Sure the 1990s was a tumultuous decade for horror. Sure most of the movies sucked. That’s why it’s tragic that the most unique films of the era are often ignored, have been forgotten, or are just never mentioned. For instance…
BURIED ALIVE (1990)
If you have to go for an awkward yet nostalgic 80s to 90s transition flick, Buried Alive is about as good as bad video store horror gets: pathetically “based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe” (a black cat runs by a lot, someone is buried behind a brick wall); featuring absolutely pointless cameos by Donald Pleasence and John Carradine; and set in a girls school run by former mental patients (?). Yep, that’s late 80s/early 90s horror.
Robert Vaughn is the strange “headmaster.” The students are a bunch of troublemaking bitches. As if that’s not enough to deal with, the young woman who comes to teach at the place begins having trippy hallucinations of talking brick walls, hands reaching from toilet bowls, and ants. Lots of ants.
There’s also a killer in a mask, but the murders aren’t shown on screen all that much.
However, our main teacher girl begins sniffing around as some sort of excuse is made for why each girl is missing.
The disjointed atmosphere as she explores the creepy place and weird, random characters just show up in odd places gives the film a bit of an Argento quality, plus John Carradine makes his usual shocking scary appearance, so what’s not to like?
This awesome piece of crap is from Gérard Kikoïne, director of Edge of Sanity.
CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT (1991)
Tony Randel, director of other shitty movies of the era like Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Amityville: It’s About Time, and Ticks (which really needs a reissue on Blu-ray), scores his best flick with this Subspecies/Return to Salem’s Lot mash-up.
Part freaky as hell, part absurd, Children of the Night begins with a Spielberg small town intro. Then two girls go swimming in the local crypt as part of a sort of teen rite of passage. A fricking crypt filled with water? It’s as nightmarish as it sounds, especially when they awaken the dead they don’t realize are underneath the depths. Fuck me.
Adorable scream queen Ami Dolenz (Stepmonster, Ticks, Witchboard 2, Pumpkinhead II) is our main girl, and Peter DeLuise is the teacher who tries to protect her when the local mess of a priest (who’s pretty cute) reveals to him that the town is overrun by vampires…
The film is part Evil Dead and part Evil Ed in look and feel as DeLuise, Dolenz, and the priest take on an army of vamps that plan to hand the gang over to their hideous master.
We get Karen Black in Exorcist mode.
There’s also a little mortal boy who works for the vamps (his reaction is classic when he gets staked).
And joining the fun as a homeless dude with a vamp killing truck is Earl from 2 Broke Girls!
Paranoia is a real oddity. There are a good number of slasher tropes, Dr. Giggles himself plays a serial killer that escapes from prison to come back for the girl that got away the first time, but there’s virtually no body count. It’s more like a 90s video thriller.
Our main girl is a home decorator who does some major transformations…she even gets hit on by a gay client when his husband’s not around. She’s struggling to come to terms with having escaped with her life when a serial killer slaughtered her family.
Now he’s starting to reach out to her via the Internet. So she turns on voice synthesizer to make things even more creepy. In 1998. She has a computer with voice synthesis in 1998. History lesson for the young ones. People didn’t have voice synthesis on their home computers in 1998. People pretty much couldn’t afford home computers in 1998.
The killer escapes prison. He takes his anger out on a pumpkin.
Meanwhile, the main girl hooks up with a cute guy from her past and they begin dating.
Dr. Giggles is not surprisingly awesome as the killer as he has unnerving interactions with people as he travels toward his victim…leaving could’ve been victims behind. Bummer. He does kill one dude in a public restroom, and his explanation why is so chilling that it virtually makes up for the fact that he only kills the one dude.
It’s when Dr. Giggles reaches our main girl that Paranoia finally finds its unique angle.
And it’s so good that this could have been an amazing post-Scream slasher if he had just gone on a nice juicy killing spree before reaching her. It’s worth watching to get to the twist, but it’s a plodding journey.
TERROR TRACT (2000)
This cult favorite anthology is a team directing effort from Lance W. Dreesen (Big Bad Wolf) and Clint Hutchison (Conjurer), and I sure wish they had worked together again, because Terror Tract is a classic.
We get another Spielberg-esque opener, this time on a suburban street…before the foreshadowing of the darkness to come in the wraparound. The late great John Ritter is a real estate agent desperate to sell a house to a couple – David DeLuise (this is getting weird) and Allison Smith of Kate & Allie.
The stumbling block for Ritter sealing the deal is that he can’t stop himself from telling the couple about the awful things that happened in each house he shows them…
1st story – When hubby’s away, the wife will play…with her hot boyfriend.
This tale is kind of like the Leslie Nielsen/Ted Danson segment of Creepshow with a twist.
When hubby finds out about the cheating, someone ends up swimming with the fish, then someone else does just what you don’t want them to…goes underwater later on to make sure the body is still there and isn’t going to come back from the dead.
2nd story – Bryan Cranston plays a dad whose little daughter – who looks uncannily like young Chastity Bono – finds a monkey in her yard and convinces him to let her keep it. It’s not long before the little fucker goes ape shit! And of course the whiny little brat keeps protecting it.
My stomach sank when the exterminator came over, and I just knew how things were going to turn out for him. But when he pulled out his big tool, all I could think was, “We’ll deal with the monkey later. What are we going to do with that?”
3rd story – End an anthology strong with a granny masked slasher! Yes!
A cute guy comes to a psychiatrist to tell her that he’s having visions of the murders right before a serial killer strikes. The kill scenes are great, the killer is freaky as hell, and the main dude takes a shower.
Plus, it looks like we may learn what really happened to Mary Alice on Desperate Housewives…