Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1993
It was my intention to post a top ten list each week during this 90s feature and I have already gone and dropped the ball! I had to dig pretty deep to come up with ten films for 1993. I would have liked to have gotten my hands on a copy of The Wicked City; a Hong Kong made Sci-Fi/horror, but no dice. I did not give any film from 1993 a perfect score. The top two are films I rated 4.5/5, films three and four were rated 4/5, five through seven were rated 3.5/5 and eight through ten are films I rated 3/5. I also gave the following four films a 3/5; Skinner, Jack Be Nimble, The Good Son and Bloodstone: Subspecies II.
*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 ED AND HIS DEAD MOTHER
Directed By: Jonathan Wacks
Ed and his Dead Mother is a horror-comedy of the PG variety. Ed is a serious mama’s boy who is awkward, likable and completely dedicated to the family hardware store. Ed would do anything to get his mother back, including making a deal with the Happy People Corporation to resurrect her. Ed lives with his Uncle Benny who is always telling Ed he needs to move on with his life. Imagine Uncle Benny’s surprise one morning when he finds his sister in the refrigerator peeling potatoes! Ned Beatty is great and gets the film’s better lines. I also enjoyed Gary Farmer who plays Big Lar, one of Ed’s hardware store employees. Eric Christmas is also memorable as a sales man for the Happy People Corporation. And of course there is the affable and talented Steve Buscemi who plays Ed, who is really this comedy’s straight man. Sadly the ladies are the weak link here. I don’t really think Miriam Margolyes who plays mother is to blame as she was animated and enthusiastic enough. The bigger problem was they just did not give her enough funny lines and/or scenarios. The dead mother really should have been the highlight shouldn’t she? She is not. Ed’s romantic interest, Storm (more of a strong breeze than a storm if you ask me) played by Sam Jenkins also does not get any particularly funny bits. She is awful pretty, but is rather a non-entity. There is very little horror outside of the resurrection of Ed’s dead mother and one death scene which we don’t get to see. Even the laughs are a clean affair. I guess I was hoping for something a little darker. The love story was unnecessary and the ending is terribly corny. Ed and his Dead Mother gave me enough laughs to warrant a bit more than a pass but consider it a light recommendation at best.
Directed By: Christophe Gans, Shûsuke Kaneko, Brian Yuzna
Necronomicon is an anthology of three stories based loosely on the writing of H.P. Lovecraft. The wraparound story even features Lovecraft as a character played by Jeffrey Combs. The Drowned is directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf, Silent Hill) and is visually appealing but has the weakest story of the trio. The story focuses on Edward de Lapoer who inherits an old mansion. Edward finds the diary of the relative who left him the home that tells the story of how he resurrected his dead wife and son. The flashback portion is well done and was full of promise. Unfortunately the latter half is mainly Edward and it is a stone cold drag. It does have a rather nice looking creature however. The second story is The Cold directed by Shûsuke Kaneko (Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) and had a pretty good story but lacked a little in the visual department. This story focuses on Dr. Madden who discovered the secret to eternal life and the young woman who inadvertently becomes involved with him. The performance from the excellent David Warner is what makes this segment stand out. I wasn’t crazy about the choice of Emily for the woman in his life. Emily seemed far too young and was not terribly charismatic. There is no chemistry between the two whatsoever. The Cold is a flawed but fairly entertaining tale. Whispers is the best of the trilogy and has a decent story and pretty nifty visuals. Whispers was directed by Brian Yuzna (Society, Bride of Re-Animator, The Dentist, Progeny, Return of the Living Dead III) who also directed the wraparound story. A pregnant cop’s lover/partner is pulled from their car after an accident. She pursues the perpetrator unaware that she is entering into an unimaginable world of nightmarish horror! This segment has some blood, gore and nice looking effects; a creepy atmosphere too. The story is paper thin but it serves its purpose. Necronomicon is flawed right, left and center. Each segment has its strengths and weaknesses but none of them knocked my socks off. Necronomicon did not take up much of my time and it definitely had its moments but the anthology as a whole package is just a touch better than mediocre. To read the full review click here.
#8 THE WASHING MACHINE
Directed By: Ruggero Deodato
There were still a few of the old school Italian directors churning out films in the 90s. The output from Italy was considerably slimmer than its heydays of the 60s, 70s and 80s and the quality was not what it once was. Nonetheless this is the first of three Italian entries on my top ten list for 1993. In a stronger year, a film I rated 3/5 would not make a top ten, but in 1993 The Washing Machine was one of the year’s stronger titles. The Washing Machine is the story of Maria, Vida and Ludmilla; three sisters who find a dead man in their washing machine. When the handsome Inspector Alexander Stacev shows up to investigate however there is no dead body to be found. An inspector who doesn’t have a case is nonetheless intrigued by the three sisters and their claims. Each sister attempts to frame the other for a crime that may not have even been committed. Inspector Stacev doesn’t seem too put off by each woman’s attempt to seduce him either. The Washing Machine is sex and nudity served with a side of murder. There is lots and lots of nudity. Frankly, it is far too light on the killing. It is also pretty light on story and some of the scenes drag badly. I do not know that I really understood the women’s motivation when it was all over. The final scene did give me a serious chuckle though. These are three sexy and saucy women, and I won’t deny despite its problems the film has its intriguing moments. The trio of bodacious babes and their handsome inspector were quite watchable.
#7 THE UNTOLD STORY
Directed By: Danny Lee & Herman Yau
The Untold Story is about Wong Chi Hang who has recently acquired The Eight Immortals Restaurant thanks to a gambling debt. The gambling debt is merely Hang’s motivation to kill which we witness in the films opening scene when he beats the crap out of a man and sets him on fire watching him burn alive. Hang is in fact a psychotic killer. I should mention also, he is using corpses for meat in his popular pork buns! Apparently this is a horror comedy. I get the horror part but I can not say I found The Untold Story particularly funny. There really is nothing funny about the Wong Chi Hang character. He is an unfriendly, self-righteous, crooked, violent prick. The laughs I guess are supposed to come from the inept police. The chief of police has a weakness for the ladies, or more specifically for prostitutes, but he is the only one who seems to have any brains. The three male cops are always insulting the lone female cop about needing to get laid and having small tits. As the viewer we are ten steps ahead of the cops. When the cops finally do catch up and figure out Hang is the guilty party they can not get him to confess. The cops end up torturing the hell out of Hang. Hang’s confession of how he eliminated the former owner of The Eight Immortals Restaurant and his family is truly chilling and horrific. I wasn’t terribly amused by the comedy; the mix of comedy and violence was awkward and a bit discomforting. I have to admit that I found the hideous Wong Chi Hang story (apparently based on real events?!) brutal, grotesque but thoroughly intriguing. It superseded the cop shit. The violence is very nasty and heartless and hugely memorable. I knew of Anthony Wong and had seen him in the odd thing, but it would seem he was a bigger name than I realized. This is at least the fifth film I’ve seen him in from the decade and Wong has played a creepilious creep in every last one. He is frightfully good at playing creeps. I almost feel a little guilty about enjoying The Untold Story as it really is a nasty and ugly little film. But what can I say? Anthony Wong rocks!
#6 THE DARK HALF
Directed By: George A. Romero
The Dark Half is based on the book by Stephen King and is directed by George A. Romero. The story is about Thad Beaumont who as a child had a tumor removed from his brain that contained pieces of his unborn twin. Thad grows up and gets married and has twins of his own and life is honky dory; until he is blackmailed. Thad has been writing a series of popular violent crime novels under the name George Stark. Instead of giving in to the blackmailing bastard Thad discusses it with his publisher and they go to the press themselves. Thad has buried George Stark for good but Stark apparently does not much care for being dead. Thad, by sheer will materializes George Stark in to an actual walking, talking, murdering entity. The Dark Half introduces some ideas that are not followed through and some of the action felt a touch redundant but the story is intriguing, the acting is good, the effects are decent and there are some effective moments of horror. The Dark Half is flawed by entertaining. To read the full review click here.
Directed By: Dario Argento
Dario Argento’s Trauma is the second Italian made entry to find a place on my top ten list for 1993. As far as I am aware, Trauma is the only title Argento filmed in the USA; Minnesota to be specific. It is also the first film he directed to star his daughter Asia (there would be several more). The story is about Aura Petrescu, a young woman who along with David Parsons, her newly acquired love interest set out to investigate the murder of her parents. The acting is pretty decent with memorable turns from Piper Laurie, Frederic Forrest, James Russo and Brad Dourif. The two characters really in focus here are Aura and David. As Aura, Argento manages to garner some empathy and is quite likable and Christopher Rydell is also amiable enough; but a lack of chemistry does work against both characters. Don’t let the whole filmed in the USA thing turn you off, this is distinctly European and has Argento’s stamp all over it. Argento’s always impressive eye for detail and creative shots are fully intact. I always enjoy a good death scene that takes place in the snow or rain and Argento includes some really lovely oppressive and bleak rain scenes that are very effective. While there is not as much gore as other Argento films it does have a few very nice set pieces to rave about. With a killer known as the Headhunter you can rest assured people do lose their heads and that is always fun! With Tom Savini on board to take care of the makeup effects you know you are in good hands. Trauma is not without flaws, but I really don’t understand the hate out there for this film. Trauma is a compelling horror thriller; visually alluring, atmospheric and a rather underappreciated Giallo.
#4 BODY MELT
Directed By: Philip Brophy
Body Melt is a satirical look at the big business of fitness in the late 80s and early 90s. It is a hilariously gross horror-comedy oozing with bodily fluids. Vimuville is a health spa that is marketing a new line of vitamins. They have chosen the good people of Pebbles Court in Homesville to be part of their experiment. Their experiments spare no one; kids, pregnant women, business men. Bodies melt, explode, implode and sometimes tentacles come crawling out and placentas attack and kill husbands. Side effects will include severe hallucinations and death! There is even a mutant family subplot. Body Melt has it all! It is completely bananas. Body Melt is a cheap, cheesy, cheeky, funny flick full of free flowing body fluids and a delightfully vile horror-comedy that should appeal to fans of low-budget and low-brow schlock. To read the full review click here.
#3 RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III
Directed By: Brian Yuzna
I am a huge fan of Dan O’Bannon’s 1985 film The Return of the Living Dead. I think it is one of the best horror comedies ever and it has long held a position on my top 100 favourite horror movies of all time. Unlike the original, Return of the Living Dead III is not a horror-comedy but rather straight up horror served with a side of love story. Love stories in horror films are generally a big turnoff in my book; but in Return of the Living Dead III it actually works. Return of the Living Dead III has very little in common with the first two films, but don’t let that turn you off. Return of the Living Dead III is a sequel that can be enjoyed on its own merit. To impress Julie the girl he loves, Curt steels his father’s security key card. Curt’s pop is a high ranking Colonel working on a top secret project at a nearby military base. Julie and Curt sneak in one night and witness what appears to be a dead man being brought back to life. The couple leaves the facility undetected. Later that same evening Colonel dad informs Curt that he has been transferred and they will be leaving at the end of the week. Curt decides to runaway with Julie and start a new life. Unfortunately they are in a motorcycle accident and Julie is killed. Faster than you can say “I didn’t see that coming” Curt has Julie inside the military facility and abracadabra Julie is back from the dead. I really can’t say enough about the awesome effects and makeup in Return of the Living Dead III! The zombies are all nasty, creative and grotesque and the gore effects are beautiful. Watch out for giraffe neck zombie…he was fan-freaking-tastic!! Practical effects this good should be applauded. Return of the Living Dead III has excellent action sequences, intensity, great effects, beauty gore and a stand out performance from Melinda Clarke who plays Julie. Return of the Living Dead III is a very entertaining zombie flick. To read the full review click here.
#2 DARK WATERS
Directed By: Mariano Baino
The final Italian entry on my top ten is Mariano Baino’s excellent Dark Waters; sadly the only full-length feature film from the director thus far. Dark Waters is the story of Elizabeth whom embarks on a journey to investigate a remote convent. After the recent death of her father Elizabeth learns he had been sending significant amounts of money to this convent. The haunting stone fortress cut off from the world is an intimidating place and the convent’s nuns are cold and unfriendly but nonetheless allow Elizabeth to stay. Elizabeth begins to experience relenting and horrifying nightmares and soon uncovers the convents secrets which relate to her own past. Elizabeth finds out that some secrets are best left undiscovered. Dark Waters is a visceral experience that leaves a lasting impression. The island is the most beautifully unappealing, bleak, desolate and godforsaken place you can possibly imagine. The nuns are a grim and acidic bunch led by a blind and particularly salty Mother Superior. They make no attempt to help Elizabeth find her answers with the exception of one young nun named Sarah. Mariano Baino makes the most of the sublimely perfect setting. Dark Waters pitch perfect atmosphere is beautifully complimented by Elizabeth’s terrifying nightmares. It is clear that director Mariano Baino was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. Wait until you get a glimpse of the creature. Unfortunately, you do get only a glance, and I must admit I desired to see more. The use of candles and the various other religiously-oriented props are superb and enhance every last shot in the film. There are some genuinely creepy scenes of nuns featuring burning crosses and the like, and anyone who digs badass nuns will be thrilled. Louise Salter is very good as Elizabeth; I hoped for her survival; although things never look very promising for her character. My only complaint really is the ending felt a bit rushed, but by no means was it unsatisfying. Dark Waters is a gorgeously filmed, well-acted atmospheric horror film with some truly terrifying moments. Mariano Baino needs to make another film!
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro
Cronos was the first full-length feature film from Mexican director Guillermo del Toro and it is a hell of a debut! Cronos remains to this day one of the most unique cinematic entries in the vampire mythos. Jesus Gris is a kind elderly man who owns an antique shop. He finds a gold scarab hidden inside a hollowed out archangel which affixes itself to his skin and injects him with a needle. Soon after he realizes the scarab stab has given him new vigor and begins to knock years from his age. Meanwhile, an eccentric dying man named De la Guardia has been collecting information about the very same golden scarab and has purchased several archangels to find it. De la Guardia with the help of his thug nephew Angel will stop at nothing to acquire it. The Scarab device is 450 years old when Jesus finds it; the creation of an alchemist searching for eternal life. The inner workings of the device which are detailed in a particularly excellent scene features a living insect fitted with internal clockwork. Pretty intricate, and amazing. Of course there is always a price to pay for eternal life and in the case of Cronos it comes in the form of an overwhelming desire for blood. Jesus Gris is a good man, but even he can not fight the lure of eternal life! The visuals in the film are really quite impressive and del Toro makes the most of the limited budget with flare and style. There are some really great effects in Cronos. There is a bit of blood and gore too. What really elevates Cronos are the characterizations and the performances. I can’t say enough good things about the charming Federico Luppi who plays Jesus. He is the most sympathetic and likable blood sucker ever. He has a genuinely sweet relationship with his granddaughter Aurora, who is an adorable and absolutely delightful little thing. Claudio Brook who plays De la Guardia is also outstanding and his eccentric brute of a nephew played by Ron Perlman steals every scene he is in. There were a few questionable plot points but they have little effect on the overall picture. Cronos is a well made, original, atmospheric, funny, dark, beautifully acted and effective horror film well worth a viewing (and multiple viewings at that!).