Wednesday, 5 May 2010



Was this the best we good do in 96? Yes


By Hugh Ponsington Smythe, lecturer in 1990s Studies at Loughbourough polytechnic

Now the 80s are over, the 90s are going to make the 60s look like the 50s.’ Dennis Hopper was very wrong when he said that. He expected a bacchanalian feast. We got a feast of the banal.
Have a look at a few 90s icons: they look just like 80s ones, but with some 40s austerity thrown in. I’m thinking Eurythmics here: Sweet Dreams vs Sweet Dreams (unplugged).

The pre-millennial angst that characterised the late 90s was surely a re-run of the anxious 20s, rather than the euphoric 1890s, in that it felt like an inter-war era, minus the actual wars.

90s fashion was, in many important ways, simply 80s fashion glimpsed through a dark green gauze, with all the contrast turned down, but still with many of the same shapes and a great deal of taupe. The 80s grown up, as it were. More responsible, and with a mortgage.

90s automotive fashions had yet to achieve the contemporaneousness of Noughties designs (a 90s Saab is just an 80s one, with a smaller wing) and we were a very long way from the digital age, our current decade’s iconic leitmotif.

In many ways, the 90s can be summarised with one item: this shirt, with the Peruvian Inca pattern, by Jean-Paul Gaultier, that I paid £600 for in 1993. It truly reflected both the decade’s aspirations and its failures. The style said that ‘we are now trying to be more aware of the world, by just sticking a new pattern on an over-tailored shirt; we can feel the veneer of a new age’.

Then, when we get it home, we realise that it looks immediately and tragically dated. We learn. We grow. And we’ll then move on to something else, probably minimalism. No wonder Kurt Cobain shot himself.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


In the mid to late 90s there were 2 shit melodramatic teen dramas that spawned a slew of future stars - Party of Five and Dawson's Creek.

And for some reason, they all had to star in horrors...

Scream Trilogy - Starring Neve Campbell from Party of Five

So many films copied Scream's mix of recognisable twenty somethings playing teen faces and knowing pop culture references, it's easy to forget how good it was when it first arrived - the best teen horror since the first Nightmare on Elm Street.

I Know What You Did Last Summer - Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt from Party of Five

He's a fisherman! With a hook! And he won't die! These films were really bad, the second slightly less than the first. Seem to have just been made as an excuse to look at Jennifer Love Hewitt's unfeasibly perky breasts, which is no bad thing.

Disturbing Behavior - Starring Katie Holmes from Dawson's Creek

Similar in tone to The Faculty, here teens are being made into Stepford jocks by evil teachers, and only a few can resist. Katie Holmes plays the most annoying / less convincing punk rebel ever, but this is a pretty neat little thriller with a good Pied piper inspired ending.

Urban Legend - Starring Joshua Jackson from Dawson's Creek

Staying in post modern Scream territory, this is about a campus where people are getting killed off in the style of urban myths,and is pretty damned good. Featuring Robert "Freddy" Englund as a tutor, and co-starring future beached car crash party girl Tara Reid.

Final Destination - Starring Kerr Smith from Dawson's Creek

Technically this came out in 2000, but I'm counting it as the last of the good 90s teen horrors. By now everyone knows the drill - teens cheat death and it catches up with them, this felt pretty fresh first time.

But where's Dawson?

He bucked the horror trend and starred in 1999's Varsity Blues, a pretty good high school football drama, kind of an update to Tom Cruise's All The Right Moves.

But the best late 90s teen horror featured no Dawsons or Party of Five actors...

The Faculty

A truly awesome high school alien thriller, with a strangely subversive drugs save the day twist. Even Josh Hartnett's hair couldn't ruin it.

Monday, 3 May 2010





Don't pretend it wasn't that bad - it was total horseshit.


Mel Gibson revives an old TV western favourite! And?

The Firm

This film was actually quite good, if you watched it. But seriously, have you ever sat down and thought "I know what I really want to watch - early 90s legal thriller The Firm?"

Air Force One

Ooh, Harrison Ford is dangerous when he's angry! Is he? What's the difference between this and Executive Decision and Passenger 57? I'm not sure.

Clear & Present Danger



Nothing to say on this.OK, one thing - when the song by Jamiroquai is the best thing about your film, you know you're in trouble.

The Flintstones

Total horseshit but somehow you know this one will be coming back again.