Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1992
As has been the case with every year of the 1990s thus far, there was an incredible amount of mucky-muck to wade through for 1992. There were however some truly brilliant entries from the year including my favourite horror comedy of all time! The top nine films were solid entries but coming up with a tenth pick made my head spin. I gave the top three films a 5/5, film number four I rated 4.5/5, Films five through nine I rated 4/5 and the film in the number ten spot was rated 3/5. I rated five other films from 1992 3/5 and those were Split Second, Body Puzzle, The Vagrant, Doctor Mordrid, and Curse, Death and Spirit.
*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.
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula made my list by the hair on its chinny chin chin. Save superb cinematography and the inspired casting of Gary Oldman as Dracula I think this is one of the worst cast horror films of all time. I don’t have strong feelings about Winona Ryder one way or the other but she was an absolutely dreadful choice as Mina/Elisabeta and equally horrific is Kneau Reeves as Jonathan Harker. Aren’t Harker and Mina supposed to be deeply in love? There is zero chemistry between the two. It is probably somewhat unfair to say Sadie Frost was not well cast as Lucy as I thought the bigger issue was really the trashy characterization. Even Anthony Hopkins who seemed like a reasonable choice as Van Helsing gave an uninspired performance. The only two characters outside of Dracula I found at all compelling was Dr. Seward played by Richard E. Grant and Renfeld played by Tom Waits. It seems to me that the cast were not chosen because they were the best choice for the role but because they were popular names at the time. I am quite aware Bram Stoker’s novel contains romance but I am still not a huge fan of this aspect and the heavy focus on that and a PG rated eroticism just made me hunger for more horror. Dracula’s brilliant lead performance from Gary Oldman, a lovely score and spiffy visuals rescue it from complete mediocrity.
#9 THE JOHNSONS
Directed By: Rudolf van den Berg
A doctor delivering septuplets, a bulgy eyed fetus god, a thirteen year old girl’s horrific dreams of rape and little boys drawing on walls in blood and a professor tasked with advising a top secret organization as to the next course of action to take with seven twenty-one year old psychotics are The Johnsons main plot points. Clearly there is a connection between these plot points but I will leave that for you to discover on your own. The Johnsons is a wonderfully odd little supernatural tale. There are themes of rape, incest, puberty and adulthood weaved into the story but the film does not focus on any particular one of these ideas. The film has an intriguing build up that made me hunger for answers. It starts out as a real pot boiler but all hell breaks loose in the final quarter when the psychotic septuplets escape their prison cells. That might be a bit of a spoiler, but it seemed inevitable in my opinion. The Johnsons is a unique entry from The Netherlands, the ending is a bit disappointing but otherwise it has a great atmosphere, intensity, some light humour and some solid moments of horror. To read the full review click here.
#8 DUST DEVIL
Directed By: Richard Stanley
Dust Devil opens with some brief ominous words of narration that take us to a handsome man in a duster and cowboy hat hitching a ride. The cowboy is picked up by a woman who takes him back to her home in the desert. He snaps her neck during sex and we get a shot of the room where he has covered the walls in drawings and symbols in what appears to be the dead woman’s blood. He than sets the house on fire and drives off in the woman’s vehicle. Ben, a long time resident and detective is working on the case. In another part of Africa a woman named Linda has just left her husband and plans on driving through the desert until she reaches the sea. The three characters paths inevitably cross. Most of Dust Devil takes place in the Namibian desert in an African town called Bethany. Once a town full of life that is now practically deserted. Even the town’s sheriff has been offered two years salary to leave. Dust Devil is a supernatural tale with its name not only referring to the sand tornados but to the story’s cowboy who is in fact a demon. He is a demon that prays only on those who have lost hope. The film is partially narrated by a Shaman who was formerly a projectionist at the local drive-in (the drive-in’s last feature was to be The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires). He gives us much insight to the nature of the beast. Dust Devil is a slow grind but a haunting and mesmerizing one. The endless desert landscapes and moving skies provide the perfect accompaniment to the films theme of hopelessness. There are some beautifully executed and haunting dream sequences scattered through the story and some well used set pieces. One particular scene near the end of the film featuring a deserted sand-filled theatre where a projector comes on as Ben stands in front of the movie screen is fantastic. The score is also wonderful and lends much to the film’s vibe. Dust Devil relies on atmosphere and a slow and steady suspense; there is not much for action sequences nor is there much of a body count. Be warned, there are two versions of Dust Devil out there. The version I watched was called The Final Cut, but there is also a heavily edited version you can buy for five dollars. Apparently the cut version has no narration, less music and a couple scenes have been cut out all together. I was able to rent the final cut version but if you are one for buying titles unfortunately the final cut version is pretty pricy. Dust Devil is beautiful, bleak and completely enthralling.
#7 ARMY OF DARKNESS
Directed By: Sam Raimi
Army of Darkness is definitely my least favourite of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy but I still think it is an energetic crapload of fun. The series moves from horror (Evil Dead), to horror comedy (Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn) to a fantasy action-adventure in Army of Darkness. After going through a time portal Ash ends up in 1300 A.D. Ash is captured and thrown in a pit with a deadite who he defeats and is hailed as a hero. He falls for a woman named Sheila and is sent on a mission to locate and bring back the Necronomicon. Needless to say Ash’s journey does not go well. Along the way he is terrorized by tiny little versions of himself as well as a life-sized evil Ash. When he finds the book there are actually three books and in classic Ash style he forgets the special words he is to use before removing the book which causes all hell to break loose…literally. There are some pretty impressive and outrageously fun effects in Army of Darkness. I loved the Ray Harryhausen-esque army of skeleton soldiers and Evil Ash is a riot. Once again Ash takes quite a bit of bodily punishment. He is terrorized by mini versions of himself and drinks a pot of boiling water to torture one that jumps down his throat. The mini Ash forms the life-size evil Ash clone who deals him a few hearty blows in a three stooges like fight. Ash is as handsome and cheeky as ever spouting out hokey one-liners served up with a healthy dose of clumsy antics that make his character such a lovable smarty pants. I get a real kick out of Army of Darkness!
#6 INNOCENT BLOOD
Directed By: John Landis
Now Innocent Blood is a vampire flick I can really sink my teeth into. I hadn’t seen this flick in years and now I am wondering why in the hell not?! Innocent Blood is a crazy combination of comedy, horror and crime and is an absolute hoot! Marie is a vampire with a conscience whose personal code dictates she only kills criminals. Unfortunately she is interrupted after biting crime boss Sal and doesn’t get to finish the job. Sal wakes up in the morgue and realizing his new found status converts his crime family into an undead army. Marie sets out to make things right with the help of a cop named Joe. Innocent Blood is a fun movie played for laughs not scares from John Landis who brought us the outstanding American Werewolf in London. It is stylishly filmed and has plenty of action, solid special effects, blood and gore, sex and nudity and an array of recognizable cameos from the horror industry including Dario Argento, Linnea Quigley, Sam Raimi and Tom Savini. Anne Parillaud is sexy as hell as Marie and Anthony LaPaglia is solid as Joe the cop. Robert Loggia is a blast as crime boss Sal “the shark” Macelli. I completely forgot how balls to the wall Innocent Blood was! Landis is definitely not trying to please the masses here with the copious nudity, ridiculous amount of swearing and insane and gory sight gags. This is not a family film; this is a film for comedy horror fans who like it over the top. I enjoyed Innocent Blood so much I intend on adding it to my collection! Seriously entertaining fun!
#5 TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME
Directed By: David Lynch
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me did not come up on the IMDB horror search but I adore David Lynch and this qualifies enough in my mind. The film is somewhat of a prequel to the television show and could also I suppose be considered postscript to some extent. The film focuses on the last week of the life of Laura Palmer. The film opens with the investigation of the murder of Teresa Banks in Deer Meadow by the FBI. Among the agents is Dale Cooper but the investigation leads to a dead end. One year later we meet several students at a high school in the town of Twin Peaks; among them Laura Palmer. If you have never done so and are interested in checking out the television show you definitely do not want to watch Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. The movie divulges the shows greatest mystery of who killed Laura Palmer, not to mention Laura’s dark extracurricular activities that were contributing factors that led to her death. Since the film specifically focuses on Laura Palmer not every character from the show is part of the plot but the characters that are brought back are all played by the same actors and actresses with the exception of Lara Flynn Boyle who played Laura’s best friend Donna. There are additional characters introduced also including Chris Isaak, Kiefer Sutherland and David Bowie who all play FBI agents. Are real FBI agents that quirky and entertaining? Probably not. I honestly don’t know what more I can say about the film except to offer it does answer some questions left hanging from the show and it is full of weird, beautiful, imaginative imagery that is fascinating, trippy and at times terrifying. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is special for me because I had mad love for the show which featured some of the most interesting and unusual characters to ever appear on cable. I think Fire Walk with Me is a delicious companion piece to the show but I am not sure it would hold much interest for anyone else. Although in my opinion all, and any David Lynch is worth visiting.
#4 TETSUO II: BODY HAMMER
Directed By: Shin’ya Tsukamoto
I am probably one of the rare few who enjoyed Tetsuo II: Body Hammer as much as the original. Like its predecessor it is completely bizarre and visually mind blowing. Like the original film the metal fetish theme is the focus and the hyperkinetic visuals, stop motion animation and violence is even grander in this sequel. The film is in color this time around instead of black and white which obviously makes the gory bits stand out. I found the story in Tetsuo II: Body Hammer more coherent and it even answered some questions I had left after watching the original. The films protagonist, a salary man leading a regular sort of life with his wife and son has no memory of his life before he was eight years old. He becomes the target of a group of skinheads and an evil scientist’s experiment and finds his body transforming into a lethal weapon. Trying to explain the premise of Tetsuo II: Body Hammer is impossible in a short paragraph and this is all you need to know really. I highly recommend checking out the original first, although it isn’t really necessary as the two films are not exactly sequels. I loved Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s terrifying glassy vision of Tokyo with its dilapidated factories. The visuals really are something quite extraordinary and really should be seen to be believed. The family drama adds an interesting dynamic of tragedy and the film’s insane finale will not soon be forgotten. Shin’ya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer are two of the most wild and unique films I have ever seen! Tetuso II: Body Hammer is an action packed, gory, bizarre, jarring and dizzying experience like no other.
#3 MAN BITES DOG
Directed By: Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde
Man Bites Dog is yet another film to make the top ten lists that was not listed as a horror film on IMDB. I don’t believe the filmmakers had any intention of making a horror film, but considering its violence, its serial killer central character and the fact that I think this is an outstanding and unique film I am putting it on the list nonetheless. Man Bites Dog is a black and white mockumentary about a serial killer named Ben. This black as coal comedy hailing from Belgium features a charismatic (albeit racist and misogynistic) killer named Ben who agrees to let a film crew capture his horrific deeds. The film crew besides being complicit in the crimes just by the act of filming them gradually takes an active part in helping to commit the acts. This is a graphic and brutal film despite its comedic leanings. It features not just beatings, shootings and strangulations but a gang rape. The films intentions seem to be to make the viewer uncomfortable and further more gives you cause to feel guilty about watching. The character goes on tangents about immigrants, art and music among other topics and even introduces the crew to his family! You can’t help but laugh at the character and be amused by his audacious nature and than they pull the rug from under you and make you feel guilty for laughing. Ben seems completely indifferent to his crimes, at least until the tables are turned on him. Man Bites Dog is a grim declaration that uses violence to make a statement about society’s obsession with same. I certainly make no apologies for being a lifelong horror fan. I am a sane, reasonable adult who enjoys films that evoke strong emotion, and that would include those outside of the genre also. I will not deny however that I have seen some horror films over the years that made me feel sick and sad and guilty for sitting through them. To be perfectly honest though, I feel more guilt about being a human being when I read the news. Perhaps I am reading more into Man Bites Dog than what is actually there. Man Bites Dog is a well made, fascinating, darkly funny, disturbing and dare I say, sobering film.
Directed By: Bernard Rose
Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. I do enjoy a good urban legend! A well known artist and son of a slave falls in love with a white woman who he impregnates. A lynch mob descends upon the artist and cut off the hand he paints with and replaces it with a hook. The mob smears the artist with honey, chanting Candyman as he is stung to death by bees. Helen, a graduate student researching urban legends for a thesis learns of the legend of Candyman. The legend claims that repeating Candyman’s name five times while looking into a mirror will materialize the man who will than kill you with his hook. Helen and her friend Bernadette try it out but nothing happens. The two women decide to investigate a housing project called Cabrini-Green, the site of an unsolved murder allegedly linked to Candyman. While there they are told by a boy named Jake that a child was castrated by Candyman in a public restroom nearby. When Helen checks out the restroom she is attacked by a Candyman copycat who is later arrested. It turns out however that Helen’s summoning of the legend worked as Candyman appears to her. Candyman is based on a short story by Clive Barker. Bernard Rose moves the story from England to Chicago. Candyman is a gem of a horror film with an atmosphere so thick with intensity it could be cut with a knife. A genuinely creepy atmosphere that is beautifully complimented by Philip Glass’ haunting score. Smart, disturbing, spooky and wonderfully cast and acted. Helen is a strong and intelligent character that is played exquisitely by Virginia Madsen. Tony Todd is perfectly cast as the handsome and powerful urban legend and that fantastic voice of his is used to brilliant effect. Great use of the Chicago setting and little details like the artwork on the walls of Cabrini-Green are magic. Reality and surrealism collide in Rose’s expert visuals and he does not hold back with the gore. Candyman is horror done right, every detail is picture perfect including its outstanding story and balls out finale. Damn shame the sequels didn’t live up to the original; the third segment is almost unwatchable. Candyman is without a doubt one of the best horror films of the decade that should not be missed.
#1 DEAD ALIVE
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Dead Alive is my favourite horror comedy of all time and its position in the number one spot was an easy choice. Seriously, it is not “one” of my favourite horror-comedies it is my favourite; I put no other horror-comedy above it. Dead Alive is a fecking visual extravaganza and is not only the funniest horror-comedy but the goriest. Overbearing mother from hell Vera Cosgrove is bitten by a Sumatran Rat-Monkey while spying on her son Lionel and his date Paquita at the zoo. Vera becomes a zombie. Instead of killing his hideous mother Lionel attempts to keep her confined by tranquilizing her. Of course mum starts chomping down on visitors and soon Lionel has a gaggle of zombies locked in the basement. Unfortunately mum escapes but is hit by a tram. Because of this very public accident Lionel is forced to pretend his mother is dead. In order to keep her quiet during the funeral he gives her an extra heavy dose of the tranquilizer. Complicating his life further is the appearance of his greedy and sleazy Uncle Les who is looking to get a piece of the inheritance. Poor Lionel! All this and trying to juggle a new relationship! Timothy Balme and Diana Peñalver are both charming and delightful as Lionel and Paquita and Elizabeth Moody kicks some serious ass as the hideous Vera/mum! How delightful is it that it is a bite from a Sumatran Rat-Monkey that causes the zombie outbreak? What exactly is a Sumatran Rat-Monkey you ask? They are a rare species native to Skull Island (note the King Kong reference) and are tree monkeys that have been raped by plague ridden rats! And how many zombie films do you know of that feature zombies having sex that produce a zombie baby?! I don’t want to spoil all the surprises for you if for some bizarre reason you haven’t seen this film. Why have you not seen this film? Dead Alive is a gore laden zombie fest packed with piles and piles of blood and guts! Zombies are dismembered in all manner of ways including one of horror’s most epic scenes featuring a lawnmower! Even dismembering doesn’t always take them down and the non-infected are also forced to deal with animated intestines and severed heads among other goodies. And then there is the reappearance of Vera in the finale. Oh boy! If Lionel thought mom was demanding before he ain’t seen nothing yet!! Dead Alive is a gorehounds dream and it is outrageously fun, deliriously vile and insanely entertaining!