Sometimes, law enforcement in the world of horror cinema is notoriously absent, incompetent, or a special blend of both. I decided to take a look at a variety of flicks featuring some of the worst police work ever depicted in horror movies… and this is what I’ve come up with:
Lt. Ken Fuller and Team (BLACK CHRISTMAS)
It’s nearly impossible to make this list and not include at least one team with John Saxon at the helm (spoiler: I included two). Lt. Ken Fuller and his team are called upon when the girls from a local sorority start receiving creepy phone calls and threats. For the remainder of the movie, they prove to be little more than entertainment to the girls — particularly Margot Kidder’s character, Barb. To make matters worse, if they had just searched the entire house, attic and all, they could have prevented further coed murders almost immediately.
Curtis Mooney (KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE)
If scary clowns from outer space ever come a callin’, you can bet your ass I’m jumping ship and moving underground. While the whole town is being terrorized and calling in strange sightings, Sheriff Curtis Mooney is having none of it. He thinks the whole town has gone crazy — and instead of investigating even one incident, he sits back and lets the phones ring off the hook. Once he’s finally confronted by said Killer Klown, even then he blows it off as a joke and tries to arrest him. Mooney ends up with one of the worst fates in this flick… but I can’t say he doesn’t sort of deserve it.
Sheriff & Deputy (LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT)
LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is an exploitation staple with one of the most cringe-inducing rape sequences committed to film. So why are the cops in Wes Craven’s debut film such bumbling comic-relief idiots? Whenever they are on screen, we see them chasing chickens around or breaking down in their cruiser. Making it even worse is the BENNY HILL-style theme music that follows them wherever they go. For a good portion of the movie, our nameless “heroes” are nowhere to be found… and when they are, it’s entirely a waste of time.
Wooley (DAWN OF THE DEAD)
While Wooley is technically SWAT, I couldn’t leave him out. When the tactical team is called in to stabilize a situation in a zombie-infested apartment block, one of their members goes absolutely insane. Woolley charges in without any kind of strategy and begins opening fire on anybody he can find — all while screaming every racial slur in the book. I feel like he and DAY OF THE DEAD’s Captain Rhodes would have really been great pals… but lucky for everyone who isn’t a zombie, the two never meet — and both are taken out pretty spectacularly.
Lt. Donald Thompson and Team (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET)
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is built on a faulty police force — beginning with Freddy’s backstory — so it’s no surprise Lt. Donald Thompson (I’m sorry John Saxon… I really like you, I swear) and his team of sleepy cops aren’t helping Nancy and her friends. What is surprising is that the Lieutenant — who also happens to be Nancy’s father — lets her mother put bars on her daughter’s windows and allows her to attempt drugging her into sleep. And we can’t forget the deputy who let Rod Lane get hanged because he couldn’t remember which key worked for the jail door. It’s no wonder residents of Springwood live with “Freddy Fear” forever.
Matt Cordell (MANIAC COP)
I couldn’t wrap up this list without including Bill Lustig’s titular character Matt Cordell as the worst cop of all time. This man uses his badge in all the wrong ways — and it’s up to Bruce “The Chin” Campbell to stop him. But Matt Cordell doesn’t go out easy; in fact, we get two more movies after this one. He’s lean, he’s mean… and he will kill you with any means available.