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Remo D.'s Year End Roundup
1999 was one of the most amazing (and best) years the genre has seen. Enough variety to give something for everyone; enough quality that you could do a top-ten list of horror alone; more surprises than any other year I can think of.
So here we go--of the "haven't seens" of big-screen horror, I must include the art-house items (Open Your Eyes, Felicia's Journey); and borderline titles that I just couldn't get interested in and brushed off as "non-horror" (Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Bone Collector). From there on, it's a go!
The ones that made the biggest impressions on me for any number of reasons--the ones that truly broke down some doors...
RAVENOUS: The first surprise--the first indication that this was going to be a special year. Everything worked here--the acting, the writing, the music, the gore--and the direction which covered a huge variety of moods.
THE MUMMY: Say what you will. Not scary, but what I great time I had with the action, the effects and the laughs. It's also worth mentioning that it's the only genre film of the year that I could take the family to. Pure entertainment, and no disrespect to the Karloff original in evidence.
THE SIXTH SENSE: Even if I saw the so-called "surprise" ending coming in the first ten minutes, that doesn't mean that the film wasn't exceptionally acted and directed. Best child performance I've seen in decades, and fine mood sustained throughout.
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT: Love or hate it, it's the most important film of the year for what it did. For my part, it gave me a chill even after I'd seen the bootleg, and it truly scared an audience I never thought it could. Over (and unethically) hyped? Of course. But that's not the movie.
STIR OF ECHOES: One of the better directing jobs this year--even if the story wasn't hard to figure out, it was quite stylishly accomplished and kept me hooked every step of the way.
DEEP BLUE SEA: Slow start, computerized sharks, but great surprises and gleeful rule-breaking. "The" scene? I led the applause.
eXistenZ: Some called it a "Videodrome" rehash--I say Cronenberg has some great new territory to mine here. The clues are too easy--literally handed to you on a platter--but that's all part of the game!
SLEEPY HOLLOW: As I said, it's a great trip through the funhouse. Tim Burton makes it so you can't take your eyes off it, and doesn't spare the horror elements one bit.
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL: I never thought a remake could be this good. Castle tribute, Price tribute, but full-on modern horror, too!
The best? Tie between "Ravenous" and "House on Haunted Hill." Gun to my head? Give it to "Ravenous" for not being a remake.
MIDDLE GROUND: Almost, but not quite--points for trying, however you want to put it.
"In Dreams," "The Rage: Carrie 2"; "Stigmata," "End of Days," "Lake Placid," "Idle Hands," "The Thirteenth Warrior."
THE WORST: Ahem...
VIRUS: An embarrassment for the cast, and one of the most excruciatingly plodding duds available.
8MM: Clues and conveniences drop into our hero's lap in lieu of a story, while the filmmakers stoop to deplorable lengths to get you to cheer the mythical crusade against snuff films. On-screen content not offensive--contempt for the audience is. George Costanza as a snuffer...good Lord...
BATS: One or two good moments and the "oh, come on, it's only a bat movie" line are no excuse for such shabby, paint-by-numbers "storytelling." The 70's films it aspires to are still fun to watch!
And the worst film of 1999?
THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE: When your story is that familiar, you can play hell with what the audience expects ("Deep Blue Sea,")--or you can try to wow them with your pseudo-Hitchcock "art-film" direction--nothing but slow-motion and fancy camera angles. If you opt for that approach, you'll wind up with something as unwatchably BORING as this slog-hog!