director: William Brent Bell
Failing to deliver on a potentially sound (albeit contrived) premise, this 2006 thriller centers on a video game with the power to kill in real life. At the root of the terror is a deadly countess named Elizabeth Bathory, based on a 16th-century Hungarian noblewoman and alleged serial killer. The critic for Toronto's Globe and Mail said the film “tries to be a video game but is less entertaining than a vending machine.”
#93. Captivity (tie)
Director: Roland Joffé
At the height of the so-called “torture porn” craze came this 2007 clunker, about a fashion model (Elisha Cuthbert) who suffers unspeakable horrors at the hands of her abductor. Before the film was even released, it stirred up controversy by way of a grotesque billboard and poster campaign. As it turned out, the posters were scarier than the movie itself.
#92. Apollo 18
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Presented as found footage from a secret moon expedition, this 2011 horror movie pretends to expose what really happened to two American astronauts. The film actually made some money at the box office, though most viewers found it to be a bore. New York Times critic Mike Hale called it a “drab combination of science-fiction horror film and conspiracy thriller.”
#91. The Skulls
Director: Rob Cohen
This poorly executed thriller stars Joshua Jackson as Luke McNamara, a college senior who gets recruited into a secret society. What at first seems like a world of luxurious privilege soon reveals itself to be something far more deadly. Can Luke uncover the truth before falling victim to the society's evil ways?