For every truly terrifying ghost tale, werewolf orgy or axe murdering rampage, there exists countless horror bombs. For every Friday the 13th, there's a Friday the 13th part VIII, or worse yet, a Saturday the 14th Strikes Back. For every genuinely creepy vampire, there's a group of geeks wearing crappy plastic teeth. For every young Wes Craven, there's an old Wes Craven.
And for every failure, there's GR to point it out. Halloween brings out the redundancy in websites; you'll inevitably read about all the scary video games this season, the Resident Evils and Silent Hills and Fatal Frames. We, however, are more interested in the ones that got carried away. On a stretcher.
Say hello to the least scary horror games ever.
But boy, did they try. In fact, that was our only criteria in concocting this fiendish list: the games had to TRY to be scary. However, the following were nightmarish only in their inability to drum up terror. Some have scary names, some have scary plots, and some even have scary box art. But scary games these ain't.
Enjoy our peek at the Top Ten blood-curdling cries for help, starting with.
The House of the Dead III
Sega | Xbox | 2002
We know, we know – you love House of the Dead, zombies rule, etc., etc. We agree, at least when it comes to the first two games. House of the Dead III was so cheesy it should have come with some wine to wash it down.
Being chased by a zombie security guard just isn't scary, although it's a lot better than shooting at little guys in hats or trying to take down a big zombie sloth. That's slow, not scary. WTF, Sega.
Atari | Atari 2600 | 1981
Okay, don't get all in a huff over this, either. We respect Atari and understand that it's hard delivering frights with giant pixel blocks, but we KNOW it can be done better than this unscary exercise in item fetching. The sound effects were nice considering the hardware limitations, but moving a pair of eyeballs around a black screen just doesn't instill any sense of terror. At least the screenshot looks like a guy frowning, and that's kinda creepy…not.
Dino Crisis 3
Capcom | Xbox | 2003
It's hard to believe the publisher behind Resident Evil kept okaying this bland series, but it's even harder to imagine ZOMBIE DINOSAURS IN SPACE.
We're not kidding. Spaceships can be scary, dinosaurs are scary, but the mixture of the two is more like a really awkward date. And trust us, we know all about those.
McFarlane's Evil Prophecy
Konami | PS2 | 2004
Todd McFarlane is supposedly the master of the grotesque, and certainly some of his work would lead you to that conclusion. This is not one of those works.
How they could have created a game with both "Evil" and "McFarlane" in the title and left out any frights is beyond us, but that's why we don't make the big bucks. Or action figures.
Konami | Playstation | 1997
Konami gets egged back to back thanks to this broken down port of a weak arcade game. The graphics were so bad, you could hardly tell the difference between an evil skeleton and an evil wall of stone – not that it mattered, since both objects spurted blood when shot with the inaccurate light gun. And has anyone been frightened by the fish monster from Creature from the Black Lagoon since 1954? No. No, they haven't.
Phantasmagoria II: A Puzzle of Flesh
Sierra | PC | 1996
The first Phantasmagoria was a pretty creepy interactive movie/adventure game, but this sequel was an insult to celluloid. It was also an insult to gaming thanks to the terrifyingly bad puzzles.
To whit: in order to get your wallet out from under the couch, you had to let your pet rat crawl under it and then lure it out with a granola bar. Much better than just moving the couch. It's a puzzle this thing was ever released.
Blair Witch Vol. 2: Coffin Rock
Gathering of Developers | PC | 2000
The movie was scary, so you'd figure it wouldn't be that hard to make a scary game, right? Shame on you, stupid. No candy for you.
This second of three Blair Witch games (the other two were okay, oddly) isn't scary because you're already dead. Ghosts chase you, except you're dead, so it doesn't matter. What are the Blair Witches going to do, bring you back to life and kill you again? Boo.
Nightmare Creatures 2
Konami | Dreamcast | 2000
Dammit, Konami, you again? It wasn't always Silent Hill, folks. For a while, the publisher cranked out crummy games like Nightmare Creatures 2, although this third-person action tragedy was really a standout due to its total failure to frighten, entertain, or do anything other than make you want to sell back your Dreamcast.
Black Dragon | PC | 1997
Sex and horror often go hand in hand, but Riana Rouge was about as sexy and horrifying as your grandparents baking a birthday cake.
Due to an almost pathological misunderstanding of what qualifies something as being a video game, this softcore porn mess created by an ex-Playmate substituted terrible fountains of fake blood in place of, you know, gameplay. It was so lame, you never heard of it until now, and for that, we accept your thanks.
Sega | Sega CD | 1992
Number one with a silver bullet! Experts agree: this is the least scary horror game of all time.
Where do we start? Let's see…you're a S.C.A.T. (Sega Control Attack Team, aka "P.O.O.P.") team member sent in to investigate random disappearances in a mansion somewhere. Your task is to use different video cameras to spot vampire ninjas, then activate traps (read: a hole filled with smoke) to catch them, all while listening to sorority girls read dialogue so lame it makes an infomercial script sound like Hamlet.
Night Trap is infamous for a few reasons. For one, it was used as an example of violent video games at Congressional hearings back in the early 90's, even though you saw pretty much nothing during the game. It's part of the reason we have ESRB ratings now.
More interesting, though, was its cast. Whachoo talkin' 'bout, GR? We're talkin' about Dana Plato, the infamous child actor best known as Kimberly, Arnold's sister in Diff'rent Strokes. Miss Plato's performance was nothing if not awful, although she stood out thanks to the fact that I think you got to see her in a bra. Compared to the rest of her tragic life, that's not scary at all.
And frankly, neither was Night Trap.