Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1990
Happy New Year y’all! I am hitting you with a top ten list right off the bat; and what a wonderful array of insanely messed up celluloid this bunch is! The top four are films I rated 5/5 and spots 5 – 10 were all rated 4/5. It was tough choosing spots 5 – 10 as I rated seven other films 4/5; Two Evil Eyes, Adrenaline, Frankenstein Unbound, The Ambulance, The Death King, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie and Nightmare Concert (please do not start with Nightmare Concert if you have never seen a Lucio Fulci film, this one is for fans of daddy like myself). Let the 90s madness begin!
*Only feature-length films will be included on the top ten lists for the decade; I do not include shorts, documentaries or made for television movies.
#10 SINGAPORE SLING
Directed By: Nikos Nikolaidis
Singapore Sling is the story of a private eye searching for a woman named Laura who follows the trail to the home of an incestuous, sadomasochist mother and daughter team. An absolutely bizarre mix of humour, weird, kinky, vile sex and a touch of blood, gore and torture. The two women although murderous are far more interested in exploring the lines between pain and pleasure. They don’t do anything to their captors they don’t do to themselves. Prepare yourself for shock therapy, water torture, and golden showers amoung other unsavory acts. Ever shove your fingers down your throat so you can vomit on your partners face while they orgasm? Needless to say, Singapore Sling is not for everyone! Thankfully filmed in black and white, and quite beautifully I might add with great performances too. Michele Valley and Meredyth Herold who play the mother and daughter roles are both bold, fearless and fascinating. The private eye whom they nickname Singapore Sling has little to no dialog and spends the film in a semi-comatose state, but actor Panos Thanassoulis does get to have some fun in the film’s finale. Singapore Sling has a very satisfying ending I won’t soon forget! Singapore Sling is a cheeky and nasty little film I found unique and thoroughly mesmerizing. To read the full review click here.
Directed By: Clive Barker
I have an extra special place in my heart for Nightbreed. Nighbreed is written and directed by Clive Barker and is based on his story Cabal. Aaron Boone dreams of a city called Midian where strange creatures have been forced into hiding. Aaron goes to see psychiatrist Philip Decker at the bequest of his girlfriend Lori. Decker convinces Aaron that he is responsible for a series of murders that Decker himself has committed. Aaron in a hallucinatory state is hit by a truck and while in the hospital he meets a man who gives him directions to Midian. Aaron immediately seeks out Midian only to find he is not welcomed. He is bitten by one of the Nightbreed from whom he escapes only to be gunned down by police. The bite he took from the Nightbreed brings him back from the dead and he once again seeks out Midian. Aaron now accepted as one of the Nightbreed is forced to fight an all out war to save them. I do love my creatures and Nightbreed is jammed packed with beautifully realized nightmares. Equally impressive are the fantastic sets and sets pieces and I think this may just be one of Danny Elfman’s best scores. I will not deny there are some continuity issues and Craig Sheffer was not a great choice for lead but what it gets right is so very satisfying. I understand that Clive Barker was livid when a huge chunk of the film was cut before it was released. Barker casts David Cronenberg as the psychotic Philip Decker and he is just creepy as hell and Lori played by Anne Bobby is cute and likable. But really, this is all about the wonderful world of Midian and its gorgeously grotesque and massively creative creatures. I adore Nightbreed despite its problems and I think it is a must see for fans of creature features.
Directed By: Ron Underwood
Tremors is yet another creature feature from the decade but this one leans towards a 50s sci-fi and is played strictly for laughs. Handymen; Val and Earl attempt to vacate the teeny tiny town of Perfection but discover the dead body of a man on their way out. This is only the first of several corpses that turn up and a rock slide prevents the duo or anyone else from leaving. A young female seismologist suggests that the tremors and the deaths are related and it turns out she is correct. Giant sand worm creatures they call Graboids are determined to eliminate every last resident. I have a huge crush on Fred Ward who plays Earl and I really think he is one of the most under-appreciated actors out there. He has good chemistry with Kevin Bacon who plays Val. The two characters have some great back and forths. I also enjoyed the gun crazy fanatical Gummers played by Reba McEntire and Michael Gross. While there is a significant body count there certainly is not much here in the way of blood and gore. This is definitely PG but it sure is fun and action packed. The lightening fast pace, copious action, entertaining characters, solid performances and amusing dialog make Tremors a re-watchable amusement.
#7 THE EXORCIST III
Directed By: William Peter Blatty
The Exorcist III is the sequel that should have been called Exorcist II. Exorcist II: The Heretic is just shite. The Exorcist III is directed by William Peter Blatty the author of The Exorcist which the original movie is based on and he wrote the screenplay for. The Exorcist III is based on Blatty’s book Legion. Exorcist III takes place fifteen years after the events of the original film. Lieutenant Kinderman is investigating a series of murders that bare a striking resemblance to those of a dead serial killer coined The Gemini. Possession and death ensues. Suspenseful, intense, well-acted; The Exorcist III is both a visceral experience and a head trip. Some of the creepiest moments are relayed verbally and are equally as effective as the visual stuff. A fabulous cast including the great George C. Scott, Brad Dourif, Ed Flanders and Jason Miller amoung others and all are perfectly cast. Smart, well-acted and genuinely scary; The Exorcist III is a fantastic horror film worthy of multiple viewings.
Directed By: E. Elias Merhige
Begotten is filmed in black and white and features a barrage of violent and unsettling images. The film has no dialog, very little music and most of the sound filling the air is those of nature and grunting. It has a grainy ancient look that I found most alluring. I don’t profess to understand every aspect of Begotten by any means. It is a strange, trippy and violent journey full of Christian and Pagan symbolism that I believe is really left open to interpretation. The three key characters are God killing himself, Mother Earth and Son of Earth (Flesh on Bone); there is no disputing the religious imagery. Begotten opens with a particularly nasty snippet of God disemboweling himself. Mother Earth emerges from God’s gory remains and arouses his corpse to impregnate herself. Begotten is visually stimulating, challenging and utterly mesmerizing. To read the full review click here.
Directed By: Rob Reiner
There sure as hell aren’t too many films reviewed on ye olde blog that have won Academy Awards. Kathy Bates won a much deserved Oscar for best actress playing the role of the frighteningly dowdy and dangerous Annie Wilkes in Misery. Novelist Paul Sheldon crashes his car en route back to the city and is “rescued” by Annie Wilkes who also happens to be his number one fan. Annie is kind and accommodating initially but Paul quickly discerns the woman is not in her right mind. After Annie reads the draft for his latest novel and discovers Paul has killed off the heroine of his series Paul learns just how “off” the woman truly is. Misery is a well-paced and thrilling trip. I thought James Caan was an interesting choice for the role of Paul Sheldon. Other actors might have provoked more empathy than Caan but I sort of appreciated that the character was somewhat prickly. He didn’t exactly strike me as someone who would write romantic drama, but what the hell do I know about authors who write romantic dramas? There is a nice tension building and a cynical sense of humour throughout. Misery is really Kathy Bates show though, and she shines like a psychotic bright light!
#4 BABY BLOOD
Directed By: Alain Robak
This wonderfully twisted French horror film is an exceptional entry in the killer baby genre…sort of. It is more of a parasite than a baby actually. The parasite crawls into a woman’s womb and she is forced to nurture and feed it by killing and drinking the blood of her victims. Yanka is the abused wife of a circus performer; those of you who visit this blog regularly are well familiar with my obsession for carnival and circus-themed horror films. The circus theme is definitely secondary but adds an effective weirdness to the action. Baby Blood has a mildly sleazy vibe with plenty of blood to satisfy particularly in its delightful second half. The voluptuous Emmanuelle Escourrou is an absolute freaking delight as the involuntary parasite mama and her relationship with the thing that resides within her is intriguing, bizarre and sometimes humorous. The initially meek Yanka becomes stronger and more confident with every kill. Fun fact; Baxter, the dog from the excellent French film of the same name makes a cameo! Baby Blood is well-filmed, gory, bizarre, funny and over-the-top high jinx of the first order!
Directed By: Frank Henenlotter
Frank Henenlotter is a horror-comedy genius! I can’t say enough good things about Henenlotter’s Basket Case and Brain Damage; two of the highlights of the 80s! Frankenhooker if the name didn’t tip you off is loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Very, very loosely based! After losing his girlfriend Elizabeth in a tragic lawnmower accident Medical school dropout Jeffrey Franken will stop at nothing to have her back. Jeffrey creates a drug that makes people literally explode. He takes his supercrack to the streets and tries it out on some hookers whose parts help to reconstruct his girl. But of course Elizabeth is not the girl she used to be and is no longer satisfied with just Jeffrey. A tragic lawnmower accident?! That alone is some funny shit but Henenlotter keeps up the goodness right up to the end! Frankenhooker is a fast-paced, effects intensive, bit of hilarity! Jeffrey Franken is an absolutely mad character and is played with finesse by James Lorinz and the lovely Patty Mullen is a too perfect as Elizabeth Shelley/Frankenhooker. The effects are top-notch; there isn’t a computer generated image in sight. So few films get that balance of horror and comedy right but Henenlotter hits the nail on the head! Frankenhooker is utterly outrageous and an absolute shitload of fun!
#2 THE REFLECTING SKIN
Directed By: Philip Ridley
The Reflecting Skin is about a nine year old boy named Seth Dove and his nightmarish life living in a small rural community in the 1950s. The film is really just teetering on the edge of horror. Although it explores some horrifying ideas it leans heavier towards the drama. The Reflecting Skin is beautifully filmed with its endless fields and massive sky that adds so very nicely to the film’s feeling of desolation. It has a relaxed pace and leisurely unleashes a series of vignettes; one more bleak than the other. Its mix of strange, melancholy and ugliness was compelling. There are some peculiar trippy snippets that give The Reflecting Skin a dream like feel; like Seth walking past two women chirping carrying a dead bird. Seth seems to immerse himself more deeply in fantasy as the film wears on. There isn’t much in the way of graphic violence but what they include is very effective and at times disturbing. The Reflecting Skin is a hypnotic watch and its slow grind added to that vibe. I loved its perfect slap you in the face finale! The Reflecting Skin is beautifully filmed, unique, powerful, strange, sad, hopeless and merciless. To read the full review click here.
#1 JACOB’S LADDER
Directed By: Adrian Lyne
Jacob’s Ladder is a film I have seen several times over the years and it never fails to blow my mind. Tim Robbins completely and utterly bares his soul in this film. He is a likable and extremely empathetic character who runs through an impressive gamut of emotions. Tim Robbins plays Jacob Singer an ex-Vietnam vet. Our first shot of Jacob sees him at war. His platoon is attacked and several men are left dead while others are in a state of seizures. Jacob attempts to flee only to be stabbed. Jacob awakes on a subway train in New York. Jacob is plagued not just by his memories of the war but his young son’s untimely death. Now employed as a mailman and living in Brooklyn with a woman named Jezzie, Jacob begins to experience horrifying hallucinations pointing to a serious case of post-traumatic stress that may have more heinous roots to a chemical experiment gone horribly wrong. The line between reality and hallucination become blurred to nightmare proportions. While the film definitely focuses on Jacob, all of the minor performances are also noteworthy, particularly the wonderful Danny Aiello who plays Jacob’s chiropractor. Jacob’s Ladder is beautifully filmed with fantastic visuals that are hard to shake and the heart-wrenching performance from Tim Robbins makes this a re-watchable masterpiece.