May 3, 2011

Road Trip Philosophy - My Top Three Bad Horror Movies about Hotels

I love bad horror movies almost as much as love good ones. But these...these are so bad they are not even funny. I'm almost proud I've seen them because that means I have sat through them, which is a testament to my endurance as a film fanatic. I've written already about some absolutely great horror movies that play on the fears of hapless travelers forced to stop for the night in a strange motel room and the terrible things that tend to happen as a result. But not all movies that try and play on those fears are actually good movies. Some are just plain terrible. And not so terrible that they are funny. Just plain bad. This list is more a warning not to waste your time with these terrible films.

1. 1408

This movie was one big disappointment for me. I have stayed in a haunted hotel before and am a fan of John Cusack, so I was absolutely thrilled to go see it. What followed was one big depressing let down. The movie wasn't really about a haunted hotel, it was about a father tormented by his grief over losing his daughter. He travels to haunted hotels and motels to write about all the creepy things happening but all the while he is hoping for a sign of an afterlife and perhaps a way of contacting his deceased child. But when he stays in Room 1408, he finds himself tormented and encouraged to end his own life as the only means of escape. But it isn't scary or even particularly creative. It's just...depressing.

2. Psycho II

Why someone would make a sequel to Hitchcock's masterpiece is beyond me. Some films should just not have sequels and this is one of them. After years in a mental institution, Norman Bates returns home to the Bates Motel. But is he free from his mother? He begins to get mysterious notes from her and then a teenage boy is murdered. The film tries hard to be a suspenseful thriller and recreate the terrifying magic of the original. But it just tries too hard. Even if you manage to suspend your belief long enough to be swept up in the mystery (Who is leaving the notes for Norman? Has he once again gone insane? Or is he simply tormented by those who won't let him forget the past?) you will spend most of the time rolling your eyes and wondering why they didn't just leave the great original alone, instead of marring it with this terrible followup.

3. Vacancy

The first half of this movie isn't really a horror movie. It's a bad drama. A bickering couple on the brink of divorce after the death of a child get lost on a road trip, only worsening their snipping at each other. Honestly, it was better when I saw it in "Rachel's Wedding." (Now that was a good movie.) But when we finally get to the scary stuff - a couple trapped in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of people who like to murder hapless motel guests for sport - it doesn't really seem worth the wait. The movie isn't about the scary killers (there isn't even a real backstory to explain why any of this is happening), it is about this couple rekindling their marriage by overcoming deadly adversity. The writers probably thought this would give the movie more depth than your typical horror film, but all it really did was make me wish they would stop whining already.


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