Horror streamer Shudder unleashes its newest horror-comedy, Slaxx, on March 18. The gory and absurd slasher features a pair of designer jeans as the bloodthirsty killer. While locked inside a trendy clothing store overnight to prepare for a huge event to unveil a new line, the staff fall victim to a homicidal pair of jeans. It marks the latest entry in a weird niche sub-genre dedicated to inanimate objects that spring to life and embark on a murder spree.
Horror leaves no corner unexplored, infusing fear into anything and everything, including items you’d never even consider as a source of terror. From flesh-hungry beds to homicidal dolls, a subset that’s developed its own corner of horror, films have created killers out of just about everything. Whether played for laughs or straightforward chills, it’s easy to see why this particular sub-category has legs; killer inanimate objects tend to deliver ruthlessly creative on-screen deaths.
Here are ten of the best…
Slaxx isn’t the only cursed clothing to grace the horror genre. Peter Strickland’s peculiar In Fabric follows a cursed dress as it passes from person to person. Each time, the dress causes tragedy for its owner, and often in gruesome ways. Highly stylized, In Fabric is a more artful approach to consumerist satire. In other words, it takes some very unexpected directions and features disturbing scenes behind the dress’s origins. The evil extends beyond a single dress.
Quentin Dupieux excels at satirical films that revolve around unlikely objects. His 2010 horror film follows a rogue tire named Robert. Robert suddenly springs to life in the Californian desert and discovers a psychokinetic ability. It develops a fondness for making people’s heads explode. Don’t expect an explanation for the madness that ensues, but also don’t expect this movie to take itself seriously, either. It’s purposefully odd.
John Carpenter’s memorable Stephen King adaptation saw a nerdy teen undergo a dramatic personality transformation after purchasing and bonding with his new car. There’s more than meets the eye with his Plymouth Fury, Christine. It turns out she’s got one severe jealousy streak, and she’s willing to kill anyone that would get between her and her owner. Christine is one slick killing machine. Literally.
Tobe Hooper takes on Stephen King’s short story about a killer laundry press. The giant piece of machinery is demonically possessed, growing more ravenous and powerful with every drop of blood spilled on it. While the equipment has an insatiable hunger for flesh, it influences victims in other exciting ways, too. Robert Englund is featured as the press’s owner. If neither Christine nor The Mangler quenched your thirst for Stephen King stories about inanimate objects, make it a marathon with The Lawnmower Man and Maximum Overdrive.
Before Bad Hair, there was Exte. Sion Sono’s Japanese horror-comedy revolves around killer hair extensions. A fetishist working as a morgue night watchman becomes obsessed with a corpse’s luxurious hair and decides to sell it to various hairdressers. The hair inflicts visions of death before killing them, and it’s up to an aspiring hairstylist to solve the curious case. Sure, hair is technically organic tissue, but it’s not supposed to behave this way- the deaths get incredibly violent.
Technically, it’s a pissed-off ghost responsible for the gruesome deaths in this supernatural slasher of sorts. Still, that ghost possesses her husband’s health spa. The entire facility is at her disposal, and the angry spirit gets creative when inflicting pain and suffering upon its members. Look for Ken Foree and Brenda Bakke, but mostly keep an eye out for the over-the-top deaths- the real star of this ’80s flick.
Park Plaza Mall just upgraded its security system with a trio of robots programmed to apprehend thieves with tasers and tranquilizers. A freak lightning storm puts their programming on the fritz, though, flipping their switch from detaining to slaughter on sight. That’s terrible news for the group of mall employees that decided to stay overnight in a store for some partying. The killbots find all sorts of ways to destroy their targets, including a memorable head explosion. Have a nice day!
Malfunctioning elevators often make for harrowing scenes in cinema. Final Destination 2’s brutal kill instantly comes to mind, for example. Amsterdamned’s Dick Maas turns the concept into a full feature, where a sentient elevator unleashes its fury upon unsuspecting passengers in an office building. It will make you question stepping foot inside an elevator ever again. Maas also wrote and directed The Lift’s 2001 American remake, Down (aka The Shaft), but stick with the original.
The Lasser Glass isn’t the first haunted or evil mirror in horror; look to 1990’s Mirror Mirror for more killer mirror mayhem. But it is the one featured in the first wide-release horror movie for Mike Flanagan, Oculus, and it’s arguably the most dangerous. Set over two different timelines, the story centers around a pair of siblings tormented by the Lasser Glass mirror brought home by their father during their childhood. The mirror influences those around it to commit unspeakable acts, which causes lasting repercussions for the siblings. The Lasser Glass is one tricky, demented object, and it has continued to appear in Flanagan’s films since its feature introduction.
A programmer for a local television station specializes in boundary-pushing programming. When a strange broadcast is brought to his attention, depicting what appears to be snuff footage, he orders unlicensed use while seeking out its producers. He doesn’t know that the broadcast is a trojan horse for a hidden signal that causes a fatal tumor in the viewer. That, in turn, causes bizarre hallucinations. The inanimate object here isn’t tangible like the rest, but that doesn’t make it any less compelling thanks to David Cronenberg’s vision- the body horror and hallucinogenic imagery stick with you.