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The Best Moments of one of the Worst Decades in Horror: looking back 20 years to 1997

September 24, 2017

This is a follow-up article to:
The Best Moments of one of the Worst Years in Horror: 1996
The Best Moments of one of the Worst Years in Horror: 1995


There are great horror films (e.g., Saw, The Conjuring), there are typically color-by-numbers trope-rich sequels (e.g., A Nightmare on Elm Street after part 3) and there are zany, gory, low budget direct-to-video releases (e.g., Puppet Master and almost everything by Full Moon Entertainment).  Generally we see maybe one or two great films, several enjoyable trope-rich flicks, and countless DTV releases in any given year.  We recently did some articles on more current “best moments” in horror: 15 Images for 15 Years of Horror, Part 1 (2000-2014), 15 Images for 15 Years of Horror, Part 2 (2001-2015) and 15 Images for 15 Years of Horror: The Good, the Bad and the Hilarious.  But I think we all know that The Best Horror came from the 80s!  Between those eras befell the Rise of Video (and drop in quality) of the 1990s.

Now the year of 1997 was one of the better years of its decade. But make no mistake, it still hails from a lousy video-era decade:

  1. 1997 was a part of the 90s.  As a blanket statement, all years of that decade were generally bad for horror fans (when compared to the 70s, 80s and 2010s).  A few good gifts under the Christmas tree from mom and dad don’t let us completely overlook a stocking full of coal.  Check out my Horror Index and you’ll find very few 90s horror reviews (or, at least, not many positive reviews).  There’s a reason for that!

  2. I really struggled to put together 10 decent movies for many years of the 90s.  Last year I was so desperate I used Head of the Family (1996).  Thankfully, I didn’t need to pull Hideous! (1997) to make this year’s line-up.  Again, 1997 was a highlight for its decade.

So let’s turn back the clock 20 years to reflect on the more memorable moments that 1997’s horror had to offer.  Here are some moments from 1997 horror movies, in no particular order…

Mimic (1997; Guillermo del Toro) is regaled by some as a bad movie of sorts–honestly, I think it’s great.  This creepy film accomplished some great things and memorable scenes.  In shadowy settings, our man-eating giant cockroach had the ability to physically “mimic” the form of a man in a trench coat by positioning its head and palps (those antenna-like parts around the mandibles) and uprighting its body.  I about flipped when I first saw it abandon this false form and its limbs gangled out!  Thankfully, entomologist Mira Sorvino was there to crack the case and save the day.

Anaconda (1997) was a terrible film, a so-so movie, but a great ridiculously fun flick!  This giant snake was a blast to watch, Jon Voight’s weird attempt at a Brazilian accent was an awkward joy to hear, and I’ll never forget when the snake regurgitated him after swallowing him whole! I love that his half-digested face BLINKS! LOL

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) warns teenagers and parents of the consequences to skipping Driver Safety courses.  Even before texting and driving was a thing they managed to nearly kill a man on the road.  Just look at Jennifer Love Hewitt’s face as she opens the note…yup.  That face–when you know your parents will be pissed at how your car insurance rates skyrocket after you hit some mentally imbalanced fisherman.  Not sure what the big deal is, Freddie Prince Jr was driving and it was Phillippe’s BMW.

Scream 2 (1997) was a released so quickly after Scream (1996), it’s a wonder it wasn’t awful.  In fact, I quite liked it as it took the metamovie approach of part 1 to the next level.  We have guys discussing the technical logistics of sequels using real-world examples while eating ice cream, and movie fans in Ghost-Faced Killer costumes at urinals look over their shoulders at people freaking out about a REAL Ghost-Faced Killer.  The satirical irony is deliciously thick, much like their Baskin Robbins treats.

Probably a strong influencer of the eventual Saw films (2004-2017), Cube (1997) changed the face of horror and made suffering into a game.  The most iconic death scene from the Cube franchise, this scene has been replicated by Resident Evil (2002), Ghost Ship (2002) and Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009) among others.

Wishmaster (1997) is not a good film.  Rather it’s a GREAT bad horror movie and, for all it’s ambitiously playful gore, it’s probably one of the best bad horror movies of the 90s.  This movie knows exactly what it is and has a good sense of humor about it, making it a blast to watch with friends who grew up in the 80s and 90s.

Event Horizon (1997) is a great Hell-in-space follow-up to Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996).  It brought horror to space, and did so to new levels with a great cast, great story, and a CREEPY-AF atmosphere.  Remember when Dr. Weir (Sam Neill) had become fully “possessed” and was explaining “where we’re going we won’t need eyes to see the suffering,” but then he showed us anyway?  That imagery is soul-rattling evil at its best.

Alien: Resurrection (1997) was the loony videogame action movie of the franchise.  Nut they got one thing right.  The xenomorph’s movement was the best.  Check this out, they really move like animals; like predators.  A perfect mix of a cat, velociraptor and (in the water) maybe an iguana.

Look at that snaggletooth from The Night Flier (1997)! Is this not the most busted-ass-faced vampire you’ve seen since Fright Night (1985)? But really, this is one of Stephen King’s stranger stories: that of a night-flying pilot vampire who feeds on attendants at small air strips.  Sounds awful, but I promise you, it’s not.

An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), basically a contemporary and Parisian remake of An American Werewolf in London (1981), demonstrates how a twenty-something man always picks the most cursed women.  But at least he has great taste: Julie Delpy and Julie Bowen!  Admittedly, this movie is awful “as a remake/reimagining.”  However, it remains a very fun coming-of-age horror comedy that I continue to love.

If you enjoyed this weird article, please check out last year’s edition:
The Best Moments of one of the Worst Years in Horror: 1996

The Best Moments of one of the Worst Years in Horror: 1995


4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2017 1:24 pm

    I loved Mimic. It appealed to me in an undefinable way. Maybe because roaches are so cringeworthy. The others, I either didn’t see or like you said, they were sequels that followed the usual sequel tropes. I don’t know if I would place Mimic in the bad movie category. I might put it in the “If there is nothing else on, this movie will be satisfying category”

    • John Leavengood permalink
      September 25, 2017 1:28 pm

      I speak more to its reputation as a giant killer roach movie as Sorvino playing the conveniently attractive scientist. I love the movie, though. Also, I’m an entomologist. 😉
      If you seek more great roach movies try The Nest! It’s a joy and reviewed here on the site.


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