People in horror movies do the darndest things, don't they? We've all had a "Don't go in there, you idiot!" moment or twelve while watching fright flicks. Horror sure does bring out the stupids.
This counter-intuitive behavior makes it seem like these folks are handing over their lives on a silver platter, so in honor of this weekend's "Evil Dead" let's celebrate the good, the bad and the dumber-than-a-bag-of-hammers of the genre. Appropriately enough, our first entry comes from that franchise.
15. Ash, 'Army of Darkness' (1992)
Body Donor: Bruce Campbell
IQ Fail: Even in the semi-serious first "Evil Dead" Campbell's Ash was a few french fries short of a Happy Meal, but by this third entry he had devolved into hubris incarnate. His buffoonery lands him in the Middle Ages, where he's forced to do battle with skeletons raised after he misspoke three lousy words he was supposed to remember ("Klaatu verata nicto"). His idiocy is enhanced in both versions of the ending, where he ditches a 14th century kingdom and a hot girl to go back to his 20th century hardware store job, or when he accidentally takes too many drops of a sleeping potion and awakens after the apocalypse.
14. Millburn, 'Prometheus' (2012)
Body Donor: Rafe Spall
IQ Fail: How's this for a numbskull: A supposed scientist, who gets scared s**tless after seeing a 2000-year-old dead alien corpse and then gets mad lost, finally falls in friggin' lurve with a giant alien penis worm gaping with vagina dentata. Tell us something, Mr. PhD who wears glasses and acts smart, how was that thing NOT gonna violate your face holes until you die? It's an honest question that deserves an honest answer.
13. Clark, 'The Thing' (1982)
Body Donor: Richard Masur
IQ Fail: It's always the quiet ones you have to watch out for. In terms of screenplay logic, making Clark — a.k.a. the guy who spent the most time with the dog that turned out to be a shapeshifting alien — into a big ol' red herring makes sense. However, once they realize Clark is human, what excuse does he have for acting like a stunned Martian for the whole movie? Guess being a dog master in a remote arctic outpost doesn't require Mensa membership.
12. Barbara, 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968)
Body Donor: Judith O'Dea
IQ Fail: In the 19th century, quack doctors used vibrators to treat female hysteria. What's the 20th century cure? A dude smackin' some sense into her, apparently. The scene where Duane Jones slaps Judith O'Dea in "Night of the Living Dead" stands as one of the proudest moments in horror as an African American crossed the color line and was allowed the privilege of hitting a white woman to calm her the hell down. It's a great scene, and elicits deserving cheers when watched with an enlightened audience. Of course, when Barbara sees her undead brother at the end she still can't tell the difference between a living dude and a zombie. Traumatized or not, that's moronic.
11. Renfield, 'Dracula' (1931)
Body Donor: Dwight Frye
IQ Fail: So yeah, this guy is way dumb. He ignores villagers who tell him Count Dracula is a bad mama jamma, then gets taken to the castle by a coach driven by a bat! Hey dude, I dunno about you but we'd be all like, "Hey, just drop us off right here at the corner of the cemetery, can walk the rest of the way, thanks." Nope, he stays with Dracula and winds up becoming the Count's personal raving slave monkey. Wipe that grin off your face, Renfield … if The Count from "Sesame Street" were here he'd be like, "How many idiots? One … ONE! ONE IDIOT! HAHAHAHA!"
10. Franklin, 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' (1974)
Body Donor: Paul A. Partain
IQ Fail: We love it when the dumbest guy is the first to die by chain saw. Though the paraplegic Franklin elicits initial sympathy, he truly reveals himself to be dead weight once things go sour and our heroes are suddenly smack in the middle of a survival situation. Abandoning a cripple sounds cruel until you meet this whiny, worthless sack of crap. "If I have any more fun today I don't think I can take it!" he lamely grumbles after four way hotter people pushed him around in his damn wheelchair all day. You're no picnic either, Franklin, and frankly the group should have left you when you comically rolled down the hill and fell on your cracker ass.
9. Dr. Samuel Klein, 'The Exorcist' (1973)
Body Donor: Barton Heyman
IQ Fail: Doctors think they know everything, but the truth is they only know like seven-tenths of everything, or something like that. So when this Klein dude tells Ellen Burstyn that the possessed Regan just needs therapy, he's wrong … DEAD WRONG. Actually, just "wrong" — he doesn't die, but you get the idea. "Mrs. MacNeil, the problem with your daughter isn't her bed, it's her brain." It's not her bed or her brain, it's a centuries-old demon named Pazuzu! If Dr. Klein had done more archaeological digs in Iraq he would know this, but even a layman knows moving objects around with your mind is not in the DSM.
8. Brom Van Brunt, 'Sleepy Hollow' (1999)
Body Donor: Casper Van Dien
IQ Fail: Brom is the 19th-century equivalent of a schoolyard jock, picking on the pale nerd that is Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp). Upset about the moves Crane has been putting on his fiancé Katrina (Christina Ricci), he fools the uptight constable into thinking he sees the Headless Horsemen, only when both of them have an actual encounter with the supernatural being Crane warns Brom that the Horseman doesn't care about them. Brom pays no heed, engages the Hessian in battle and gets chopped right down the middle. Perhaps this was revenge for Ray Park, the stunt man who played the unceremoniously halved Darth Maul just a few months prior. Either way, if a monster ain't after you, don't fight it. Period.
7. Judy, 'Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood' (1988)
Body Donor: Debora Kessler
IQ Fail: As far as movie Judys go, between this lamebrained teen and the little girl from "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer," the latter probably has a better chance of survival against Jason Voorhees. He attacks her boyfriend while they're camping out in a tent, and she thinks if she cocoons herself in her sleeping bag she'll be safe. Nope. Jason picks up the sleeping bag and hurls her against a tree like a human piñata, killing her with one whack. One whack!
6. Dewey Riley, 'Scream' movies (1996-2011)
Body Donor: David Arquette
IQ Fail: We're not sure ol' Dewey should be allowed to stay deputy sheriff of Woodsboro, seeing as how many times he's been stabbed in the line of duty. This dopey cop somehow survived all four "Scream" movies despite his skin being a magnet for knives. Arquette's naturally spacey tendencies add to the soft-headedness of the character, but also make him likeable, like a puppy with a limp.
5. Wendy, 'The Shining' (1980)
Body Donor: Shelley Duvall
IQ Fail: Oh, Wendy. Besides being pretty slow on the uptake when her husband Jack (Jack Nicholson) is clearly going cuckoo bananas, she makes a huge mistake right at the beginning. Let's say your husband is an alcoholic who drunkenly beat your son, but has since been dry for a few months. How can you bring equilibrium back to your family and marriage? Why, let's hole up in the middle of NOWHERE in a massive hotel built on an INDIAN BURIAL GROUND where the previous caretaker MURDERED HIS FAMILY. There's no way Jack's sanity, already hanging by a thread, will snap. Nuh-uh. Never gonna happen. Nope.
4. Micah, 'Paranormal Activity' (2007)
Body Donor: Micah Sloat
IQ Fail: Like Wesley Snipes said in "White Men Can't Jump": "Always listen to the woman." Instead of shutting the damn camera off and taking his wife out of that house, lunkhead Micah does everything that she and a noted demonologist (!) tell him not to do, like taunting or communicating with the bastard spirit via Ouija boards and stuff. Even if all this was fake as hell, wouldn't you have to at least be a dick to keep ignoring your wife's demands? Of course, he has to be a dick in order for the movie to exist, 'cause any other sensible human being would have sold that camera on eBay about 20 minutes into this thing.
3. Anna, 'Maniac' (1980)
Body Donor: Caroline Munro
IQ Fail: A beautiful woman in New York can never be too vigilant about the many creeps that dwell around every corner. Unfortunately, Anna can't see murder when it's an inch from her face, with evil incarnate in the form of Joe Spinell's frightful visage. Spinell is playing a killer/mutilator of women, but even if that were not true he's still ugly-ass Joe Spinell, and in what universe can Joe Spinell bag a babe of Caroline Munro's magnitude? Only in a script by Joe Spinell, which this is. She still seems smitten with this cretin who looks like he was rubbed with ham, even as he detours their second date to visit his mom's grave. RED FLAG, lady!
2. Mayor Larry Vaughn, 'Jaws' (1975)
Body Donor: Murray Hamilton
IQ Fail: "It's all psychological. You yell 'Barracuda,' everybody says 'Huh? What?' You yell 'Shark,' we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July." Makes sense. Except … sorry, Mr. Mayor, don't mean to question your airtight logic, but even though you're concerned about summer tourism don't you think people will stay away when other people are getting EATEN? Vaughn's reprehensible disregard for human life in the name of commerce is a form of lunacy that's become all too common in this day and age. It takes a Chief Brody-type to come along and say, "Larry, the summer is over. You're the mayor of Shark City."
1. Little Maria, 'Frankenstein' (1931)
Body Donor: Marilyn Harris
IQ Fail: Don't talk to strangers. It's pretty basic, but somewhere along the line Maria's dopey hayseed daddy didn't take two minutes to school his little girl about not talking to GIANT LUMBERING MONSTERS. You don't do that! C'mon! Instead, ol' Boris Karloff comes fumbling out of the bushes and Maria doesn't skip a beat in inviting this clearly malevolent implement of destruction to share her flowers. *Le sigh* How many kids got 'ta get drowned before they learn not to trust monsters, and that goes for Godzilla, King Kong, that thing in "Super 8" or any of them? E.T. is the exception that proves the rule.