Almost anyone you ask will tell you that horror’s Golden Era resides firmly within the ’80s (though the ’90s certainly held their own). How could it not be the ’80s? It was the decade of slasher villains, practical effects, and kickass synthesizer soundtracks. Not to mention just sheer greatness in numbers; we’re lucky to get one good horror movie a year nowadays! But one of the last gems of that era, Scream, has proven to be both a deafening end to the heyday of horror, and the beginning of something new.
Though it so effortlessly brought together and celebrated all the essential trademarks of the films before it, it effectively labeled the entire genre as silly and clichéd, not unlike what the Austin Powers films did for the James Bond series. Post Scream and its subsequent imitators (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, etc.), the state of horror has been hard to nail down. I’ve broken things down to a few major categories to give you a better grasp on what horror means to the millennial generation.
Marvel Studios is a massive, many-headed entertainment beast with big ambitions and a slate planned up to 2021. The film side of things is getting ready to debut their Phase Three, which includes Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and more. Each new Phase heralds in a new slate of sequels, some new characters, and new tent pole features like the Avengers films.
So we here at Grizzly Bomb have a mammoth Countdown to Halloween going on, focusing on some of the greatest Halloween icons to ever terrify humanity. However, here I just want to give a thumbs up to some of the more obscure creatures of the night who have terrified me over the years.
So welcome to our Countdown to Halloween Special – Top 10 B-Movie Monsters. Click on through our new handy Tabber below and prepare yourself for some B-Movie greatness.
This is the latest of a whole series here at Grizzly Bomb. For each feature we will examine an individual genre and the quality of its films. These lists will be compiled from a point system determined by votes from each member of the staff. It’s very scientific, we used Excel.
For this topic, in addition to my list, I asked all the other members of my staff to give me a list of their “Top 15 Comic Book Movies”.
Anyhow, as for the results: From the other 16 people asked to make a Top Ten list, plus my own Top 10, it resulted in 60 different movies being named. I’ve tallied up the points, and I now give you the Top 25 of them…
25. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
24. Red (2010)
23. Dick Tracy (1990)
22. The Crow (1994)
21. Thor (2011)
20. Captain America: First Avenger (2011) 19. X-Men: First Class (2011) 18. Blade (1998)
17. X-Men (2000) 16. V for Vendetta (2006) 15. Kick Ass (2010)
14. A History of Violence (2005)
13. 300 (2006)
12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
11. Superman (1978)
And the TOP 10….
*Something new this time around is the AFI Box Office, which is ‘Adjusted for Inflation’…
[The Wozz] When one of the Watchmen is brutally murdered, Nite Owl attempts to bring the old team of retired crime fighters back together for one last job. But the public outrage against vigilantism forces the aging superheroes to question their morals and in some cases, even their sanity.
A lot of controversy and polarization came along with Zack Snyder’s adaptation of what is arguably the best comic book story ever told, but no one can deny that Watchmen is one of the most faithfully adapted stories to ever see the silver screen. Punctuated by Snyder’s trademark stylized action, Watchmen feels more like a hypnotizing motion comic than a traditional action movie, yet it still hits all the narrative beats of Alan Moore’s somber graphic novel, which is why it makes our top ten.
Best Quote: “Rorschach’s Journal. October 12th, 1985: Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll whisper “no.” “
Trivia: The trailer features the song “The Beginning is the End is the Beginning” by Smashing Pumpkins, which was originally a B-Side for the single “The End is the Beginning is the End”, the theme from Joel Schumacher‘s Batman & Robin.
9. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
[The Wozz] Scott Pilgrim is a jerk. He plays bass for an awful garage band and he’s dating a high school girl. But when he meets Ramona Flowers, a mysterious American girl with purple hair, he instantly falls in love. Scott will do anything to win over the literal girl of his dreams – and unfortunately for him, that means defeating Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes.
No other movie of this generation has simultaneously parodied and embraced popular culture like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The nerd culture, the indie music scene, hipster-pretentious teens and our superhero obsession all get a jab and an embrace in this gorgeous and hilarious take on the typical guy-meets-girl flick. Scott surrounds himself with about a dozen characters who all manage to come across as endearing, whether they’re charming, obnoxious, or just plain douchey, making this the flashiest, most over-the-top hangout movie of our time.
Best Quote: “He punched the highlights out of her hair!”
Trivia:Edgar Wright obtained permission to use the famous theme song from the SNES game, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, by writing a letter to Nintendo, saying that it is considered to be “the nursery rhyme of this generation”. He was also allowed to use the Seinfeld theme song for a sitcom-style sequence.
8. X2: X-Men United
[Supascoot] A team of mutants hated and feared by the rest of the world are brought together by professor Charles Xavier, a powerful telepath dedicated to training the youthful mutants under his care to protect themselves and the world. This time they find themselves under attack from the government and William Stryker, who has past connections with Prof. X, Magneto and Wolverine.
Building on the success of the first movie, Brian Singer created a sequel that many consider to be far superior to the original. With one of the greatest opening scenes of any superhero movie out there, X2 changed how many of us looked at the comic movie medium. A realistic look at a fantastical world that was easy to relate to and touched on so many themes of both reality and the X-Men mythos. Featuring an ending that left us all excited for the next one, until we actually saw it and realized the flip side of what good movies are.
Best Quote: “You know all those dangerous mutants you hear about in the news? I’m the worst one. “
Triva: On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Hugh Jackman related a story about something that happened during the filming of the Weapon X flashback scene: while he was filming the corridor run (in which he is nude and backlit), he turned the corner and saw the female cast members, including James Marsden’s mother, waiting for him, hooting and waving dollar bills.
[Supascoot] High School Nerd Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive genetically engineered super spider and infused with powers making him the Amazing Spider-Man. After refusing to stop a thief, he is horrified to learn that the thief went on to murder Peter’s Uncle Ben, and embraces his final lesson that “With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility.” Also Norman Osborn goes crazy, becoming the Green Goblin and setting up a villain that will torment Spidey for 3 movies.
Said to be the movie of the 70’s, and then the movie of the 80’s, and the movie of the 90’s, Spider-Man had a spot on the big screen reserved just for him. It wasn’t until Sam Raimi was given the job that the movie finally started moving forward. Fans were unsure of what to think of the film, with many changes and unsure casting, but the moment the movie hit it was well received and provided hope that we may see other heroes getting the same kind of treatment by a director who loved and respected the characters and stories.
Best Quote: “Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Spider-man. “
Triva: In addition to both Peter Parker and Norman Osborn wearing their enemy’s costume colors during the Thanksgiving dinner scene, Harry Osborn is seen wearing all of the colors. He’s wearing a green shirt, red tie and blue coat.
[Supascoot] Tim Burton’s Batman focused on the darker tone recently exhibited by DC Comics, in large part due to Frank Miller’s time with the character. The film followed the urban legend that is Batman creating and fighting his nemesis Joker, while dealing with the complicated life of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, who is falling for reporter Vicki Vale.
The 1st of 3 Batman movies in the Top 10, it’s a clear indication that when comparing any and all comic book movies, you look to Batman first. What worked, what didn’t and how we can make it as awesome as the first true Batman film in Hollywood. Keaton delivered an amazing performance as a slightly older Batman, while Jack Nicholson wowed audiences with his portrayal of the Clown Prince of Crime, a role left untouched until Heath Ledger… but we can talk about that later.
Best Quote: “Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
Trivia: The Joker’s line “Take thy beak from out my heart” (said at Vale’s apartment) is from Edgar Allan Poe‘s “The Raven”. The full line is ‘Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’ (the “beak” being of the raven)
5. Iron Man
[Supascoot] Tony Stark is a Billionaire Playboy Inventor Entrepreneur Wunderkind who parties hard and profits big for his company, Stark Enterprises. But when he is kidnapped by the Ten Rings, a terrorist cell in the Middle East, he is gravely wounded. Forced to build a powerful weapon for the Ten Rings, he instead chooses to create a suit of armor to not only save his life, but escape his captors. And iron Man is born.
When news hit that Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark, everyone accepted that this movie was actually happening, and that it just may be good. When some of the first footage was seen, fans were apprehensive but excited, and when it hit theaters it was just that; a hit. Spectacular special effects, great acting from Downey and cast and the villain; played by The Dude Jeff Bridges, who taught me to never try to enter the world of big business. Or make my own suit of armor to take on Iron Man. Jon Favreau delivered a realistic and acceptable world where we could see all our favorite Avengers characters existing, and proved to be the jumping off point for one of the biggest comic book movie epics to ever hit the big screen; The Avengers.
Best Quote: “They say that the best weapon is the one you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That’s how Dad did it, that’s how America does it, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.”
Triva: Stan Lee, the creator of Iron Man, had originally based Tony Stark on Howard Hughes, whom he felt was “one of the most colourful men of our time: an inventor, an adventurer, a multimillionaire, a ladies man and finally a nutcase.”
4. Spider-Man 2
[The Wozz] Peter Parker’s new career as a web-slinging superhero is starting to get in the way of his education, his family and most important of all, his relationship with Mary-Jane Watson. As his priorities start to shift, Peter begins to question his responsibilities as a vigilante crime fighter and eventually he hangs up the costume for good. But when Dr. Otto Octavius has an experiment go awry, killing his wife and binding four mechanical arms to his spine, Pete is forced to accept his role as a superhero and take back his true role as Spider-Man.
Spider-Man may be heralded as the movie that ushered in Hollywood’s superhero craze but it’s the second one that became the shining light of the franchise. It just feels the most like Spider-Man, because it perfectly nails that balance between thrilling acrobatics, lighthearted fun and a charming, somewhat corny moral center. Doctor Octopus is unquestionably the best villain of the trilogy, providing some of the best action sequences in all three movies, and this is the movie where Spidey feels most recognizable – none of that whiny, dancing B.S. that would come a few years later.
Best Quote: “We need a hero, courageous sacrificing people, setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero, people line up for ’em, cheer for them, scream their names, and years later tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who told them to HOLD ON a second longer.”
Triva: Stan Lee originally filmed the cameo of the man who shouts: “Hey, Spider-Man stole that guy’s pizza!” But because of problems with the shot it was re-filmed with another actor, and Lee was given a different (but heroic) cameo.
3. Sin City
[The Wozz] Three (Technically four) intercepting vignettes tell the tale of violence, corruption, death and vengeance in the streets of Basin City: Marv seeks revenge for the murder of a caring woman, killed as she slept by his side. Dwight gets into hot water when he punishes the wrong abusive boyfriend. Hartigan comes back from the dead to save a girl from a monster.
Sin City features more style and visual flair in some scenes than most movies have in their entirety. The gritty, unforgiving noir is punctuated with bursts of vibrant color amid the gorgeous blacks, greys and whites of the simulated graphic novel, and it features one of the biggest casts you’re likely to ever find. Other films have tried to jump onto Sin City‘s dark, exaggerated aesthetic but their failure serves as evidence that there’s more to this movie than simple eye-porn. Sin City is in a world all to itself and delivers something entirely unique, which is why it’s number three on our list.
Best Quote: “Most people think Marv is crazy. He just had the rotten luck of being born in the wrong century. He’d be right at home on some ancient battlefield swinging an axe into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman arena, taking his sword to other gladiators like him. They woulda tossed him girls like Nancy back then.”
” It’s time to prove to your friends that you’re worth a damn. Sometimes that means dying, sometimes it means killing a whole lot of people. “
Triva: Despite appearing in all three of the major stories, Brittany Murphy filmed all of her scenes in one day.
2. Batman Begins
[The Wozz] Believe it or not, there was a time when most of us weren’t looking forward to a new Batman movie. Joel Schumacher took the franchise out at the knees with Batman & Robin, and it was hard to believe any revival could undo the damage. Then we found out the Memento guy was directing it, and shortly after that Christian Bale would play Bruce Wayne. Clearly things were going in a new direction, but no one had any idea what was coming.
Batman Begins is about about Bruce Wayne. If you break down the movie, you can see it all the way through. Even in the third act, when Bruce is almost always under the cape and cowl he is still the man, not the symbol. It’s not until The Dark Knight that Batman truly becomes a second identity and that is what makes Begins such an engaging story. No other Batman movie has given so much attention and importance to the person who became the Bat. Begins is about other things, too – fear, corruption, justice – but this is the most human the character has ever been, and it delivers an origin story befitting to the greatest superhero of all time.
Best Quote: “What chance does Gotham have when the good people do nothing? “
Triva: Christian Bale lost his voice three times during filming after altering his voice while playing Batman.
1. The Dark Knight
[The Wozz] After the success of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight might have become one of the most anticipated movies ever, but that didn’t keep it completely free from scrutiny. The decision to bring in The Joker after Jack Nicholson’s beloved performance, combined with the casting of Heath Ledger in the role was baffling to most of us. And the IMDb page showed clear as day that between Ledger, Cillian Murphy and Aaron Eckhart, there would be three different villains in the movie (Just months before, Spider-Man 3 had crumbled under that weight). On opening weekend, The Dark Knight absolutely shattered any doubts.
As opposed to Batman Begins, in The Dark Knight Batman no longer exists as a man in a a suit; Bruce Wayne has completely transformed the caped crusader into a symbol, elevating him far past the limitations of a simple vigilante. The Joker’s brand of chaos isn’t a threat to Bruce, or his loved ones, or even to Gotham, at least not directly. Joker represents something far more destructive than that. He threatens to dismantle the legend of Batman, kill the icon instead instead of the person. In actuality, The Dark Knight has nothing to do with two men on either side of the law. It’s about the manifestations of good and evil, the struggle between order against chaos. That’s what elevates The Dark Knight beyond the ranks of a simple superhero movie and makes it the best comic book movie of all time.
Best Quote: “Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
Triva: Nestor Carbonell who plays the mayor coincidentally also played “Bat Manuel”, a parody of Batman, in the comic-based live action The Tick TV series. And Michael Jai White who played the Batman-inspired character Spawn in Spawn plays a gangster.
This is to be the first of a whole new series here at Grizzly Bomb. For each feature we will examine an individual genre and the quality of its films produced within a specific decade. These lists will be compiled from a point system determined by votes from each member of the staff. It’s very scientific, we used Excel.
For this first topic I asked all 11 members of my staff to give me a list of their Top 10 Action Movies of the 1990s. These movies were to be ranked from 1-10, and the results surprised me a little. But before we get there, there was some discussion over what qualifies as an ‘Action Movie’. For the purpose of this exercise, we looked at movies that are unmistakably Action, and ignored some of those that are more broadly categorized. The 3 movies that best fit this example were Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, and Leon/ The Professional. While all 3 of these movies have action in them, it just seemed like they were too good to be crammed in as genre flicks, as they run a lot deeper than movies like, Tango and Cash or Bad Boys II, which are simply focused on blowing shit up. We were looking more for the ‘Blowing Shit Up’ stuff.
90’s action was about more than just explosions though, it also really expanded on the Sci-Fi aspects as well. As technology advanced and they found themselves able to do things previously not possible, you really saw the whole genre shift on a closer parallel with the Sci-Fi genre than ever prior. As the decade went on, and Stallone and Schwarzenegger got older, Hollywood also started to move away from the muscle-bound action stars of the 1980’s and more towards special effects driven stories.
Anyhow, as for the results: From the 12 people asked to make a Top Ten list, it resulted in 56 different movies being named. I’ve tallied up the points, and I now give you the Top 25 of them…
25. Universal Soldier (1992)
24. Hard Target (1993)
23. Last Man Standing (1996) 22. Hard Boiled (1992)
21. Desperado (1995)
20. GoldenEye (1995)
19. Point Break (1991)
18. Mission Impossible (1996)
17. Total Recall (1990)
16. Demolition Man (1993)
15. Boondock Saints (1999)
14. Under Siege (1992)
13. Con Air (1997)
12. The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
11. Independence Day (1996)
In 1998 most people had never heard of the Marvel Comics ‘Vampire Hunter’ Blade. That all changed though when New Line Cinemas cast Wesley Snipes and gave him a sword. Granted, a lot of people still didn’t realize they were watching a ‘Comic Book’ movie, but they loved it. The success of the film also did something else, it proved that you could still make comic movies even in the aftermath of Batman & Robin.
This movie told the story of a half-man/half-vampire with all the powers of the vampires, but very few of their weaknesses. He hunts down the undead to avenge his slain family. Stephen Dorff hands in maybe the strongest performance of his career as Frost; the new head of the vampire community.
Aside from a very capable cast (which included Terrier‘s Donal Louge) Blade had all the elements that made 90’s action great. It was fast paced, filled with gun-play, and featured new technology paired with old-school tactics. The movie revitalized Snipes career for a few more years and spawned 2 sequels and a TV show.
How 90’s is it? – This whole movie was like a really cool commercial for sunglasses, but with more blood. Very 90’s. I award a copy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1 on VHS.
9. Bad Boys
Before he smashed robots into one and other for a living, Michael Bay actually made some really good action flicks. The first of which helped launch Will Smith from Rapper/TV Star into a bonafide movie Superstar. Now one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, Smith owes many of his career opportunities to Bad Boys. This is also arguably the only movie Martin Lawrence has ever been in where I didn’t hate him.
It’s the story of a couple of Miami Detectives who drive around in a $100,000 car and shoot everything that moves. A huge catch of heroin from a bust of their’s is stolen out of the police evidence locker and they must get it back. My old man used to complain about how often my little sister and I watched this movie because of the abundance of F-Bombs. Apparently those are only ok in mobster movies. He is Italian. Anyhow, this movie is the first time I can really remember such stylized camera work from an American Director. It was like watching a John Woo movie, but with less doves. This is a style that Bay is now known for and probably has trademarked, but when I was 12, it was totally fresh. The sequel that came out in 2003 however, not so much…
How 90’s is it? – From the music to the Micheal Jordan references, this movie was super hip in 1995. I give it a Dodge Viper, a #23 jersey, and a ‘Fresh Prince Greatest Hits’ cassette.
Speed came out in 1994, and probably remained the most spoofed and quoted movie around until Austin Powers showed up in 1997. This movie was a phenomenon, and I think people often forget just how big it was. You can look at what Bad Boys did for Will Smith, and argue that Speed did even more for Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Keanu transformed himself here from half of ‘Bill and Ted’ into an actual movie star, building on what he started in Point Break. And Sandra Bullock, well she went on to become “America’s Sweetheart” dethroning Julia Roberts, and eventually winning an Oscar. Dennis Hopper also greatly benefited from the movie’s success, keeping him relevant until his death last year.
This was one of those movies where even if you didn’t see it, you know what it was. “Yeah, that’s the one with the bomb on the bus right?” The sequel however had less of an impact, but that’ll happen when you replace the star of the movie. Without Keanu Speed 2 was doomed from the start. It’s not surprising they tried after the success of the first one though. And it’s even less surprising that this movie made the list.
US Release: June 10, 1994 Director: Jan de Bont Notable Cast: Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Joe Morton, Alan Ruck, Patrick Fischler, and Beth Grant. Oscar Wins/Nominations 2/3 (Won – Sound/Sound Effects Editing) US/Total Box Office: $121,248,145/$350,448,145 Best Quote: “Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?” Triva: Quentin Tarantino were offered the chance to direct, but turned it down. Tarantino later named the film as one of his 20 favorite films since 1992.
How 90’s is it? – It’s Seattle-90’s. Everyone in this movie has a flannel shirt, so I give Speed the entire Nirvana discology, and a Starbucks gift card.
7. Die Hard 2: Die Harder
This is the inclusion that will likely surprise the most people. Not that it’s on the list, but that it’s in the Top 10 ahead of movies like Con Air, Face-Off, and Under Siege. I know it surprised me, but I have to honest. I love this movie. And as I was preparing this article, and watching the trailers again for each movie, this is the one that I felt most pumped to watch. After all, what’s the big knock against this movie? It’s too much like it’s predecessor? Well what’s wrong with that? The first Die Hard film is the greatest Action movie of all time.
Anyhow, this time around, and the Christmas following his LA adventure, John McClane is at Dulles Airport in D.C. waiting for his wife’s plane to land, and wouldn’t you know it? Terrorists take over the Airport. Forced to deal with things on his own because Dennis Franz won’t help him, McClane proves once again, it doesn’t pay to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This movie gave us what is easily the best ‘ Yippie-kai-yay‘ delivery of the franchise.
How 90’s is it? – This one is ‘New 90’s’ as John had to “get with the 90’s” and learn how to use a fax machine. I award this movie one Zack Morris cell phone.
6. The Last Boy Scout
Joe Hallenbeck is basically a washed out John McClane, working as a detective and disgraced after his exit from the secret service. He’s a drunk and a smartass, and extremely entertaining to watch.
Jimmy Dix is basically a washed out Michael Vick, dating as a stripper that looks like Halle Berry and disgraced after his exit from Pro Football. He’s a drug addict and a pain in Joe’s ass.
This movie took on Sports Gambling and struggling TV rating for Pro Football. Not very realistic there, but hey, it’s a fun watch. This movie is as close as you can get to an “80’s Action Movie” released outside the 80’s. Shane Black’s screenplay is so full of buddy cop moments and one-liners it’s impossible not to like this if you grew up on movies like Lethal Weapon (also written by Shane Black) and The Running Man. It probably would have led to sequels if not for an under performing Box Office total, opening against Hook during the Holiday season and being deemed ‘too violent’ for Christmas.
How 90’s is it? – It’s not. It’s just SUPER late 80’s. So for that it gets a ‘Member’s Only’ jacket and a Prince LP.
5. Die Hard: With a Vengeance
Widely recognized as the better of the 2 Die Hard movies released in the 1990’s, it’s also the first one not to feature Al, Holly, and Richard Thornburg. It also is the first one not to take place at Christmas. This, the 3rd of the series focuses more on John himself, as opposed to the first 2 movies which simply had him thrown into bad situations.
Hans Gruber’s brother Simon (Irons) is holding the city of New York in a grip of terror and he wants to play a game with John. From stolen gold to exploding Subway trains this movie never really slows down. The franchise welcomes back John McTiernan, director of the original movie to breath some new life into McClane, but this time giving him a sidekick. And quite the sidekick Sam Jackson makes, constantly at odds with McClane and everyone else. The pair race around the city playing Simon’s games, all the while Simon is filling dump truck after dump truck with gold bars.
This is a movie that to this day, if I catch it on TV I have to watch it, and it was this, combine with Pulp Fiction, that made Sam Jackson a household name.
US Release: May 19, 1995 Director: John McTiernan Notable Cast: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irons, Aldis Hodge, Dick Cheney, and Anthony Peck. Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0 US/Total Box Office: $100,012,499/$366,101,666 Best Quote: “Yippie-kai-yay motherf–ker.” Triva: The line spoken by McClane “Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo” is taken from a song called “Flowers on the Wall” by The Statler Brothers, which appears in the Gold Watch section Pulp Fiction (1994), also featuring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson.
How 90’s is it? – Kinda 90’s. This movie, unlike a lot of the other ones on this list isn’t unique in style to the decade and could really fit in any time period, so for that it gets an Aerosmith T-Shirt, a Coke, and a smile.
4. The Rock
This is the movie that made Nic Cage, at least for a while, an action star, leading him to later do some movies as Con Air, Face/Off, and Gone in Sixty Seconds. And it reminded people the reason that Sean Connery was one of the world’s first real action stars – He’s a badass.
This was also Michael Bay’s follow-up to Bad Boys, which tricked us into thinking he’d never do a bad movie. Bay’s stylistic camera shots that averaged less than 3 seconds each, and the fast paced flow of plot helped to define the decade’s ‘Action Identity’, and no movie exemplifies that more than The Rock.
How 90’s is it? – Maximum 90’s. This movie is so 90’s in fact that it’s gonna get a OJ Trial Transcript and signed Tanya Harding Ice Skate.
3. True Lies
Schwarzenegger’s last truly great movie, and no surpirse he was paired with Terminator scribe and director James Cameron. This movie examines some of the everyday life stuff that a Schwarzenegger character would have to deal with. The most memorable scene however, isn’t one centered around Arnold, but around Jamie Lee Curtis…
Bill Paxton and Tom Arnold added quite a bit more humor than was in Schwarzenegger and Cameron’s previous collaborations. True Lies marks the end of an era, which at the time we did not know, but this would be last truly great movie to star the Governator (at least to date). This is for Arnold almost what Unforgiven is for Clint Eastwood. A movie where he plays a character that is very similar, but in a different light. Unforgiven is Clint once he is old and broke down, while True Lies is a comedic look at the behind the scenes of his life. The movie was obviously a huge hit and almost spawned a 2002 sequel, but tensions after 9/11 caused them to delay, and as of 2011 they have not moved forward.
US Release: July 15, 1994 Director: James Cameron Notable Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere, Eliza Dushku, and Charlton Heston. Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/1 (Nom. – Best Visual Effects) US/Total Box Office: $146,282,411/$378,882,411 Best Quote: “Same thing happened to me with wife number two, ‘member? I have no idea nothing’s going on, right? I come home one day and the house is empty, and I mean completely empty. She even took the ice cube trays out of the freezer. What kind of a sick bitch takes the ICE CUBE trays out of the FREEZER?” Triva: Spencer Trilby (Heston) is based on Nick Fury, the Marvel character. Like Fury, he has an eye-patch, same mannerisms, and heads a peacekeeping organization.
How 90’s is it? – It has Tom Arnold in it. Is that answer enough? No? Ok, well if came from a time where you could still have Middle Eastern terrorists in movies instead of them just being used as Red Herrings. For that I award a retroactive failing grade from the “PC Police” for being too awesome.
2. The Matrix
When I saw the trailer for this movie I thought: “Gonna be all special effects, no story”. Boy was I wrong. The fact of the matter is The Matrix had some of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen, and the advancements in special effects changed the way movies were made. The story was very similar to that of the Terminator Franchise. Futuristic war against the machines, one man destined to save humanity and all that jazz. So it’s not that the concept was as new as people thought at the time, rather it was presented in a new way that dropped jaws. Nothing like this had ever been seen visually and that is what made people go back to see it for a 2 or 3rd time.
Kenau hadn’t really taken advantage of the success of Speed, and the weakening grip that Stallone and Schwarzenegger had on the Action genre. It looked as though he could be the next big thing, replacing aging stars like Van Damme, Segal, and even Bruce Willis. But it was 5 years until The Matrix came out and he really hit one out of the park.
This movie did something else too. It launched the career of Hugo Weaving, who played Agent Smith. If you don’t recognize the name, you might recognize his resume: The Matrix trilogy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, V for Vendetta, The Wolfman, and the voice of ‘Megatron’ in the Transformers movies. He will also be playing ‘The Red Skull’ in the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger.
The movie itself simply changed the whole industry, and remains (despite a slew of terrible sequels) extremely popular still today, more than a decade after it’s release.
US Release: March 31, 1999 Directors: Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski Notable Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano, and Gloria Foster. Oscar Wins/Nominations: 4/4 (Won – Editing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Sound) US/Total Box Office: $171,479,930/$463,517,383 Best Quote: “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.” Triva: This cast almost looked very different – Jean Reno turned down the role of Agent Smith for Godzilla instead. Ewan McGregor turned down the part of Neo for Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. And Sean Connery was originally offered the role of Morpheus, but turned it down saying he couldn’t understand the script.
How 90’s is it? – Cutting Edge 90’s! This movie gets a ‘White Zombie’ CD and a new trench coat.
1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Without a doubt, the 90’s movie I’ve seen the most times (edging out The Sandlot and Mallrats) is Terminator 2. It was no surprise to me that this turned out #1 as it was at the top of almost everyone’s list.
This is probably Arnold at his absolute best, and I doubt we’ll ever see him do anything this good again. This movie, brought in over $500 million at the Box Office and shattered records all over the place. It held the record for opening weekend Box Office of an R rated movie for 12 years, and still holds the record for the biggest Box Office increase for a sequel over the original with over a 400% jump.
The movie’s effects, groundbreaking in 1991, still hold up now, 20 years after it’s release. Before the massively over-rated Titantic and Avatar movies, James Cameron made sweet shit like this. And as far as I’m concerned, there is no argument to be made against this being atop the list. It is simply, as perfect a 90’s action movie as you can ask for.
US Release: July 3, 1991 Director: James Cameron Notable Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Earl Boen, Joe Morton, Jenette Goldstein, Xander Berkeley, Nikki Cox, Danny Cooksey, and S. Epatha Merkerson. (Michael Biehn also appears in the Director’s Cut…) Oscar Wins/Nominations: 4/6 (Won – Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Makeup, Sound) US/Total Box Office: $204,843,345/$519,843,345 Best Quote: “I need your clothes, boots and your motorcycle.” Triva: The Minigun used in the Cyberdyne scene was so heavy that Arnold Schwarzenegger was in fact the only person on stage that could carry the gun.
How 90’s is it? – It was Trend-setting 90’s! This movie popularized many 90’s trademarks and for that it’s gets an autographed photo of George Thorogood, season 3 of The Simpsons, and an unopened copy of Windows ’95.