*This letter also had many wonderful movies. It was hard to choose, again, so I will list some honorable mentions: Men In Black, Mimic, Minority Report, Monkey Shines, The Mothman Prophecies and My Bloody Valentine.
The “Godfather of all Zombies”, George A. Romero, wrote and directed the 1978 horror film Martin. A removal from his usual zombie apocalypse films, Martin was the tale of a man who believes himself to be a vampire. His desire for human blood drives him to seduce and kill women. Often called Romero’s best work, this film explored societies consequences of a failing economy during the 1970s stagflation. Tom Savini, the award-winning special effects and makeup artist, collaborated with Romero on this film for the first time and also played the part of Arthur. The movie received high reviews and is still considered to be one of the best horror films in certain lists.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Kenneth Branagh directed and starred in this 1994 film that was perhaps the best representation of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Robert De Niro played the part of the creature, with Branagh portraying Victor Frankenstein. Helena Bonham Carter plays Elizabeth, Victor’s fiancée and later the creature’s love interest. The film was able to render the feelings of isolation and rejection that the creature experiences in Shelley’s novel. De Niro did a fantastic job, and the makeup effects were superb. The U.S. release was not successful, however worldwide the film grossed $90 million, making up for the $45 million budget. While not a perfect representation of the book, it is closer than most other versions, and being the book lover that I am, I can respect this.
The first and only directorial effort by novelist Stephen King, Maximum Overdrive was loosely based on one of his short stories, Trucks. King also supplied the screenplay for the film. A comet passes by the earth, causing all inanimate to become omniscient and attack humans. Filmed near Wilmington, North Carolina, the majority of the movie takes place in the Dixie Boy truck stop, an elaborate set constructed just for the movie. It was convincing enough that local truckers would stop by, believing it to be a working truck stop. A soundtrack was supplied by the band AC/DC. One of the film’s most memorable antagonists, the semi-truck with the Green Goblin head attached to the front, is still recognized today. The film received poor reviews, and did not do well at the box office. King has admitted that he was “coked out of [his] mind all through its production” and has not attempted to direct since.
Directed by Kevin Connor, Motel Hell was the story of Vincent and his younger sister Ida. They lived on a farm with an adjoined motel. Vincent was known locally for his delicious meat that he smoked at his farm. What no one knew was the real source of the meat. Long-time actor, Rory Calhoun, played the role of Vincent and actress Nancy Parsons portrayed Ida. The film doesn’t rely on heavy gore, but instead the gruesome references and scenarios provide more than enough horror. The film has become a cult classic over the years.
In 1932, Universal Studios sought to find a novel they could base an Egyptian horror film on following the earlier success of Dracula and Frankenstein. No novel was to be found, and John L. Balderston was hired to write the script. Karl Freund was chosen to be the director only two days before filming was to start. Both Balderston and Freund had been connected to Dracula, and Balderston also to Frankenstein. Boris Karloff would star as the mummy, Imhotep. Karloff’s iconic transformation into the mummy took 8 hours in makeup and was painful to remove. There have been no direct sequels to this movie, however, a kind of remake was completed by way of B-film The Mummy’s Hand, which saw many sequels. The 1999 version of The Mummy is the closest to be considered as a remake to the original, however the storyline deviates.
An homage to 1950s science fiction films, director Tim Burton decided to make Mars Attacks! based on the 1960s trading card series. The movie employed a huge list of stars including Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Glenn Close and Danny DeVito to name a few. The movie is about a fleet of malicious Martians who come to earth. With a budget of $80 million and an extra $20 million spent on marketing, Burton’s original wish to have the Martians filmed in stop-motion was changed to using computer-generated imagery. The movie was met with mixed reviews, and had greater success overseas.
In 1999, the science fiction genre experienced a revolution with the introduction of The Matrix. Written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, the film is set in 2199, and tells of machines that have taken over the earth and are harvesting human energy by keeping them plugged into a “matrix”, an altered reality, where they live out fake lives while they are kept in liquid filled pods in the real world. Neo, a hacker, becomes aware of the situation, and joins other humans who are unplugged from the matrix, in order to fight against the machines. Neo is foretold to be the One who will end the war. The Wachowski brothers employed groundbreaking filming techniques that have since been emulated many times. The action scenes were at the time unparalleled, and there are many philosophical themes present in the movie. The Matrix went on to gross over $463 million worldwide and spawned two sequels.