A Bad Year For Sequels, A Great Year For Film – 1991

1991 saw Leonardo DiCaprio make his film debut in Critters 3, while fellow film rookie, Edward Furlong was being catapulted into super stardom for his role in Terminator 2.  Who would have thought then that Furlong would be destined for a career in staright-to-DVD and Lifetime movies while DiCaprio… well, we all know what happened to his career.  So too did a 15-year-old Mila Jovovich make her debut on the screen with the horrid Return To The Blue Lagoon.  But both Mila and Leo weren’t the only ones to take part in terrible sequels that year.  In fact aside from T2, 1991 was littered with throwaway franchise cash grabs.

The top 10 films, worst sequels, and more from 1991 can all be found after the jump

I already mentioned Critters 3 and Return to the Blue Lagoon before the jump.  Aside from T2, 1991 was bogged down with a Rhinocrap worth of shitty sequels.  Here are the sidewalk doody sequels from 1991 that failed to live up to their previous enstallment(s) but succeeded in being stepped in by me.

Unfortunately the last acting job for the great James Stewart would be as the voice of dog sheriff, Wylie Burp in the animated An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.

Bill & Ted were once again traveling through space and time via phone booth with George Carlin in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.  This film does feature a parody of Ingmar Bergman‘s classic The Seventh Seal with the two metal heads coming face-to-face with Death and promptly giving him a “melvin” before later meeting to play several games for their souls.  Sounds like a funny premise, but trust me, it’s not.

When a creator/writer of every film in a franchise comes out and calls one of his installments his least favorite you know it has to be bad.  Child’s Play 3: Look Who’s Stalking has been called the worst of the five Child’s Plays by both avid horror fans, the creator of the series, Dan Mancini, and most of all, by me.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare might have raked over 12 million on its opening weekend, making it the highest grossing Kruger film since the release of Freddy vs Jason 12 years later, but a lot of people paying to see something doesn’t automatically equate to a good movie.  In fact, out of the gazillion or so Freddy films, including the reboot, this one just happens to be the wrost.

In the end there can be only one!”  That quote from the first Highlander rings anything but true when put in the context of all the other Highlander films.  The question that fans have of Highlander II: The Quickening is simply, why?  Another shining example of Hollywood not knowing when to leave a good thing alone.

The Naked Gun 2 and 1/2: The Smell of Fear was the next logical step in the wake of the highly successful first Naked Gun film.  But whereas the first one offered genuine laughs every minute, this sequel’s only chuckles came from the accident prone Nordberg, played by the now infamous OJ Simpson.

Great Films from 1991 (In alphabetical order)

Barton Fink

Usual top notch dark humor amidst the nuanced attention given to every little detail of every single frame is something audiences have to come expect from a Coen Brothers film.  Barton Fink does not disappoint on delivering just that.  Add in the beautiful cinematography, a script chock full of illuminating existentialist wit and two Johns (Goodman and Turturro) in their finest roles, and you have a genuine masterpiece on your hands.  The film has many interpretations, most of which are all justifiable.  It’s no wonder this film won all three major awards at the Cannes Film Festival; The Palme D’or (unanimously), Best Director, and Best Actor.

Delicatessen

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s first feature-length film is quirky, dark, original and would quickly establish the director as a true auteur.  More than just a “cult classic”, Delicatessen is one of the funniest non-traditional post apocalyptic cannibalistic romantic comedy films ever.

My Own Private Idaho

Those who are able to get over director Gus Vant Sant‘s supposed butchering remake of Psycho (1998) will be hard pressed to not notice this filmmakers’ impressive eye in his sophomore feature in one of my favorite coming-of-age films, My Own Private Idaho.  As a testament to Van Sant’s direction, and acting along side River Phoenix, the typecast surfer/stoner (“whoa”) Keanu Reeves turns in his best and most dynamic performance to date.

Night on Earth

Fact… okay, maybe not a fact, but a very strong opinion, Jim Jarmusch is one of – if not THE – best filmmakers out today.   In 1991 the white-haired maestro of movie magic took his less-is-more staple of independent filmmaking that he so sublimely crafted throughout the 1980s (Permanent Vacation, Stranger Than Paradise, Down By Law, Mystery Train) and went global with it.  Focusing on 5 different cab drivers from Helsinki to Los Angeles, Jarmusch’s moment-in-time vignetted existential view of human connectivity is timeless cinema at its best.

Silence of the Lambs

If I were to have told you back in 1990 that the winner of the Academy Award for best picture, actor, actress, director, and adapted screenplay would all be awarded to a film that features sperm being flung at Jodi Foster‘s face and Sir Anthony Hopkins chewing off somebody’s tongue you would have called me insane.  Director, Johnathan Demme‘s brilliantly shot Silence of the Lambs deserves all the accolades that it has received and is still one of the most thrilling police procedurals ever.

Terminator 2

Since my first viewing of this film it has been on my top 10 lists for both best action and best sci-fi.  Having seen this just last year for the umpteenth time, I am still impressed as to how well it holds up.  Nothing, aside from the hair styles (Not counting Arnold’s of course) seems at all dated.  Sure, James Cameron reached even further success later on in his career with Titanic and Avatar, but none of his films would ever achieve the sheer awesomeness that is Terminator 2.

Zentropa (AKA Europa)

For Lars Von Trier, eye candy does not consist of naked women and big explosions – although there’s nothing wrong with that .  To him, eye candy is washed-out black and white shading that shifts in and out of the frame, overlays of action upon action, and tension building train sequences that would have even made Hitchcock green with envy.  Europa, or Zentropa – whichever you call it – is one of many “masterpieces” (a word I don’t throw around haphazardly) by Von Trier.

Honorable Mentions:

Bugsy, Little Man Tate, Point Break, Once Upon A Time In China, Slacker, Thelma & Louise

Other film events that took place in 1991:

  • The Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Movie went to Huson Hawk.  Other nominees included Cool As Ice, Dice Rules, Nothing But Trouble and Return to the Blue Lagoon
  • Terminator 2 was the highest grossing film of the year
  • 1991 saw the passing of actors Klaus Kinski (Fitzcarraldo), and Lee Remick (The Omen)
  • 1991 saw the passing of directors David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia), Frank Capra (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) and Don Siegel (Dirty Harry)
  • Carmine Coppola, father to Francis and composer of all three Godfather films, passes away.

Other notable events that took place in 1991:

  • Operation Desert Storm begins with air strikes against Iraq
  • Boris Yeltson is elected President of Russia
  • Boxer, Mike Tyson is arrested and charged with rape
  • Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer is arrested after the remains of 11 boys and men are found in his apartment
  • Super Nintendo makes its debut. Go Yoshi!
  • LA Lakers point guard, Magic Johnson anounces that he is HIV positive
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Categories: Best Of Lists

One Comment on “A Bad Year For Sequels, A Great Year For Film – 1991”

  1. Tom
    February 18, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    Very interesting, good stuff!

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