WTF happened to horror movies in 1991?
So the point of the "year in horror" review was to highlight the best and most influential horror movies every year I've been alive. It's been a battle to keep the number of movies highlighted under 20 most years - sometimes I've been forced to split years into multiple posts. The 70s and 80s have been a hotbed of incredible and entertaining horror films.
And then 1991 appears and I could only come up with 8 movies and 2 of those I've never considered to be horror. I'm curious if this was influenced by the Gulf War or a writers' strike. Or is it more of a horror burnout as companies continued to pump out sequels instead of introducing new ideas to the genre? I think the next few years are going to be interesting to see where my favorite genre is headed.
After Shocker bombed in 1989, Wes Craven did the made-for-TV movie Night Visions. He came back to the theater with what I think is the best horror movie of 1991, The People Under the Stairs. It's such a quirky and fun movie that is filled with a ton of WTF moments.
I love when bigger directors aren't watched by the studios and left to their own devices. Without the constant input from producers and the studio executives, a movie that would never be made slips through the cracks. It's even better when said movie makes money. Craven made a movie with a bit of a message, much like he did with The Serpent and the Rainbow. While The People Under the Stairs is a classic horror story about being trapped in a house with psychopaths, it is also a movie highlighting the social & economic injustices between the haves and have nots.
Get ready for some crazy scenes, impressive performances, and the trademark Wes Craven wit when you stream it on tubi.
Blurb - Two adults and a juvenile break into a house occupied by a brother and sister and their stolen children. There, they must fight for their lives.
So I didn't consider The Silence of the Lambs a horror film when it came out, and I didn't realize others did until about a year ago. I don't think the book is horror, and I don't see Thomas Harris as a horror author. This is a serial/procedural movie/book. Yet, when I take a step back and squint, I can see how people might think find the content horrific.
It was the 5th highest-grossing film of the year, so I guess you could argue it should be #1 on my list. You'd be wrong, but you could do it. Nothing about this movie is unique or inspirational to the horror genre, and since I never looked at it as a horror film, it simply can't be too high on my list. The best argument I can make is my wife has seen it multiple times and she refuses to watch horror. Stream it on Prime and tubi to see for yourself.
Blurb - A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.
And the other film I didn't consider a horror film when it came out was Cape Fear. Martin Scorsese leaves the worlds of New York and the mafia to do a remake of the classic Gregory Peck film from the 1960s. This was originally supposed to be directed by Steven Spielberg, but he talked Scorsese into doing it - after only a year of bugging him.
This movie was a box office success, hitting #9 for the year, but I'm not a fan. It's filled with actors I don't like which makes it an unbearable watch for me. I'm not saying they aren't good in the film because they are, but I just don't care for any of the family or the De Niro role. I think of this as more of a suspense thriller but some people classify it as a horror film. Stream it on tubi.
Blurb - A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.
Stewart Gordon tackles Edgar Allen Poe with his film The Pit and the Pendulum. The director with 2 H.P. Lovecraft-inspired movies, Re-Animator & From Beyond, under his belt, and coming off a few flops and a made-for-TV movie, needed a hit to re-establish himself as a top indie horror director.
Unlike the Vincent Price/Roger Corman Pit & The Pendulum, this version stays a touch closer to the original story and focuses on the Spanish Inquisition. Although Lance Henriksen stayed in character throughout the production and scared many around him daily, the movie doesn't play as well as Price's version. Stream it on tubi to see for yourself.
Blurb - Horror film set in 1492 Toledo, Spain, depicting the cruel deeds of a monk named Torquemada, Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition.
Popcorn was a box-office bomb but it has gained a cultlike status with horror fans recently. Stream it on Flix Fling to see what you think.
Blurb - A master of disguise deranged killer begins killing off the college students who are organizing a horror-movie marathon in an abandoned theater.
Rachel Talalay's directorial debut is the final Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy's Dead The Final Nightmare. She was the production manager on the first 2 Elm Streets and a producer of parts 3 & 4. She didn't have anything to do with part 5, and she murdered the franchise in part 6. This is probably a good thing as the franchise felt stale after part 4, but Freddy was New Line Cinema's #1 franchise so they continued to force movies out there. Much like Jason, Freddy needed to take a step back and catch his breath. Stream it on HBOMax.
Blurb - Dream-haunting Freddy Krueger returns once again to prowl the nightmares of Springwood's last surviving teenager, and of a woman whose personal connection to Krueger may mean his doom.
Before Child's Play 2 was finished filming, the studio commissioned creator/writer Don Mancini to write Child's Play 3. Mancini felt rushed and out of ideas and feels like this was the downfall of this part of the franchise. The voice of Chucky, Brad Dourif, says it is his least favorite, and the movie-going public must have felt this vibe as they did not go see this in droves. In fact, this movie put the Chucky movie franchise on hold for 7 years. Stream it on Peacock to see what you think.
Blurb - Chucky returns for revenge against Andy, the young boy who defeated him, and now a teenager living in a military academy.
The director of Friday the 13th Park 6 takes a shot at directing a Stephen King-inspired script, Sometimes They Come Back. It's got an R rating and a theatrical trailer, but this movie was made-for-television so I'm not sure exactly how it came out in 1991. Stream it on tubi to see what you think.
Blurb - A man and his family return to his hometown, where he is then harassed by teenagers who died when he was a kid.
That's it. Nothing else was worth adding to the list for 1991. A few of my favorite movies from 1991 that didn't make the top 10 Box Office are ...