13 Dopiest Horror Movie Titles
Article By: Tony Timpone
In Romeo and Juliet, the lovelorn lass asks, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In that most famous of quotes by William Shakespeare, Juliet informs Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention. But when it comes to selling movie tickets, marketing executives must create enticing headings to separate potential audiences from their hard-earned greenbacks. So names do matter. For today’s edition of The Friday 13, Chiller looks at 13 Dopiest Horror Movie Titles that utterly failed at that task. (List arranged according to year of release.)
1. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (1964)
An Oscar winner for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, acclaimed cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond passed away in January at age 85. Few obits, if any, mentioned his early camera work on this mouthful-of-a-title movie. How did theater owners ever fit the name of this silly carnival-set grindhouse epic on their marquees back in the day? Did they even have enough letters?! Director Ray Dennis Steckler, who also stars in TISCWSL&BMUZ under the nom de shame Cash Flagg, had a knack for awkward movie handles. Not only did he rerelease Incredibly Strange Creatures… as the equally off-putting The Teenage Psycho Meets Bloody Mary, but his other filmography “highlights” include The Mad Love Life of a Hot Vampire, Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (WTF?) and The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher.
2. Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966)
At first you want to give this idiotic horror Western credit for something: at least its title is self-explanatory. Then you watch the thing (why??) and realize that it’s actually Frankenstein’s granddaughter who transforms Jesse James’ buddy into a lumbering, bald-pated monster. Directed by the indefatigable William “One Shot” Beaudine, who supposedly helmed as many as 500 movies, among them the equally-silly-sounding Billy the Kid Versus Dracula, also out the same year!
3. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
If you think you know everything about bad movies, then you haven’t seen this colossally inept movie, by fertilizer salesman-turned-writer/director Harold P. Warren. Plan 9 from Outer Space auteur Edward D. Wood Jr. has nothing on this guy! The trouble starts with that inane designation, which redundantly translates as Hands: The Hands of Fate. A family takes a wrong turn in the desert and winds up in the compound of a bizarre cult in Warren’s so-bad-it’s-funny disasterpiece. The movie’s only competent touch comes from the evocative jazz-infused soundtrack by Robert Smith Jr. and Russ Huddleston, just released on vinyl by Ship to Shore PhonoCo (see here).
4. Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972)
The international success of Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1971) sparked a wave of giallo films, many of them crowned with enigmatic critter references (Four Flies on Grey Velvet, The Black Belly of the Tarantula, The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail, et al.). Argento’s blood brother Lucio Fulci jumped on the terror train, but though he won accolades for Don’t Torture a Duckling (a horror mystery surrounding child murders), couldn’t someone have come up with a stronger title? Some things just don’t translate. The director fared better with the stronger-resonating A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin and Cat in the Brain.
5. The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! (1972)
Director Andy Milligan, Staten Island’s infamous Z-grade horror guru, cooked up this incongruous label to capitalize on the previous year’s hit rodent film Willard. The soap-operatic movie’s actually about an early 1900s English family cursed by lycanthropy. Milligan clumsily inserted shabby rat footage months after the film wrapped to make his snoozefest more commercial, as the non-existent production values and amateur acting weren’t getting him very far.
6. Please Don’t Eat My Mother (1973)
We won’t—promise!—as long as we don’t have to sit through this inept Little Shop of Horrors rip-off again! Produced by pornmeister Harry Novak (perv-eyor of such lewd “classics” as Wham! Bam! Thank You, Space Man), Please Don’t Eat My Mother comes off largely as an excuse to unspool numerous gratuitous sex scenes. From the title alone, please don’t watch this movie. Same goes for 1972’s equally tacky I Dismember Mama.
7. Black Devil Doll from Hell (1984)
Not only is this title racist (if the evil puppet was Caucasian, would the movie be called White Devil Doll from Hell?!), but where else would a Devil Doll be from, Detroit? (Actually, maybe…!) Writer/director Chester Novell Turner lifted his plot from TV’s Trilogy of Terror (Karen Black vs. Zuni Fetish Doll), though this time the woman gets it on with said doll. After delivering Tales from the Quadead Zone, another VHS-era (and VHS-lensed) rarity, Turner abandoned filmmaking to go into home remodeling. Most agree that’s a good thing.
8. Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie (1984)
No doubt author Mary Shelley never imagined that her 1818 literary masterwork would spawn a title like that. But as you noticed just a few entries above, exploiters have raped the Frankenstein brand in myriad ways, from Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster to Blackenstein to Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein. Shot in Mexico for the price of a burrito platter, Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie managed to attract the likes of slumming international stars Aldo (The Green Berets) Ray, Yvonne (La Dolce Vita) Furneaux and a post-Halloween Donald Pleasence. Hey, even actors have to eat.
9. Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
Over the years, Jaws sequel apologists have gone out on a limb to muster up a few good things to declare about Jaws 2 (at least Roy Scheider came back!) and Jaws 3-D (Twilight Zone’s Richard Matheson toiled on the screenplay!). However, no one has ever come up with anything nice to say about this ridiculous fourth chapter in the fishy series. The problem begins with that stupefying, dumb title, which asks us to believe, like lead Lorraine Gary does, that those Great White sharks really do have it in for the poor Brody family. And the aquatic killer will track the rapidly diminishing clan from the East Coast down to the Bahamas to satiate its bloodlust. Jaws: The Revenge jumps the shark before the film even begins!
10. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)
Well, how could we forget?! The previous film only came out a year before! Did the filmmakers think that the movie’s characters (including recurring players Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr.), not to mention slasher fans, have memory issues like Grandma? I Still Know that’s an embarrassed Jack Black appearing as an obnoxious victim of the hook-handed murderer, though he wisely kept his name off the credits…
11. Monsturd (2003)
Honestly, could anyone pay you enough money to see a movie called Monsturd? Would you hide the DVD in a brown paper bag from prying eyes? Or immediately clear the history on your web browser after secretly watching it online? Hackers would return your stolen identity if they found this zero-budget movie in your Netflix queue. The Shakespearean plot revolves around a serial-killer creature made of human poop. Toilet paper not included.
12. The Happening (2008)
With a bland title like that, how could you expect anything good to emerge from this? After scoring with The Sixth Sense and Signs then flopping with The Village, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan continued his career descent with this turkey, in which vegetation and trees strike back at mankind by—get this—inducing mass suicides in Mother Earth-defiling humans. Initially conceived with the more Al Gore-friendly moniker The Green Effect, The Happening inspired unintentional guffawing at such absurd scenes as when science teacher Mark Wahlberg (amazingly bad here) tries to reason with a large plastic plant. It took Shyamalan eight years to gain back audience respect with last year’s scary sleeper The Visit. Hey, shit happens.
13. The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (2013)
This decent supernatural movie sports one of the clumsiest names in horror history. Four years after the modest success of The Haunting in Connecticut, the same producers adapted another spooky “true story” and crassly connected this standalone movie to the previous hit in a bid to create some sort of geographically-themed scare picture franchise. Not surprisingly, the cash grab fell short big time, so we will never see future illogical chapters like The Haunting in Connecticut: Ghosts of Hawaii.
Fangoria editor emeritus Tony Timpone paid tribute to late horror star Angus Scrimm of the Phantasm movies here.