Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Age brings wisdom. Truer words have never been spoken, and in this case I’m talking about my history with watching movies. When I was a wee MovieJunkie I would watch and enjoy them solely on a surface level, never truly understanding the nuance or allegories of the stories being told. And so (doing my best impression of King Joffrey from Game of Thrones) I was all, “This movie sucks!” and “Off with its head!”
But the great thing about movies is you get to watch them over and over again. And as I’ve grown up and had a chance to revisit the horror movies I once dismissed as trash, I gained a new appreciation for them. I admit it, when it comes to the following horror movies, I was dead wrong! Here are the TOP 5 HORROR MOVIES I HATED (THAT I NOW LOVE):
#5 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Tinder profile: Artistic, foodie, real people person
Eew, gross, disgusting. That was how I felt when I first saw this movie. I couldn’t get past how grimy, sweaty and just all-together nasty this movie looked and, in turn, made me feel. It’s strange considering I was (and still am) a huge fan of the Friday the 13th films, a franchise with a similarly grotesque antagonist by the name of Jason Voorhees. But for me The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was just filled to the brim with visuals (and yes, even people) who made me feel like taking a shower. Rewatching this classic slasher I grew to understand that was the point.
Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece takes place near the end of the Vietnam War, and, unlike previous wars, people were much more exposed to the ugly realities of it. It was also in this time serial killer Ed Gein had been captured and his house of horrors (lamps made out of human skin, ashtrays made out of some poor soul’s skull, et cetera) were revealed in gory detail. All of these elements are on display in a movie that has gone on to become the template of how to do horror movies set in rural towns where a group of strangers come across a ghoulish family of killers.
I still feel like taking a shower after every viewing but now I also appreciate every single frame (and that amazing score) that made The Texas Chain Saw Massacre the iconic film it has become.
#4 Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Number two looks just like my ex
Where the hell is Michael Myers?!!!
Like most other fans of the Halloween franchise I wrote this movie off before I even gave it a chance to breathe! The first two films (which can be viewed as one extra-long film if you’ve got the time) are terrific and left audiences chomping at the bit to once again see The Shape take on some hapless teenagers. So when Part 3 rolled in with no sign of the man himself or even one lone babysitter being slashed to death, I instantly hated it. I thought it was over-the-top and in a word, stupid. It took me a decade and a half to give this movie another go and you know what? I think Season of the Witch is one of the strangest, yet coolest 80’s horror films out there.
So let me give those who may not know a little backstory on the making of this movie, or more specifically, what John Carpenter initially had in mind when he created Halloween. The first movie and Michael Myers were originally meant to be a standalone story. Each subsequent film would’ve had its own story with the events occurring on Halloween. It’s the reason the name of the movie is Halloween and not The Shape or Babysitter Murders or some other 80s-esque slasher title. But you know what they say, Man plans and God laughs because as it turned out Michael Myers was such a memorable villain fans wanted more and Carpenter was forced to make a sequel. While the first film is undeniably awesome, the second wasn’t as strong. And by the third, Carpenter and his partner Debra Hill wanted to get their original idea back on track. Which brings us to Halloween III.
Initially considered a huge failure by both audiences (like myself) and critics, this movie has gone on to be viewed with older, wiser eyes and as it turns out this crazy ode to sci-fi horror is so much better than I remembered. With a likeable and strong lead in genre star Tom Atkins (who previously starred in another John Carpenter classic The Fog) and an earworm commercial jingle for Silver Shamrock Halloween masks, this movie is equal parts creepy and funny. It’s like Invasion of the Body Snatchers but on a smaller scale, and the practical effects are some of the best I’ve seen in films from that era.
The ending is also ambiguous leaving you with some serious chills about what may have happened next. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it or, maybe like myself, you only saw it once years ago and dismissed it for not being what you expected, go watch it again. And maybe you too will find yourself enjoying the hell out of what John Carpenter did with this movie. Or at the very least, respecting what he was trying to do with the franchise in the first place.
#3 As Above, So Below
This one hits you right in the claustrophobia
This one is a lot more recent than the other two I just talked about (it came out in 2014) so I can’t blame age for this. No, my hate for this particular movie came from the fact that I’m not a big fan of the subgenre known as found footage horror. The list of found footage horror films I truly enjoyed is very short, and when I first saw this movie the sometimes nauseating camera movements and slow pacing got on my nerves.
Then one day it popped up in my Netflix feed and, having nothing better to do, I figured “Why the hell not?” Well folks, some things are better the second time around. And for me As Above, So Below is not only a good found footage horror movie, it’s one of the best modern-day horror movies I’ve seen. Instead of seeing the pacing as slow, I appreciate the time taken to develop the characters and the story. The writing is whip-smart as you realise they’re giving you so many clues as to what and (more importantly) why the things that are happening to our unlucky group of treasure hunters are happening.
Shooting the film found footage style ACTUALLY fits into the narrative and isn’t just there because the style is popular (so many movies have used this style when it made no sense to the story) and the horrific events build to an extremely satisfying ending. I won’t go into details as I would hate to spoil this movie for those who haven’t seen it, but I’ve rewatched it at least three or four times now. And if I ever make a list of my favourite found footage horror movies, you can bet your sweet behind As Above, So Below will be making the cut!
#2 The Cabin in the Woods
RED QUEEN: You’re all going to die out here!
Blame this one on bad marketing. The trailer for Cabin in the Woods was sold to audiences as a straight-up modern day slasher and so I walked into cinema expecting to see just that. Instead I sat there confused by the story, almost feeling insulted by this movie that felt like it was making fun of horror movies and, worst, horror fans like myself.
I left full of fury and righteous indignation but thank goodness for YouTube. I kept coming across videos by some of my favourite content creators singing praises to this film. And after watching a few of them I figured I missed something the first time around. An understatement if there ever was one.
Cabin in The Woods is a satirical masterpiece of horror, deconstructing horror stories and films in a way no one had ever really done before (except maybe for Scream). I had an absolute blast with this horror comedy that (as it turns out) doesn’t hate horror fans, not even a little. Quite the opposite, as this is one of the greatest love letters to the genre ever made.
#1 The Shining
KUBRICK: Cut! Again! SLATE MAN: Take 356. Mark! DUVALL: Son of a…
Easy now folks. Put down the pitchforks and torches and give me a chance to explain.
I was about 12 or 13 when my Mom gave me three Stephen King books as a gift. I don’t think my Mom knew what she was giving me but that’s besides the point and she’s an awesome lady. Anyways, the books were Misery, Carrie and The Shining and I devoured them all, especially The Shining. I freakin’ LOVED this novel, even finding myself happily dreaming about the story one night (I was a strange kid, we’ve already established that).
And then one day, I got to see the movie. I sat there waiting for the ghosts, waiting to see exactly what I read unfold on screen, but as any horror fan (which, by the way, should be EVERY horror fan) who has seen Stanley Kubrick’s version of this story knows, it’s nothing like what the master Stephen King had written. King famously hated this movie, so much so he made his own version (which is…okay) and I was right there with him! It sucked! It made no sense! I HATE THIS MOVIE!
It took me years and years to give this one a second chance with my only reason being I had seen other Kubrick films and recognised the man was a genius behind a lens. The rest is obvious at this point. The Shining is now one of my all-time favorite horror movies, period! I don’t have to sing its praises; it can do that all on its own. It is a movie so great that documentaries have been made exploring the nuances and hidden meanings behind every frame.
It’s films like these that prove horror movies can be so much more than just gratuitous nudity and violence (although there’s nothing wrong with some R-rated fun). And it also goes to show some movies
deserve, nay, DEMAND a second chance, if only to prove a little time and a lot of experience teaches you to see things from a different point of view.
So which horror films did you hate that you now love? Feel free to drop them in the comments. And you can check out more great horror lists below:
Top 7 Horror Movies You Watch Once (and then Never, Ever Again)
Top 5 Man Versus Beast Horror Movies (That Aren’t Jaws)
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
Double Tap Baby!