A History of
Scream until you like it...
The start of the 1990 era saw a continuation of the endless sequel run that had been prevalent throughout the 1980's. There were very few notable original horror films released and even fewer worthwhile sequels. Interest in horror's died off to an extent, with many horror titles even being released direct-to-video here in the UK, until horror made a huge comeback towards the end of the decade, following the release of a certain film that proved to be an absolute "Scream"...
"Arachnophobia" in 1990 was one of few original pictures released during this year, in which Jeff Daniels battled highly poisonous house spiders in a small country town. Other films released this year consisted of more pointless sequels with Chucky, Leatherface, Dr West and even Norman Bates returning in "Child's Play 2", "Leatherface : The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3", "Re-Animator 2" and "Psycho 4 : The Beginning".
Also returning was zombie cop Matt Cordell in "Maniac Cop 2" where he comes up against Robert Davi. But on a more positive note, the film "Graveyard Shift" was a welcome addition to the long running saga of Steven King adaptations.
1991 saw the release of the extremely successful horror/thriller, "The Silence of the Lambs", based on the book by Thomas Harris and starring Anthony Hopkins as psychopathic psychologist, Dr Hannibal Lector. Also released this year was a re-make of the film "Cape Fear" with Robert DeNiro and Nick Nolte, "Freddy's Dead : The Final Nightmare", supposedly the last in the Elm Street films.
Chucky returned once again in "Childs Play 3", which was an even poorer sequel than part 2 and the Predator also returned, this time to battle Danny Glover, in the less memorable "Predator 2".
One of the biggest horror films of 1992 was a remake of an old horror classic, this being "Bram Stokers Dracula", which was directed by Francis Ford Coppella and starred Gary Oldman as the Count. The film went on to be the most successful adaptation of the novel to date. The biggest film of the decade however was James Cameron's follow up to his earlier sci-fi/horror flick entitled "Terminator 2 : Judgement Day" with Arnie and other original cast members returning.
More sci-fi/horror followed in the abominable "Alien 3", touted as being the worst in the saga and another new character entered the horror fold this year, with the adaptation of the Clive Barker novel "Forbidden", which was filmed as "Candyman", with the enigmatic Tony Todd in the title role as the hook handed killer.
Pinhead made another comeback in "Hellraiser 3 : Hell on Earth" and director Wes Craven released his latest picture "The People Under the Stairs", his most successful horror film since "Nightmare on Elm Street". Other films worth mentioning from this year are the low budget "Maniac Cop 3 : Badge of Silence", which once again featured Robert Davi and Robert Z'dar, and another pointless direct-to-video Amityville sequel entitled "Amityville 1992 : It's About Time".
George Romero released a full colour, modern day, remake of "Night of the Living Dead" in the UK in 1993 to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the original (this film had played in the US back in 1990), but achieved only marginal success. Max Von-Sydow played a devilish storekeeper in Steven Kings "Needful Things", Sam Raimi released the third in his Evil Dead series entitled "Army of Darkness : The Medieval Dead", and Jason was finally laid to rest in "Jason goes to Hell : The Final Friday" (or maybe not, considering that's what they also said in Part 4).
On the other sequels front we had the disappointing "Return of the Living Dead 3" and the equally pointless "Amityville : A New Generation". The only notable original film of the year was "The Crow", which was based on the popular US comic strip. The movie received adverse publicity after the films main star, Brandon Lee, was accidentally killed on set near the end of the film.
In 1994, Kenneth Branagh released his own horror adaptation of "Mary Shelly's Frankenstein", hoping to cash in on the success of the '92 Dracula remake. Branagh both directed and starred in the picture, Francis Ford Coppolla, who had directed the Dracula remake, helped produce it and critically acclaimed actor Robert DeNiro starred as the monster. However, the film proved to be a failure at the box office.
Wes Craven returned to Elm Street in this year, along with original cast members Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp , to finish off Freddy Kruger his own way in "Wes Cravens New Nightmare", which took a new spin on the original plot. Another horror character made a less memorable return in the appalling "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4 : The Next Generation", which is notable only for the fact it starred a young Rene Zellweger and Matthew MacConnoughey in one of their earlier roles. The Tall Man also returned with his killer balls in "Phantasm 3" as did the Candyman the following year in 1995 in "Candyman 2 : Farewell to the Flesh" and John Carpenter brought out his remake of "Village of the Damned", which moved the town of Midwich from rural England to the farmlands of America.
The most notable film of the decade appeared in 1996, which took a break from the seemingly endless direct-to-video sequels and poor cinema releases to date. This being the film "Scream", directed by Wes Craven. The film was a resounding success, being a serious horror movie, whilst lampooning other classic modern day horrors and the cliché's that they are so famous for. The film led to a resurgence in interest in horror, bringing the genre (particularly "slashers") back into mainstream popularity and producing numerous imitations in its wake.
Michael Myers reappeared in this year in the disappointing "Halloween 6 : The Curse of Michael Myers" which was, sadly, the final film that screen veteran Donald Pleasance made before his death. The film was subsequently re-edited for its release to change certain plot points, most notably the ending which was entirely different from the version originally filmed.
Pinhead also came back in "Hellraiser 4 : Bloodline" which, like so many other horror sequels, was touted as being the last in the series (don't you believe it). Another angel of vengeance returned from the grave in the lacklustre "The Crow 2 : City of Angels", and George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino battled vampire bikers in the hugely successful, but downright bizarre "From Dusk Till Dawn" . Also, another Steven King novel was adapted for the big screen in "Thinner" starring Robert Burke.
The film "I know what you did Last Summer" in 1997, was one of the first in a long line of scream inspired horrors released in its wake, it was even written by the same person, Kevin Williamson. "Wishmaster", was another similar type of tongue-in-cheek horror, which focussed on an evil mythical character, namely a Djinn (a genie). Although only moderately successful, the film was notable for its guest appearances by horror characters Robert Englund, Tony Todd and Kane Hodder. Wes Craven also followed up the success of Scream in this year, with "Scream 2" which combined the same formula as the first movie, only this time taking the mickey out of horror sequels.
Meanwhile, "Alien 4 : Resurrection" was the fourth in the "Alien" saga, which proved a much better sequel than part 3 and more sci-fi alien horrors followed soon after in Paul Verehoven's very gory, tongue-in-cheek, sci-fi shocker "Starship Troopers", as mankind battled giant alien bugs.
1998 saw two notable movies released, the first being a full colour remake of the film "Psycho" by Director Gus Van Sant, which received mixed reactions from critics and fans of the original. The second was the seventh film in the Halloween series entitled "Halloween H20 : 20 Years Later", which went back to the original plot and (mostly) skipped out on the nonsense accumulated after part 4. Directed by Steve Miner, the film featured the return of Jamie Lee Curtis, playing her original character Laurie Strode and unlike previous sequels, was a resounding success. "The Faculty" was another Scream-esque style teen horror, concerning alien teachers abducting pupils and the fourth film in the "Phantasm" series was released onto video this year, entitled "Phantasm 4 : Oblivion".
More sequels followed in 1999 as Chucky returned for the fourth in the "Childs Play" series, plainly entitled "Bride of Chucky", which was another sort of Scream-style horror. There was more trouble for poor-old Jennifer Love Hewitt in "I Still know what you did Last Summer" , and there was more supernatural mayhem in the extremely poor "The Rage : Carrie 2" .
Other films this year saw vampires making another comeback in John Carpenters "Vampires", as did killer sharks in Renny Harlin's "Deep Blue Sea". The classic horror pic "The Mummy" was re-made as an extremely dull, special effects laden action pic, as was the appalling re-make of "The Haunting", but the most talked about movie of the year was the low budget smash-hit "The Blair Witch Project", which took horror in a totally new direction. The entire movie was made up of footage filmed on handheld camcorders by the 3 characters in the picture, who (in the story) had been making a documentary about a local ghostly legend that supposedly haunts the town woods, but end up as the next victims of the creature.
The last horror film of the millennium saw the year out with a bang, in the aptly named "End of Days", in which Satan (Gabrielle Byrne) returns to earth on New Years eve 1999 to choose a bride, only to be thwarted by action-hero Arnold Schwarzenegger (well, who else?).
To be continued...
|HISTORY OF HORROR|