Eliciting fear is the horror genre’s bread and butter, but sometimes, it goes to some pretty strange places in pursuit of frightening the audience. The idea of scaring an audience with a spooky story is practically as old as humanity itself, with countless monsters being conjured up to achieve that goal. Cinema expanded upon that idea, affording the opportunity for visual representations of these monsters to match their stories, creating a rich history of movie monsters for modern blockbusters to draw inspiration from.
However, the endless pursuit of originality inevitably found itself at odds with the horror genre’s long history, with the resulting films occasionally being just a little strange. Because of the wealth of ideas already explored within horror movies, attempts to innovate the genre have occasionally led to particularly weird or ill-formed movie premises. These premises range from the deliberately ridiculous to the absolutely laughable.
Some may have been designed to be as weird as possible, while others were more earnest attempts at capturing the audience’s imagination. It’s probably important to mention that the weirdness of a premise doesn’t necessarily translate to a bad movie, but it almost always makes for a decidedly surreal experience. Here are 9 of the weirdest horror movie premises of all time, and whether or not they actually succeeded in being scary.
9. The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
Despite its laughable name, The Midnight Meat Train boasts some impressive talent and is actually far better regarded than one might think. Adapted from Clive Barker’s short story of the same name, the film stars Bradley Cooper, Vinnie Jones, Leslie Bibb, and Brooke Shields. Interestingly, its premise is actually far stranger than even its unique title implies.
The Midnight Meat Train predictably features a train and a great deal of meat, but those are actually the least remarkable aspects of its premise. It follows a photographer named Leon who begins to investigate a serial killer known as the “Subway Butcher” – a killer responsible for decades of disappearances all occurring on the city’s subway system. Leon does manage to find the man responsible, but he also finds much more than he bargained for.
The hidden part of The Midnight Meat Train‘s premise is that the Subway Butcher only kills in order to offer the corpses to appease a race of underground lizard-people. Leon discovers this after killing the Butcher, and the burden is then passed to him to finish off one of the most bizarre final narrative twists ever conceived. The ideas that make up The Midnight Meat Train‘s story are like something out of a psychedelic fever dream, making its overall premise one of the most bizarre in the horror genre.