'Oculus' is a movie about an evil mirror. To be fair, it's a very good and very scary movie about an evil mirror, but there's not denying the silliness of the central concept. Even a movie as clever and effective as 'Oculus' is bound to inspire giggles when you try to explain what it's about. But, 'Oculus' is not alone! The horror genre has a long history of haunted and/or possessed inanimate objects that inspire guffaws instead of screams. Some of these films overcome their truly weird concepts, but others, uhhh, do not.
These are 10 of the weirdest objects to ever be the focus of a horror movie. Some are the work of a ghost, some are the work of Satan, and some are just plain inexplicable. Yet they all have one thing in common: they're just kind of baffling.
A 1958 Plymouth Fury
Cinema actually has its fair share of haunted cars, but few are as famous as the title vehicle in John Carpenter's 'Christine.' Based on the novel by Stephen King, the film follows a dorky teenager who comes into possession of badass old car, learns too late that it is inhabited by an unknowable demonic force, and proceeds to become infatuated with his automobile, using her/it as a weapon against those who bully him. On the plus side, Christine will drive herself and repair any damage done to her. On the negative side, she transforms her owner into a violent psychopath. To be fair, those positive traits makes this car the haunted object on this list that we would least mind owning. At least there's some silver lining. Seriously, we could deal with the occasional murder spree if it meant no more trips to the mechanic.
Why does the ghostly Samara kill anyone who watches her cursed video within seven days? Why does she even haunt VHS tapes and not the well where she was murdered? 'The Ring' dances around these questions as best as it can, but it never has a particularly sound answer. She haunts the tapes because fuzzy footage of surreal and grotesque things is scary. And that's that. Of course, any additional thought on the matter conjures up images of Samara hanging out in Hell, using an old camcorder and two VCRs to cobble together her cursed footage. It's actually impressive! Way to take initiative on the whole "being a ghost" thing! She's like the Robert Rodriguez of J-horror inspired murder ghosts.
No one is ever going to call 'The Refrigerator' a good movie, but it gets serious points for having the nerve to actually exist. This is a movie about a killer refrigerator that contains a portal to Hell. Someone wrote it. Someone directed it. Actors interacted with the fridge and said their lines without breaking character. To be fair, the movie is goofy enough to be aware of how silly its central premise really is, but that doesn't excuse its existence. They went and made a movie about an evil refrigerator and that can never be undone. We're not even sure if that's a nadir or a high point for the horror genre. It simply defies explanation.
Here's a big blast of scientific fact for you: video games transform young children into stone cold killers with a taste for blood. That's the truth. Only one movie has ever dared to really explore the evil that lurks inside those seemingly innocent cartridges and disks: 'Brainscan.' However, the film fictionalizes the tragic manner in which games train kids how to be serial killers, making the titular game a tool of a demonic entity known as the Trickster, who doesn't tell the children playing his game that the murders they're committing on screen are actually real. If this story about haunted video games can convince parents to never buy their innocent darlings a gaming console, then its existence is more than justified. Thank you, 'Brainscan.'
The Entire 'Nightmare on Elm Street' Franchise
'Wes Craven's New Nightmare'
The next time you pull your 'Nightmare on Elm Street' box set off the DVD shelf, handle it with care -- it's actually possessed by the spirit of an ancient demon! At least that's the oddball central premise of 'Wes Craven's New Nightmare,' which takes place in the "real world" where the Freddy Krueger films were hits and actors Robert Englund and Heather Lagenkamp live perfectly ordinary lives. Well, until the malevolent force that the 'Nightmare' series has inexplicably captured escapes into the real world and takes the form of Freddy himself, tormenting the cast and crew of the previous six movies. Yes, this is actually a movie about a haunted horror franchise that's also a sequel to that franchise. And it's actually (somehow) pretty good! At the very least, this was the most meta horror movie ever made until 'The Cabin in the Woods' came along.
A Telephone Hotline
There was a time before cell phones and smartphones, before Skype and Google Voice. It was a simpler time, a time when the forces of Hell had to possess antiquated telephone services if they wanted to corrupt the souls of mortals. Yes, '976-Evil' is a movie about a Satan-run advice hotline that transforms innocent callers into murderous psychopaths for a shockingly low price.
What's really crazy about this movie when you look back on it in the year 2014 is that telephone hotlines like this really don't exist anymore and those that have stuck around use 800, not 976. This movie is as antiquated as anything made in '50s! It's even impossible to properly remake it! Still, we're sure some hack has pitched 'iEvil' about a possessed iPhone app at least once.
The Planet Mars
'Ghosts of Mars'
Okay, so we know this is a list of haunted "objects," but when your haunting goes beyond a single location and starts occupying an entire planet, you've earned a spot. As the title implies, 'Ghosts of Mars' takes place on the fourth planet from the sun and follows a Space Cop and Ice Cube as they battle a horde of ancient martian ghosts who have possessed the bodies of a mining town.
You see, those miners dug too deep and unleashed the angry souls of a long-dead alien race, who proceeded to invade every human body in the vicinity and force everyone to self-mutiliate until they looked like members of a death metal 'Mad Max' tribute band. Earth may have its fair share of supernatural difficulties, but at least you can leave your home to get a hamburger without getting accosted by the undead. Mars sucks.
'Death Bed: The Bed That Eats'
Made famous by comedian Patton Oswalt, 'Death Bed: The Bed That Eats' is about exactly what it sounds like. The opening scenes of this uber-cheap Z-movie set the stage: a demon has sex with a woman, accidentally kills her and cries tears of blood, which hit the bed and cause it to come to malevolent life.
For the next few centuries, the bed journeys around the world with his sidekick, a haunted painting (seriously), devouring unsuspecting people. And yes, the bed has a stomach underneath its sheets filled with acid strong enough to strip flesh off the bone. And yes, the bed can manipulate the sleeper's dreams. And yes, the bed has minor telekinetic powers. And yes, this movie is actually 100% real and not a figment of your imagination.
A Laundry Press
With a title like 'The Mangler,' you'd think the evil entity at the center of the film would be something truly horrifying. But you'd be surprised: the Mangler is an industrial laundry press. Seriously. They went and made a movie about an evil laundry press.
Eventually, the main characters try to exorcise the Mangler (!), learn that it's unstoppable thanks to accidentally ingesting antacids (!!), and flee as it comes to life and starts chasing them (!!!). It's impossible to truly hate any movie that has the gall to center around a fully mobile evil laundry press that can't be defeated thanks to over-the-counter drugs, but man, 'The Mangler' sure does try.
The internet has ultimately done more good than harm, but the existence of 'FeardotCom' tips the scales precariously close to the "harm" side of things.
The film follows a detective trying to get to the bottom of a website that kills anyone who visits it within 48 hours. Here's the big twist: the website was created by the ghost of a serial killer victim so she could extract revenge for being tortured for, you guessed it, 48 hours. So yeah, it's a movie where a ghost designs a website that kills people, which actually puts her a step above Samara on the whole "technological wiz kid of the afterlife" thing. After all, if you can haunt the internet, you're pretty much haunting the entire Earth. Wait ... is this a 'Ghosts of Mars' sequel?!