Honor roll: Saturn Award for Best Horror Film

Each of these films has been nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Horror/Thriller Film. 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: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: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:Basic Instinct

Basic Instinct

Paul Verhoeven

The take-no-prisoners sex thriller from 1992 now stands as a milestone in the career of screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, but in the hands of director Paul Verhoeven Basic Instinct is an undeniably stylish and provocative study of obsession. In the role that made her a star (and showed the audience a little more skin than she intended), Sharon Stone plays the cleverly manipulative novelist Catherine Tramell who snares San Francisco detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) with her insatiable sexual appetite during the investigation of her boyfriend’s murder.…

Film:Apt Pupil

Apt Pupil

Bryan Singer

At the top of his game, Stephen King has a real gift for mining monsters—zero-at-the-bone horror—out of everyday faces and places. Adapted from a novella in the 1982 collection that also spawned Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil looks at first as if it might draw authentically enlightening terror from the soul-cancer that makes blood relations of a Southern California golden boy (Brad Renfro) and an aging Nazi war criminal (Sir Ian McKellen). Turned on by a high-school course about the Holocaust, Todd Bowden (such a bland…

Film:Devil's Advocate

Devil's Advocate

Taylor Hackford

Too old for Hamlet and too young for Lear—what’s an ambitious actor to do? Play the Devil, of course. Jack Nicholson did it in The Witches of Eastwick; Robert De Niro did it in Angel Heart (as Louis Cyphre—get it?). In The Devil’s Advocate Al Pacino takes his turn as the great Satan, and clearly relishes his chance to raise hell. He’s a New York lawyer, of course, by the name of John Milton, who recruits a hotshot young Florida attorney (Keanu Reeves) to his firm and seduces him with tempting offers of power, sex, and money. Think of the…

Film:From Dusk Till Dawn

From Dusk Till Dawn

Robert Rodriguez

From a match made in heaven comes a movie spawned in hell! Young hotshot director Robert Rodriquez (El Mariachi, Desperado) teamed up with Pulp Fiction auteur Quentin Tarantino (offering his services as writer and co-star) to make this outrageous, no-holds-barred hybrid of high-octane crime and gruesome horror. QT plays Richard Gecko, a borderline psychopath who breaks his career-criminal brother, Seth (George Clooney), out of prison, after which they rob a bank and leave a trail of dead and wounded in their bloody wake. Then they hijack a…

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