The line between horror and comedy is a thin one, and that’s pretty apparent in the names writers and producers come up with for their bizarre, creepy works. And we’re not just talking about “mockbuster”-churning distribution house The Asylum, which has built its business around names like Megashark vs. Crocosaurus and Sharknado.
We’ve scoured the history of horror films and come up with our 17 favorite, ridiculous movie titles of all time. And we’re leaving The Asylum out of this, because that company really goes out of its way to be crazy, and it designs most of its output to cash in on bigger, way better projects.
Check out our picks, and be sure to share your favorites in the comments.
17. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies
You’ve probably seen director Ray Dennis Steckler’s 1964 opus on the classic TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you haven’t, however, it’s probably enough to know that it is bad enough to feature on that show.
It’s about a character named Jerry (Steckler) who is so weak-willed that he gets hypnotized twice within 10 minutes: first by a carnival stripper, who accomplishes the feat just by looking at him, and again by her sister Estrella, who uses a mystical, spinning wheel to turn him into a full-on zombie. Estrella is raising an undead army, induction to which includes a cup of acid to the face, but Jerry mostly just stumbles around and tries (mostly unsuccessfully) to kill everyone he sees.
Upon its release, Incredibly Strange Creatures boasted one of the longest horror movie titles ever; it was second only to The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent. According to a director commentary on his film, Steckler originally wanted to call it “The Incredibly Strange Creatures, or Why I Stopped Living and Became a Mixed-up Zombie.” But that was too similar to Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, and The Asylum wasn’t a thing yet, so that was actually a big deal. The Steckler movie’s final title is both more memorable and slightly misleading, considering the titular creatures don’t show up until the very end, but that’s far from its biggest issue.
16. The Fearless Vampire Killers/Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck
Not all of our entries are going to have long, unwieldy names, but the U.S. version of director Roman Polanski’s 1967 horror-comedy manages to get its point across even before you watch the wacky, animated intro.
While the film premiered in the United Kingdom as Dance of the Vampires, distributor MGM made a number of changes for the U.S. release, presumably because it assumed Americans wouldn’t otherwise get that it was supposed to be funny. Those alterations included that intro, the title change, cutting 12 minutes’ worth of footage, and redubbing characters’ dialogue to make them sound both sillier and less European. All of these “fixes” happened without Polanski’s knowledge, which is just base dickery no matter how you try to spin it.
Luckily, however, original prints began circulating in the ’80s and gave The Fearless Vampire Killers a new audience and fan base. The U.S. release is kind of like a vampire that way, except it sucked before it died.
15. Thir13en Ghosts (2001)
This ill-advised remake of director William Castle’s already pretty bad 1960 film (which used tinted film and a special viewer to let audience members decide whether or not they wanted to see the ghosts) is somehow even worse than the updated version of House on Haunted Hill from 1999.
Thir13en Ghosts is about a ghost hunter (F. Murray Abraham) who is trying to capture a baker’s dozen of spirits to power a machine that will give him total knowledge of the space-time continuum, but that doesn’t even matter because look at that stupid title.
It’s a holdover from the distressing trend in the ’90s and early ’00s that had creatives inexplicably substituting numbers for letters in their titles. And so we had the modern serial killer classic Se7en, video game sequel Driv3r, and of course this monstrosity, the butchered name of which is scarier than anything that happens in the movie.
Obviously, the name is “Thirteen Ghosts.” But every time we see the stylized version, which appears on the poster, we can’t help but read it as “Thirthirteenen Ghosts.” And that’s the exact opposite of scary.
14. The Infernal Cakewalk
We aren’t even sure if this one counts as a horror movie, but it takes place in the underworld and has some pretty terrifying imagery (intended or otherwise), so we’re going to count it.
The Infernal Cakewalk is a silent film that comes courtesy of cinema pioneer Georges Méliès (best known for A Voyage to the Moon, which is best known for inspiring both a Smashing Pumpkins video and, y’know, the entire sci-fi film genre), and it makes very little sense unless you know what a cake-walk is. If you don’t, it’s a processional dance that originated on slave plantations in the late 19th century and only got more vaguely racist from there. It was very popular at minstrel shows, is what we mean.
Méliès’ film has Pluto bringing the craze to the underworld thanks to two dancers that he straight-up kidnapped during a recent visit to Earth. The five-minute movie shows both the dancers and minions cakewalking it up before a weird demon appears and tries to join in. But his limbs go all weird, separating from his body and carrying on without him, and then Satan shows up and calls a halt to everything, and we don’t blame him because it really was getting pretty silly.
13. The Long Hair of Death
This 1964 Italian film’s title sounds way cooler in its original language (I lunghi capelli della morte), but it’s pretty great either way. The movie, however, isn’t so much.
It’s a Gothic tale about a woman in a 15th-century, feudal village who is unjustly burned as a witch when she doesn’t return the lord’s advances. Her oldest daughter also receives death for confronting the murderer. The rest of the movie concerns the younger daughter, whom the lord takes in and forces to marry his idiotic son. And then the daughter’s ghost shows up looking for a double handful of revenge.
If you’re wondering how hair enters into any of this, we understand. But that comes way at the end, when the son ventures into a crypt and discovers that the older sister’s casket is slightly ajar. He opens it and sees a creepy eye peeking at him between the corpse’s surprisingly lustrous locks.
12. Werewolves on Wheels
If your guess is that Werewolves on Wheels is about bikers who turn into wolves under the light of the full moon, you’re mostly right; it actually happens every night, which is a good way to speed up the action and not have to fill in the four weeks between transformations. And then we’d just be watching a bunch of bikers hanging out with no werewolves.
A satanic cult curses the gang leader’s girlfriend with the mark of the beast, and she infects her boyfriend. The two of them start picking off the rest of the crew until the survivors catch on to who’s been clawing and biting everyone, and they take out the monsters.
The title’s a little on-the-nose, but that’s part of why we love it. It tells you everything you need to know and promises an amazing image, and then the movie delivers. So it accomplishes everything it needs to.
If your guess was that Sssssss is a movie about a giant snake, you’re partly right. But that wouldn’t nearly be crazy enough to justify the title. It’s actually about a doctor trying to make a living hybrid between man and snake for little reason other than that it provides a pretty solid premise for a movie called Sssssss.
Dirk Benedict (The A-Team) plays the unfortunate subject of Dr. Carl Stoner’s (Strother Martin from Cool Hand Luke) experiments, which aim to merge person and reptile to create a more hearty version of humanity that can survive pollution or ecological disaster. But we’re pretty sure that if we were all snakes, nobody would be driving anywhere, which would mean less pollution, anyway, and then we’d just have a bunch of unnecessary snake-people everywhere.
But this is just another reason why it’s not really the best idea to put too much thought into mad scientists’ plans.
Sssssss came out in the U.K. under the title Ssssnake. But not Sssnake, which was a crappy game for the Atari 2600. Count the s’s. Either way, that name isn’t nearly as good. They’re just adding letters.
10. Monsters Crash the Pajama Party
With a title like Monsters Crash the Pajama Party, you almost don’t need to watch the movie; the name tells you exactly what happens.
But the finer plot details are definitely worth a mention. For one thing, the eponymous pajama party takes place at a haunted house, and the girls attending it are doing so as part of a sorority initiation. Also, the house contains a lab in which a mad scientist is trying to turn people into gorillas. We don’t know if that’s for misplaced humanitarian reasons like in Sssssss or just for funsies, but the pledges become next on his list of subjects.
It was 1965, however, so the girls’ boyfriends come to the rescue before the evil genius can gorillify them. And then it all takes a strange turn when the frustrated villain orders his minions to blast through the movie screen and grab new victims from the audience. This is when actors dressed up like monsters would emerge to “terrorize” theater patrons. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies also employed this William Castle-style gimmick during its release; advertising called it “Hallucinogenic Hypnovision,” which is just delightful.
9. Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory
We’re not sure whether we like the American or original Italian title for this one more, but we’re going to have to hand it to the former. In Italy, it was called Lycanthropus. That’s super great, but it would have had us hoping for a movie about a werewolf that is also an octopus. And that idea might just be too wonderful for this world.
Just based on its title, Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory seems like it’s going to be somewhere in the vein of Monsters Crash the Pajama Party, but it’s really more of a straightforward horror film. It’s practically a giallo like Lucio Fulci’s Don’t Torture a Duckling or Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (complete with a crazy-ass name that fits right in with that subgenre), but it’s way too full of killer man-wolf to completely qualify.
Girls at a reform school start dying after wolves appear in the surrounding area. Everyone’s pretty sure that it’s either the animals or the new science teacher, but that’s clearly too straightforward to be the case.
8. Chopper Chicks in Zombietown
It’s similar to Werewolves on Wheels in that it tells the story of a motorcycle gang caught up in some supernatural shenanigans, but that’s just about where the similarities stop. The all-female Cycle Sluts roll into a small town only to discover that the resident mad scientist (every town has one, it seems) has been cooking up some zombies in his lab. The point is that the undead can work in a mine that’s too radioactive to support human life, but also, the scientist’s just crazy and enjoys doing crazy stuff.
The Cycle Sluts ride to the rescue, a lot of violence happens, and they blow up all the zombies before riding on to spread their particular brand of joy elsewhere. They even take some male “bitches” along with them, because according to movies, that’s what all bikers do, regardless of gender.
7. Even the Wind Is Afraid
This spooky Mexican ghost story deals with serious issues like grief, mental illness, and guilt, but you might not guess that from the mostly silly title.
It’s about a specter haunting a girls’ college, because horror movies love those places. The spirit was once a girl who asked for some time off from school to go visit her terminally ill mother, but the cruel headmistress denied her request. Distraught and overcome with grief, the girl hanged herself in a tower on campus, which in addition to being really sad also kind of ruins that tower for future students. But she probably wasn’t thinking that far ahead.
One girl learns the story after suffering terrible nightmares about both the building and a hanged girl, and the entity later uses her to lure the principal into her grasp. The plot reminds us a lot of director Guillermo Del Toro’s amazing The Devil’s Backbone, but Even the Wind Is Afraid definitely wins the name game.
6. Big Ass Spider!
Let’s start by really looking at the title because it’s a powerful reminder of the importance of punctuation — and we don’t mean the superfluous exclamation point.
The filmmakers were probably going for Big-Ass Spider because without the hyphen, the name describes a movie about a huge arachnid that does something with, to, or inside of butts. We don’t want to guess what that might be, but you couldn’t pay us to watch that. It could also be a spider with an abnormally large posterior (even by spider standards, we suppose), but we suppose that would be Big-Assed Spider.
But none of this matters, because Big Ass Spider is about a regular-ass spider that gets into some test fruit filled with alien DNA that the government plans to use as a growth hormone. This naturally makes it grow to ridiculous size and inexplicably makes its webbing super flammable. We also can’t help but point out that this is a universe in which aliens totally exist, and the first thing we plan to do with that information is make things bigger.
5. This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse
This is the second film of Brazilian director/co-writer/star José Mojica Marins’ Coffin Joe trilogy; it follows the similarly named At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul and the anticlimactically titled Embodiment of Evil. The saga tells the story of a psychopath and his enduring quest to find a partner worthy of bearing him a son. He pursues this by kidnapping women and torturing them to see who survives. These movies are lovely.
This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse has Joe continuing his search while fending off hitmen and authorities who know darn well what he’s up to but haven’t been able to scrounge up enough evidence to keep a lynch mob from being the only reasonable option.
The possession the title promises isn’t of the demonic variety, although one dream sequence does take place in the underworld. It’s more literal and owner-y than that, referring to the protagonists’ promises to kill Joe and end his evil doings.
4. Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead
Well, here we go.
Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead is a 2011 Japanese horror-comedy from director Noboru Iguchi (The Machine Girl). It’s about a group of students on the genre-standard trip to the woods, which is going more or less alright until one of them, Maki, intentionally eats a worm that she finds in a fish. She assumes the parasite will help her manage her weight, which makes the act simultaneously disgusting and really sad.
Maki learns the hard way that you can’t just eat worms all willy-nilly, and she ends up taking an emergency trip to the nearest outhouse. That’s when the title comes into play, and the kids find themselves fleeing from an army of poo-covered undead because this movie is insane.
They take refuge with a doctor, and since no scientist in a horror movie with a weird name can be non-mad, he starts experimenting on them. We have no idea what to do with any of this, but Iguchi’s contribution to the 26-part anthology film The ABCs of Death has a deadly black gas erupting from the ground, leading a student to seek solace in her favorite teacher’s flatulence. So at least his work is consistent, we guess.
3. 2 Lava 2 Lantula
This is the sequel to Lavalantula, a SyFy original movie about volcanic eruptions in Los Angeles releasing a horde of giant tarantulas that breathe fire. Obviously.
Steve Guttenberg returns for the second installment, which takes the hot arachnid action to Florida, just in time for spring break. The lavalantulas emerge from sinkholes, and it’s up to both The Gute and fellow Police Academy alum Michael Winslow to take arms against this sea of troubles and end them. And by “arms,” we mean big, cold-firing guns that look straight out of Men In Black. This is also obvious. You have to fight fire bugs with cryo-rifles.
2 Lava 2 Lantula is a B-movie designed to be a B-movie, and how you feel about it is pretty dependent upon whether the concept of a sharknado still entertains you. But if nothing else, we appreciate the nod to the ludicrously named Fast and the Furious sequel — and also the part where Steve Guttenberg fights a bunch of pyrospiders with Mr. Freeze’s gun.
2. Death Bed: The Bed that Eats
Death Bed has a whole lot going on for a movie that takes place mostly in one room. But it is definitely about a bed that eats people. The titular furniture has a backstory even more elaborate than the instrument in The Red Violin, and that entire movie was about 400 years in the life of a damned fiddle.
A demon conjures up the bed so that he has a place to have sex with a woman he fancies, which is just about the most romantic thing we’ve ever heard. Unfortunately, demon loving proves fatal, and the guy is so distraught that he cries tears of blood that bring the bed to life and make it carnivorous. But it only eats people when the demon wakes up every 10 years. Also, the bedroom also has a painting on the wall that contains the soul of an artist that Death Bed trapped. Somehow.
Also, the bed is psychic, we think? This is a very weird movie.
Eventually, a woman performs a ritual that lets the demon and his loved one finish their consummation, and then Death Bed catches on fire and dies. We don’t get to see the part where the demon goes around telling his friends the story about how he had sex so hard that he killed a bed and high-fiving everyone who will return it, but writer/director George Barry rightly leaves that up to our imaginations.
1. Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors
This 1965 anthology film by director Freddie Francis (1972’s Tales from the Crypt) has one of our favorite titles of all time, and it’s also a really good movie.
Horror legend Peter Cushing plays Dr. Schreck, an unassuming German who offers tarot readings to the five passengers sharing his train compartment. Unsurprisingly, every story ends in death, but the journey is more important than the destination. It’s like a metaphor or something, because they’re on a train.
The stories offer a mostly interesting mix of classic genre tropes and some other weirdness tossed in. It has werewolf and vampire stories, but it also includes one about a jazz trumpeter stealing a voodoo song, sentient, another about murderous plants, and our favorite: a segment about a snooty art critic (Christopher Lee) contending with the vengeful, severed hand of an artist he wronged (Michael Gough).
While he mostly directed horror movies, Francis hated the genre, and his work reflects that by being more darkly humorous than all-out scary. And it actually works out, making his films even more fun than they’d normally be. Dr. Terror manages this balance particularly well, which is pretty impressive considering it has a scene in which a man studying a plant sample under a microscope discovers a tiny brain in there.
We’re sure you have some outrageously titled horror flicks rattling around in your head right now. Be sure to share them in the comments!
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