Cutting Room 1997 Spectacular

Welcome to the Cutting Room 1997 Movie Review Spectacular! Spectacular, isn’t it? Our friends Greg and Jenius over at Nightmare Junkhead invited us (read: allowed us) to weigh in on a part of their Horror March Madness bracket. We reminisced about our experiences with each of these movies, and weighed in on two criteria: which movie had the best “nostalgia factor” and which movie would leave a more noticeable hole in the horror zeitgeist if it were never made. You can hear our conversation on their podcast, which is great and we recommend you listen to regularly,  but if you’re more of the reading type you can check out our thoughts on each of the movies below.


Scream 2 (12/12/97)

 
 

Jack: Scream 2 is an interesting one. I had always kind of had it placed in my head as fine, but kind of unnecessary because it's just more of Scream. But upon a repeat viewing . . . I think I was kind of right. Don't get me wrong, this thing isn't without its strengths, and I actually do think that it excels over the original in many ways. I had a ton of fun watching this one with fresh eyes. The movie within a movie is an awesome nod to the meta-ness of slasher sequels. But that meta-ness works in both directions, because I think this movie veers a little to hard into the meta thing rather than balancing it with quality horror, something the original did so well. 

Jake: I watched Scream 2 a long, long time ago, when I was even more of an idiot douchebag than I am today (yes, it is possible). I thought it was ok but acted like it was trash because it’s a sequel rather than a new concept, yada yada. On repeat viewing, I am delighted with just how stupid and naïve I was. This is a great rewatch, and one that we discussed on the podcast as getting better with age. The older and more knowledgeable on the genre I have become, the more this just makes sense. In a lot of ways, I think this is better at its meta-schtick than the original simply because of how much of a thing the “sequel” is for the slasher subgenre. Nostalgia might have been fairly low for me with this one, but I do think it deserves a nod in terms of its importance because, despite being another Scream movie and another Wes Craven joint, it allowed one of the most storied franchises in modern horror to successfully continue by spawning more sequels, plus a TV series.

Mark: Scream 2 is a strange beast. It’s the only sequel on here, which in my opinion harms it a bit in the “hole in the horror zeitgeist” category. We gotta come up with a more catchy name for that category… Anyway, I have a special spot for Scream 2 because I accidentally watched the opening Omar-Epps-stabbing when I was waaaay too young. Hey, you gotta start somewhere. Ultimately, Scream 2 is a cheesy but tactical sequel that did its part in continuing the commercial success of the first and laying the groundwork for 4 movies and TV show. Speaking of which, watch the TV show. It’s good.

VS.

Event Horizon (8/15/97)

 
 

Jack: So I'm kind of an idiot. Now that should come as no surprise to anyone who has read the site or heard our podcast with any sort of regularity, but that still doesn't mean that there are frequently things in my life that spring forward to remind me of that fact. This was one of those. I had seen Event Horizon before, but holy shit had I never really seen it. This movie is awesome, and watching it through this time around was god damned delightful. There is a lot going on in this thing, and, for the most part, it all works really well and holds up twenty years later. I was not expecting to like this so much, especially given my first experience with it. But again, idiot.

Jake: Event Horizon is the shit. Plain and simple. Prepubescent Jake was into space more than perhaps anything else. It was an easy obsession on the heels of my obligatory dinosaur phase. The reason for that little story is to explain how this movie entered my wheelhouse. Sam fucking Neill was a hero in Jurassic Park, and when I discovered he was in a space movie via a video store poster there was no way I was letting my parents not let me see it. Holy fuck. It traumatized me in the most glorious of ways. As you can imagine, the nostalgia factor on this one goes to eleven for me. It’s also an extremely unique ip that fills an often neglected corner of the genre. Horror would be significantly worse off if it were wiped from the face of our dimension.

Mark: Oh god Event Horizon. I mentioned earlier that I saw a scene from Scream 2 at way too early an age. Well, I watched this whole movie at roughly the same age. It’s one thing to have a relatively realistic slasher scene burned into your head, but having the whole of this movie imprinted on my psyche has flavored my nightmares for years. You might think that it’s the “we don’t need eyes thing” that is haunting, but it’s actually the scene when Justin wakes up in the airlock that really stuck with me. Fuck that shit. Poor Baby Bear. I have a huge soft spot for Event Horizon, and it’s in my once-a-year-or-so rotation, which is an honor that not a lot of movies have anymore. I had Event Horizon going all the way to the final four. You’ll have to tune into the NJ podcast to see how far it actually gets.


Wishmaster (9/19/97)

 
 

Jack: Woof. This matchup is a really tough one for me. When I was a kid, the local theater was doing a lead-up to Halloween and played both Wishmaster and Mimic in the same week. I saw both for the first time that week. This movie is a bonkers romp and an ode to horror itself. The movie boasts a commendable use of practical effects and actually blends that with CGI in way that few other movies of the era were doing. That said, not everything is spectacular and there are some regrettable CG scenes, but they don't take away from the fun.

Jake: Wishmaster is a movie that shares some similarities with Scream 2, in that it gets better with age and with an increased horror repertoire. Seeing this the first time, I had no idea the amount of cameos involved. There was simply no way I could have appreciated the genre love letter that this thing is. Robert Kurtzman, who is best known for his effects and makeup work, directed this, and it benefits in that department. A lot of the practical is insanely over the top and fun, and some of the wacky situations are perfect popcorn and beer material. This is not a great work of cinema by any means, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it. If you don’t get the awesomeness that is Kane Hodder being turned into a pane of glass and then shattered, then so be it.

Mark: Everybody yelled at me on the podcast when I said that this is an optimal gateway horror movie to show your kids at a young age to get them into the genre. Jenius in particular spouted off some Buck Flowers lines that are particularly vulgar. In retrospect, I totally stand by it. Of the pantheon of 1990s movies in general, and these four movies specifically, this is the one that gets to the point of not being scary first. It occurred to me (unfortunately after the chat) that this movie is a live action cartoon, and I don’t really have a better way of describing it. Could you not see this movie re-enacted in its entirety by the Looney Toon gang, albeit with slightly toned down language? I could, but I have a very active imagination. I don’t have a long history with this one (I think it’s only the second time I’ve watched it) but somehow the pure lunacy of it burns in quite a bit of nostalgia for me. Also, the “comic mischief” that goes down in this script makes the otherwise unrealistic violence highly re-watchable. I like this movie way more than I thought I did.

VS.

Mimic (8/22/97)

 
 

Jack: And then there's Mimic. This one is unquestionably Del Toro, but in the developmental stage. I think this is the highest quality of the four films from a filmmaking standpoint. This one is creepy, gross, and legitimately frightening. But it has a lot of problems, too. I do not, for example, remember the CGI looking that fucking terrible, but it sure does. Also, and this is a thing in lots of Del Toro movies, the score is too twiddly and fantastical to match the movie's dark tone. Still pretty great, but this one is much more constrained by the era in which it was made than the others.

Jake: Mimic was Guillermo Del Toro’s big-budget coming out party. I have vivid, fond memories of renting this one from the video store based simply on its box art, well before I knew or would care who GDT even was. Watching it again, this thing has many of his calling cards. The monsters are fantastically realized and the whole thing unfolds like an extremely dark fairy tale. It’s actually a fairly mean, bleak movie. Considering my memory of the first time I watched this and the sheer magnitude of what the movie meant for Del Toro’s career, this is a tough one to beat in the 1997 catalogue. Guess you’ll just have to listen to the Nightmare Junkhead podcast to find out. Do it. Do it.

Mark: This is quite possibly the movie most embodying the spirit of the 90s. From the wardrobe and hair, to the effects, to the cast, to the ridiculous plot devices… this movie is drenched in 1990s schtick. Only in that era could you have the main character survive an explosion that he sets off directly in front of him by diving into water, which is past the explosion in front of him. Beyond that the seriousness of the plot juxtaposed with “twiddly” effects make re-watching this thing really only enjoyable in a 90s lens. That’s a little harsh, but I can’t figure out how else to put it. The great part about this movie is you can see Guillermo Del Toro begin to cut his teeth with directing and create some classic monsters. I had totally forgotten about the scene where they put the two legs together to make the “mask,” but that is damn near perfectly shot monster horror.


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