Honor roll: Horror films

Each of these Horror films has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Film:The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs

Jonathan Demme

Based on Thomas Harris’s novel, this terrifying film by Jonathan Demme really only contains a couple of genuinely shocking moments (one involving an autopsy, the other a prison break). The rest of the film is a splatter-free visual and psychological descent into the hell of madness, redeemed astonishingly by an unlikely connection between a monster and a haunted young woman. Anthony Hopkins is extraordinary as the cannibalistic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter, virtually entombed in a subterranean prison for the criminally insane. At the behest of the FBI,…

Film:Interview with the Vampire

Interview with the Vampire

Neil Jordan

When it was announced that Tom Cruise would play the vampire Lestat in this adaptation of Anne Rice’s bestselling novel, even Rice chimed in with a highly publicized objection. The author wisely and justifiably recanted her negative opinion when she saw Cruise’s excellent performance, which perceptively addresses the pain and chronic melancholy that plagues anyone cursed with immortal bloodlust. Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst are equally good at maintaining the dark and brooding tone of Rice’s novel. And in this rare mainstream project for a major studio, director…

Film:Scream

Scream

Wes Craven

With the smash hit Scream, novice screenwriter Kevin Williamson and veteran horror director Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street) revived the moldering corpse of the teen horror picture, both creatively and commercially, by playfully acknowledging the exhausted clichés and then turning them inside out. Scream is a postmodern slasher movie, a horror film that cleverly deconstructs horror films, then reassembles the dead tissue, and (like Frankenstein’s monster) creates new life. When a serial killer starts hacking up their fellow teens, the…

Film:Dark City

Dark City

Alex Proyas

If you’re a fan of brooding comic-book antiheroes, got a nihilistic jolt from The Crow (1994), and share director Alex Proyas’s highly developed preoccupation for style over substance, you might be tempted to call Dark City an instant classic of visual imagination. It’s one of those films that exists in a world purely of its own making, setting its own rules and playing by them fairly, so that even its derivative elements (and there are quite a few) acquire their own specific uniqueness. Before long, however, the film becomes interesting only as a…

Film:Bram Stoker's Dracula

Bram Stoker's Dracula

Francis Ford Coppola

With dizzying cinematic tricks and astonishing performances, Francis Coppola’s 1992 version of the oft-filmed Dracula story is one of the most exuberant, extravagant films of the 1990s. Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder, as the Count and Mina Murray, are quite a pair of star-crossed lovers. She’s betrothed to another man; he can’t kick the habit of feeding off the living. Anthony Hopkins plays Van Helsing, the vampire slayer, with tongue firmly in cheek. Tom Waits is great fun as Renfield, the hapless slave of Dracula who craves the blood of insects and cats. Sadie…

Film:Total Recall

Total Recall

Paul Verhoeven

This science fiction blockbuster from 1990 began its production life as a very different movie than the one that was released. An adaptation of the Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” Total Recall was originally conceived of with Richard Dreyfuss starring as a Walter Mitty-like character who experiences a variety of artificially induced fantasies. The movie we know is a mega-budget action epic set on Mars. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a normal working man who discovers that his entire reality has been invented to conceal a…

Film:Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice

Tim Burton

Before making Batman, director Tim Burton and star Michael Keaton teamed up for this popular black comedy about a young couple (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) whose premature death leads them to a series of wildly bizarre afterlife exploits. As ghosts in their own New England home, they’re faced with the challenge of scaring off the pretentious new owners (Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones), whose daughter (Winona Ryder) has an affinity for all things morbid. Keaton plays the mischievous Beetlejuice, a freelance “bio-exorcist” who’s got an evil agenda…

Film:The Crow

The Crow

Alex Proyas

The Crow set the standard for dark and violent comic-book movies (like Spawn or director Alex Proyas’s superior follow-up, Dark City), but it will forever be remembered as the film during which star Brandon Lee (son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee) was accidentally killed on the set by a loaded gun. The filmmakers were able to digitally sample what they’d captured of Lee’s performance and piece together enough footage to make the movie releasable. Indeed, it is probably more fascinating for that post-production story than for the tale on the…

Film:Addams Family Values

Addams Family Values

Barry Sonnenfeld

This somewhat more cohesive follow-up to The Addams Family has the same director, Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black), but a better story line. Joan Cusack plays a busty gold digger who ingratiates herself into the Addams home and convinces Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) that she wants to marry him. Besides Lloyd, the cast includes Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia, ideal as those Brontëan lovers, Morticia and Gomez. But Christina Ricci again walks away with the best moments as the chilly Wednesday Addams, making life miserable for two camp counselors…

Film:The Addams Family

The Addams Family

Barry Sonnenfeld

Director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) brings his distinctly cartoonish sensibility to this feature film version of the old Charles Addams comic strip. Anjelica Huston was born to play Morticia Addams, matriarch of the ghoulish Addams clan, while the late Raul Julia is a very agreeable, lusty Gomez. But it’s Christina Ricci who arguably steals the show as their stone-faced daughter, Wednesday. As is often the problem with adaptations of comics or television shows, somehow an original story has to be implemented that doesn’t clutter things up. But clutter…

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