Any dedicated horror fan knows that many of the best scary movies out there are loathed by film critics. But here at The Lineup, some of the most devastating pans (“it’s gross,” “it’s pure sadism”) are the highest compliments! Revel in these terribly reviewed, and terribly terrific horror movies.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho shocked audiences all over the country when it was released in 1960, with its sex, scandal, and violence—but that wasn’t enough for critics, who couldn’t agree on whether the movie was guilty of being too gruesome or just plain boring. Time magazine’s reviewer wrote that the shower scene was “one of the messiest, most nauseating murders ever filmed. At close range, the camera watches every twitch, gurgle, convulsion and hemorrhage in the process by which a living human becomes a corpse.” Sounds compelling to us!
2. The Shining
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel has long been a darling of movie snobs. That wasn’t always the case. At the time of its release, critics were at best ambivalent. And King himself and his fans point out that the movie takes too many liberties with the original source material.
Most critics seemed to take issue with Nicholson’s over-the-top performance. Variety carped, “the crazier Nicholson gets, the more idiotic he looks.” Writing for The Chicago Tribune, Gene Siskel felt the movie was “disappointing … Jack Nicholson parodies himself while Kubrick fails to provide any thrills.” Seriously? At the very least, that woman in the bathtub is “thrilling.” Within the next 10 years, the critical tide reversed, eventually leaving The Shining ranked amongst the all-time best horror movies.