Horror movies in 1994 - The Struggle is real
So we've seen a real step back in horror movies so far in the 1990s, but a glimmer of hope shines through in 1994. I've only listed 10, and honestly, all these aren't great but there is hope. 2 of them may not even count, but if Silence of the Lambs and Cape Fear do, then damn it, they're going on the list. #1 was an easy choice for me, so let's get started.
No doubt in my mind that John Carpenter's In The Mouth Of Madness is the best movie in 1994. Coming off Body Bags, he finishes what he calls his Apocalypse Trilogy(The Thing, Prince of Darkness, & In The Mouth Of Madness) with a bang.
Sam Neill gets the lead after playing a supporting role in Carpenter's 1992 Memories of an Invisible Man. His first horror film since 1989's Dead Calm. He's terrific as he dives into this HP Lovecraft-inspired world. You have to rent/buy to stream this gem, but if you have the $ to spend, you should get the Collector's Edition Blu-Ray. There's a ton of special features.
Blurb - An insurance investigator begins discovering that the impact a horror writer's books have on his fans is more than inspirational.
Well as I've documented, the Nightmare franchise ended with a bit of a whimper. That said Freddy was still New Line Cinema's most important cash cow and they figured out a way to continue the character without having to reopen the world of Elm Street ... bring back the creator.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare was the idea Craven wanted to use for Part 3 The Dream Warriors before the project went a different direction. What we get is something that feels a bit more real than the others; something that comes across as both familiar and unique. Robert Englund says this is his favorite Freddy movie. I've watched this recently and it holds up. You can check it out on tubi.
Blurb - A demonic force has chosen Freddy Krueger as its portal to the real world. Can Heather Langenkamp play the part of Nancy one last time and trap the evil trying to enter our world?
Next up we have Wolf. This is a project Jack Nicholson spend around 11 years trying to get made as it was written by his friend, Jim Harrison. He had final say on the director, and after Kubrick passed, they grabbed Mike Nichols. Even though they never say the word werewolf, the audience is getting just that - a werewolf picture. It fits with the theme of 1994, the more familiar the better. This is a rent/buy to stream.
Blurb - Publisher Will Randall becomes a demon wolf and has to fight to keep his job.
Neil Jordon who directed a killer werewolf picture in the early 80s returns to the genre to tackle vampires in Interview With the Vampire. Originally written with Rutger Hauer in mind as Lestat, the studios were thinking more John Travolta but the glut of vampire movies at the time (1979) caused a delay with the studio. This delay caused everyone to "age" out of the role and the studio finally selected Tom Cruise. This infuriated Anne Rice so much she pulled herself from the project, refusing to see the film. After it was completed a copy was sent to her and she changed her mind, seeing that Cruise was able to handle her creation in a credible way. She even went so far as to write a letter of apology to Cruise and take out a 2-page ad in the NY Times declaring it a "Masterpiece."
While a lot worked with the movie, it does have an incredible cast and Jordon is a fine director, I never enjoyed this movie in theaters or at home. I just don't like vampires all that much. Even so, this does continue the theme of the familiar. Rice may be a new player in the world of book adaptations, but she provided us with a familiar and classic monster. You can watch it on Netflix.
Blurb - A vampire tells his epic life story: love, betrayal, loneliness, and hunger.
I met one of my favorite people, and a wonderful friend because of The Crow. Not the movie, but the graphic novel. I worked for a popular Comic Store in the DFW area not affiliated with Lone Star Comics, and he came into our sister store looking for the books and anything else like it. While I might not consider this one horror, he is a ghost or a zombie or something, so let me check with the judge ...
This is one of my favorite filmmaker's first US projects. Alex Proyas does a wonderful job translating the story of The Crow from the page to the big screen. This was supposed to be the movie that really launched Branden Lee into bigger and better things, but a tragic accident led to the actor being shot and killed on set. CGI-Special effects and body doubles were used to complete the film. You can stream it on Paramount+.
Blurb - A man brutally murdered comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancée's murder.
Indie director John Waters tackled the serial killer with his satire, Serial Mom. Kathleen Turner is fantastic as the murderous mother. This movie is Matthew Lillard's debut and not the last one to make a top-movies of the year list. He will dominate the late 90s. You have to rent/buy to check it out, but remember if you do it is a John Waters' Production.
Blurb - She's the perfect all-American parent: a great cook and homemaker, a devoted recycler, and a woman who'll literally kill to keep her children happy.
Phantasm II didn't make enough for Universal to bankroll another one, but they did say they would distribute it for Don Coscarelli if he happened to make another one. Enter Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead. Freed from the restrictions the studio placed on part II, he was able to bring back the original actor who played Mike in the first film (16 years previously). Once complete the movie was shelved for close to a year as the studio tried to figure out how to distribute it. It received a limited release in the US and Japan before going to video. You can stream it on tubi, Peacock, and Shudder.
Blurb - Mike and Reggie continue to hunt the mysterious Tall Man, discovering along the way that the invasion has already begun.
So far everything has been something familiar, but the studios did try and give moviegoers a truly original idea. Brainscan mixed the thrill of the internet, video games, and a new monster named Trickster. It failed miserably - critically and financially. I've watched it within the last year, and the real reason this movie fails is Edward Furlong. By this, his 5th movie, he was reportedly too deep in the "Hollywood" lifestyle.
He couldn't act his way out of a paper bag - many times simply screaming his lines. The director hated working with him, and had to "slap him awake every morning". I feel like this would have worked better with a more mature actor in the role, and not someone spiraling out of control. I'd love to see it remade now, as the special effects would be much better for the game-play graphics. It's a rent/buy to stream so maybe wait a bit. Or head over and we can watch the Blu-ray and make fun of all the craziness.
Blurb - A teenager is part of an interactive video game where he kills innocent victims. Later, the murders become real.
Studios and TV Networks were still going to the King well and after the success of IT on ABC, they decided they needed to do one of King's most popular works The Stand. King and George Romero had been trying for years to make this into a feature film, but they couldn't get the length down for a feature film. They considered trying to split it (way before Peter Jackson showed everyone how to do it with LOTR), but then ABC came knocking and King accepted. It's not streaming anywhere I can find, so I'm guessing youtube must be the best place to look.
Blurb - After a deadly plague kills most of the world's population, the remaining survivors split into two groups - one led by a benevolent elder and the other by a malevolent being - to face each other in a final battle between good and evil.
Love me some Kenneth Branagh but not a fan of De Niro, which causes Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to be pushed down to the bottom of the list. The final major monster to be showcased in 1994, we find Hollywood revisiting these characters and stories instead of creating new ones. However, since we saw how poorly the only original horror film was treated in 1994, I get it. You can stream this on HBOMax.
Blurb - When the brilliant but unorthodox scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein rejects the artificial man that he has created, the Creature escapes and later swears revenge.
1994 was a great year for comedies and had some good action flicks. I just returned to the states so I was ready for some good movies.