As we truck along with our year-by-year breakdown, we present to you the 15 Best Horror Films Of 1992. This is the year that gave us the end of the Evil Dead trilogy, a cheerleader vampire hunter, and one of the last great horror villain icons. Let’s get this started…
15. Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth
Director: Anthony Hickox
Stars: Terry Farrell, Doug Bradley, Kevin Bernhardt, Paula Marshall
The storyline for the third entry of the tousled Hellaraiser franchise is almost a standalone. Dionysian scumbag Frank Cotton and his unfortunate family from the previous two films are briefly acknowledged in an expository scene, but never a part of the narrative. There was a schism during the final battle of Hellbound: Hellraiser II and chief Cenobite Pinhead has split into two entities: his former self Elliot Spencer and the creature he has become through his extreme pleasure seeking. Pinhead is found and brought back into existence by J.P Monroe, a trust fund kid and club owner and a terrible person in general. After witnessing a supernatural event that originated in Monroe’s club, investigative reporter Joey Summerskill is compelled to uncover the terrifying truths of the universe and therefore becomes the only person in the world standing in Pinhead’s world domination/apocalypse plans.
Though not at all a bad film, this second sequel to Clive Barker’s groundbreaking original feature is a step down from its predecessors. There’s not much here fans haven’t already seen and both Pinhead and the film are pretty much on the same level as other movie monsters of the time, which was never the idea. But still, Hell On Earth is quite a bit of fun, has some style, and is far more interesting than most of the other Hellraiser sequels that are soon to come.
Director: Mick Garris
Stars: Brian Krause, Mädchen Amick, Alice Krige, Jim Haynie
Stephen King adaptations should really be a sub-genre unto themselves. Between 1976 and 1992, there were no less than 23 movies based off of his work, on both the small screen and in theaters. There honestly wasn’t a hotter name in horror during the ’80s & ’90s than Stephen King, and rightly so. Some of his movie adaptations were excellent, and some were horrid. Most were pretty solid. Sleepwalkers falls into that pretty solid category – not completely horrible but its certainly not Misery, Carrie or The Mist.
Charles and his mother Mary have recently moved to a small town in Indiana with sinister plans. They are sleepwalkers – they can change their appearance and they need the lifeforce from youthful/virginal women. Charles has picked out young Tanya Robertson, whom he meets at a local high school, as his next victim. This was basically Twilight before Twilight… just slightly more creepy.
13. The Lawnmower Man
Director: Brett Leonard
Stars: Jeff Fahey, Pierce Brosnan, Jenny Wright, Mark Bringelson
So, when is a Stephen King movie not a Stephen King movie? How about when a studio buys the rights to one of King’s stories, chucks everything but the title and one death scene, and then staples them onto a movie so insultingly awful that the author sues to have his name taken off of the film? That’s about what happened with New Line Cinema’s The Lawnmower Man. The story from which it took its title is a weird little tale about a man who inadvertently hires a satyr to mow his lawn (we somehow suspect that King was baked like a tuna casserole when he wrote it), and is a lot of fun in a “what the hell were you thinking?” sort of way. The movie, on the other hand, is a cyberpunk reworking of Flowers For Algernon, and is so dire and dismal that slightly later techno-gobbledygook like Hackers and Johnny Mnemonic look nearly brilliant in comparison.
With all of that being said, this movie does have its fans. Sure, most of the way, this is pretty routine, predictable stuff. But the computer-animated special effects provide an undeniable ability to go deep in WTF territory. Sure, most of the time the results are more “Huh?” than “Wow!” but still. It’s certainly entertaining.
12. Demonic Toys
Director: Peter Manoogian
Stars: Tracy Scoggins, Bentley Mitchum, Daniel Cerny, Michael Russo
From David Goyer, the writer of such contemporary hits as Blade, Dark City, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight, comes the incredibly cheesy Demonic Toys. Not to be forgotten amongst his successes (though he also wrote Death Warrant and Jumper), this hilarious little schlock production reminds viewers just how much fun possessed toys can be when they murder, torture, and sexually assault unsuspecting victims. It’s also refreshing to see an early work by one of Hollywood’s most prolific blockbuster scripters, proving that everyone has to start somewhere.
A botched bust on a pair of arms dealers inadvertently leads to the raising of a sixty-six-year-old demon with the power to bring toys to life as his personal minions. The demon is looking for a body to inhabit so he can increase his powers, and it just so happens that one of the police officers is pregnant with the ideal host. As the murderous toys close in on their victims, the officer must not only fight for her life, but for the soul of her unborn child. Crazed plaything mayhem ensues…
11. Dr. Giggles
Director: Manny Coto
Stars: Larry Drake, Holly Marie Combs, Cliff De Young, Glenn Quinn
Years after the death of his father, Dr. Evan Rendell Jr (aka Dr. Giggles) escapes from a mental hospital and heads back to his hometown of Moorehigh, to exact his revenge on the place that murdered his mentally ill father. The residents of Moorehigh find themselves under the demented care of a psychotic pseudo doctor… of death.
First things first, let’s get into the main reason why this movie is so great. Dr. Giggles is perhaps the most hilarious horror villain in the history of the genre, touting side-splitting medical tinged horror quips throughout the entire duration of the film. Here are some examples: 1. He tells an arresting cop to “have a heart” before chucking one at him. 2. Just before strangling a victim, he announces: “Reflexes normal. Now let’s check the blood pressure.” 3. He declares that it’s “time to do what doctors do best” before grabbing a golf club to bash someone’s brains in. The list goes on and on and on. It’s terrific.
10. Split Second
Directors: Tony Maylam, Ian Sharp
Stars: Rutger Hauer, Kim Cattrall, Alastair Duncan, Michael J. Pollard
London, 2008: Welcome to the future. We are introduced to Harley Stone, a motorcycle-riding, candy bar inhaling, chain smoking cop who plays by his own rules. He wasn’t always like this. Years ago, his partner was murdered and it pushed him over the edge to Lethal Weapon levels of maverick badass-ery. He chugs liters of coffee and the police chief gets pissed at him a lot. Yes, he wears sunglasses indoors and cracks one-liners while using gratuitous violence to subdue criminals. No, he doesn’t use the department-issue firearm; those things are for cucks. He ultimately comes face to face with a monstrous creature that has been stalking his streets.
Split Second feels like a retro ’80s flick. It’s got the gore, nudity, tough guys with guns, one liners, practical FX, and a monster ripping out hearts. Sure, the creature is never explained. It’s the devil! And yes, it can shoot guns with its long sharp fingers. It took lessons, okay? Yeah, it paid for ’em. What the hell do you want? Oh, and this movie also has one of the best lines in cinema history: “Guns! We need bigger f-cking guns!”
9. Alien 3
Director: David Fincher
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, Paul McGann
David Fincher has gone on record numerous times to recount the heated fights he had with 20th Century Fox over the script and budget of Alien³, the second sequel to Ridley Scott’s amazing 1979 classic Alien. Being that Alien³ was his first feature film, following a string of successful music videos, Fincher had little power to wield at the time, and the result of the production’s unfixable tensions is a bold yet clunky piece of bleak storytelling. With all that being said, this actually isn’t a bad film… at all.
Crash landing on a barren penal-colony planet with an unwelcomed visitor in tow, series protagonist Ripley contends with a group of hardened convicts while using nothing but her wits to battle a terrifying new breed of alien. Indeed, Alien³ might not be the sequel you wanted when you first saw it after experiencing the first two. we completely get that, but this is still a pretty decent entry of the Alien franchise in its own right. The story and themes are compelling, the cast is great, and the visuals are striking. It is certainly an ugly sequel in every sense of the word, practically oozing with a feeling of hopelessness that is understandably off-putting to some viewers, but a unique and unforgettable one. It may not have impacted genre-filmmaking as much as its gargantuan predecessors, but it absolutely deserves its place as one of the best genre sequels we have received.
8. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Director: Fran Rubel Kuzui
Stars: Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry, Donald Sutherland, Rutger Hauer
This is the OG Buffy Summers, and she’s often left in the shadow of her TV counterpart. That doesn’t make her less of a slayer, it just means you really need to revisit the movie that started it all. For those of you who don’t know, Buffy is a vapid L.A. girl whose life revolves around cheerleading and shopping. Her priorities are almost nil until she’s visited one day by a strange man named Merrick who tells her that she is the next in a long line of girls chosen to hunt and kill vampires. But she better be ready to accept her fate, because the vampire king Lothos is in town and he’s coming after her.
Joss Whedon – screenwriter of the film and creator behind the series – is adamant about the fact that this film should not be considered part of the Buffy canon. Whedon has (repeatedly and publicly) voiced his disappointment with the film, which was not representative of his original screenplay. But what does he know right? This underrated horror comedy serves as the ultimate guilty pleasure. It’s a film that chooses to embrace the absurdity of it all and run with it. The movie is hilarious and Pee-wee Herman is a one-armed vampire with hair like the dudes from Poison. What’s not to love?
7. Dust Devil
Director: Richard Stanley
Stars: Robert John Burke, Chelsea Field, Zakes Mokae, John Matshikiza
No landscape is as intrinsic to different types of cinema as the desert: the western, the road movie, the dystopian picture, science fiction. A symbol of the external conflicts of man and nature and the internal tribulations of emotion. A substitute for other worlds or the end of the world. It also often appears as a landscape where madness resides, chaos and the end of the road, the breakdown of the psyche, or the family (The Hills Have Eyes), or civilization (Mad Max), or morals (Laurence Of Arabia), a prism for greed (The Treasure Of Sierra Madre), revenge (Daratt), aimless evil (The Hitcher), even raised to levels of Sisyphean punishment (Woman Of The Dunes) and inevitably this seeps into the filmmakers… the heat and the space gets to them.
With Dust Devil, we meet Wendy, a battered wife who has had enough. She hops in her beat up car, flees her punch-drunk husband and heads for the Namibian desert. To find what, exactly? Her own death perhaps. On her way, she picks up a mysterious hitchhiker, one with an offbeat demeanor. What Wendy doesn’t know is that her unconscious desire may have just come true; looks like she just invited death in the flesh for a joyride…
6. Raising Cain
Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: John Lithgow, Lolita Davidovich, Steven Bauer, Frances Sternhagen
Jenny Nix, wife of eminent child psychologist Carter Nix, becomes increasingly concerned about her husband’s seemingly obsessive concern over the upbringing of their daughter. Her own adulterous affair with an old flame, however, causes her to neglect her motherly duties until a spate of local kidnappings forces her to accept the possibility that he may be trying to recreate the twisted mind-control experiments of his discredited psychologist father.
Following the near merciless critical drubbing and catastrophic box office failure of his adaptation of The Bonfire Of The Vanities, director Brian De Palma quietly slid back into what some critics deemed “familiar territory” for his 1992 follow-up. Indeed, Raising Cain combines all of the elements of a vintage De Palma picture and raises the stakes for both maker and spectator. It’s easy to get lost in the film’s labyrinthine framework, but for those who are able to keep up with the various role reversals, dream-like transitions and densely interwoven plot threads, the journey is all the more rewarding.
5. Innocent Blood
Director: John Landis
Stars: Anne Parillaud, Anthony LaPaglia, Robert Loggia, Chazz Palminteri
Marie has two appetites, sex and blood. Her career as a vampire is going along fine until two problems come up, she is interrupted while feeding on Sal “The Shark” Macelli and she begins to develop a relationship with the policeman who has been trying to put Sal away. Sal wakes up in the morgue very confused and very thirsty. He goes back to his old haunts and begins to create an organized crime family of vampires while Marie and her policeman lover hunt him down.
With Innocent Blood, director John Landis tries to replicate the quirky gory horror/sick-comedy vein he mined in An American Werewolf In London. Cameo appearances by terror icons Dario Argento, Sam Raimi, Tom Savini, Linnea Quigley and more help make Innocent Blood a hoot for horror fans, but you don’t have to be a gorehound or a vampire lover to get a kick out of the film’s virulent mix of guts and guffaws.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves
An army of shadow puppets fights against a blood-red sky. A doll hurls itself out of a castle window, passing cotton clouds on its way to the moat below. The eye of a peacock feather becomes a railroad tunnel. A train erupts from the mountainside and then chugs along over the pages of an open diary. We are inside the train. A young man is writing; the pages of the diary are projected over his face. These images all come from the first reel of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Francis Ford Coppola’s imaginative, ambitious take on pop culture’s most famous Romanian.
The original Dracula is an epistolary novel, composed of dated letters and diary entries written by different characters, and Coppola’s adaptation – scripted by James V. Hart – preserves this structure, using multiple narrators and periodically swapping protagonists. In fact, while most adaptations have attempted to radically compress Stoker’s novel, Coppola’s seems to be going out of its way to complicate it. The role of Jonathan Harker and his romance with Mina Murray are reduced to make more room for the other characters, and Dracula’s arrival in Europe is linked to the dawn of cinema and psychoanalysis. The count himself is both tragic and erotic. Introduced as an androgynous figure he transforms into a handsome, mysterious dandy who strolls around London in purple tea shades, shoulder-length hair spilling out from under his silk top hat. When he feeds, he turns into a wolf-like creature – a literal sexual predator. Fighting against pop culture expectations and a century of vampire cliché, Coppola’s approach is unique. Like it or not, no one had ever seen a Dracula quite like this.
Director: Bernard Rose
Stars: Tony Todd, Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, Vanessa Williams
Aside from the sadistic classic Hellraiser, writer-director Bernard Rose’s Candyman is the rare film that brilliantly captures the alternating hideousness and beauty of author Clive Barker’s storytelling; in this case, the source material is Barker’s short story The Forbidden. The plot follows a graduate student completing a thesis on urban legends who encounters the legend of “Candyman,” an artist and son of a slave who had his hand severed and was then murdered.
This film works on so many levels. It not only delivers a sophisticated, engaging story but it also gave the horror world a tragic new boogeyman to fear. It’s the rarest type of horror film: One that is a genuinely great movie all-around. Here we get tense and scary scenes, well-written characters and story, in addition to healthy doses of the red stuff. What more could you ask for in a horror movie? Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman… nah, we’d better not.
2. Army Of Darkness
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Abercrombie
Army Of Darkness, of course, is the third film in writer-director Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise. In the film, after battling an ancient evil he unleashed from the Necronomicon (aka Book of the Dead), Ash is sucked back to 1300 A.D. He is “greeted” by Lord Arthur and his men and taken to their castle to be tossed in the Pit. The Pit isn’t a spa for guests, but a dank hole filled with Deadites. Ash rises up and takes charge, proving himself to be the prophesied Chosen One as proclaimed by Arthur’s Wiseman. The Wiseman wishes Ash to quest for the Necronomicon which will deliver them from evil, but Ash only wants the book so they can return him to his own time and his job at S-Mart. One little book, three simple words; how could anything possibly go wrong?
In short, Army Of Darkness is the polar opposite of Evil Dead. Where the first one was scary, the second one was funny/scary, this one is just plain funny. It’s a wonderful cap off to a near perfect series, and truly one of a kind.
Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody, Ian Watkin
Before Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogy, New Zealand’s Peter Jackson was a horror and splatter movie titan, giving us the low-budget gross-out-fest Bad Taste, the extremely tasteless Meet The Feebles, the demented and deranged Heavenly Creatures, and Braindead (aka Dead Alive) – one of the most over-the-top zombie movies of all time.
When 25-year-old virgin Lionel falls for the lovely Paquita, he provokes his domineering mother’s jealousy. Soon after, a toxic nip from a Sumatran rat-monkey at the local zoo transforms Lionel’s mother – through several putrescent stages – into a hideous, pustulant monster with a craving for human flesh. The finale, in which Lionel reduces a horde of flesh-eaters to a mulch of blood, flesh and offal with the aid of a running lawnmower, is probably the goriest scene ever. Still, Braindead is a very funny, clever, and upbeat movie. It has rapid takes and quick witticisms with comic gore and slapstick action galore. A genre gem for sure.
What was your favorite horror movie of the year? Let us know in the comment section below.