Friday, 9 October 2015

36 of My Favourite Obscure, Underrated & Under-Appreciated '90s Movies

I'm not a really big movie buff, particularly as I don't follow most of the current movies of today, but I do love watching classic movies, especially those from the 1980s and 1990s decades. 

By Wikipedia's definition, a cult film - or cult classic - is 'a film that has acquired a cult following, is obscure, less known or unpopular with mainstream audiences'. I'd also include movies that have been overlooked by the general public and mainstream press. A lot of my favourite movies tend to be the very obscure ones and ones that slipped under the radar that a lot of people haven't, as well as wouldn't consider recommending to others.

In no particular order, I have compiled a list of 36 of my favourite obscure, cult & unappreciated movies from the 1990s, - and there were plenty of them that were released from this decade, that's for sure; some of which people loathed & have utterly reviled, others that have been virtually ignored & forgotten about, or have been regarded by critics and alike as 'terribly bad', but of which I have personally enjoyed seeing, and some of which have received an IMDb score of 6 or less. 

It is an eclectic mix of different genres, themes, styles and with different story-lines. 

*last updated 21 June, 2017*

**Movie info from Wikipedia and Amazon 

  •  Galaxy Quest (1999) - sci - fi based comedy and a humorous take on classic science fiction movies such as 'Star Trek', which this movie is a parody of. The late Alan Rickman is the show -stealer with his sarcastic and witty remarks, one of them being: 'I'm off to the pub'.
  •  Living Out Loud (1998) - romantic dramedy about finding new meaning to life after being dumped by their other half. This is witty, sweet in places and well-written with great performances by Danny Devito, Holly Hunter and Queen Latifah.  
  • Scream (1996) - after a series of mysterious deaths befalls their small town, an offbeat group of friends led of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) become the target of a masked killer in this slasher flick & it helped breathe new life into the horror genre. The second movie was very good, third less so and the less said about the others. 
  • To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar (1995) - En route from NYC to Hollywood for a drag queen beauty pageant, Noxemma (Wesley Snipes), Vida (Patrick Swayze) and Chi Chi (John Leguizamo) are forced to take an unwelcome detour when their 1967 Cadillac convertible breaks down in this drag comedy. Snipes, Swayze and Leguizamo, but more so the latter two, look convincing as women! Also watch out for a brief cameo by Robin Williams in this movie!
  • Wayne's World (1992) - based on the Saturday Night Live sketch of the same name, Wayne's World is a wacky irreverent pop culture comedy about the adventures of 2 heavy metal friends, Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey). It may not be as obscure as it is, but compared to Austin Powers, this is Mike Myers most overlooked movie. & the sequel is just as fun and entertaining as the prequel. 
  • Falling Down (1993) - frustrated Bill Foster (Michael Douglas) abandons his car with a licence plate that spells 'D-FENS' on the hottest day of the year and starts to wreck havoc on anything and anyone that crosses his path, with cop played by Robert Duvall hot on his trail. Not for everyone and is of an acquired taste, although Michael Douglas delivers one of his most powerful performances in his career in this edge- of -your- seat thriller. 

  • The Fisher King (1991) - see here 
  • Fathers' Day (1997) - see here 
  • Jack and Sarah (1995) - in a split second, Jack's (Richard E. Grant) seemingly perfect world comes crashing down after the death of his wife through childbirth. Suddenly faced with this tragic loss and the challenging demands of being a single parent to his daughter, Sarah, Jack hires an American waitress, Amy (Samantha Mathis) as his nanny. I usually find most rom-coms too predictable & samey, but this Brit equivalent directed by John Sullivan (Cold Feet, Coronation Street) for example, was an exception to this rule: really interesting movie and the story and the plot made a nice change to almost every other 90s rom-com that came out.
  • My Cousin Vinny (1992) - 2 young men travelling to Alabama are arrested and charged with murder. In comes cousin & ex- mechanic Vinny - Vincent Gambini (Joe Pesci) who just passed his bar exam, along with his girlfriend, played by Marisa Tomei and the pair help them get off the hook. Marisa Tomei was just brilliant and she rightly deserved her Oscar for Best Actress as the feisty, no-nonsense, Mona Lisa Vito. Even though it was a huge box office success at the time, even today, it's not as well remembered and appreciated as it was, 23 years ago. Which is a great shame, because 'My Cousin Vinny' is a wonderfully delightful comedy movie. 
  • Run Lola Run (1998) - think Sliding Doors meets The Running Man, meets Trainspotting and Pulp Fiction. Throw in German dialogue and what we have is a fast-paced, action thriller with fantastic cinematography & special effects. 
  • Mystery Men (1999) - before he was known for the Meet the Parents movies and Night at the Museum sequels, comedian Ben Stiller appeared and starred in this movie about a band of quirky and irreverent superheroes. It had a great ensemble cast: Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, William H. Macy, Greg Kinnear & Geoffrery Rush and Brit comedian, Eddie Izzard to name. Unlike The Avengers, X-Men and Justice League of America, the Mystery Men highlighted a group of individuals who weren't as spectacular as Spiderman, Captain America, Superman and Batman - yet still went out of their way to protect society from the evils of the world. Really fun movie with some laughs, if you like your superheroes to be a little more unique and different, then you can't go wrong with the Mystery Men!
  • Friday (1995) - a rare specimen in African American cinema: a movie about growing up in the streets, without the seriousness and violent action of John Singleton's 'Boyz N The Hood', as great that movie was. Chronicles the life of young Black men in South Central America. Has an interesting story-line and the comedy and humour is good fun, even though you may need to understand some of the lingo and street slang to get a gist of what they are saying. 
  • Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) - entertaining Black comedy starring John Cusack with supporting roles played by Minnie Driver and Dan Aykroyd. Very witty humour and some pretty good action sequences thrown in. 
  • The Crow (1994) - Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his fiance are killed by a gang of thugs. One year later, he is resurrected and seeks vengeance against those responsible. This was the infamous movie that unceremoniously ended the life of Brandon Lee, as he was tragically killed on set of The Crow. With compelling visuals, a haunting -yet almost atmospheric Gothic theme running throughout, this stylish thriller showcases Brandon's acting abilities. Don't expect to see martial arts action from him in this movie - this is not the movie for that type of stuff. Rather 'The Crow' fulfills some of the criteria of what a cult classic movie should be like. 
  • Space Jam (1996) - great family entertainment live action movie with now former basketball player, Michael Jordan starring alongside Looney Tunes characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Tweety Pie and Sylvester the Cat. The animation is top-notch, dialogue is very witty in places and almost 20 years later, the movie still holds up well. Apparently, this movie bombed at the box office, not to mention it was slated by critics, so it's surprising to see that after viewing Space Jam, it is a really fun spectacle. 
  • Beverly Hills Ninja (1997) - silly, stupid, farcical comedy starring the late Chris Farley about some guy raised by ninjas as a baby and when he grows up, has to protect some chick who is being chased by some bad guys. Yes it is dumb, childish and absurd, but it's still funny as hell, so it's good for a laugh. 
  • Bowfinger (1999) - clever comedy movie; I say clever because of the way the events unfold are not what one would automatically expect. Highlights of the film are the motorway scene and when Kit Ramsey thinks he is being chased by some woman in a car park lot, only it turns out to be a dog wearing high heels! Steve Martin plays the C-list movie director trying to secure star Kit for his small budget movie, and later ends up landing his nerdy twin brother (also played by Eddie Murphy) instead! Humour is well executed and clever. Was so cruelly overlooked during its original release, Bowfinger will satisfy fans of traditional comedy movies.  
  • Strange Days (1995) - A former cop turned street hustler accidentally uncovers police conspiracy in 1999 Los Angeles. One of Katherine Bigelow's earlier efforts and directed by James Cameron of Titanic and Terminator 2 fame, this is a superb and stylish sci-fi thriller starring Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis, with a couple of twists, turns and shocks at every corner. This is yet another example of a movie that had an interesting plot and story & great performances but lack of established star names to carry this film. But that didn't matter because I'm sure Bigelow wanted cast actors who were the right fit to help bring those characters to life. & they sure did a fine job in that. One could say Strange Days is the 90s' Blade Runner - though as not as well known, arguably this film has a lot more emotional depth & character development than the latter.  

  • Wrongfully Accused (1998) - low-brow satirical comedy farce that is virtually on the same lines as Naked Gun and Airplane! starring Leslie Nielsen with plenty of slapstick, parodying of famous films and comic hi-jinks. Mauled by critics, I found this to be as entertaining and humourous, if not more so than the former two films. 
  • The Ambulance (1990) - Really really good and fun cult movie that not only exceeded my initial expectations, but it was so much more than I'd imagined this movie to be. Great performances throughout, especially by Eric Roberts, interesting plot twists and chase sequences and a very, very offbeat premise, this is highly entertaining and so worth seeing. 
  • Dangerous Minds (1995) - former marine, divorcee and English teacher Louanne Johnston arrives at a tough inner city high school determined to make a difference to the students lives. But first, she needs to win over their trust by relying on her unorthodox methods. Yes it is cliched in places, but the performances by Michelle Phieffer, Wade Dominguez as Emilio and Bruklan Harris as Kelly are excellent. The movie and the book's events aren't entirely the same as each other, so you may want to read the book first, before diving into the film. Other than that, I really enjoyed 'Dangerous Minds'. 
  • Election (1999) - Tracy (Reese Witherspoon) is a grade-A student, who is determined to be president of her student body. But teacher Jim (Matthew Broderick) goes out of his way to make sure that doesn't happen. At times, vicious, twisting and cynical, it is also one of the best dark comedies to come out of the 1990s. Election takes a look at the crazy behind-the-scenes goings on during an election campaign and the lengths one may go to sabotage their opponent's efforts. 
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) - A mother wakes up after years suffering from amnesia and finds out she is an assassin, with her former bosses on her trail. Action- packed and a roller-coaster ride from start to finish, with an clinical and cool supporting performance by Samuel L. Jackson, whose character is very much like his role in 'Pulp Fiction'. A classy and pulsating action movie, with some nice one-liners and good action sequences. 
  • It Could Happen To You (1994) - Nicolas Cage plays a cop named Charlie who wins the lottery, much to the delight of his girlfriend (Rosie Perez), but then her happiness turns into despair as he decides to split his winnings with a waitress (Bridget Fonda). And from there onwards, love beckons for Charlie and waitress, Yvonne. Cage and Fonda have an easy going chemistry onscreen, which is pleasant and not sickly sweet. 'It Could Happen to You' is yet another slice of not-so-typical romcoms that I enjoyed watching. 
  • Junior (1994) - harshly slammed by critics, this comedy caper reunites Arnold Schwarzenegger with director Ivan Reitman after Twins and Kindergarten Cop about a man who becomes pregnant! I have to say, despite the outrageous plot, this could've been a truly horrible film altogether; yet surprisingly I found it really watchable, amusing at times, as well as heartfelt. There is heart in Junior and the way the writers approached the topic of a pregnant man here, was refreshing and entertaining to boot as well. Definitely deserves a watch, but you also need to suspend all disbelief at the same time. Great performances too by the cast of Arnie, Danny Devito, Emma Thompson to name.  
  • Showgirls (1995)A Paul Verhoeven take on the life of a would-be stripper/showgirl Nomi with dialogue penned by Basic Instinct's Joe Esterhaz, this is another film that has become a cult classic over the years after initial maulling by film buffs and a notorious reception it has built up, which has since died down. Though the performances aren't much to write home about, Showgirls is still throughly entertaining and watchable 
  •  Soapdish (1991) - a spoof romantic comedy movie on US TV soap operas with an all-star casting of Whoopi Goldberg, Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Jr (pre-Avengers days) and Teri Hatcher. Cathy Moriaty was brilliant as Celeste's arch-enemy, whose increasing attempts at seeing her nemesis flounder at every turn, fail miserably. The film went unnoticed by many when it was originally released and has since become something of a cult classic over the past 2 decades. Sally Field is on top form as the often crazed Celeste and showcases her fun and wacky side. Quirky with a ridiculous script, Soapdish is feel-good, screwball comedy fun.
  • The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) - I'm not familiar with the Coen Brothers work, but this film was mildly amusing and it had an interesting narrative with some romance thrown in. Flopped on general release in 1994, it is very underrated and plus, I detect a bit of a Wall Street/Trading Places theme in there as well. 
  •  Nothing to Lose (1997) - Nick Beams life couldn't get any worse. He discovers his wife has been having an affair with his boss and is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. & when a robber played by Martin Lawrence tries to car-jack him, they later end up working together as a duo & plan to get revenge on the boss. At first thought, it may seem the (unlikely) pairing of Tim Robbins (who is mostly known for his serious acting roles) and comedian Martin Lawrence might have sounded like it was an awful idea, - yet surprisingly, it actually turns to be an effective one and the two actors bounce off one another very well. & it was good to see Tim let his hair down for once and have fun as his character, Nick. 
  • Hook (1991) - see here
  • Tommy Boy (1995) - Comedy movie with Chris Farley and David Spade. A smart, hardworking employee is assigned to look after a bumbling son of a boss in a family company. When the father passes away, the pair must go on the road & pull off a miracle of salesmanship to save the company. The slapstick comedy style of Farley, as well as the deadpan humour by Spade reminds me so much of that Robin Williams's Dale's slapstick and the deadpan, sarcasm and straitlaced performance of Billy Crystal's Jack in 1997's Fathers' Day. There are some striking similarities between both movies that I find intriguing, such as the double act consisting of one funny and outlandish character and the other being more serious and that they play on dumb, low-brow, farcical humour, which I love! Tommy Boy is very, very silly, juvenile and buffoonish, but it is also still a lot of fun. 
  • Lethal Lady aka She Shoots Straight (1990) - Overflowing with the melodrama, it is the action set pieces which are the highlight of this martial arts- based flick from Hong Kong. At times, jaw-dropping to watch, alongside some of the best fight choreography I've seen in an action martial arts film, Lethal Lady is more than a worthy consideration for fans of '80s and '90s Hong Kong action films. 
  • The Three Musketeers (1993) - the 'Disney-fied' version of the original classic French tale by author Dumas starring Chris O'Donnell, Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt, Tim Curry and Rebecca De Mornay. There have been several live-action renditions released over the years, but this one particularly received more of a critical thrashing and negative reception, in comparison to the other movies of the series. But I think the point the critics had missed was that this wasn't and isn't a serious adaptation. Disney wanted to go for a slightly different approach to appeal to the younger audience, - and to an extent, it works. Probably and arguably, the star turn in The Three Musketeers belonged to Tim Curry as villain Cardinal Richelieu. Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, Oliver Platt, Chris O'Donnell and Michael Wincott were pretty good too. Wincott always turns on the charm when he plays the bad guy characters (as evident in Katherine Bigalow's Strange Days & Metro with Eddie Murphy) & here, he doesn't disappoint. Amusing, entertaining and light-hearted in places, The 3 Musketeers has that feel of an animated movie and the action sequences aren't too shabby either.
  • Duck Tales: The Movie - Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990) - much like Rugrats: The Movie, which came out in 1998, Duck Tales: The Movie is spawned from the 1980s animated series. Part- Indiana Jones, part Disney's Aladdin, this feature- length animated film, in essence, maintains some of the spirit, feel and familiarity of the show itself. Despite combining elements of both movies, it was still overlooked in favour of Aladdin, with the latter having the only advantage of having someone as huge as Robin Williams voicing the Genie. Which is a pity, because Duck Tales The Movie has an interesting narrative and plot, as well as lovable protagonist characters including Scrooge McDuck. Though it is just as disappointing that the Disney of today doesn't even fully acknowledge it. But anyhow, if you enjoyed the show, then this is worth picking up on DVD. 
  • Whore (1991) - The anti-Pretty Woman movie about prostitution and made and released by controversial British filmmaker, the late Ken Russell, who did Crimes of Passion and starring Theresa Russell (no relation to Ken), in direct response to the 1990 smash hit, through the use of flashbacks and monologues, Whore is a darker look at the life of a hooker and Russell really pushes the envelope in more ways than one, with his ballsy approach. 

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