A Fool's Utopia 4.21.13: Must See Horror from the 90s
Posted by Ron Martin on 03.21.2013
This week in one man's utopia we continue our series on must see horror for horror fans, this week delving into the 90s. Also, free at no extra charge, we talk Bates Motel, the NCAA tournament and the 80s classic Wildcats.
The 90s was a strange time for horror. Teens who grew up on the slasher 80s were getting older and less interested in horror. New teens wanted their own horror icons, so franchises like Friday the 13th, Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street died out with Hair Metal. Aside from the occasional thriller that might be able to be passed off as horror (one of them is even on this list), horror was dead for the first part of the 90s. It saw a brief resurrection in the late 90s before going in an entirely different direction in the new millennium. The following is a list of horror movies from the 1990s that you must have seen to hold your own in a conversation about horror with other horror fans. Otherwise, like your girlfriend, you're just faking it.
How often does anyone from a horror movie get nominated for an Academy Award for anything other than makeup or special effects? Almost never. Kathy Bates' performance as the creepy and maniacal Annie Wilkes in this film adaptation of the Stephen King novel not only got nominated for Best Actress, but she won the damn thing! One of the many reasons that Bates is one of my favorite actresses of all time. This is a must see for horror fans not only because of Bates' performance or because it's a Stephen King novel brought to life, but also the gritty realism of the film. I know that sounds like something a movie person would say when he has nothing to say, but it really is the best way to describe the film. If I'm talking about the clubbed foot scene from Misery, you should know what I'm talking about.
Silence of the Lambs, 1991
In a stronger decade (the 70s or 80s), this movie probably doesn't make the list. This is the movie I was talking about when I say that I'm not entirely sure it's horror. For my tastes, I would probably classify it as a really creepy police drama. However, I do think you need to know the Hannibal Lecter character. That's not to say that Anthony Hopkins nor Jodi Foster's performances weren't brilliant and it's not a must see film of all time. In fact, it won every award at the Academy Awards that year – but somehow, it doesn't ring as a true victory for horror as the Misery win did. As I said, the only reason I'm including it on the list is because I think horror fans should be familiar with Cannibal Hannibal.
The Candyman, 1992
I'm willing to go on record as saying this is horror legend Tony Todd's finest performance. When I say "finest performance" and "horror legend" in the same sentence, then it belongs on the list. Candyman is ripe with imagery and the creepiness factor is off the charts. It was also my (and many others) discovery of Virginia Madsen as an actress. While Candyman steals some of it's mythology from the Bloody Mary urban legend, horror fans are willing to overlook that because the film is well done and memorable, unlike many of the slashers from the 1980s.
Then Scream came to the rescue. Just when horror was so desperate that it would adapt a crime drama as one of the top genre films of the decade, Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven collaborated to give us one of the finest horror films (and one of my favorite films) of all time. I've written many times about Scream and the franchise, but in short – it resurrected interest in horror in the mid-90s. By poking fun at while also paying homage to those slasher films from the 70s and 80s Scream gave teenagers a new villain to get behind. It had the added effect of making everyone involved with the project bigger than they were going into the film and made every horror movie for the next ten years a "whodunnit."
The Blair Witch Project, 1999
This is a film that has divided horror fans for over a decade. It seems half love it and half hate it. Love it or hate it, you need to have seen it. It was the first film to really take advantage of the growing influence of the internet and viral marketing. In my mind, it was a brilliant way to make a really good film (in my opinion) for next to nothing. What better way to get natural responses from your actors then actually putting them through the terror their characters were going through? It took a long time for some people to realize this was actually a movie and not "for real." I think it took some seeing Heather showing up in Steak N Shake commercials after the film was out to put that mess behind them. I don't know if it was the first, but it certainly is the most influential of the "found footage" horror subgenre that is still popular to this day.
FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
1. There was a lot to like about the first episode of A&E's Bates Motel. Vera Farmiga absolutely killed it as Norma Bates and I am going to enjoy watching her throughout the series. Freddie Highmore did a good job as Norman, but it was obviously hard to keep up with Farmiga. It will be exciting to watch him grow as an actor as the series progresses. I had some problems with the teenagers in the series and the tag on the end seemed forced, but not nearly enough problems to keep me away. I have the series on DVR record and am looking forward to the next episode. I had some worries coming into the series – a horror series is hard to pull off. Those worries are not subdued quite yet, but I did enjoy the first episode.
2. I fear the after effects of this Veronica Mars movie project. Not only that the movie project got the $2 million dollar goal it set for itself on Kickstarter, but that the movie got it so quickly. Already on this sight and many others like it, people are starting lists of movies, TV shows, comic books, etc. that they think can be saved/revived through Kickstarter. I wonder how long it will take before production companies look at Kickstarter as a way to keep costs down on production. You want to see another Batman movie? Better plop down $5 million of the costs or it's not happening. You want a Buffy the Vampire SlayerTV movie? That'll cost you $3 million. If this does happen, I think it's a smack in the face for what Kickstarter was meant to be.
3. SPORTS THOUGHTS:
a. It's NCAA tournament time! By the time you read this, you'll be in the middle of two of the greatest sports days of the year. The Round of 64 (I refuse to call it "the Second Round") is only behind the Super Bowl as far as fanfare and excitement for a yearly sporting event. It's time to buckle down and root for teams that I have rooted against most of the year (Michigan, Wisconsin – I'm looking at you!) and like everyone else try to figure out which team is going to be the Cinderella of the dance. Also like everyone else, I will get that one wrong badly and probably lose a Final Four team in the first weekend of play.
b. I dug the "play in" game back when there was one for the two worst teams in the NCAA bracket to see who would get slaughtered by the #1 overall seed in the actual tournament. I thought it gave a good moment to two teams who would otherwise just be viewed as cannon fodder from some BCS school. It put the national spotlight on them for a day. Now, with the "First Four," I'm not so sure. I realize the NCAA is eventually going to expand to 96 teams and probably eventually 128, taking away the specialness of the tournament when entire conferences will make it in. As I write this, the first game of the NCAA tournament is taking place and no one seems to care. Half the people don't even know it's on. Even the arena in Dayton is sparsely populated.
c. I like what the Colts have done in the free agent market, but I really like the move of Wes Welker to Denver. Not only does it give Peyton Manning a solid weapon, it takes away Tom Brady's favorite target. I'm not silly enough to think that this means someone else is going to step up and compete in the AFC East, but if it hinders Patriots Super Bowl appearances, I'm all for it. For Denver fans, Manning absolutely loves the slot receiver. Brandon Stokely had some great years with him. Austin Collie was on the verge of stardom before the concussions/Peyton moving to Denver stopped him. Dallas Clark had a lot of success when they moved him into the slot occasionally. I won't overdraft, but if I can get Wes Welker in round four of a fantasy draft this year, I might pull the trigger.
d. Speaking of fantasy football, as dismal as my 2012 Keeper League experience was, I do have a draft pick and am probably keeping Matt Stafford, CJ Spiller and Jimmy Graham. Graham has to have a better year, right? Also, I'm not going to get better than Stafford. It's not like teams that have Brady, Andrew Luck or Drew Brees are dropping them any time soon. Hell, the team that ended up winning the entire thing last season only kept Tony Romo as a keeper – so who the hell knows what will happen?
4. I went to a comic book store. Actually, where I live there is only one. I was looking for any A Nightmare on Elm Street expanded universe comics or any Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash comics. I was looking for them in preparation for the upcoming (in a month) A Nightmare on Elm Street Wrap Up show for The Resurrection of Zombie 7 podcast that I plug every week in the column. I figured I could go into what happened to some of our favorite characters ( for example, The Dream Warriors are still able to fight Freddy in the Dream World, despite all of them being dead and Nancy come back to Dr. Neil Gordon as a ghost). Unfortunately, I only found one of the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash comics and none of anything else. While the price was right ($.50), I had to go through every box in an entire room full of them to find it. The comics seemed to be in no order whatsoever. Is this common in comic book stores? If you want something the guy who owns the shops assumes you'll go through all these boxes in order to find it?
5. Walking into the gas station to get my daily Slim Jim/Mt Dew Voltage fix, what do I see? Survivor Series 2008 for $4 – and in a collector's tin no less! I looked at the match listings on the back and didn't remember the results of any of the matches. I purchased it because why the hell not? It's $4 and I don't know who won anything, so tonight after work, I'm going to turn the clock back to 2008 and pretend this is legitimate. That's how I like my wrestling DVDs – six years later for $4 at a gas station.
USELESS TRIVIA AND SHAMELESS PLUGGING
LAST WEEK'S USELESS TRIVIA
What fictional town does The Lost Boys take place in?
ANSWER: Santa Carla, based on the real Santa Clara, California. Big Ups once again to BEN PIPER and RON420 (no relation) for having the right answer.
THIS WEEK's USELESS TRIVIA
Kevin Williamson approached which 80s actress to star as Sidney in Scream?
THIS WEEK'S SHAMELESS PLUGGING
Working our way through the Nightmare on Elm Street series, The Resurrection of Zombie 7 focusses on A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master this week. Some of the things we talk about this episode include things that I like to pee on, a weird dream I had in regards to Freddy Krueger, the Freddy Krueger 1-900 line as well as the lackluster beginning and ending to this film. Also Linnea Quigley's boobs – because well, why not? Subscribe for free on iTunes.
THIS WEEK IN RETRO
As a child of the late 80s, I remember premium cable channels a little differently than they are today. HBO, Showtime and Cinemax weren't producing award winning must see TV. Mostly, they just bought the rights to certain movies and ran the hell out of them until you knew every line by heart. As a new teenager, I would wait up until the wee hours of the morning to catch an Emmanuelle movie or some other such schlock just in order to get a cheap thrill. This was before the internet so seeing boobs as a 13-year-old was hard to do. They wouldn't just pop up every time you logged onto Google.
It was during this time when I saw the movie Wildcats about 856 times. You mean you don't remember the Goldie Hawn as coach of a high school football team classic? Yes, Wildcats was about a high school girls track coach who is the daughter of a famed high school football coach. When the position to babysit a bunch of degenerates becomes available, Hawn is goaded into the role of football coach. A woman coaching football in 1986? Yeah, that's what the team thought.
Of course, the team is one of the worst high schools in the area – the kind that had metal detectors in 1986. Goldie has to go about putting together a team that can compete and not get shot. She decides the best way to do this by recruiting a big fat guy who makes a lot of weird noises, Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. Yes, this was Snipes and Harrelson's big screen debut – and you thought White Men Can't Jump was the first time they worked together.
As expected in a 1980s sports movie, the team improves and ends up vying for the city championship against the coach who has been chastising Hawn's team the entire movie. Not only do we get to see Hawn victorious, but we almost get to see her boobs in one bathtub scene when Goldie Hawn's boobs were worth seeing. I can't remember for the life of me if she's ever actually showed the goods in a movie. I don't care enough to actually research it.
Wildcats isn't a good movie by anyone's definition, but I'd pick it up if I saw it somewhere for maybe $5. I don't even think it's been released on DVD – that's how bad it was. When I was a kid, I didn't know any better. As an adult, I'd get the movie to try to remember a time when I didn't know any better.