Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday is for many reasons my least favorite installment in the Friday the 13th franchise. After “jumping the shark” with Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, it seemed like the series was over. Paramount Pictures sold their rights, it was no longer the 80’s, and no one seemed to care anymore. Well as if they hadn’t learned their lesson, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday was made (once again having “Final” in its title). With literally no explanation as to his toxic waste death, Jason is still alive and stalking a woman in Camp Crystal Lake. Only for him to end up being blown up by the FBI in the first few minutes. One of the main reasons I hate this movie is what they end up doing to solve this problem. A slug-like parasite leaves Jason’s body and possesses victims with his soul. I can accept Jason being an unkillable zombie, but parasite possession is where I draw the line. This idea is beyond stupid and completely ruins the character. I wasn’t crazy about his mask being fused to his face either. Now Jason hardly has any screen time. A bunch of random guys do all the killings instead. Which were so brutal, the movie needed an unrated cut. SPOILER ALERT! Jason’s surprise niece Jessica is the final girl who sends him to Hell using an enchanted dagger (also very stupid). The only good things about Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday are the unexpected use of the Necronomicon from Evil Dead or the surprise appearance of Freddy Krueger’s bladed glove.
Jason goes in for the kill
Preceded by: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan & Followed by: Jason X
Death Becomes Her is for anyone with a fear of aging. After completing the Back to the Future trilogy, but before Forrest Gump, Robert Zemeckis made the unusually unique dark comedy Death Becomes Her. A movie I was always strangely fascinated by. Mainly for the bizarre out of context scenes I saw of it. Plus the fact that it was the last 90’s winner for Best Visual Effects I was yet to see. Death Becomes Her features two out of character performances from ageing actresses. Goldie Hawn and more surprisingly, Meryl Streep. Who I guess needs a break from constant awards attention every now and then. They both play rivals obsessed with youth and caught between the same man. Bruce Willis is a plastic surgeon turned mortician who ends up leaving Hawn’s Helen for Streep’s Madeline. An obese Helen comes back looking younger than ever several years later and it’s not long before Madeline tries to discover her secret. An often half naked Isabella Rossellini reveals that it was a potion that grants eternal youth. Just try not to die, because that’s where the fun begins. The bizarre stuff I was talking about are the women becoming walking corpses. Madeline ends up with a backwards neck, Helen is shot through the stomach, and both are knocked around with shovels. The Oscar win makes perfect sense because half the time it seems like they’re just showing off. Death Becomes Her also became big with LGBT people. I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with drag queens. Between all the slapstick death scenes is a moral about living life to the fullest. Death Becomes Her certainly makes a good case for that.
The Rugrats Movie is the biggest adventure a baby could ask for. Nickelodeon has been my go to kid’s network ever since I was a child. Rugrats was always a big favorite of my brother and I. We loved the baby adventures, imagination, and sneaky adult humor. Despite babies being the focus, the show never talked down to its audience. All three of the original Nicktoons had movie plans, but Rugrats was the only one to get the treatment. Making it the first Nickelodeon animated movie. The Rugrats Movie picks up right where season 5 left off. Brave leader Tommy, fraidy cat Chuckie, and the twins Phil & Lil patiently await the arrival of Tommy’s baby brother. The actual birthing sequence really confused me when I was young. We’re then introduced to the newest rugrat, Dil Pickles. Basically a loud little poop machine. If 1-2 year olds can only communicate with other babies and 3 year olds can communicate with both babies and adults, then an infant can barely speak at all. After the joys of parenting a newborn, the babies accidentally end up stranded in the forest. Pursued by crazy circus monkey’s and a hungry wolf in a specially designed Reptar wagon. Meanwhile Tommy’s bratty cousin Angelica looks for them with their dog Spike. Susie appears only briefly at the beginning. Tommy is given the spotlight due to the “sponsitility” that comes with being a big brother. It’s very heartfelt, but the constant danger can be overwhelming. The Rugrats Movie is the first non-Disney movie to make over $100 million. It is technically a musical. Rest assured I was first in line to see the movie. The Rugrats Movie is fun for anyone who ever wore diapers.
The babies celebrate
Followed by: Rugrats in Paris: The Movie
The Crucible recounts the horrifying true stories that were the Salem witch trials. In 1692 Salem, Massachusetts no one was safe from being accused of witchcraft. Something that was mainly caused by mass hysteria. Let’s just say I’m thankful not to have been born during this time. Most young people learned about the event in high school when they read Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. A play that my class read during my Sophomore year. We immediately followed it up with the 1996 movie. The Crucible is set in motion by a group of village girls performing rituals and dancing in the woods. Most teachers fast forwarded this part due to one of them being naked. Mine didn’t for some reason. After a reverend witnesses the girls, the town begins to wonder if the Devil was involved. Easily the movie’s most hated character is Abigail. She’s the one who plays up the lie with the help of her mindless followers. Setting in motion the Salem witch trials. Abigail’s primary goal is to get rid of the wife of John Procter. A respected landowner she has known. Daniel Day-Lewis is as good as always and so is Winona Ryder. However it’s Joan Allen’s performance that received the most acclaim. She plays Goody Proctor as a wife trying her hardest to protect her husband from his actions. It’s not enough though to prevent everyone’s eventual hanging. The Crucible should serve as a reminder to never let history repeat itself.
John Proctor confronts Abigail
Election is all about the high stakes world of class elections. Something my high school didn’t really do. The closest thing to a class election I’ve had was in my middle school civics class. I was a running mate, but my candidate didn’t win. Although 1999 was loaded with teen movies, hardly any of them were critical darlings. Election is the most critically acclaimed teen movie of 1999. Critics were mostly won over by its smart writing and political satire. Even if the setting was high school. Election centers on the perspective of multiple parties during the big mock election. Each character having their own internal monologue. Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick is the worst kind of overachiever who will stop at nothing to become student body president. Matthew Broderick as Mr. McAllister is a respected teacher who sees Tracy as someone who must be stopped. So he makes the clueless but popular Paul Metzler run against her. He’s easily the funniest character in the movie. The only problem is that his rebellious, secretly lesbian sister runs just to spite her former lover. Tracy’s method’s may be extreme (and desperate), but its really Mr. McAllister who ends up looking like the bad guy. He grows increasingly bitter to the point where he loses his wife, job, and sanity. Leaving Tracy Flick as the successful future politician. All because of a silly little class election. Election goes to show that even in high school, politics are a dangerous game.
Tracy Flick votes for herself
The Blair Witch Project revolutionized the found footage genre. It wasn’t the very first, but it did popularize the technique. With a nearly non-existent budget of $60,000, a couple of hand held cameras, entirely improvised dialogue, and three amateur actors, The Blair Witch Project managed to gross over $248.6 million. What really sold the movie was that they passed it off as real footage. Going so far as to create fake police reports, phoney interviews, and missing persons posters of the three hikers. All of which could be found on the movie’s website during the late 90’s. How nobody came up with this idea before is beyond me. The Blair Witch Project is a documentary by Heather Donahue about the fabled Blair Witch of Burkittsville, Maryland. She enlists the help of Mike and Josh. Together they interview locals and travel deep into the woods. That’s when things take a turn for the worst. What makes the film so unique is that it barely shows the audience anything outside of their own imagination. Mostly just rocks, tied up sticks, and someone facing a corner. Some people aren’t a fan of this type of horror, but I find it very terrifying. The most famous scene involves a terrified Heather leaving an emotional message for her family. How she won Worst Actress I’ll never know. Sure the shaky camera is nauseating, but it helps to sell the illusion of authenticity. The Blair Witch is never shown and that’s just as scary as anything we could have seen on screen. The Blair Witch Project goes to show that you don’t always need much to be successful.
“I’m scared to close my eyes, I’m scared to open them”
Followed by: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
The Nutty Professor (1996) is the even bigger remake of the 1963 original. In more ways than one. It’s also the version I mostly grew up on. Rather than just redo what came before, Jerry Lewis gave Eddie Murphy the ok to put his own personal stamp on the remake. So instead of being too nerdy, Professor Sherman Klump has a weight problem. Despite his attempts to lose weight and gain self confidence, hecklers like Dave Chappelle keep reminding him how he looks. So Professor Klump mixes a serum that allows him to lose all his weight. This Buddy Love is athletic and confident enough to ask out Carla Purty. She’s now a chemistry graduate played by Jada Pinkett before she got Smithed. The Nutty Professor (1996) is the perfect display of Eddie Murphy’s comedic range. As he plays a grand total of 7 different characters. All accomplished with Academy Award winning makeup and fat suits. Murphy plays the kind hearted Professor, the loud and aggressive Buddy, his flatulent father, his cheerful mother (“Hercules, Hercules, Hercules”), his sex obsessed grandmother, his tough brother, and even a parody of Richard Simmons. The dinner scene is the funniest scene in the movie. It can get a little gross at times, but it’s still one of the only fart jokes I laugh at. Instead of the truth coming out at a dance, Buddy is instead brought to a science demonstration by the hilarious Dean. After a bizarre body changing sequence Sherman gives a similar speech about accepting oneself. The Nutty Professor (1996) is definitely a nuttier remake that’s just as funny as the original.
Professor Sherman Klump and Ms. Purty dine at The Scream
Remake of: The Nutty Professor (1963) & Followed by: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps
Vegas Vacation is just a lazy vacation nobody asked for. Out of the four Vacation movies, this is the only one to be neither written by John Hughes nor have National Lampoon in its title. The biggest problem is a lack of originality and tired performances. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo aren’t trying nearly as hard as before. Plus the idea of taking the Griswold’s to Las Vegas could’ve had potential in a better movie. Specifically one with an R rating. It made sense to make Christmas Vacation PG-13 (still don’t get European Vacation), but Vegas Vacation is PG for crying out loud. Vegas is full of nudity, drugs, and/or debauchery. Really it’s the only installment that would’ve made sense with an R rating. Instead Clark, Ellen, and the kids are just sorta hanging out doing their own misadventures. Clark loses money, Ellen flirts with Wayne Newton, Rusty gets lucky, and Audrey wants to be a stripper or something. Cousin Eddie also returns in a less memorable way. Although I will say that I appreciate the joke about Clark hardly recognizing the kids. Now played by Ethan Embry and Marisol Nichols. Plus Christie Brinkley returns for a cameo. The rest of Vegas Vacation is not worth the trip.
The Griswold’s spend in Vegas
Preceded by: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
The Rock is the closest thing to a genuinely good Michael Bay movie there is. Every single movie he’s directed has a rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes except The Rock. Granted it’s just a 66%, but that’s still saying something for one of the worst directors working today. His movies have always been entertaining, but only if you’re willing to turn off your brain. The Rock actually has a good set up and the Bayhem isn’t the only draw. Which is of course just as loud, bombastic, and constant as all his later work. The Rock refers to the island prison Alcatraz. On it several hostages are taken by a group of rogue U.S. Recon Marines. Lead by Brigadier General Frank Hummel played by Ed Harris. His plan to release deadly rockets full of toxic gas unless he gets $100 million is pretty villainous, but his reason for doing it isn’t completely sinister. Chemical weapons specialist Dr. Stanley Goodspeed is tasked with defusing the weapon. He’s a desk jockey prone to the occasional Nicholas Cage outburst. Former Alcatraz inmate John Mason is also tasked with stopping him. Since he’s the only man to ever escape the island. He’s one of Sean Connery’s last good performances before retirement. Their mission takes them from the rooftops to the sewers with plenty of explosions in between. I may not have been able to completely follow The Rock the first time, but there’s no denying it’s one of the most action packed action movies of the 90’s.
Mason and Goodspeed examine a chemical weapon
Bride of Chucky drops the “child” part of its title and makes things much more adult. By giving Chucky an equally psychotic bride. My mom actually warned us against watching it for that reason. Since it’s much more bloody and sexual. After Child’s Play 3 failed to keep the franchise going, it was time for a radical change of pace. Bride of Chucky begins one month after Chucky was shredded in an amusement park. His remains are recovered by Tiffany Valentine, who turns out to be Charles Lee Ray’s girlfriend who was never mentioned until this point. Taking obvious cues from Bride of Frankenstein (they even show her watching the movie), Bride of Chucky turns Tiffany into a killer doll as well. As a human, Tiffany seems like nothing more than a criminal’s bimbo girlfriend, but she’s actually more deadly than she looks. As a doll, Tiffany has bleach blonde hair, too much makeup, a white wedding dress, and a black leather jacket. This time around Chucky has a stitched up face. Not a bad look, but it’s a little obvious. Which is what makes Bride of Chucky so different. It’s much more meta. With jokes made about the movie’s themselves and even references to other horror franchises. Jennifer Tilly’s natural soft spoken voice makes her perfect for Tiffany and her banter with Chucky is the best part of the movie. Unfortunately the rest of it is too generic slasher movie. With forgettable teenage protagonists Jade and Jesse. Bride of Chucky makes far better use of its new killer couple.
Chucky and Tiffany go in for the kill
Preceded by: Child’s Play 3 & Followed by: Seed of Chucky