It’s back to the 90s for a foursome of mostly fun and fear

It’s no secret that the final decade of last millennium almost killed the horror genre (in my and most other people’s opinions), but the 1990s does have its moments. So here’s what went right and wrong for me in this marathon viewing session.

ARACHNOPHOBIA (1990)

It’s a classic for sure, but Arachnophobia is definitely critter feature lite, especially in this day an age. It gives me a nostalgic feeling more than a horror rush, and I appreciate it for its great cast and practical effects more than for any thrills and chills.

The plot is tried and true—a privileged American asshole travels to the jungle and accidentally brings the threat back to the states when a deadly spider stows away in his bag.

The spider ends up at a farmhouse in the country, where Jeff Daniels and his family are just moving in. He’s the new doctor in town. He’s deathly afraid of spiders. The spider sets up home in his barn and spawns babies.

Everything you’d expect to happen does. Dogs and cats are terrorized. Old people turn up inexplicably dead. There are itch-inducing close calls with spiders—shower, child’s room, popcorn bowl, etc.

And then we get the usual suspects. Julian Sands is the serious expert, John Goodman is the comic relief exterminator.

But in the end it’s up to Daniels to face his fears to save his family…in the barn…against a wickedly smart mother spider.

ASWANG (1992)

Not to be confused with the 1994 Aswang, this Aswang simply shouldn’t be two hours long. Fun monster stuff is weighed down by too many characters and way too much talking.

This family comes to a town where everyone is being murdered, the locals claim they brought the death, and so they try to prove that it’s the legendary Aswang.

Considering the legend this movie is about, it’s surprising that there’s only one scene of the Aswang sucking a woman’s baby from her belly.

In general, the horror scenes are cool, but it’s balanced with so much whimsical crap involving the kids, their nanny, and the driver of their car that it just kills the creepy tone.

In fact, by the end of the film when one kid and his nanny take on the monster, this kind of feels like a kid’s horror movie.

ED AND HIS DEAD MOTHER (1993)

Ed and His Dead Mother feels like a lighthearted, bloodless take on the Dead Alive premise.

Still trying to cope with the loss of his mother a year ago, Steve Buscemi lives with his uncle (Ned Beatty). When John Glover of Gremlins comes selling a re-animation service, Steve jumps at the chance.

Just as Steve is beginning to make progress with the hot woman next door, his mom comes back.

Naturally she isn’t exactly right, but she’s really not wrong enough to make this a thrilling horror comedy. Beatty is determined to send her back where she came from, so that’s really the big challenge for Buscemi…until finally mom does start to do some killing.

The movie isn’t as funny as it is cute, and I definitely would have liked it better if it were a bit edgier or funnier. Either more gore or more laughs—or both—would have made this a classic. As is, it’s kind of forgettable. Wait, what was I just talking about?

BATS (1999)

Director Louis Morneau is like the sequel king: Carnosaur 2, The Hitcher II, Joy Ride 2, Werewolf: The Beast Among Us.

Louis Morneau didn’t direct Bats: Human Harvest, the sequel to this film…

For a silly bat movie, Bats kind of kicks butt. And if you compare critter feature Arachnophobia from the beginning of the decade (and this blog) to this film from the end of the decade (and this blog), this is really the more thrilling movie, right from the opening bat attack.

Lou Diamond Phillips is the sheriff who brings in an expert, Dina Meyer of the Saw franchise, and her assistant, Leon of the Madonna “Like A Prayer” video.

They quickly learn a rare species of bat is infecting other bats, but before they can do much about it, all bat out of hell breaks loose as the whole town is ravaged in a crazy scene!

It’s all very reminiscent of The Birds, right down to the flying POV from the sky and our main character trapped in a movie theater ticket booth rather than a phone booth.

It’s nonstop action from there, and the only scene that got on my nerves was the montage of them setting up a protective fortress…to opera music that was more shrill than the screech of the bats.

Even the hokey plot twist was cheesy stupid good, and the final frame threatening a sequel even gets a campy twist. This is definitely my favorite throwback viewing of this foursome.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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One Response to It’s back to the 90s for a foursome of mostly fun and fear

  1. Pingback: I have an excuse for watching each of these four films… - BOYS, BEARS & SCARESBOYS, BEARS & SCARES

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