Killer video games, a giant woman, bloodthirsty dinosaurs, and aliens. I take a look at 4 from the last decade of the 20th century.
BRAIN TWISTERS (1991)
Clearly a product of its time, Brain Twisters may have a 1991 timestamp, but it feels totally 80s, starting with a jogging chick’s Walkman going rogue in the opening kill, followed by a synth score during the intro credits.
This oddly disjointed film is about a clearly weird college teacher who gets students to participate in his experiments with video games. Problem is, the experiments are causing the students to commit murder.
The movie was kind of ahead of its time, with aspects of the plot having since been recycled in bigger films. However, this one has the distinction of having late 80s/early 90s sensibilities: nonsense, that is. As kids start getting murdered, there’s a detective on the case, but his investigation is hampered because one of the dead kids has left his body to the professor, who refuses to turn it over…and keeps the head in a jar in a fridge. WTF?
While there’s obviously not one specific killer, the general structure is that of a slasher. The kill scenes are bizarre and almost surreal at times, even visually and stylistically reminding me of Argento.
One of the best sequences takes place at a costume party—not sure if it’s supposed to be Halloween or not.
The glue that barely holds the film together? The characters.
The main girl Farrah Forke would have been a great 90s scream queen but instead went on to join the cast of the TV show Wings, and the detective has a pretty funny dry wit about him. But nothing tops his straight reaction to having spaghetti thrown in his face.
ATTACK OF THE 50 FT. WOMAN (1993)
When you imagine Christopher Guest of Spinal Tap fame directing a 90s remake of a goofy 1950s sci-fi movie about a woman growing to the size of Godzilla, you kind of expect some totally disastrous midnight movie slapstick spoof.
The only thing funny about this film is watching Daryl Hannah take herself seriously as she stomps around acting like a 50-foot woman. Granted, it looks awesome…in a totally disastrous midnight movie slapstick spoof sort of way. Sad thing is, there’s nothing tongue-in-cheek about the film.
Daryl is the wife of forgotten Baldwin brother Daniel, who cheats on her constantly. He and her father are both planning to fuck her over for her inheritance.
After an encounter with a spaceship on a deserted road, Daryl grows into a giant when she becomes angry with the men in her life. Suddenly, she’s got a backbone and is spouting lines about growing up and finding her strength against all the men who have been dicking her over, even making blatant statements about feminism. There’s absolutely no subtlety to the message here.
She spends a majority of her big girl time hanging at a farm while the people in her life try to figure out what to do with her, and only unleashes her attack at the end when she goes hunting for her cheating husband.
The most fun you’ll find here is when she cuts through the drive-in theater and the original film is playing on the screen.
Leave it to sci-fi/horror schlock master Roger Corman to have a hand in producing a movie that totally bastardizes the spectacle of game changer Jurassic Park.
Carnosaur was the gore hound’s and old school dinosaur lover’s answer to Spielberg’s family-friendly box office bonanza. Campy dinosaur puppets and rubber costume dinosaurs, vicious dinosaur attacks, loads of blood, and belly-bursting dinosaur births abound.
On top of all that, considering this pretty much came out at the exact same time as Jurassic Park, it almost seems like there was insider info about that film that shaped this movie.
Is it a coincidence that it stars Diane Ladd, mother of Jurassic Park star Laura Dern, as an evil scientist planning to kill off all humanity to give the planet back to the dinosaurs? Or that someone says to her, “Sounds like a great idea for a theme park”?
All this fun takes place in a desert town, the body count is way up there, Clint Howard has a typically weird Clint Howard cameo and a juicy death, the main guy gets in a Tonka truck to fight a dinosaur model, and as a “fuck you” to the Academy for not giving her the Oscar the year before for Rambling Rose, Diane Ladd gives birth to a dinosaur on celluloid.
DARK BREED (1996)
Hard to believe there were still direct-to-video Alien rip-off movies being made in 1996. Dark Breed stars 80s pretty boy Jack Scalia, and I’ll never understand why I am so familiar with him from way back then because he was literally in nothing I ever watched.
There are actually some cool horror effects in Dark Breed. A small group of astronauts crashes back to earth with an alien infection that causes freaky, mini-mutations as they go around killing anyone in their path.
Problem is, while there are some major high-speed chases at first, this shit gets boring after a while, especially since they’re chasing military guys! Yawn.
A cool aspect of the film is that one of the astronauts is Scalia’s ex-wife and she sort of fights the infection, so she works with him to conquer the alien invaders. Also wicked cool is when the astronauts finally turn into actual monsters in the last fifteen minutes of the film.
Too bad it takes so long, because they rock, bring on some good blood and guts, and bitch slap Jack into the DVD era.