YEAR OF FURIOUS FILMS: 1994
Year of Furious Films is our newest series on FC where we’ll be choosing our favorite films from each designated year. You may notice that we won’t be going in chronological order, it’ll be more random, but that’s really part of the fun. We’ll be covering a wide array of movies from various eras spanning from the 20th century to the modern age. We hope you enjoy these lists and that they’ll inspire you to give the movies a watch or even a rewatch if you’ve already seen them.
The Shawshank Redemption (Dir: Frank Darabont)
Mild mannered accountant Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is falsely charged for murdering his wife and her lover. He is sent to Shawshank prison where he befriends a small group of convicts including Red (Morgan Freeman) a lifer. Andy’s calm integrity and intelligence gets his new criminal pals to respect him and the evil warden (Bob Gunton) and guards to trust him. A modern classic work of cinema based on one of Stephen King’s stories that strangely isn’t about horrific subject matter. Co-starring William Sadler, Clancy Brown, James Whitmore.
Clerks (Dir: Kevin Smith)
One of the most quotable movies, it has a cult following, some of its characters spawned outright franchises, and if you don’t play salsa shark every once in a while, you must be one boring as hell dude. Clerks is such a great hangout movie with such great writing and such powerful situational comedy, it is Kevin Smith’s downright best work. Starring Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Smith, Marilyn Ghigliotti, Lisa Spoonauer. (Sebastian)
The Crow (Dir: Alex Proyas )
In this supernatural cult crime thriller, Eric Draven (Brandon Lee), a Detroit based rock musician, is viciously murdered along with his fiancee Shelly by a gang of thugs on Devil’s Night. A year later, Eric rises from the grave to seek vengeance on the criminals who were responsible for their untimely deaths. Based on James O’Barr’s popular series of comics. NOTE: Lee was tragically killed by accident while shooting a scene. Co-starring Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, David Patrick Kelly.
Blown Away (Dir: Stephen Hopkins)
A diabolical Northern Irish terrorist, Ryan Gaerity (Tommy Lee Jones) escapes from prison seeking revenge on his ex-cohort Liam McGivney (Jeff Bridges) who is hiding under the new identity of Lt. Jimmy Dove, a police bomb squad expert in Boston, MA. Gaerity uses his own advanced bombmaking expertise to wreak havoc on the city, forcing Dove to stop him. A suspense filled action-procedural. Co-starring Forest Whitaker, Lloyd Bridges, Suzy Amis.
Airheads (Dir: Michael Lehmann)
Chazz (Brendan Fraser) Rex (Steve Buscemi) and his dimwitted brother Pip (Adam Sandler) are The Lone Rangers, an aspiring heavy metal band from LA who continuously fail at securing a record contract. When they decide to break into a local rock radio station in hopes of getting their demo tape played, the sneaky plan soon turns into an out of control hostage situation. What they never expected was that their honest frustrations as artists would cause listeners to rally to their side. A hysterical comedy from the Generation X era. Co-starring Joe Mantegna, Judd Nelson, Amy Locane, Michael McKean, Michael Richards, Chris Farley.
Chungking Express (Dir: Wong Kar Wai)
The dreams of a girl of flying away forever, entanglements of city life and love, the buzzing of the metropolis, the smells, the colors, the sounds. Wong Kar Wai’s minimalist work is reminiscent of French New Wave classics, but with the neon chic of the 90s. A tremendously beautiful film – yet not his best work. Starring Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Faye Wong, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Valerie Chow. (Sebastian)
City Slickers 2: The Legend of Curly’s Gold (Dir: Paul Weiland)
On his 40th birthday Mitch (Billy Crystal) discovers a treasure map in the cowboy hat he took from his friend Curly (Jack Palance) when he died. Unsure if it is the real deal or not, he and pal Stan (Daniel Stern) investigate the matter further, and learn the map in fact leads to the location of a cache of stolen gold from a robbery in the early 20th century. Together with his neer do well brother Glen (Jon Lovitz) the group head off on a crazy new adventure into the Southwest to find the hidden loot. The great Jack Palance returns as Curly’s mysterious twin brother.
Pulp Fiction (Dir: Quentin Tarantino)
Two years after his directorial debut Reservoir Dogs, Writer-Director Quentin Tarantino unleashed a film phenomenon with this bombastic, non linear gangster-comedy which inspired a whole generation of kids to want to work at a video store. Taking concepts from the French New Wave, cheap dime store novels and classic B-film anthologies, QT’s pop culture filled film puzzle was a fresh, exciting experience for audiences across the world. Starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis.
Fist of Legend (Dir: Gordon Chan)
In this remake of the classic Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury, Jet Li stars as Chen Zhen, a Chinese student from Shanghai who does battle with the Japanese in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Featuring breathtaking, bonebreaking martial arts choreography by the master Yuen Woo Ping (The Matrix, Kill Bill). Co-starring Chin Siu-ho, Yasuaki Kurata, Shinobu Nakayama.
Swimming with Sharks (Dir: George Huang)
Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey) is a successful cutthroat movie producer and the meanest boss in the world. His new protege Guy (Frank Whaley) a young aspiring film writer takes his sadistic abuse for awhile but suddenly snaps and holds Buddy hostage, torturing him mentally and physically giving him a taste of his own medicine. A darkly funny comedy about the dog eat dog world of the movie business. Co-starring Michelle Forbes, Benicio Del Toro.
PCU (Dir: Hart Bochner)
What I like to call the “Animal House for Generation X”. For me PCU is a really funny look at college life in the mid 90s. It skips the scholastic aspect and focuses mainly on the extracurricular activities and weird cliques. An incoming freshman (Chris Young) gets to know his new dormmates including the mischevous “Droz” Andrews (Jeremy Piven) and resident wildman “Gutter” (Jon Favreau) who recalls John Belushi’s character Bluto and the rest of the students raise hell. This is a cult college comedy filled with drinking, tripping, frisbee throwing and P-FUNK! In other words, it’s a blast! Co-starring David Spade, Jennifer Walters.
Crumb (Dir: Terry Zwigoff)
An intriguing documentary on underground cartoonist Robert Crumb. The film follows the eccentric artist as he recounts his life and spends time with mentally challenged brothers Maxon and Charles as well as his wife and kids. Highly recommended to pop art fans.
Dumb and Dumber (Dir: The Farrelly Bros)
In this hilarious screwball comedy, two idiots, chauffer Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and his best pal Harry (Jeff Daniels) a dog washer from Providence Rhode Island plan a cross country trip to Aspen, Colorado in hopes of finding the woman (Lauren Holly) that left her briefcase behind at the airport. This movie is filled with hysterical sight gags and off the wall humor. Co-starring Charles Rocket, Mike Starr and Karen Duffy.
The Chase (Dir: Adam Rifkin)
Wrongly accused fugitive on the run, Jack Hammond (Charlie Sheen) kidnaps a rich heiress (Kristy Swanson) at a mini mart in desperation, kicking off a high speed police chase from California to the Mexico border. A fast paced comedy romp that goes from zero to 100. Co-starring Ray Wise, Henry Rollins and Josh Mostel.
Ed Wood (Dir: Tim Burton)
This tribute to the “Worst Director Of All Time” is a comical look at Ed Wood’s personal troubles, his process of making movies and special friendship with Dracula actor Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau) in his later years when he was mostly forgotten by audiences. Johnny Depp shines as the kooky, movie obsessed, crossdresser with his stylized take that was a mix of “Ronald Reagan, Casey Kasem and The Tin Man”. Co-starring Bill Murray, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Jeffrey Jones.
Forrest Gump (Dir: Robert Zemeckis)
An epic dramedy about a mentally challenged man named Gump, Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) from Alabama whose colorful life takes him on many different amazing adventures spanning from 1944 to 1982. A true pop culture extravaganza filled with emotion and laughs. Co-starring Robin Wright, Mykleti Williamson, Gary Sinise and Sally Field. Famously stole the Oscar from Pulp Fiction, and already in 1994 used more CGI than you could possibly bear.
The Getaway (Dir: Roger Donaldson)
Following his release from prison, criminal Carter “Doc” McCoy (Alec Baldwin) and his wife Carol (Kim Basinger) work together on a new heist set up by shady businessman Jack Benyon (James Woods). What they don’t know is that their cohort on the job, Rudy (Michael Madsen) is going to pull a doublecross. This remake of the crackerjack 1972 Peckinpah crime classic which starred Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw is actually very well done and packs plenty of edge of your seat action and intrigue. Co-starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Tilly.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (Dir: Tom Shadyac)
When the Miami Dolphins’ mascot “Snowflake” goes missing, local pet detective extraordinaire Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) is put on the case. Jim was again, at his zaniest and most outrageously funny in this wacky role. He just chews up every scene he’s in while his fellow actors watch him dumbfounded and amused. Many of his famous catchphrases such as “Alrighty Then” and “Spank You Very Much” were born in this raucously funny critter themed comedy classic. Co-starring Courtney Cox, Sean Young, Tone Loc.
Interview With The Vampire (Dir: Neil Jordan)
In 1791 New Orleans, the vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) turns a suicidal widower Louie (Brad Pitt) into one of the blood craving undead. The two become fiendish colleagues and explore the macabre, decadent lifestyle of being vampires together. While Lestat fully enjoys his status and gives his soul over to it, Louie is conflicted and tries to restrain his urges as much as possible. After biting a young girl named Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), Louie and Lestat take her under their vampire wings to teach her how to survive. Co-starring Christian Slater and Antonio Banderas. Based on the best selling novel by Anne Rice.
Wolf (Dir: Mike Nichols)
One cold wintery night during a business trip, book publisher Will Randall (Jack Nicholson) hits a wolf while driving on the road. Upon inspecting the animal, Will is bitten by the vicious creature. After returning to his company in New York City, Will slowly begins to experience odd after effects (like heightened smell) and transforms into a werewolf during full moons. Meanwhile, he discovers his wife has been cheating on him with a dastardly co-worker (James Spader) which leads to his own affair with the daughter (Michelle Pfeiffer) of his boss (Christopher Plummer). A uniquely memorable, stylized spin on the classic Wolf Man story.
Killing Zoe (Dir: Roger Avary)
This heist movie set in Paris of the 90s is a techno music and drug filled mess, but succeeds amid its chaos to portray violence and desire, a feeling of being lost in a foreign place, and the typical 90s atmosphere of feeling small and unimportant while the world around us keeps spinning out of control. Eric Stolz and Julie Delpy are a great match in this flick, directed by long-time Tarantino pal Roger Avary. (Sebastian)
Legends of the Fall (Dir: Edward Zwick)
Based on the 1979 novella by Jim Harrison, this epic drama spans from the early 1900s (including World War I) to 1963. It focuses on Montana farmer Col. William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) and his three sons, Alfred (Aidan Quinn), Tristan (Brad Pitt) and Samuel (Henry Thomas) and the family’s experiences as live through tragedy, rivalry and jealousy. Co-starring Julia Ormond.
The Hudsucker Proxy (Dir: The Coen Bros)
Set in 1958, this is the amazing tale of one Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) an energetic, goofy mailroom worker at the prestigious Hudsucker Industries in NYC. Norville’s entire life suddenly changes when he becomes an overnight sensation after inventing the Hula-Hoop (you know, for kids). An often overlooked screwball comedy gem inspired by the classic films of Howard Hawks and Frank Capra. Co-starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman, Charles Durning.
Natural Born Killers (Dir: Oliver Stone)
Like many young lovers Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) are passionate and wreckless. What makes them unique is the way they cause bloody havoc like a satanic version of Bonnie and Clyde. When the media hears about their exploits, they sensationalize them into bigger than life anti-heroes and the country becomes mesmerized by the hype that surrounds them. This is one of Oliver Stone’s most highly stylized and violent films that incorporates all kinds of cinematic effects including black and white sequences and even animation. Based on a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino. Co-starring Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore, Robert Downey Jr.
The Mask (Dir: Chuck Russell)
When meek, affable banker Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) discovers a strange mask floating in the city’s bay, it soon transforms him into a living, breathing supernatural cartoon character that can do anything. This film is Jim Carrey at his wildest and most inventive. He really just leaps off the screen in this perfect showcase of all the zany ideas and impressions he is best at. Co-starring Peter Riegert, Cameron Diaz, Peter Green.
Reality Bites (Dir: Ben Stiller)
Winona Ryder plays Leilana, a Texas based videographer who is shooting a documentary called “Reality Bites” with her recent college grad roommates Vicki (Janeane Garofalo), Sammy (Steve Zahn) and Troy (Ethan Hawke) who she has an on/off relationship with. When she meets Michael Grates (Ben Stiller) a classy, smart TV executive, the two begin dating and Leilana gets a chance to get her work seen by the public but her personal conflicts complicate things. If you want to see what Generation X was like, this is a great little romantic-dramedy that works as a time capsule of the period.
The Ref (Dir: Ted Demme)
A burglar named Gus (Denis Leary) and his partner (Richard Bright) pull yearly robberies in high class homes during the holiday season. The two find themselves stuck in a small town after their latest plan goes awry and the cops begin scowering the neighborhoods for them. In desperation, Gus kidnaps a married couple, Lloyd (Kevin Spacey) and Caroline (Judy Davis) and decides to hideout at their house until the police search is over. Things get complicated further when he finds the two are on the brink of divorce, while their teenage son is becoming a burgeoning criminal himself. What begins as a clearcut hostage situation turns into a furiously funny family farce as Gus and his hosts try to keep things under wraps when the yearly Xmas gathering takes precedent.
The River Wild (Dir: Curtis Hanson)
Gail (Meryl Streep) her nerdy husband (David Strathairn) and son go on a river rafting trip in the mountains to spend some family time together. Their peaceful getaway soon turns to dread when a sadistic hick criminal (Kevin Bacon) and his dimbulb partner (John C. Reilly) take them hostage as a way to get down the treacherous waterway following a bank robbery. A highly suspenseful outdoors action-adventure that recalls movies like Deliverance.
Leon: The Professional (Dir: Luc Besson)
A French hitman (Jean Reno) living in NYC rescues a young girl Mathilda (Natalie Portman) after her family are killed by a corrupt cop Stansfield (Gary Oldman) and his thugs. Leon has always been a loner with no family yet through Mathilda he finds a friendship and love he never had. This is one of Gary Oldman’s most furious roles that people always remember. An excellent crime-thriller from Luc Besson. Co-starring Danny Aiello.
Speed (Dir: Jan DeBont)
There’s a bomb on your bus and if the speed drops under 55 mph it will explode. What do you do? What do you do? Keanu Reeves is Jack Traven a hotshot policeman who chews gum. When a disturbed terrorist (Dennis Hopper) fails at killing a bunch of people on an elevator, he decides to try something a bit more easy next: he detonates a bus. Enter Annie (Sandra Bullock) a ditzy gal that boards another L.A. city bus which also has a bomb attached. When Jack finds out about this new threat, he’s determined to save the folks onboard by any means neccessary. The thrills are non stop in this 90s high octane road potboiler that will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time.
Surviving The Game (Dir: Ernest Dickerson)
A down on his luck homeless man named Mason (Ice-T) is given a new lease on life when he’s hired on as a guide for a private hunting party. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s actually being recruited to be their human prey. A survival thriller that’s crammed with dark humor, emotion and non stop action. Co-starring Rutger Hauer, Gary Busey, F. Murray Abraham, Charles S. Dutton, Jeff Corey and John C McGinley.
True Lies (Dir: James Cameron)
To his wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) Harry Tasker (Arnold Shwarzenegger) is just a dull computer salesman. What she doesn’t know is that he’s really a secret government agent who travels around the world spying and taking down terrorists. When Harry discovers Helen is cheating on him with a weaselly used car salesman (Bill Paxton) acting as a spy he decides to intervene and take her on a real adventure to rekindle their failing marriage. It’s a great little love story set within a highly charged action packed spy-comedy. Co-starring Tom Arnold, Eliza Dushku, Tia Carrere.
Conclusion: The 90s weren’t all bad, and 94 was a particularly okay year in terms of movies. Lots of action, crime and cult films, lots of great entertainment and memorable moments. Which were your favorites of that year? Double points if it isn’t on the list!