Part 2: 1994
by Feind Gottes
Decades Of Descent
Part 2: 1994
1994 : What A Year!
by Feind Gottes
Ahhh 1994 what a year! Film critics often hail 1994 as one of, if not, THE best year in film history for giving us such gems as Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, The Crow, Natural Born Killers and the love it or hate it but ever quotable Forrest Gump on top of a whole host of others. For me personally ’94 was a pretty damn good year since my son was born that year! Oh and I was still considered a young man. Ahhh the good old days! What most critics fail to mention or often even acknowledge is that 1994 is the year that horror went “legit” so to speak. It’s the first year I can remember when huge Hollywood stars entered into the horror waters and regardless what you think of that, it gave horror legitimacy as an art form and introduced many who would never have ventured into the warm horror waters to what those of you reading this probably love just as much as Cult & I do. Whether you liked any of the films or stars I’m about to mention today or not there is no denying that each of these films helped raise the bar for horror quality ever since. It is no longer uncommon to see a bigger star in a horror film and while horror films still generally operate on a small budget there is no denying that it is easier to gain funding in the horror genre now. What the three movies I’m going to discuss today did for horror is immeasurable. Before 1994 horror was still generally shunned by the larger populace and “big stars” never even considered dipping their toes into the sickly warm crimson tide of horror. 1994 turned horror from a small niche for those of us craving the sick & depraved to something even your lame ass parents could enjoy. Years of brilliance in the underground from Herschell Gordon Lewis to Tobe Hooper to John Carpenter couldn’t bring horror into reluctant acceptance to the general public the way these films, with their mega-stars, did. I know what you’re thinking, “Feind stop babbling and just get the fuck on with it!” Well fine… HERE WE GO!
First to enter the horror fray in ’94 was Jack Nicholson. Yes, he had done The Shining years before and who doesn’t love that(“Wendy. Honey. I’m gonna bash your brains in!”) but by ’94 he was legitimate Hollywood royalty. With his pick of doing whatever he may want to do, good ol’ Jack came back to the horror genre with Wolf. I know those hardcore horror lovers of blood & gore, like Cult& I, don’t always even consider these films as horror films but they are. I discovered horror through the old Universal Monsters which led me to the blood & gore I love today so I can’t help but think Wolf may have done the same for some youngster at the time. I won’t go through the whole synopsis of a popular film that’s 20 years old but as far as lichen films go this was one of the best up to that time. Of course, I don’t think anyone has yet topped An American Werewolf In London but that is the cream of the crop. Wolf also holds a bit of a current soft spot since Nicholson plays an editor at a publishing company ( shameless plug: if any publisher out there wants to contact me about my book feel FREE! firstname.lastname@example.org HA!) Driving home late at night on a dark back road Nicholsonhits what he thinks is a dog with his car but when he checks the animal it bites him and runs off. Nicholson’s journey to lichen has begun. Along the way he falls in love with the lovely Michelle Pfeiffer and has to battle his former protégé James Spader. Wolf is an excellent film with a star studded cast that you should definitely check out if you’ve somehow never seen it. Thankfully they never did a sequel to ruin it.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
November ’94 was huge for horror fans with two huge films again with some true superstars. The first was legend Robert DeNiro (Yes, I’m a huge fan) with I believe his first ever horror film up to that time. Now for someone of DeNiro’s stature you would expect him to play the Doctor but instead DeNiro stars as the Monster himself bringing his brilliant acting chops to a classic. Doctor Frankenstein is adeptly handled by Kenneth Branagh and the lovely Elizabeth is played by Helena Bonham-Carter (this may have been her first film though I’m too lazy to go find out). DeNiro provides the monster with a depth that had never been seen before in a performance that gets little credit but is really one of the best of DeNiro’s career which is really saying something. This version of the classic tale is done in a gritty realistic way adding some real weight, if you will, to the tale. For me horror is always more well… horrifying when you can think “ok, this shit could happen.” Of course only Jesus can come back from the dead (*rolls eyes so hard I just had to pick ‘em up off the floor) so maybe Frankenstein is the Second Coming? Eh? Anyone with me? Frankenjesus, someone get on that! Anyway this was another star studded cast that increased the validity of the genre we all love so much opening the classics up for a whole new generation of bloodthirsty cretins to enjoy. It’s worth watching for DeNiro’s performance alone but the rest is pretty good too so check that shit out!
Interview With The Vampire
Perhaps there was never a more controversial casting in a horror movie than the selection of Tom Cruise to play the Vampire LeStatin the adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel. You’ll also perhaps not find a vampire movie that more divides horror lovers into the love it or hate it camps. As with almost any novel adaptation, the book is definitely better than the movie so if you haven’t read it, seek it out and do so. Don’t worry the movie won’t spoil it for you. In real life there are few I find to be a bigger douche than Cruise but Scientology is just fucking whacked so I expect nothing less. However when he isn’t spreading the gospel of Lord Xenu he can be a top notch actor. In the case of him playing LeStat it really isn’t that his performance is terrible but he really wasn’t the right actor to cast for the part. That said, there’s no denying that there are those who probably saw this film because of him who wouldn’t have watched this type of movie otherwise and if even one new horror lover was born then so be it. The casting of still on the rise, at the time though already a star in his own right, Brad Pitt in the co-main role of Louis was far less controversial. I don’t know what it is about Pitt but I just like the guy probably helps that Se7en is one of my all time favorite flicks. Little Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) rounds out the main cast as the young girl “saved” by Pitt’s character, Louis, who is only trying to save her from suffering the same fate as her mother who died of the Plague when he finds her. The heartless LeStat is juxtaposed to the overly caring Pitt, the vampire with an undying heart, to perfection (granted better in the book than the film). Lady’s favorite Antonio Banderas shows up as LeStat’s mentor/creator, the ancient vampire Armand, though he probably would have made a better LeStat. Love it or hate it, ‘Interview rekindled people’s interest in vampires and horror in general and I don’t find that to be a bad thing. The more that come over to the dark side the better I say. Unfortunately I find most vampire movies to be pretty lame but despite Cruise this is one of the better vampire tales you’ll find but seriously read the book or better yet read Rice’s entire Vampire Chronicles series starting with Queen of the Damned. Again a star studded cast coupled with a popular novel brought more people and legitimacy to the genre we all love. I love blood & gore and they have their place but give me a great story and good acting any day, if you give me blood & gore with that than well you may just find your way to my tiny blackened blood pumper.
If you’re one of those who love to have the things you love hidden away so they feel like they are yours and yours alone then you probably disagree with me about a lot of what I said here today. As for me I believe art is meant to be shared with as many people who can appreciate it as possible, that’s why Cult and I are here doing what we’re doing. Sure I could write just for the few people who had previously read my work but why? If it’s any good I want anyone who finds it interesting to be able to find it. Horror and metal are very similar in that sometimes we as fans hide it away and want it just for ourselves as if one fan should be enough for anyone but I’m sorry I just don’t get that. If I love something I want others to love it with me. Share that obscure band that made an album you love, share that movie that only you and 5 other people have seen, let a friend read that book you dug through a stack of thousands to find and be happy you’re not alone. Horror and metal will never be mainstream and that’s perfectly fine, personally I fucking hate pop music, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an endless amount of people that only aren’t fans because they haven’t been introduced to it yet. When huge mega-stars lend their name to horror it’s a good thing, expanding our numbers so that the next guy or girl that wants to make a Cannibal Holocaust or Bad Taste doesn’t have to try to do it on budget of $10 in couch change and their grandmother’s credit card. Spread the love and enjoy these films for what they are: top tier entertainment with some blood or gore sprinkled in to keep us hardcore fans somewhat happy. 1994 was a great year in film history and it was a year that vastly expanded our horror loving ranks. Debate with your friends what is “real” horror and what isn’t but know that there are more people in the debate now because of films like the ones above.
We’ll step back another decade next week to 1984 so start thinking about what Old Man Feind is gonna rant about next week and feel free to share your opinion in the comment box below. It’s quick and easy and no matter how original you think you may be, I’ve been called worse by better so bring it! Have a favorite from ’84? Let me know that too, maybe you’ll find it here next week.
So what do you think Scribbler Fans? Was 1994 the best year ever for film? Like big star/big budget horror or do ya hate it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Scribbler Movie Reviews
Feind loves watching movies of all kinds so if we watch it, we tell whether you should as well. I'll share mostly horror but I also enjoy everything from big Blockbusters to micro-budget Independent films.
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