Bride of Re-Animator (1990)

directed by brian yuzna
wild street pictures/re-animator iI productions

Even before the extravagant reprise of the first film’s opening credits sequence, I feared that this picture would be too obviously a sequel, as all the signs were there. Indeed, moments of one-upmanship pertaining to certain effects, scenarios and locations are present throughout, but the director mostly manages to evade scenes of blatant repetition and also avoids the cardinal sin of reductionism. Even so, at moments it threatens to get a little too cutesy, the parallelism to Bride of Frankenstein doesn’t quite work, and the inclusion of Dr. Hill’s head at times feels forced (and for a while appears to have been forgotten). When things really get dicey near the ending, however, it is about as uncomfortably eerie and threatening as one could reasonably hope from a Lovecraft adaptation, and it succeeds, humor and all. I did not expect this one to be this good – and maybe it isn’t – but Jeffrey Combs delivers enough of a tour de force to make fine assessment meaningless.

why did i watch this movie?

The original was terrific, and I’m still catching up on the 1990s.

should you watch this movie?

Respectable or not, it IS a sequel.

highlight and low point

The portrayal of Herbert West, as noted above, is splendid, and one observation he deadpans in the latter portion of the flick is laugh-out-loud funny.  Bruce Abbott and Claude Earl Jones also deliver worthy performances. Strong motivation is lacking on behalf of many of the characters, though, and if you’re not caught up in the zaniness, you might begin to see right through the flimsy premise.

I mean, presuming you’d be of a mind to take a production of this nature that seriously.

rating from outer space: B+

the credits thank “Mary Wollenscraft Shelly”

(and Tenzing Norgay)

Candyman (1992)

directed by bernard rose
propaganda films/polygram filmed entertainment

I was metaphorically looking at my watch during the second half of this formulaic slasher flick, reproaching myself for its selection, then once it was over I decided to read some opinions of it and – wow, you must be joking, internet. Personally, I found this picture to be wildly unacceptable, and not just because it implausibly concerns a murderous supernatural ex-slave bogeyman haunting Chicago’s projects. Sure, that’s improbable, too, but nothing else about this feature is any more reasonable. The ridiculously contrived (and likely inadmissible) police and legal procedures, the intrepid graduate students’ daring thesis research, the architectural lessons, the unthinking racism, the trite dialogue – this one’s got it all and then some! By which I might mean a Philip Glass score that we hear the same snippet of way too often. Oh, and vacuous voiceovers that aim for grandiosity only to land on ostentation. Plus, also, too, it’s not very frightening.

why did i watch this movie?

I’ll admit, I’m beginning to suspect there’s a reason I haven’t seen some of these ’90s offerings.

should you watch this movie?

You’d be better off watching any of the 440-plus episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. You know, I’ve read one of Clive Barker’s “Books of Blood” collections. Yeah, one.

highlight and low point

Certainly, when Virginia Madsen busts out of the institution where she’s been detained for a month with the help of her paranormal hook-handed buddy, I completely lost any semblance of respect for this absurdity. But it just kept going, exhausting my patience. The ending at least made me laugh, partially because it was so predictable, but also because they dragged it out so much. Did I like anything about this movie, I’m wondering.

Nothing’s coming to mind, sorry.

rating from outer space: D+

The Dark Side of the Moon aka Parasite (1990)

directed by d.J. webster
wildstreet pictures

If you had, like, a minimal straight-to-video budget, one might wonder why “space epic” would be the kind of production you’d attempt. Music video director D.J. Webster ignored these constraints and the results are visually reminiscent of John Carpenter’s debut Dark Star, along with the inspired stagecraft of Plan 9 From Outer Space. This ripoff mashup of Star Trek: Voyager, 2001, The Thing, Aliens et cetera also features shots cribbed directly from Star Wars and some acting laughable enough to compete with the output of its costume department. I haven’t even mentioned the questionable theory advanced, which somehow links “Centrus B-40” (the title location) with the Bermuda Triangle – I’m not an astrophysicist, but that seems dubious to me. It does, however, set up a pretty great ending to this otherwise turgid melodrama. Oh, and lest I forget, Satan.

why did i watch this movie?

The search for ’90s fodder led me here, with the bonus that this picture was completely unknown to me.

should you watch this movie?

Though I have no idea why you’d want to try, one note of interest may be that this script is by Chad and Carey Hayes, who eventually would write The Conjuring, among many other credits. (So, kids, if at first you don’t succeed … )

highlight and low point

For starters, the captain of the spacecraft smokes a lot of cigarettes, and sports a leather baseball cap. The onboard computer is a female … android, I guess, which for some reason is dressed like this:

It’s set in 2022, and its dialogue includes the statement “It looks like the Shuttle … Discovery … from the old NASA probe,” answered with the observation that “NASA hasn’t been flying for 30 years.” And then there’s this graphic:

rating from outer space: d+

 

Spellcaster (1991)

directed by rafal zielinski
empire pictures/taryn productions, inc.

I don’t know if you have any idea who Richard Blade is or was, and any way I could try to explain it seems as though it would be impossible to understand, so let’s just say he was a “New Wave” media personality, a Briton based in L.A., and leave it at that. In some of his earliest scenes in this movie, he’s wearing a shirt with his own name on it.

I don’t know if you have any idea who Adam Ant is or was, but to me, it makes perfect sense that he’s in this movie with Richard Blade, though they have no scenes together.

This movie actually was made in 1988, but it seems culturally anachronistic even so. Adam Ant had no cultural cachet in 1988, and for that matter, “New Wave” was itself long dead.

Oh, the flick? It’s some sorta quasi-fantasy tale of a “Rock TV” contest set in a castle in Italy. Two of the characters hail from Cleveland.

why did i watch this movie?

Again, this blog is lacking in ’90s content, and while I was seeking to correct that I came across this title, which I gladly would have ignored save for the casting.

should you watch this movie?

This picture was dumped onto the VHS market three years after it was made.

highlight and low point

I got a big kick out of mismatched Italian “CHiPs” here, if that counts:

I think this film was intended to be some kinda FX showcase, what with the theme of diabolical magic, but that doesn’t really work out so well.

Also, for a production that kinda emulates a fable, there’s no moral: nobody wins or loses, not even the outfoxed Count Diablo or whatever the hell his name is.

rating from outer space: d

The Runestone (1991)

directed by willard carroll
hyperion pictures/signature communications

The rare piece of schlock horror whose major problem may be too much ambition, this farcical saga of a Viking werewolf wreaking havoc in the Art world of Manhattan – while being tracked by not only a dogged police detective but an archaeologist – is often sidetracked by vignettes of Alexander Godunov grimly portraying some sort of watchmaker. These sketches may be dream sequences related to a teenage boy’s legacy, which may never materialize, but it’s hard to tell. See what I mean? Oh, and at a certain point I realized it was maybe supposed to be a comedy. This is never a good sign, when the filmmaker’s intentions are that unclear. Really, as the action continued to spiral further out there, I began to wonder if I had just missed some important tells in the beginning stages. That’s definitely possible, as it certainly wouldn’t be the first time, but it points to the clumsy nature of the flick’s construction, and circles back to that aforementioned problem of overreach.

why did i watch this movie?

I noticed that this blog is severely deficient in movies from the 1990s, and this is the first title I happened upon that seemed to fit the modus operandi around here.

should you watch this movie?

While it has its charms, it doesn’t deliver enough for even its straight-to-VHS realm.


highlight and low point

A bunch of sight gags and deliberately cheesy shots dominate the latter half of the picture, and the interplay between the police and the archaeologist and the artist and the teenager and … where was I going with this. (See what I mean?) Old hands Peter Riegert and Laurence Tierney do the standard cop shtick, and the burlesque of the Art scene is pretty tired.

rating from outer space: D+

yes, i laughed

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1997) aka The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1994)

directed by kim henkel
ultra muchos, inc./river city films, inc.

All right, so retconning this flick to be the sort-of “sequel” to the 1974 original makes sense. It’s at least half great: the first 45 minutes of this black horror comedy work well as a pastiche of the first go-round, with the added amusement of more modern horror motifs … which are basically updates of the original’s template anyway. Both unsettling and darkly humorous – much as the debut was meant to be, and Part 2 purported to have been – first-and-only-time director Henkel outdoes his former writing and production partner Tobe Hooper’s juvenile second chapter with a bit more sophistication. The latter half of the picture, meanwhile, spirals wildly out of control, plot-, production- and performance-wise. Becoming kind of a mashup of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The X-Files, with a passel of other film references tossed in haphazardly, it retains a tinge of the on-edge emotion of the original. It lacks in the hazy, disturbed intensity, of course, and also for any slaughtering on behalf of whoever these people are and however they’re allegedly related to the clan this time around. Oh, and this time around, Leatherface is a cross-dressing (wo)manchild.

why did i watch this movie?

Gawd, I made it this far, I had to.

should you watch this movie?

C’mon, now.

highlight and low point

Once again, there isn’t any real reason “Leatherface” even needs to be in this movie, especially as he doesn’t do much of anything except throw an extended hissy fit. And he’s the only plausible link to the first film! (Well, okay, Bernie Lomax Grandpa’s at the table, too.) Strange continuity note: In Leatherface, the generic third installment, “Bubba” has an unexplained leg brace, and in this picture, Matthew McConaughey’s character has a remote-operated battery-powered lower appendage. Yep.

rating from outer space: B

Aberration (1997)

directed by tim boxell
grundy films/victor film company

A tale of Nature Gone Horribly Wrong, this likable B-movie set in America but filmed in New Zealand proudly blares its very ’90s soundtrack whenever possible. But after dispensing with its Meet Cute (well, sort of; it involves both a dead engine and a dead pet), this chipper horror comedy rather quickly started reminding me of the legendary cult favorite Tremors. Then a completely unexpected detour occurs, and although it’s short and ultimately slight, the film never seems to regain its bearings. From that point onward, the action escalates, things keep exploding, and the characters, finding themselves in one impossible situation after another, seem to devolve as the creatures they’re battling keep rapidly adapting. Maybe that’s supposed to be a parallel. Or a paradox. Whatever it is, it becomes difficult to tell what the producers wished to achieve. Unless it was to remind one of Tremors. It ends abruptly.

why did i watch this movie?

This may sound familiar, but I couldn’t tell from the description whether I’d already seen it. Or maybe I was conflating the title with that of Unnatural.

should you watch this movie?

In some ways, this film far exceeds its potential, but on the other hand it also fails to meet it. Ultimately, it’s just not quite enough.

highlight and low point

They did a good job with using the creatures effectively, not overexposing them, although I’m fairly certain they used the exact same shots more than once. Splatter and gore also is handled deftly. The humor doesn’t always connect, however, and the hints of romance feel forced if not incongruous. At the same time, you expect more of any or all of these factors. Something went wrong in their calculus.

rating from outer space: c