I’ve been trying to think of a way to incorporate movies into this project as I don’t generally select by era. I could focus on special effects achievements which the decade pioneered (Jurassic Park) but the technical side alone I don’t think is enough. Vertigo is one of my all time favorite films and has ground breaking special effects yet a few of the scenes show the limits of the 1950s. If I can enjoy something so much when every aspect hasn’t reached absolute perfection should that be the criteria in which I measure the 90s?
This week I watched “Ghost in the Machine” (1993) that is about a killer who travels through the internet to find his victims. Many reviewers criticized the film as being dated but in this case it actually works in its favor. There is a scene were the lead character and his friend go to an arcade to play a 3D virtual reality game with the very unrealistic polygonal graphics. When the boy playing the game notices the killer running off in the distance of the game he stood out vividly against his surroundings. When he snuck up to him it was really shocking because he contrasted so much to his low tech environment he was placed in.
This would have only worked in 1993 because 80s graphics were more 2D side scrollers or downward perspective Zelda type games. It would be the better part of a decade until we would see Playstation 2 type realistic 3D graphics although very realistic 2D graphics just came out (Mortal Kombat.)
YouTube movie reviewers Frightfully Forgotten (@frightfullyforgotten on IG) make the great point that it plays as if someone today where to make a parody of the decade cramming in as many things from then that stood out as possible. Yet there seems to be no clear indication that this is what the director was going for it just came through. From “In Living Color” on TV (sort of a hip hop SNL) to the style of rap and R&B characteristic of the time to Josh’s stupid fashion of wearing his boxers over his shirt! For a horror film it mixes in some good comedy as well. When the family is busy unplugging everything electoral and covering the outlets grandma gasps as Josh tries to dispose of her curling iron; “not my curling iron!” There is another sci-fi movie from the mid 90s that has a similar name and it makes me wonder what influence one may have had on the other.
As I write about it I keep confusing the titles and the yet similarities don’t seem to just end at their names. “Ghost in the Shell” released two years later was popular enough to receive two remakes. While yes, it is a pretty different movie the two are akin through their use of main characters who can disappear. I like both the original and the 2.0 remake. Some people trash 2.0 but really the only problem was the lead character’s skin looks a little plastic like in the opening scene. It was likely that 2000s era CGI was a lot better at making objects than people. Perhaps there needs to be a Ghost in the Shell 2.1 which attends just making the people more lifelike!
The live action remake in 2017 stars Scarlett Johansson who is also in “Ghost World” that is based on a 90s comic. It’s very “Daria” like yet unique at the same time and hysterical! It flew way under the radar! I highly recommend the Criterion version that comes with comic books and extras. While it is expensive you can pick up a copy during Barnes and Nobles bi-annual sales and numerous other flash sales through the Criterion website. The 50% off price of $20 is a very good deal for the package that you get.