2019 In Film – A Preview – May

The Kid

Another Indie flick directed by Vincent D’Onforio, this time it’s a Western about Billy The Kid and Pat Garrett. We’ve seen that story on screen countless times now, but it looks like here it’s viewed through the eyes of some random child. For an Indie film there are a couple of big names starring – Ethan Hawke and Chris Pratt.

UglyDolls

This sounds like it could be terrible – an animation by Troublemaker Studios with voice ‘talent’ including Pitbull, Kelly Clarkson, a Jonas etc, based on a toy fad from 20 years ago. The music in the trailer is atrocious…. and that’s about it. One for the kids.

The Hustle

A remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Well, I didn’t like that film and it’s being directed by a semi-popular English stand-up comedian that I’m not too interested in. He’s starred in TV shows over here too, but none I’ve seen. Looks like they’re going the Ghostbusters remake and making it about the ladies. That worked well last time. Why not just create an original story? The only reason the original was interesting was because it was about old guys. This time it’s about the young and pretty. I have no reason in the world to see this beyond saying I’ve seen it.

Detective Pikachu

This caused a bit of a ruckus though? Not sure why. I’ve never played a proper Pokemon game so I have no attachment. It’ll probably be bad, but they might go The Lego Movie route and get lucky.

My Son

French film about a man searching for his son, directed by Christian Carion. He starred in Tell No One which I liked, and he directed Joyeux Noel which I liked. Plus, Melanie Laurent is in it, along with Guillaume Canet. This is actually a 2017 film, getting a US release now.

Wild Rose

Scottish singer dreams of being a star in Nashville. No thanks. I like Sophie Okonedo, but everyone else and everything thing else about this screams ‘avoid at all costs’ for me.

The Third Wife

So, the poster is supposed to be a bleeding vagina, right? Set in 19th Century Vietnam, which is something new to me and it’s about a young girl about to be married. Don’t know anything else about anyone involved.

John Wick 3

I haven’t seen the second, I liked the first, and I’m usually up for anything Keanu wants to do. More guns, more bad guys getting blasted to pieces, what more do you need?

The Sun Is Also A Star

The synopsis simply reads ‘a teenager finds love at a difficult time in her family’s life’. Directed, written, and starring mostly women I’m not familiar with so possibly a unique perspective or possibly more of the same.

Ad Astra

This one has been talked about for a while – a sci-fi thriller with Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland heading a large extended cast. It’s James Gray’s follow up to The Lost City Of Z which I thoroughly enjoyed so I’m hoping for more adventure and soft philosophical ruminations.

Aladdin

Another Disney remake and more howling of ‘why’ at the sky. I don’t see how they can improve upon the original, but that’s not really the point is it. This is nothing more than Disney showing off how rich they are, how fancy they can make a world look, and how much more money they can make off us. No doubt it will be perfectly serviceable, but why they would give a Muslim love story of magic and wonder to Cockney hack Guy Ritchie, who hasn’t had a hit in ever, is anyone’s guess.

Booksmart

Olivia Wilde’s feature directing debut. Unfortunately the plot sounds terrible – two smart girls realize they spent their time in school studying instead of ‘having fun’ and decide to pile in all the fun in one night. In other words – I don’t care.

Bright Burn

So, I’m writing all these Preview posts on the same day and in one of the later or earlier months there’s an X-Men spin off where I mention how superhero and horror movies seem like the perfect – no, that’s not the right word – seem like the correct crossover. It looks like we’re getting a few of these this year, with Brightburn looking like another. If studios are all playing this game then of course it means it’s going to get saturated pretty quickly, but this will be one of the first. Lets hope it’s not cheapened and they go full horror. I’m not a huge fan of Elizabeth Banks and don’t have a definite opinion on the rest of the cast, but I’m hoping for something good with this.

Minecraft: The Movie

I’ve never played the game, but you’d have to have been living under a block (heh) to know exactly what it is. I’m surprised it’s taken till now to cash in with a movie, but I’m also fairly certain there’s already been a TV series/movie on it. Surely the only question here is how bad it can actually be?

Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

I need to go back and watch Godzilla and Kong Island again – I liked them at the time but can remember very little about them. A director I like, a cast I like, and the trailer makes it look huge. lets hope the story is good and not just an excuse for big beasties to knock lumps out of each other.

Rocketman

I never liked the original… it was boring, too nicey nice. Only joking, this is Elton John we’re talking about, not the superhero. I’m not an Elton fan either so I’ll pass. Is this going to be the next thing – bios of 70s pop rock stars – after that Queen one? How long until they get to someone I’m actually interested in, like Alice Cooper or Led Zep? Never? I’m fine with that, cheers.

The Rosie Project

This has a long history, which has become gradually less inspiring – originally Jennifer Lawrence was attached, dropped out, Linklater was due to direct, turned it down, and now it’s all people you’ve never heard of. It’s a romance based on a hit Australian novel about a scientist who is useless with women who decides to make a questionnaire to assess how suitable each woman he meets is for him. In other words, this should be a horror movie, not a romance. Then again, we already have Audition, so good luck topping that. Won’t be seeing this.

Let us know which of the above movies you’ll excited about seeing!

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2019 In Film – A Preview – April

Shazam!

David Sandberg joins the comic world takeover….. I don’t really know what this is. Again I’ve heard bloggers and people on Facebook talk about it but I don’t know anything about the character. I thought he was meant to be some sort of joke? No idea, I’m sure I won’t see this for many a year.

Pet Sematary

King’s book is one of the most legitimately horrific books in history, utterly heartbreaking, bleak, and horrible. Everyone knows the original movie, with its great make-up and one-liners. I have a feeling this will be more tame, but you can be sure I’ll see it anyway. If it really goes for the throat, it could be a classic, but mainstream horror these days usually avoids going full dark, though there has been a turn in the tides somewhat. I’ve no idea who the directors are, so I don’t have high hopes.

Farmageddon

It’s Shaun The Sheep. These are usually funny and charming enough.

Hellboy

The Hellboy movies, and those comic book movies in general which don’t form part of some extended universe are always more interesting to me. There’s no concern about what’s going to happen next and no as much worry about pissing hardcore fans off. That being said, I don’t think this needs to be rebooted and even though it’s Neil Marshall directing and Milla Jovovich, I can’t get too excited. This should have been part three of the original trilogy with Perlman and Del Toro, but alas.

Missing Link

It’s stop motion animation so at least it might look different from the norm, and the cast is interesting enough, but how often are these none Disney/Dreamworks movies any use?

Breathrough

It seems to be another one of those religious movies which have been getting more popular recently. In other words – no chance I’m seeing this – not until they make a good one.

Little

Okay… ex Nascar driver directs a movie based on an idea by a fourteen year old child actress from a TV show I’ve never seen. Indeed.

The Curse Of La Llorona

I’ve kept tabs on this for a while – set in 70s LA with a primarily Latino cast, dealing with Mexican supernatural folklore – sounds right up my alley. Then again, these are rarely better than watchable… hopefully it goes for more than generic jumpscares and loud noises.

Under The Silver Lake

It’s A24, it’s David Robert Mitchell, and it concerns missing people and conspiracy theories – there’s no reason I shouldn’t like this.

After

Apparently New Adult Fiction is a thing. The purist in me is really struggling not to say something like ‘so it’s for people barely intelligent enough to graduate from YA and with the emotional maturity of a brick’ but every so often I read shite like this. If there’s zombies. This doesn’t have zombies, but it does have a story about ‘a good girl’s relationship with a bad boy’. People are idiots.

Avengers: Endgame

Haven’t seen anything past the first Avengers movie so don’t care about this, at least not until I catch up with the other four hundred Marvel movies I haven’t watched yet.

The Intruder

A couple buys their dream home, but the previous owner isn’t happy. You’ve seen it a million times, but here it’s brought to you by Dennis Quaid and Deon Taylor who always seems on the verge of making something good.

The Best Of Enemies

Normally a title like that would be enough to turn me off, but it stars Taraji P Henson and Sam Rockwell and it’s based around the relationship between a Ku Klux Clan guy and Civil Rights activist. Should be good, not sure when I’ll get to it. With North America in the state it’s in now (read – the state it’s always been but only owning up to it once again now) this should be a timely drama – lets see if it has the balls to go the distance.

Peterloo

 I’m not the biggest Mike Leigh fan, but at least he makes stuff that you don’t usually see. I’ll see it as long as it doesn’t go down the overly dry, stiff route because the cast is strong. Seems like another timely one as Britain is facing a shitstorm just as bad as whatever mess the US is in, though to be honest I know nothing of the history of this event.

Teen Spirit

On principle alone, being a huge Nirvana fan, I’m outright refusing to see this. Yes, I know it has nothing to do with Nirvana but you seriously think they didn’t pick that name by association? By all means use that title for an interesting film, but using it in what seems to be yet another story of a pop stars rise to fame? Fuck right off. Right now.

Girls Of The Sun

Yes. Sold. Mostly female cast with female director about the women fighters in Iraq? This should be on everyone’s list ahead of the latest Marvel attempt at action. Of course there’s every chance this could be terrible too, but at least it has a hook.

High Life

Claire Denis does sci-fi. Fair enough, I’ll give it a shot. Throw in Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche and I’m double sold.

Rafiki

A Kenyan movie about a lesbian relationship. Already banned in Kenya, because of course it is, this should hopefully give hope to anyone there who manages to see it. I don’t know anything else about it, but can’t say I’ll ever see it unless it does big business and gets a wider release.

Which films of April are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!

2019 In Film – A Preview – January

Greetings, Glancers! 2018 was a year in which some movies were released. I can’t remember which, but that’s only because most of them were crap and I’m still drunk from Christmas. 2019 will see the release of even more films to be excited and bored by, and just like every other stinking blogger out there who craves the anonymous approval of people they’ll never meet, I’m here to finger the internet (look on Wikipedia) to see which upcoming movies might interest me. A lot of films won’t have been announced yet and my list most likely won’t include minor releases, straight to DVD or streaming, or foreign films (which tend to be the ones I’m most interested in). Today, it’s the first month of 2019 – Krocus (January)!

Escape Room

We kick off the year with what will most likely be a forgotten horror movie – that’s fine with me as even the most forgettable horror is more interesting to me than most of the recent Oscar Bait. Escape Rooms are all the rage these days – cheap mobile phone games turning into fully fledged hen-do entertainment. Hell, even Belfast has a few of these. Not that I’ve been to any. it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie about this fad, even though similar ideas have been shown on screen before. Best hope for this is that it becomes a Saw/Cube knockoff. The cast doesn’t really contain anyone I’m overly interested in and the director hasn’t done anything I’ve loved – he wrote the worst Paranormal Activity entry and directed an Insidious movie which I haven’t seen yet, though I did enjoy The Taking of Deborah Logan. The trailer is fairly standard as far as modern horror trailers go – it basically shows the entire movie with no spoiler warning – and what’s with the use of all the shitty old timey songs? I assume it’s meant to be creepy, but it never is and just annoys me as the songs are invariably crap. I actually like the idea behind this – mazes and puzzles have always fascinated me, and movies concerning them I’ll always give a chance, but I can’t say I have high hopes. I’ve talked enough about this movie which I probably won’t see for a few years.

A Dog’s Way Home

I’ve always wondered how these types of films get made. I mean, does anyone go and see them? January is usually a dumping ground as no-one can be arsed freezing their arse off to go and watch something which doesn’t feature a Stan Lee cameo, but these sweet and harmless movies seem more suited to the small screen. It’s about a dog who gets separated from its owner and begins a journey home. I know you read about these things in the news from time to time, but in reality 90% of these end the same way – the dog being hit by a car, starving to death, or being picked up by a warden and then euthanized after a few days of starving. Why doesn’t anyone make a movie like that? Oh, right. Lets give it some credit – it stars the great Ashley Judd for some reason, and it’s directed by Charles Martin Smith who I’ve always enjoyed as an actor (and who of course directed the pilot episode of Buffy). I can’t imagine I’ll ever see this.

The Upside

Well, it’s a remake of the hit French film so we’re already on shaky ground, and it’s an idea we’ve already seen before in films like Scent Of A Woman. I can’t imagine anything new or interesting here – it’s like a buddy cop movie without the action. And with that cast, probably without the comedy. Plus, it has been delayed for a year already, so lets not pretend this is going to be anything but balls. I like Bryan Cranston, I like Nicole Kidman, but I can’t take Kevin Hart seriously as a lead actor, or a comedian, or a human…. I think I’ll pass.

Glass

Now we’re talking. Unbreakable is my favourite Shyamalan movie and he has been on an upswing recently. I enjoyed Split and although I’m apprehensive about how this will all work as the trailer made things look too action packed, I’m still fully on board. It’ll be good to see if Willis actually pulls his fist out of his ass and does something worthwhile too.

The Kid Who Would Be King

There has been a rejuvenation of all those 80s kids adventure movies recently, thanks to the success of Stranger Things – that’s not where it started, but that’s likely what has enabled so many to go into production. It’s exactly the sort of movie I would have loved growing up so I’m hoping for some nostalgic charm here rather than generic member-berry stuff. The story and cast seem so-so, but I have always like Cornish since the Adam and Joe days. Hopefully something good here, but again I don’t have high hopes. Andy Serkis’s son is the lead in his debut – I’m generally not a fan of such nepotism but it’s ridiculously prevalent in the business and always has been. Which reminds me, I must write a post about that.

Serenity

It’s not Joss Whedon, so I’m already depressed. This sounds like one of those cheap ‘sexy’ 90s thrillers where the only thing less shocking than another hackneyed double cross was the sight of an A-Lister in a thong. I like the cast though none of them are must sees for me, though Knight is generally a talented writer. I already know I’ll probably never see this unless it hits Showgirls levels of dirt but I’m sure someone out there will get something out of it (a quick fap).

The Aspern Papers

I’ll admit I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s on my list. I like the idea, though the fact that it stars various socialites and members of the Redgrave clan has me on edge. Also, I’m not a big fan of costume stuff.

Sgt. Will Gardner

This looks interesting; again it’s an idea we’ve seen before – a military vet comes home only to find an internal war which affects his daily life and relationships. These films are always interesting to me though they rarely go beyond that to something more, and although it’s a subject often tackled in films it’s one that isn’t discussed enough in reality and leads to devastating multi-generational harm – something that is likely to get worse with the Warmonger-In-Chief. It also looks like a road movie, and I love me a good road movie. I do have a couple of concerns – first, that it will be too patriotic, something I can’t stand or understand (COuntry music shite in the trailer), and second that it looks like a passion project by Martini who writes, directs, and stars. Oh yeah – Martini almost always plays a soldier or military dude in movies – what’s that about? I do love the cast though – Robert Patrick, Gary Sinise, Lily Rabe, Dermot Mulroney, JoBeth Williams, Liz Rohm, are all performers I admire.

The Heiresses

At first glance I thought this was a costume drama, at least a foreign costume drama which usually trumps Hollywood’s stuff for me, but one second glance that’s not the case. It looks like a story about two wealthy friends suddenly rendered poor and how they cope. I’ll probably never see it.

An Acceptable Loss

See, the problem I have with films like this is that they feel that they could have been, and already have been covered in a single TV episode. Person Of Interest deals with stuff like this all the time. However, I’m all for keeping Jamie Lee Curtis busy as she is a vastly underrated and underused actress. Tika Sumpter I don’t know much about while director Joe Chappelle is known more for his TV work than his crappy horror movies. Actually, looking at his TV credits, that pretty much confirms my original point.

Adult Life Skills

See, the problem I have with quirky indie movies like this is that people like this don’t really exist in real life and when they do, they are seriously damaged individuals. Of course there are many people out there who like to claim they are quirky in this manner, but that’s emotional damage of another sort. I have no qualms admitting my own damage and the fact that I often hate myself for my quirks, but they I don’t go around making a show of them. That along with the fact that the humour in these films almost always doesn’t work for me is pretty much ensuring this will be a no no. The positive risk with this though is that when these films do work for me, I love them and they become an all time favourite. The fact that this was made in 2016 doesn’t bode well.

The Standoff At Sparrow Creek

Now, this is more like it. This has been getting rave reviews on the festival circuit, and it looks and sounds fantastic. It has a cast featuring non-A-Listers that I love including Patrick Fischler, Chris Mulkey, James Badge Dale, and it seems like a limited set seige thriller. That set-up is of course one of my favourites, with films like Assault On Precinct 13. Reservoir Dogs, and the original Dead Trilogy all winning examples. I have high hopes for this one, but I’m sure it won’t be anywhere near a Cinema near me.

King Of Thieves

Where siege movies are intriguing to me, heist movies usually don’t I admire the cinematic touches, but they too often follow tropes I don’t like and most annoyingly they glamourize the whole thing. Thieves are scumbags – I don’t care what the motivation is, I don’t care how stylish they make it look, or how nifty they (always) look in suits – they’re scumbags taking money from the rest of us and they don’t deserve our attention. You already know exactly what this will be like, ignoring the fact that it’s based on a true story and has the unique quality of featuring a bunch of old guys. It’s good the cast it still getting work, and most of them I like, but for me when I’ve seen one heist movie, I’ve seen them all.

The Wild Pear Tree

Another films receiving rave reviews since Cannes, this one I have no doubt will be good, but again it’s subject matter I can’t get overly invested in. It looks both gorgeous and dank, Ceylan certainly has a unique voice, and his stuff is different from the usual Hollywood fare. I just need to be in the right frame of mind for it.

Which January releases interest you? Let us know in the comments!

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2005

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

Close, but you’re way off: Corpse Bride. The Devil’s Rejects. A History Of Violence. Serenity.

10: Land Of The Dead (US) George A Romero

9: Hostel (US) Eli Roth

8: A Bittersweet Life (SK) Kim Jee Woon

7: Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (SK) Chan Wook Park

6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (US) Shane Black

5: The Descent (UK) Neil Marshall

4: The 40 Year Old Virgin (US) Judd Apatow

3: Revenge Of The Sith (US) George Lucas

2: Sin City (US) Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino

1: Batman Begins (US/UK) Christopher Nolan

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Two

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: None

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2004

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

As always, here is the group which didn’t quite cut it: Napoleon Dynamite. The Passion Of The Christ. Team America. The Terminal. Dead Man’s Shoes. Hellboy.

r-point

10: District 13 (France) Pierre Morel

9: A Very Long Engagement (France) Jean Pierre Jeunet

8: R-Point (SK) Kong Su Chang

7: Shaun Of The Dead (UK/US/France) Edgar Wright

6: Spider-Man 2 (US) Sam Raimi

5: House Of Flying Daggers (China/HK) Zhang Yimou

4: Saw (US) James Wan

3: The Grudge (US) Takashi Shimizu

2: Kill Bill Volume 2 (US) Quentin Tarantino

1: Dawn Of The Dead (US) Zach Snyder

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: x

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: None

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2003

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

As always, the not quites: Big Fish. Freddy Vs Jason. House Of 1000 Corpses. Dogville. The Last Samurai. School Of Rock.

10: The Dreamers (UK/US/France/Italy) Bernardo Bertolucci

9: Underworld (US/UK/Hungary/Germany) Len Wiseman

8: Kill Bill Vol 1 (US) Quentin Tarantino

7: A Mighty Wind (US) Christopher Guest

6: The Curse of The Black Pearl (US) Gore Verbinski

5: Zatoichi (Japan) Takeshi Kitano

5. Oldboy (SK) Chan Wook Park

4: A Tale Of Two Sisters (SK) Kim Jee Woon

3: Ju On (Japan) Takashi Shimizu

2: The Return Of The King (NZ/US) Peter Jackson

1: X2 (US) Bryan Singer

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Three (Including the top grosser)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One – the winner

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2002

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

Lets get the almosts done first: Dog Soldiers. Bubba Ho-Tep.

10: City Of God (Brazil) Fernando Meirelles

9: Equilibrium (US) Kurt Wimmer

8: Hero (China) Zhang Yimou

7: Infernal Affairs (HK) Andrew Lau/Alan Mak

6: The Pianist (France/Germany/Poland/UK) Roman Polanski

5: Dark Water (Japan) Hideo Nakata

4: The Eye (HK/Singapore) The Pang Brothers

3: The Twilight Samurai (Japan) Yoji Yamada

2: 28 Days Later (UK) Danny Boyle

1: Sympathy For Mr Vengeance (SK) Chan Wook Park

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: One (The Winner)

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Two

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 2001

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

It has been another rough week – one of my friend’s sons was shot and killed in San Jose a couple of days ago. It’s hard to point fingers but it’s even harder to not feel angry at a world which allows such acts to take place. One of my picks is a film I remember him always watching as a kid.

As always, lets get the almosts out of the way: Brotherhood of The Wolf. Enemy At The Gates. Spirited Away. Donnie Darko. Y Tu Mama Tambien. Monster’s Ball. The Happiness Of The katakuris. Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back

10: The Majestic (US) Frank Darabont

9: Ichi The Killer (Japan) Takashi Miike

8: Session 9 (US) Brad Anderson

7: The Mummy Returns (US) Stephen Sommers

6: Frailty (US/Germany/Italy) Bill Paxton

5: Bully (US) Larry Clark

4: Visitor Q (Japan) Takashi Miike

3: Mulholland Drive (US/France) David Lynch

2: The Fellowship Of The Ring (NZ/US): Peter Jackson

1: Amelie (France/Germany) Jean Pierre Jeunet

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Two

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: One

Annihilation

The furor around streaming versus big screen is an interesting one – everyone has an opinion on it. Personally I feel that if the director’s intention (as was the case here) was for the film to be seen on the big screen then that is where the film should debut. If I had the power (and in another part of The Spac Hole I do) I would want every film to debut in Cinema. Hell, I would want to watch every TV show on the big screen too – the quality of television these days almost demands that shows with spectacle such as GOT and TWD should be seen with a crowd on a massive screen. However, the world is continuing to move away from such things – films are now becoming available on smaller and smaller screens, in more and more portable ways, and are becoming both more personal and less engaged experiences. Personal in that you can sit watching with headphones in bed or on the train or on the trap with no-one else annoying you, but less engaged in that you’re more likely to watch the movie in short bursts instead of a single sitting – something which I can’t stand but freely admit to doing more and more.

Annihilation is the latest film from Alex Garland – riding high after Ex Machina – with this film being another intelligent entry into a new wave of sci-fi movies. Based on the story of the same name (nope, haven’t read it) it follows an all-women group of scientists and soldiers as they venture into a wavering phenomenon which has arrived in the USA and has been growing steadily. This shimmer, as they call it, appeared three years ago, and all attempts to investigate successfully have failed – recording equipment yields no results, data is cursory, and any people who have gone into it have never returned. That is until one solider, Kane, returns home after having entered the shimmer a year earlier, although he has no memory of his lost time and is disoriented and sick. His wife, played by Natalie Portman, joins the all female team to enter the shimmer and find some answers once and for all.

I haven’t read many reviews of the film so far, but I imagine comparisons to 2001 will be frequently made. The film is a journey of body and mind – not quite the action epic I was anticipating when I first heard about it. There is action, but this is more akin to something like Moon than Aliens. There are meditations on guilt, depression, hope, and a lot of digestible science to chew on, though it might take multiple viewings to fully swallow and appreciate. The visuals are often stunning and the performances are uniformly strong, albeit mostly on the samey side – almost every character seems to be in a malaise of some sort and it’s really only Portman and Leigh’s characters how generate and depth or feeling. On a visual level it’s undoubtedly a success, from a thematic and philosophical perspective I imagine it will have more supporters than detractors, while on an emotional level the coldness left me… cold. The struggles near the end reminded me of the similar struggles for survival of Gravity but didn’t affect me on as personal a level. Another watch might make me think differently, but at this point in time it’s not a film I feel that I need to see again.

Nightman’s Favourite Films Of The 1990s

I continue my summary of my favourite films by year and by decade with this, my favourite films of the 1990s. Although I spent seven years in the 1980s, it’s really the 90s that most of my ‘growing up’ took place. It’s when I changed schools, became a teen, and all those important things. In terms of my love of film, it’s the decade that I started realizing that films were actually pieces of work that took years of planning and work to create – from the money men to the writers to the director and everyone else involved, while previously I only recognised a film by who starred in it. My tastes continued to be a love of action and horror and as the decade came to a close I was looking further afield for the sort of kicks that Hollywood could no longer provide. Regardless, this list will likely contain mostly American films, though the explosion of indie talent means that even those won’t necessarily be ‘Hollywood’. This could be a long post too, as many of my all time favourites came out in this decade. Essentially everything outside of the top seven can be in any order. Enough balls, lets do this.

21: The Blair Witch Project (1991)

Lets kick things off with a film that received a lot of hate from the horror community. It still divides horror fans with little middle ground – you either love it, or see it as boring, scare-free, and the main reason we have so many terrible shaky cam movies now. If there is any middle ground, it’s those people who say that the film is 95% walking around a forest, and the last 5% of the movie being genuinely terrifying. Obviously I love it, and a large part of that is due to the last 10 minutes or so – what makes the ending so chilling though is everything that comes before it. The three characters here, while they have their moments, are less annoying and more human than most you’ll find in this type of film and make less dubious decisions. The mythology of the film is interesting too, not least because it has basis in historical fact – I’m talking about the whole Witch Trials and Puritan fear-mongering of previous centuries here. Secondly, witches are a type of supernatural creature sorely underrepresented in movies, even in horror fiction as a whole. There are a few standout movies of course.

Obviously not the first found footage movie, The Blair With Project is nevertheless the most influential – it’s still the poster boy for the sub-genre. I remember the hysteria when this was released and I saw it as soon as I could. I watched the related documentary and I bought a related book detailing the history of the township. I love how the movie built up this little universe all of its own. I was mystified though by the people who actually bought into the advertising, believing the film to be real – I’m still not sure how people were fooled by this. The film has such a simple set up – a trio of students are making a documentary about a small town and the mythology surrounding it. They travel to the town, meet a few locals, and head out into the massive woods where evil is meant to lurk. They go missing and a few years later their video footage is found – the film is that footage. In the footage we see them getting stalked by something unseen – the group believe it could be locals having fun but they quickly become disoriented, paranoid, and fight among themselves. They get lost, they see and hear stranger things, and… well, you either know the rest or should watch yourself. I’ve never been scared of camping, or woods, or isolation, or anything like that – in fact I find such things comforting. I’ve no idea why the film creeps me out so much – I can only assume it’s the idea of a witch, some ancient evil lurking which can control time and space apparently, which gets to me but even that sounds stupid. Whatever it is, it works, and I love it.

20: The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Even after other movies from the same era have achieved cult status, this one still flies mainly under the radar and I’ve still no idea why. Look – it has like 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. Idiots. I mean, its treatment of women is dubious at times as I  believe I covered in my review post, but in terms of pure action and entertainment there are few better.

The film opens with some American Football player going for a touchdown or a home run or some sports shit but rather than some last minute glory win like Teenwolf, he whips out a gun and starts shooting the opposition before killing himself. Nice. Elsewhere, we meet a washed up ex Secret Service Agent who is now the disgruntled father of a bratty daughter, husband of a cheating wife, and a boozy PI. He gets a job to bodyguard a stripper, who just happens to be the boyfriend of an ex NFL star. The stripper is promptly killed and the boyfriend and the bodyguard team up to find out who put out the hit, unraveling a plot of corruption in the world of sports and politics. Directed by Tony Scott and starring Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans, this also features Danielle Harris, Halle Berry, Kim Coates, Taylor Negron. The script by Shane Black, which was sold for a record 1.75 million, is superb – filled with great self-aware 90s humour, Scott directs with his usual visual flair, and the cast are all good – Willis especially delivering one of his most sardonic performances. There are some great action set-pieces while remaining grounded, and yet both Scott and Black have stated that the end product was not what the script deserved. If that’s true then I can’t imagine how good the end product should have been.

19: Starship Troopers (1997)

The middle of the Nineties saw Paul Verhoeven moving away from the violent action movies that had earned him worldwide fame a decade earlier. His previous two films were sex-based thrillers – a massive success in Basic Instinct and a massive failure in Showgirls (I like both). Starship Troopers is a glorious return to the likes of Total Recall and Robocop – big, brash, loud mouth action, ultra violence, and more satirical than a liberal talk show host. Adapted from Heinlein’s classic sci-fi novel, Verhoeven’s take clearly mocks the celebration of war and its associated propaganda machine although it’s easy to see why many completely miss the fascist satire and take it on face value as movie where guys with guns triumph over some faceless drone enemy.

The film follows Johnny Rico – a student in his final year of a very patriotic, militaristic school – and a small group of friends. Earth is attached by an alien race, kicking off an all out intergalactic war. Rico signs up in the hope of revenge, guts, and glory, and his band of friends all get recruited into different sections of the army – pilots, intelligence, grunts etc. Rico is a grunt and goes off for training to be cannon fodder – the scenes of training taking those of Full Metal Jacket to ridiculous new heights. Once training is complete, Rico heads off to war – that’s pretty much it. The special effects were state of the art for the time, and I still enjoy them now. The action is top rate, futuristic gun battles with ugly arachnid and alien creatures, and a cast featuring Dean Norris, Brenda Strong, Marshall Bell, Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown, Neil Patrick Harris, Jake Busey, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, and Casper Van Dien. Like in Robocop, Verhoeven fills this with media interludes – news snippets, adverts, info nuggets, all catered to a bloodthirsty flag-waving audience all to willing to sacrifice body and soul for a worthless cause. The dialogue doesn’t quite reach the heights of Robocop (what does?) but the film reunites the director, screenwriter, and musical composer meaning it’s a close cousin. Balls to the wall violent action movies were on the wane in the late 90s, and this is one of the genre’s finest swansongs.

18: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

I’ve argued before how this is a horror film. I’ve argued how Sheryl Lee deserved and Oscar nomination, if not a win for her performance here. David Lynch has quite a few masterpieces in his resume, but Twin Peaks – the series and the movie – are by far his most beloved work. The movie departs tonally, bravely, from the original series and instead offers a harrowing, terrifying glimpse into the last week of Laura Palmer’s tortured life. There are no characters offering quaint small-town wisdom, there is no offbeat humour, and there is almost no hope or light. This is the darkest quivering heart of The Black Lodge, a place of obsession, madness, and death, and its pulsating ripples envelope and suck in any innocence there may be in the unfortunate surroundings. If you haven’t seen the movie, then I won’t say anymore about it – all I can say is that it certainly helps to know the series before watching the movie, and to not expect the movie to be an extension of the show’s charms. This is your favourite town and everyone in it being burned to the ground, and its horrific and glorious.

17: Tombstone (1993)

True Romance and Heat narrowly missed out on making this best of Nineties list. Those films and Tombstone share the honours of having some of the most amazing casts in single films. There are a few films like this in the Nineties where you look at the cast and already know the film is going to be wonderful – doesn’t matter what the thing is about – it could be a discussion of the correlation between paint drying and algebra, it could be one of those terrible singing talent shows, hell – it could even be a musical and the cast alone would make it unmissable. Luckily Tombstone is none of those shitty things, instead being a stylish version of events from the life of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday with all manner of guns and moustaches.

Look at these names: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Michael Biehn, Sam Elliot, Powers Boothe. That’s a strong enough cast to sell any movie, but then you check out the support – Jason Priestly, Thomas Haden Church, Stephen Lang, Dana Delaney, Paula Malcomson. Fine, some decent names there, hardly stars though. Okay, why don’t we throw in Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum, Billy Bob Thornton? That’s without even mentioning Billy Zane, Michael Rooker, Terry O’Quinn, John Corbett and many others. That’s like a 70s disaster movie epic, or a Cecil B De Mille cast – in some respects literally.

The story is fairly streamlined and straightforward – A gang of outlaws has been shooting up various towns and they descend upon the town of Tombstone. Noted lawman Wyatt Earp and his brothers have decided to settle down there for a quiet life, meeting up with old friend Doc Holliday. The two groups, and assorted others, clash. There’s more to it than that, a lot of character building and inter-relations stuff, but at its core it’s the story of these groups coming together in a bloody conclusion. I’d spoken in another post about not liking many Westerns when I was young, but this is definitely one of the few which appealed to me and has only grown in my estimation over time.

16: Desperado (1995)

Robert Rodriguez burst onto the scene with this 1995 marvel of low budget film-making, essentially remaking his even lower budget El Mariachi. That previous film gained Rodriguez attention from the likes of Quentin Tarantino (who guest stars here) and whose influence no doubt aided in this getting made. The film also brought Salma Hayak and Danny Trejo into the limelight and launched Antonio Banderas into action hero status. Like Tarantino’s films, Desperado is marked by stylish action, quotable cool dialogue, and a variety unique grindhouse type characters.

Following the events of El Mariachi (no need to see that movie first though), the Mariachi with a guitar case full of guns has become something of a legend or folklore hero. El Mariachi is looking for the man called Bucho who killed his girlfriend and blew a hole in his hand. His travels take him to a small Mexican town where he encounters a new lover, a guitar playing boy, Bucho and his goons, and a variety of assassins and scoundrels looking for bounty. Beyond that, it’s guns guns guns. The principle cast are all gorgeous, cool, and the cameos from the likes of Steve Buscemi, Tarantino, Cheech and others are fun. The action set-pieces are fantastic, more in common with John Woo’s antics than the Hollywood blockbuster. For balls to the wall energy and creativity you won’t get many better.

15: Leon (1994)

Luc Besson had been making films for a while before he struck gold with Leon. His previous feature film Nikita had established him as one of the more interesting and diverse directors of action movies, but it’s Leon where he builds upon many of those ideas – isolation, moral ambiguity, control, and does it with a world-renowned cast and the sure touch of a director and writer on a creative roll. The film follows Jean Reno, a deadly assassin who stays away from all human contact and social interaction, who gets embroiled in saving a young girl’s life and trains her to follow in his footsteps. The film also features Natalie Portman’s star-making turn and Gary Oldman being epic, plenty of stylish action and a rather sweet/disturbing relationship depending on how you view it. The action movie moved away from the muscle bound superstars who owned the genre in the 80s and for a few years it struggled to find a new identity – the reluctant or anti-hero would take the place of Arnie and Sly as symbolized by films such as this.

14: Problem Child (1990)

This one was love at first sight and I still remember explaining the film in detail to my friends and a cousin the following week in school. Scene by scene, quote by quote I must have memorized the whole thing and then reenacted it to my class till they knew it by heart without having seen it. I probably contributed a hefty percentage to the amount of money the film made after making sure everyone else went out and saw it. Back when you rented VHS tapes, we generally kept them for a weekend. In most case we probably only watched them once, but I think Problem Child got a few watches and rewinds before getting returned. We probably rented it again before I eventually bought the tape myself.

It’s the story of a boy, Junior, who has been passed from family to family, adopted and sent back, and who ends up in an orphanage for kids no-one wants – hilarious! No-one wants him because he’s, well, a dick. He breaks stuff, steals, swears, plays pranks, and is probably violent. He’s clearly a future serial killer (his hero is in fact a serial killer), but maybe all he needs is the attention of a loving family. Enter John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck – a couple who insides are not compatible. They’re your perfect white American suburban family – all they’re missing is a kid – and they are coerced into adopting Junior. It’s not long before he begins wreaking havoc with his new family, destroying bullies at a baseball game, at a snooty birthday party, and inviting a certain Bow Tie Killer to rescue him.

You wonder what events conspired to ever see a story like this make it to screen. It’s a film you certainly wouldn’t see getting made in today’s more tame climate. The film was touted as a horror – inviting a child in to your home who happens to be violent or have other dark secrets (Orphan), then as a satire of all of the child-centric family hits of the 80s where grown ups overcome their issues thanks to the innocence of a child, eventually settling on this where the morale appears to be that… everyone deserves a chance, but most people are dicks? See, aside from being really funny – for kids and adults – Problem Child is dark as sin. I’ve always appreciated dark humour and I don’t know if that comes from years of violent slapstick cartoons or elsewhere, but I’m sure this film was a part of influencing my tastes. I’m not sure my wife would allow my kids to watch this if she really knew what it was about, but luckily for them I’ve already let them watch it so the joke’s on…. I actually don’t know who.

13: GoldenEye (1995)

I’ve always been a Bond fan. As a red blooded British bloke, of course I am. As with most successful franchises, sooner or later the money men come in and fuck everything up, and that’s exactly what happened with Bond. For years, various owners and companies and twats fought over the rights to the series and in the meantime the world moved on. By the time 1995 rolled around the Cold War was in the past and The West’s old enemies had been defeated or put into hiding. Luckily, evil and greed never dies, so the new world had a bunch of new outlets for ideas. A new Bond, a new M, new writers, directors, a new style, a new world – but still the same old sexy antics of a globe-trotting super spy who can’t resist dipping his PPK in the moist schemes of the world’s Vs (villains). Like most Bond films, the plot is either over-complex or a maguffin – here there’s stuff about Russians and hackers and satellites and financial ruin, but really it’s about a rogue MI6 agent and old friend of 007 getting up to badness, and Bond having to go kill him. On the way he leaps off a Dam, drives a tank, shoots up a train, kills a Boris, and stays Onatopp of his womanizing ways.

I’ll call it out here for full transparency – I love the N64 game and it’s one of my all time favourites. I played the game before I watched the film, but I don’t think this has had a huge impact on my love for the film Sure, being familiar with the game and then watching those scenes and locations on screen was cool and probably gave me some initial lols and hearts. As time went on though the film never fell out of favour with me – it has some of the best performances of any Bond movie, Brosnan is perfect, Bean is a great bad guy, and both Scorupco and Jansenn rank highly in my list of Bond girls. I love how personal and emotional the story becomes – it’s not just a job for Bond – and it has some of the most memorable action and stunts of the series. You’ll see that my favourite Bond films are those which I find the most emotional or have the most interesting story – that’s why the likes of this, For Your Eyes Only, Casino Royale, Live And Let Die rank higher for me over the more obvious Connery stalwarts – Bond as a flawed human or unique stories over your standard spy malarkey. I even like the music in this one – the one thing all critics point to as a major miss.

12: Jurassic Park (1993)

This was always going to be included on my list of favourite 90s movies – I imagine it would be on most people’s top tens/twenties, especially those who grew up with it. I’m annoyed I never caught this at the cinema when it was released. I’m not sure why, given that I saw some other weird ones on the big screen this year – The Nightmare Before Christmas and Super Mario Bros for example. I’ll assume you know the story – rich guy and a bunch of scientists find a way to create dinosaurs, they decide to breed them in a special zoo, but before opening to the public they invite a bunch of experts to inspect. The dinosaurs escape and everyone freaks out.

Like Jaws is to shark movies, Jurassic Park is the daddy of dinosaur movies. I don’t see it ever being topped even though I would happily watch any number of imitators. It’s the perfect film for the kid in us – for those of us who used to look at dinosaur books and be filled with awe and wonder that such things ever walked the earth. There’s no other director in the world at his peak that you’d want working on this film than Spielberg – you just know he shares that awe and wonder. Add to this Richard Attenborough, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Samuel L Jackson, and non-annoying kids, and a bunch of iconic images, great score, memorable set pieces, and you have an all time classic. All I’d love now is a genuine, genuinely good dinosaur-based horror movie.

11: Hard Boiled (1992)

People forget that John Woo has been involved in movies since the late 1960s. He directed his first film in the early 70s. There has always been something ultra modern about his films – when something like Hard-Boiled or Face-Off came out you’d assume it was made by some alarmingly talented new voice, not someone who had been doing it for three decades already. He had already made your standard Golden Harvest wuxia type film, then movies with Jackie Chan, and didn’t really get to assert his own true vision until Heroes Shed No Tears and (more accurately) the superb A Better Tomorrow. Those films unleashed his personal style and as his films progressed we got more of his traditional ‘heroic bloodshed’ movies – films with a (then) unique look and fell – very stylized, killers in suits and shades, lots of slow motion gun play, slow motion everything really, and uber-cool actors and characters. There was usually a lot of male bonding/conflict. Hard Boiled is his crowning achievement – a film that laughs at how small and tame the action of Die Hard is, and a film which both is the hallmark for Hong Kong action, and revolutionized the genre as a whole. Yet so few people have seen it.

Chow Yun Fat stars as the renegade cop Tequila, a man who plays by his own rules in the typical 80s archetype. After his partner his killed during a raid, Tequila is taken off the case. Elsewhere, an undercover super-cop is trying to infiltrate a ruthless Triad gang. The two team up and play an uneasy game where the violence rapidly escalates until the final stunning shootout in a hospital. The action man…. there was a point in the nineties when action was becoming stale – there were disaster type epics, there were meta movies, but the genre seemed to be moving away from the one man army movies I grew up with. Then I happened upon Hard Boiled and was in love instantly. The action here is ridiculous, set-pieces going on for thirty minutes rather than three. There are crazy shots here that boggle the mind – the amount of preparation which must have gone into them, especially those one-shot scenes, is still mind-blowing and they were done with no digital trickery. The plot does become overblown and there are some sentimental scenes which will seem odd to Western audiences, but in Fat, Leung, Kwok, and Wong we have some good guys and bad guys to rank alongside the Rambos and Hans Grubers of the world. This is one of those films to show people who think foreign movies are boring. Two hours later they’ll be saying Hollywood movies are boring.

10: The Fifth Element (1997)

Milla Jovovich had already appeared in a number of great films, but this was her star-making turn. For my money, she should have received an Oscar nomination here, as the pure and innocent Fifth Element taking human form. If you don’t fall in love with her here, you have no soul. This is a madcap comic book action movie – over the top in all the right ways, and with a unique look thanks to Besson’s vision and Gaultier’s ‘fashions’. Check out the rest of the cast too – Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, with Luke Perry, Brion James, and Lee Evans in smaller roles. It’s the age old story of the destruction of Earth by an unnamed space evil, and the human and alien representatives on the sides of good and evil trying to save/destroy everything. Bruce Willis is back to his wise-cracking, fatigued best as an ex-military, now cabbie who accidentally meets The Fifth Element and must protect her from those who would use her for their wicked purposes. There’s a lot of plot and history here, but in the end it boils down to a simple kill the bad guys synopsis, with ridiculous guns, wacky characters, and some of the best actors in the world having the most fun they’ve ever had. The fun is infectious and the execution of the youthful ideas will keep you guessing and smiling.

9: Bangkok Dangerous (1999)

I’ve talked on the blog before about how I’ve always enjoyed foreign cinema – especially Asian films as they offer their own twists on my favourite genres of action and horror. I can’t recall exactly, but I think this was either the second or third Pang Brothers film I saw – the first being Bangkok Haunted. The first thing I would say about this – and the rule typically applies for any remakes of foreign movies – is see the original first. Nic Cage’s remake is an average thriller which takes some of the loose ideas here, but sucks the emotion out. It also lacks the vibrant style which the Pang Brothers showcases, especially in their early days. The weird thing is – the remake was also directed by the Pang Brothers, so I’m not sure where things went sour. It’s a decent movie, but very straight to DVD, and not a patch on the original.

The film follows Kong, an archetypal sympathetic hitman, bullied as a child for being deaf, but whose disability and bullying makes him a flawless killer. He ends up working for the mob, he is friends with a stripper and her boyfriend, and he falls in love with a pharmacist. That’s… pretty much it. The story is one you’ve seen a million times before – you know that things will go wrong and revenge will be served cold, but it’s done with such flair, and done with such conviction, with emotion, with humour, that it stands tall as one of the finest examples of the sub-genre. Pawalit Mongkolpisit is a great choice as the lead – you can’t help but feel for him and side with him in spite of the terrible work he does, and Premsinee Ratanasopha as Fon is a revelation. It’s a massive pity that these guys haven’t really done any other work – their relationship here feels both cute and honest without being cutesy. I don’t want to say too much else about it – seek it out for yourself, and enjoy one of the finest slices of 90s action you’ll ever see.

8: Things To In Denver When You’re Dead (1995)

In the post Pulp Fiction world, every young director wanted to make their crime masterpiece. We had British efforts from Guy Ritchie and his clones, Eastern attempts, and endless Hollywood versions. I’ve never felt that Things To In Denver When You’re Dead fit this mold – but that’s how it was reviewed and marketed. It’s a shame this never got to stand on its own as it is a unique film, miles apart in tone and style from Tarantino’s work – a much more sombre affair and a film that I would probably choose to watch over Pulp Fiction any day of the week – and I’m a huge fan of Pulp Fiction. 

There are a number of films this decade which have truly unbelievable casts – Tombstone, Heat, Pulp Fiction, Cop Land, True Romance, Glengarry Glen Ross – and this. Lets see – Andy Garcia, Christopher Lloyd, Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi, Gabrielle Anwar, Treat Williams, Fairuza Balk, Jack Warden, Bill Nunn, Don Cheadle, William Forsythe. I realize that not all of those names may be A-Listers or household names, but film fans will recognize and respect them – and that’s not to mention the host of regognizable faces who also pop up, even if you don’t know the names – Jenny McCarthy, Willie Garson, Tiny Lister, Buddy Guy, Bill Cobbs, Marshall Bell, and others. You’ll spend the movie going ‘where do I know that guy from?’

It’s not merely a who’s who guessing game – the characters they play you will want to hang out and have boat drinks with, and the story they find themselves in is tinged with regret, heroism, futility, fatalism, honour… Garcia stars as ex-gangster Jimmy The Saint. He has been legit for a while, with a bizarre business where people (generally the elderly or those with an incurable illness) record a video for their loved ones to be given once they pass – I’m not sure such a business model would survive today, but it works as a nice plot device. Christopher Walken (should have grabbed an Oscar nomination) is his terrifying ex-boss, and he calls a favour from Jimmy to help get his pedophile son and ex-girlfriend back together. For some reason Jimmy recruits his old pals to run an intimidation job on the ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend (rather than just roughing him up one to one), and it all goes badly wrong. Buckwheats for all, as they say.

I can’t quite put my finger on why I love the film so much – it’s undoubtedly cool, having a style that sticks with me for whatever reason, and it features some of my favourite performers in iconic ways. Balk is terrific, Garcia and Lloyd give some of their best, understated work, and Anwar proves again that she should have been a much bigger star. I love the dialogue, I love Steve Buscemi’s Mr Sssh, and I love the inevitability of Mr Sssh’s pursuit and the overall vibe of death and honour – doing what you can with the time you have. This made around half a million bucks at the box office, which is a crime. You owe it to yourself, and to the film itself, to go watch this now – yes you, reading this list, watch it now and then tell your friends.

7: Beauty And The Beast (1991)

What can I say – I’m a sucker for schmaltz, when it’s done right. My favourite Disney movie ever, my favourite animated movie ever, for me nothing else comes close to its majesty. The tale as old as time has never been told better, in such vibrant colours and with such lovable and dastardly characters.  I talked about the film in more detail in my Top Ten Disney films post – TLDR version – awesome heroine, great songs, wonderful heartfelt story acted out by great characters and cast.

6: Scream (1996)

By the time 1996 rolled around (I probably actually saw this first in 97, but who’s counting) I was already a hardcore horror fan, with the Elm Street series being my favourite. I was also already head over heels in love with Neve Campbell, thanks to Party Of Five. When I first heard about Scream – merging Wes Craven with Campbell in a new slasher movie which just happened to be getting rave reviews from everyone – I knew I would love it. What I didn’t know was just how much. I remember renting the VHS and watching two or three times that day. There was something so callous and wicked and ingenious about that opening sequence – not just the dialogue, or the scenario, or the whole ‘killing off our big name actress’ thing but how the killer kills Casey such footsteps away from her parents, stabbing her as she reached out for their help in the safety of her own front lawn. I’m not sure there have been many more brutal or poignant horror movie deaths than that – certainly not many have affected me so much. Although I always had an inkling, it was that moment which cemented my understanding of Craven’s over-arcing theme – that theme which runs through all of his work – that kids are never safe, and that your parents can’t help you. As would be revealed, and much like Nightmare, Hills, and other Craven hits – the sins of the parents will come back ten-fold upon the children.

The film doesn’t hold back on the blood and guts either, being fairly graphic given the target audience. There are your standard stabbings and slicings, but also gun shots and the odd ceiling decapitation/chokehold. What about that dialogue? Williamson and Craven collaborate wonderfully, bringing that meta mid-90s speak to a peak, the characters smart, aware, cool, but still falling into the same traps that they mock fictional characters for falling into. As iconic horror dialogue goes, ‘What’s your favourite scary movie’ is right up there with the best, but it’s the discussion of movies and of tropes that really won the fans over – this was, finally, a horror movie made by and for horror movie fans – one which understood us and the fiction we love.

What’s it all about though? A small town is being ravaged by a number of brutal killings and the ultimate target appears to be one Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell in her star-making performance). Who is the killer – it could be anyone – an absent parent, a school faculty member, a reporter, a boyfriend, a friend – part of the fun is that the film keeps you guessing right up until its final reveal and twist. It wouldn’t be a slasher movie without a twist. We have this gorgeous young cast fighting for their lives all while trying to get on with the mundane stuff like school and sex and movies and parties, we have a kick ass soundtrack, both instrumental and the songs, and it’s all pulled together with a taut nod and wink by Craven – one of the best, at his best. All that said, and I didn’t even mention Ghostface – how iconic is that mask?

5: The Crow (1994)

If the 80s was the decade when the most wacky ideas seemed to get a greenlight, then the 90s saw the darker material rising to the top. What Scream is to the horror genre, The Crow is to the comic book genre. The Crow is, without a doubt, the finest comic book movie ever made. I love Batman, Superman, Nolan’s trilogy – but they all pale in comparison to this. Look at how expansive the world Marvel has created – not just as a whole, but in each individual entry – everything is MASSIVE and yet, they’re all so bland. I’ve yet to see a single drop of anything resembling emotion in a single MCU movie – granted I’ve only seen a handful so far, but it’s their generic, stale, lets blow up another city feel which leaves me cold. They’re popcorn movies for sure, but like popcorn which has been lifted off the ground after a double bill of Fifty Shades and Indecent Behaviour. 

Why am I moaning about Marvel? I feel like The Crow doesn’t get it’s due credit. I want as many people to see it, and to honour it, before another inevitable remake comes along – it is a case of the stars at night aligning and making something so perfect that it couldn’t possibly have been made by anyone else at any other time. Before it, very few comic movies were daring, or felt independent, or seemed unique. The Crow takes chances – it’s dark as Witch’s muff, and it casts the untested son of a martial artist as its lead. It’s a film about a man coming back from the dead to avenge the rape and murder of his fiancee and it’s loosely based on the writer’s own, similar, true story. It has a look unlike most other films – rain drenched, always night, always smokey, with crime and debauchery everywhere. Alex Proyas had this and Dark City in the 90s – what a combo – and then he seemed to lose his mind and make fluff. The talent shown in these two movies, the look and tone, is unparalleled.

Brandon Lee stars as Eric Draven – a man brought back for revenge. Over the course of a night he hunts down the men who killed him and his fiancee, all the while hounded by a cop (Ernie Hudson) and a child he once knew (Rochelle Davis) and under the watchful eye of a mysterious crow. That’s all there is to it, but it’s haunted by sadness both real and fictional – writer James O Barr’s real life tragedy all to plain to feel, and Brandon Lee was accidentally killed during filming, ensuring that he would never see the final product. All that takes the darkness on show to higher levels of tragedy but even without the real life stuff, it’s a film oozing with emotion. There is a dizzying visual flare, some of the finest one-line dialogue of the decade, and another brilliant dual soundtrack – instrumental and songs – I bought both shortly after seeing the movie. Lee should have been up for an Oscar here, and the rest of the cast feature standout performances from Michael Wincott, Tony Todd, and David Patrick Kelly. Even though the movie was a hit, even though it spawned a TV series and many sequels, even though Sting based his most popular persona off it, even though I feel like it has its own cult of fans who hold it dearly – it deserves more recognition.

4: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

A number of films just miss out on my Top Ten Of All Time – a few of which are definitely better films than some which are in my Top Ten – Dawn Of The Dead, The Thing, Battle Royale, and this – Edward Scissorhands being some of those. This movie is perfect – there is literally nothing I would change about it, my only problem with it being that it is so short. It cemented Tim Burton as a God in my world, cemented my adoration for Winona Ryder, and made the world take notice of a young fella called Johnny Depp – how he didn’t get an Oscar nomination here is ridiculous. Depp lost a Golden Globe to Depardieu in Green Card – seriously. Danny Elfman didn’t get nominated, Burton was passed over for Best Director, nothing for him or Thompson in the writing categories. 1990 was actually a good year for The Oscars too, but still.

If you’ve seen the film then you already love it for the same reasons I do – as I’ve said, it’s perfect. All I will add is that it has always appealed to the outsider in me, that sad que cera ceraness of it all striking a personal chord.

3: Ringu (Top Ten Of All Time) (1998)

There are a number of horror films which changed my life and which I never shut up about once I saw them – if I knew you at the time, you can be sure I made you, or tried to make you watch them. They had to be films which either came out around that time – not something from decades earlier, or foreign/one I knew most people wouldn’t have seen. Scream was one, Bodysnatchers was another. Maybe I was most vocal about Ringu – it’s one of those films where seeing and feeling people’s reactions was almost as fun as watching the film itself. As those final scenes begin you can feel the oxygen get sucked out of the room, in fact the room itself seems to grow smaller, walls pressing in and the viewer slowly folds their limbs into a crab-like foetal position. This is the pinnacle of the J-Horror movement and of Asian Horror in general, a slow burning masterpiece of dread and outright shivering terror.

You probably know the story by now – there are whispers of an urban legend about a videotape (such things once existed, kids). When you watch the tape, your phone rings and a voice tells you that you have exactly seven days to live. There is only one way to save yourself from the curse, and that is to make it go viral – make a copy and make someone else watch it and the curse is passed on to them. Bodies begin to pile up and it seems there may be some truth or hysteria attached to the legend. Enter journalist Reiko who wants to write a story about the whole thing – her niece apparently a victim of the curse. Upon investigating, Reiko finds what appears to be the videotape of legend. Naturally, she watches it, but oops – so does her ex-husband and son. They have seven days to try to uncover and prevent the curse, looking into the history of the mysterious Sadako Yamamura.

I love this film so much – to the point that I see many many parallels between it and The Terminator series, thematically, stylistically… but I won’t go into those. If you like both series, you’ll see what I mean. Once again, I love the inevitability of it – basically, if you watch the tape you’re fucked, and you can’t really avoid it. Nanako Matsushima and Hiroyuki Sanada are excellent leads and the story merges old world superstition with new age techno-fears. The whole thing is fundamentally routed in Japanese fear and culture, yet it’s intrinsically universal. I bought the sequels, love them too, and I bought the books – very different beasts from the movies, but genuinely brilliant too. Hell, I even bought Rasen – the other sequel which tries to be more like the book, but without the genius of Nakata at the helm it’s not great. Nakata’s best film, his work here made me seek out all of his other stuff with increasingly diminishing returns.

I love me some gore, and I love a good effective jump-scare, but fear works best for me when it creeps upon me and of course, when I actually care about the story and the characters. The story and characters here suit me perfectly – a mystery based on whispered myths and tragedy, bullying, psychic power, intelligent, strong men and women – and while the scares here are actually quite minimal, it’s the way it builds and builds unrelentingly to that climax – you won’t realize that you’ve pulled out your own nails while watching. I had great fun doing prank calls on people after making them watch the movie. We created memes of certain moments before internet memes were a thing. Just one final word – I despise the remake. It is utter shite. Utter, complete shite. Yet most horror fans, most film fans prefer it. It turns this masterpiece of dread into generic, glossy, noisy jump-scare bollocks and even commits the cardinal sin of cutting away during the climax. Stick with the original.

2: Dumb And Dumber (Top Ten Of All Time) (1994)

The only comedy which I have marathoned – watched many times in a short space of days. Probably the comedy I quote the most, and another film where I went out and bought the soundtrack shortly after seeing it, and got annoyed that half the songs were missing. The Farrelly Brothers have never bettered this, and I wish wish wish they had done a sequel in the same decade instead of waiting until the performers were depressingly old and made me too aware of the ravages of time. No matter which version you see, Dumb And Dumber is a perfect comedy, though I am inclined towards the juvenile – again, as long as I actually care about what’s going on.

The film is all about Harry and Lloyd, two loser, less than intelligent friends who scrape by with dead end jobs. During a chance encounter/intervention during a blackmailing deal, the pair end up with a mysterious maguffin (suitcase) and decide to go on a cross country journey to Assssspenn and deliver it to its rightful owner. Along the way they meet a variety of weird and wonderful characters, have a number of adventures, and learn absolutely nothing. It you’re not laughing at least once every thirty seconds while watching this, I don’t want to know you. Naturally, it’s the little things that most people don’t notice that stick with me the most – the things Lloyd buys after being instructed only to purchase the bare essentials, the force with which Lloyd cane-whacks Harry’s legs with… I could go on. It was always my plan to go to my school Formal (for any US readers, it’s our equivalent of Prom) with one of my friends, dressed in the same suits Harry and Lloyd wear to the fundraiser later in the film, but we chickened out and he ended up not going at all. To make up for this, I got drunk and threw pint and shot glasses from one of the hotel rooms into the car park below. Side note – as I checked Wikipedia for box office returns on a number of these films, I keep seeing them being listed in various magazine’s 500 films of all time – I must do some sort of post covering those 500 films and a few words on what I think of each. You’ll love that.

1: Terminator 2 (Top Ten Of All Time) (1991)

Naturally. Like I said in my 80s run down, it’s this or The Terminator which top my all time list. What is there to say about it? It’s groundbreaking in every sense – everyone involved deserves a statue in their honour, and it’s a film which has influenced me deeply. Some films go beyond just being films – fans hold conventions, fans dress up and have regular screenings, fans make life decisions based on their love of these films. I think the film and me were intertwined before I even saw it – it’s almost like it was made just for me, but clearly it was made for millions of others just like me. I don’t even know what I’m talking about any more but as a boy, seeing this for the first time, a little younger than John Connor is in the story, it was about me. I loved Guns N Roses, I loved Public Enemy, I loved Motorbikes – hell, I even had a friend with a ginger mullet. I may not, as far as I’m aware, be the future saviour of the human race, but if such a burden was thrust upon me I’d suck it up, shine that bitch on and snarl an Hasta La Vista, Baby at the enemy. This film is everything I want in a film from top to bottom – story, cast, characters, director, music, dialogue, action, emotion, scares, laughs, tears, the way it looks… I don’t think any other film will ever speak to me the way this one did and has. In a way that’s a thought tinged with sadness, but in another way I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it and be alive when it was released. Thanks to everyone for making it, it means a lot. My only regret is not being in it myself.

Let us know in the comments what you thought of my list and what your favourite films of the 1990s are!