While it’s important to note that Wes Craven’s 1995 horror entry “Scream” was a very influential horror movie that reinvigorated the slasher sub-genre, it’s also important to chronicle the films that it influenced. After the release of “Scream,” every studio far and wide began releasing their own slasher films, and many of them were whodunits, and or based around some kind of gimmick. While slasher movies are the breakdown of taboos and morality tales with the help of folklore, “Urban Legend” cuts right to the chase creating a slasher who uses urban folklore to dispense of hapless victims in a college. The results are, suffice to say, a mixed bag.
It’s not hard to figure out why “The Princess Bride” is considered one of the all time great cinematic fantasy classics. Even today it manages to stand as a movie that’s way ahead of its time and deconstructs a lot of the fairy tale and hero’s journey tropes way before “Shrek” ever popularized the idea. Rob Reiner injects a meta-mold to “The Princess Bride” helping it stand apart from a lot of the other fantasy epics we would have seen from the decade. His choice to make the story of Princess Buttercup told by a grandfather to his sick grandson is a testament to the incomparable experience of being swept away in a good book.
Panos Cosmatos’ “Mandy” came out in 2018 like a hurricane, sneaking up on even the biggest Nic Cage fan boys, and it’s one of the best films of the year. “Mandy” is a fever dream, and surreal revenge thriller that features Nic Cage at his best. Cage plays against a world that’s equally as loony as the man he portrays, who goes up against foes that in the eyes of a blood thirsty man seeking retribution for his slain lover, are purely monstrous beings dancing in hellfire.
“Creepshow” isn’t just a horror movie, but it’s also the gold standard for what most anthology horror movies strive to be. While there have been anthology horror films before it, “Creepshow” popularized the genre for a new decade and helped redefine the idea of the sub-genre. Not just that, but “Creepshow” is also a rebuttal to the golden age of horror comic from EC. Once upon a time the comics label that produced violent horror based comics were shut down due to their controversial nature. “Creepshow” is a movie that combines immense talents from folks like George Romero, Stephen King, and Tom Savini to provide something of a rebellious middle finger and show a new audience that these tales were as fun as they were violent.
Dan Curtis’ “Trilogy of Terror” is a TV movie that grew so famous that it ended up being considered one of the best horror movies of its decade. Released during a time where networks were tackling TV movies with immense zeal, “Trilogy of Terror” has become a horror classic since its airing, even if I’m not a fan. It’s hard to hate, though. There’s Karen Black taking on all of the major female roles in the film, and the Zuni Fetish Doll, a movie monster who has become the quintessential horror killer doll. “Trilogy of Terror II” premiered on the USA Network in 1996 with Dan Curtis returning to direct, and while it’s not a great movie, it’s fine enough.
Sheldon Wilson’s “The Hollow” or as I refer to it “Phantoms 2: Samhain Edition,” is one of the more incomplete feeling horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Although the movie isn’t the completely worst Halloween oriented horror entry I’ve ever seen, it definitely feels like it could have stood for twenty minutes of exposition. Even when it stops the movie in its tracks to drop exposition, it still feels like the screenwriters are working on an under cooked film that never finds its footing. So much of “The Hollow” is downright unpleasant and dull, and manages to squander a potentially really cool movie monster.
Michael Dougherty’s “Trick r Treat” is a contemporary success story that’s enamored horror fans for a long time. Originally in 2007, Michael Dougherty’s horror anthology was kicked around various studios, pushed back, and shelved. When it finally re-emerged, it was pushed to a DVD release on 2009. Once unleashed on the fan base, it began life as a hidden gem, and has grown to become a bonafide horror classic, almost universally praised. To boot, “Trick r Treat’s” mascot, the burlap sack wearing, jagged lollipop adorning Sam has become one of the modern horror icons, whose bred a legion of fans (as well as a slew of merchandise).
Once upon a time TV movies were an event. They meant something. They were used sporadically during the year for various networks as a means of attracting big ratings. Once upon a time TV used TV movies as a means of competing with theaters, and ever since that’s become something of a lost medium. Even when I was a kid, the nineties were filled with TV movies both of the Stephen King multi-night variety, and occasional biblical epics, and or science fiction epics like “Taken,” or “Noah.” It was an interesting time. “Dead of Night” is one of the various TV movies that’s gone from TV movie to well acclaimed horror movie, and that might be because of Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson.