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The best guilty pleasure horror movies

The best horror films leave viewers tossing and turning at night and feeling spooked by their own shadows. But there are plenty of horror flicks that conjure up more laughs than gasps, and bad special effects, a cringe-worthy script, and monsters that come across as silly rather than scary can easily ruin the mood.

But admittedly, there's something satisfying about watching a horror film that's so bad it's good. The conventions of the genre can so easily be pushed to the point of ridiculousness that it would almost be a shame if directors didn't stray into absurd territory once in a while. And when you come across a horror movie that is just self-aware enough to poke fun at certain tropes without totally falling flat, it's a genuine treat. If you're in the mood for gratuitous gore, cheesy dialogue, and hours of jump scares, these horror films are the perfect way to indulge in a guilty pleasure.

I Know What You Did Last Summer features the dumbest horror movie heroes ever

In I Know What You Did Last Summer, the past comes back to haunt a group of teenagers who thought that they could bury their secrets and run away from the consequences. When a few high school friends accidentally run over a fisherman while driving home on Fourth of July, they dump his body in the ocean, hoping to forget that it ever happened, but when they return home next summer, they're stalked by a murderer who seems fixated on revenge. 

However, this particular slasher film was released about a decade after the genre's golden age, and it certainly didn't do much to revive the trend. Instead, this is the kind of horror movie that will have you yelling at the screen as the characters make one classic, fatal mistake after another. "They're blissfully unaware of the dangers of running upstairs when pursued, walking around at night alone, trying to investigate the situation themselves, going onto seemingly empty fishing boats," noted famed critic Roger Ebert. By the time the credits roll, you'll be feeling pretty confident about your own ability to escape a vengeful killer — just take this film as a manual of what not to do, and you'll probably make it out alive.

The Final Destination is a gory trove of guilty pleasures

The premise of the first Final Destination movie was actually pretty clever. A group of friends dodge a freak accident, and they start feeling grateful that they just evaded their demise ... only to die one by one as "Death" comes to claim its prize. And if you've ever seen a Final Destination film, you've probably picked up at least one irrational phobia about perishing in a statistically impossible way.

Today, there are a grand total of five films in the franchise with similar plots, and as far as guilty pleasures go, they don't get any guiltier than the fourth installment, The Final Destination. After Nick O'Bannon (Bobby Campo) and his friends narrowly cheat death by escaping from a stadium just before disaster strikes, they soon find that their fate is already sealed. And back in 2009, with deadly objects flying at theater audiences in 3D, the eye-popping visuals took this film over the top when it came to gore. Even now, the film includes some of the most memorable (and gruesome) death scenes. So the next time you decide to give The Final Destination a go, you'll be simultaneously fascinated and disgusted by the increasingly absurd ways in which the film sends these characters to their doom.

The Craft merges high school drama with a whole lot of witchcraft

The Craft received mixed reviews from critics, and apparently, there's a reboot in the works, but this guilty pleasure flick doesn't need an upgrade. After its release in 1996, it earned a cult following and likely inspired a number of teenage girls to attempt casting curses on their high school classmates. As for the plot, when troubled teenager Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) transfers to a Catholic school, she joins a group of outcasts who are rumored to be witches, and together, their supernatural abilities are far more dangerous than they'd ever imagined.

The Craft is a vaguely feminist flick that explores the power of female rage. It doesn't have the makings of a critically acclaimed horror film like Carrie, but if you can accept the plot holes, the underwhelming special effects, and the overdone high school drama cliches, you'll find that The Craft has its own special charm. As Caroline Westbrook wrote in her review for Empire, "With suitable suspension of disbelief, this makes for agreeable enough nonsense."

Thir13en Ghosts is a straight-up crazy horror movie

Right off the bat, the gimmicky title of Thir13en Ghosts tips you off about the kind of film you're about to watch. Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham), a ghost hunter on a quest to capture a spirit known as "the Juggernaut," is killed when his team finally manages to catch the ghost. His assistant, Dennis (Matthew Lillard), manages to make it out alive, and when Cyrus' nephew, Arthur (Tony Shalhoub), learns that he's inherited Cyrus's mansion, Dennis offers to show him around.

But there's a catch. Arthur has also inherited all of the ghosts that come with it. They were held captive by spells that Cyrus had cast, but Cyrus' lawyer accidentally seals the house shut and releases all of the ghosts, kicking off a wild paranormal battle.

When it comes to visual and sound effects, this film goes all out. It's a loud, flashy, immersive experience, and while it might be too intense for some viewers, there's something admirable about it. After all, the characters are up against 12 ghosts. Of course, there's going to be chaos. This film is light on actual scares, but you'll find yourself sticking around just to find out the significance of the mysterious thirteenth ghost.

If you're looking for slasher scares, Wrong Turn is the right movie

Have you ever gotten lost in a sketchy area while on your way to an unfamiliar destination? If you've got a poor sense of direction, you'll probably find yourself sympathizing with the characters in Wrong Turn. After Chris (Desmond Harrington) takes an ill-fated, unintentional detour away from his intended route, he ends up crashing right into an SUV whose passengers had their road trip ruined when their tires blew out. Everyone escapes the accident mostly unscathed, but now, they've got to figure where they are and how they're going to get back to civilization. As it turns out, they may have wandered into a deadly trap that they can't escape.

Wrong Turn isn't exactly a sophisticated horror film, and this becomes obvious as soon as the audience is introduced to the cannibalistic, hillbilly villains who feast on unsuspecting road-trippers. It's a senseless, slasher gore-fest, but the premise is frightening and suspenseful enough that you won't want to chance a long drive without your trusty GPS app.

Anaconda is a guilty pleasure masterpiece

When it comes to guilty pleasure B-movies, Anaconda hits all the right notes. It's a '90s horror film about a documentary crew getting roped into the hunt for a legendary giant snake, starring Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, and Owen Wilson. When this group of filmmakers arrives in the Amazon, they have every intention of making a movie about an elusive indigenous tribe, but when they encounter the snake hunter Paul Serone (Jon Voight), he forces them to join him on his own mission — capturing a massive anaconda that he's been trying to track down.

If you like monster movies, and you're looking for some corny cinematic fun, no film fits the bill quite like Anaconda. This is a movie that knows just how silly it is. In one scene, the snake actually screams. And Jon Voight is giving the over-the-top performance of a lifetime with his bizarre accent and sleazy scowl. As critic Rob Blackwelder wrote in his review for SPLICEDwire, "To be honest, this is a one-star movie, but I'm granting it an extra star because it made my face hurt from laughing."

House of Wax is a trashy good time

Based on the 1953 film House of Wax, this 2005 reboot follows a group of teenagers who are lured into a strange wax museum at a town in the middle of nowhere. But these aren't your ordinary wax figures, as the creepy twins who run the wax museum have a rather unorthodox method for creating their displays. The crew soon discovers that the wax figures look so realistic because they're molded around the bodies of other victims who ended up trapped there. And now, it looks like they're about to be next.

You wouldn't expect much out of a horror movie starring Paris Hilton, so in that sense, House of Wax basically lives up to expectations. But as far as guilty pleasure films go, this movie checks all of the boxes. It's got characters that can't help but make the worst possible decision at any given moment, a genuinely creepy setting, and a Razzie nomination for "Worst Picture."

You can turn your brain off for Prom Night

This loose remake of the 1980 horror film Prom Night fails to live up to its predecessor, which, to be fair, wasn't meant to be more than a mildly entertaining slasher flick in the first place. Brittany Snow stars as Donna, the popular teen queen with a dark past — her entire family was murdered by her stalker, a teacher who became so obsessed with her that he was willing to kill anyone who stood in his way. But now, he's escaped from prison just in time for Donna's prom night, and after all these years, he hasn't forgotten about her.

Prom Night is so melodramatic that it often slips into unintentional comedy, and Donna's stalker somehow manages to be everywhere at once. This isn't a film that demands critical thought or serious analysis from its audience. As Clark Collis stated in his review for Entertainment Weekly, "There's no need to wear a corsage to Prom Night. And leaving your higher brain functions at home might be a good idea, too."

Leprechaun is a truly strange slasher flick

The 1993 horror-comedy Leprechaun is one of the most bizarre slasher films of all time, and it follows the exploits of an evil leprechaun who goes after the man that stole his pot of gold. While the antagonist is entertaining enough, very little makes sense about the plot, which involves the leprechaun setting bear traps, chasing people down in a golf cart, and sneaking into a nursing home.

To be fair, the crew behind Leprechaun wasn't exactly shooting for an Academy Award. "I don't think for a minute we, as filmmakers, pretend they're anything else other than entertaining popcorn movies," actor Warwick Davis, who starred as the titular leprechaun, said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "I would suggest people sit down with a can of beer, put their brain in the fridge, and watch the film." What more could you expect from a film that was reportedly inspired by Lucky Charms commercials?

Shockingly, this film ended up spawning five sequels, so you can easily embark on a guilty pleasure Leprechaun marathon. If you feel like doing something different on St. Patrick's Day, look no further than the Leprechaun films.

Piranha 3D knows its a goofy horror movie

Piranha 3D is a raunchy, campy mess in the best kind of way. Even the critics had to admit that this over-the-top remake of the 1978 comedy Piranha was a B-movie masterpiece. In a review for Trespass Magazine, Glenn Dunks praised Piranha 3D as "the most honest and unpretentious piece of filmmaking of 2010."

Piranha 3D kicks off during spring break at Lake Victoria, where tourists are sunbathing and partying. After an earthquake, countless prehistoric piranhas emerge from a crevice at the bottom of the lake. When a man's mutilated body is found in the water, the local authorities decide to keep the area open for beachgoers to avoid scaring off tourists. But when the piranhas start a full-blown feeding frenzy, the scene at this carefree summer camp quickly turns into a bloodbath, so be prepared to see vicious piranhas coming straight at you! You'll have fun spotting a few familiar faces in the midst of the chaos, including actors like Adam Scott, Richard Dreyfuss, and Christopher Lloyd.

You'll root for the killer in Sorority Row

This re-imagining of the 1982 film The House on Sorority Row explores what happens when a prank goes dead wrong. A group of sorority sisters help one of their friends pull a prank on her boyfriend ... and they accidentally end up killing her in the process. After hiding her body, everyone involved agrees that they will never say a word about it to anyone. But as graduation day approaches, they find out that someone is on to them, and now, they're all in trouble. On sorority row, secrets never stay hidden for long. 

The characters in Sorority Row are so unapologetically insufferable that you won't exactly pity them as they're picked off one by one. All of the worst cliches and stereotypes about Greek life are on full display here, but it's mindless slasher fun, and it's easy to get caught up in the silly plot for an hour and a half.

Jason X is the guiltiest pleasure in the Friday the 13th franchise

Friday the 13th is a classic horror movie that still holds up decades after its release. After the success of the original film, it was only natural that a few sequels would follow. But somewhere along the way, it seems like the filmmakers behind this series gave up on maintaining any semblance of seriousness in this franchise, especially when it comes to Jason X. In his scathing review for Alternate Ending, Tim Brayton declared, "This film manages the extraordinary, almost mythological feat of surpassing all that came before it to stand proud as the worst of all ten Friday the 13th movies."

In this particular installment, Jason Voorhees is terrorizing his victims from outer space. Earth has become too polluted for human beings to survive, and the remaining population has to hack it in on the planet "Earth Two." But a few students on a field trip bring Jason's frozen body on their spaceship for research purposes, and naturally, he begins wreaking havoc as soon as he wakes up. There's just no getting rid of this guy. Implausible? Sure. Worth watching? Definitely, as long as you know what you're getting into.