Some of my favorite childhood movies were the super weird dark comedies. I’m not sure how—or why—I was allowed to watch, but these bizarre flicks were at the top of my list as a kid. They are by no means award-winning films for their perfect polished stories, but they hold a special place in my spooky heart. Stacked with all-star casts, here are a few bizarre ’90s flicks that I can’t help but love.
The Burbs (1989)
Okay, so it’s not a 90s film, but it’s close enough! While moving to the suburbs means white picket fences and monotonous yard work, The Burbs posses the question: What if serial killers moved in next door? The film stars Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, and Rick Ducommun as a nosey cul-de-sac trio that grows increasingly suspicious of their new neighbors.
With eccentric performances by its star cast, including the great Carrie Fisher, The Burbs is committed to the quirks and offers tons of laughs with its ridiculous plot. And you should expect nothing less considering it’s by Gremlins director Joe Dante.
Nothing But Trouble (1991)
This film could be best described as hideous, but sometimes there’s beauty within flaws. Written and directed by Dan Aykroyd, Nothing But Trouble is a hodgepodge of even more wackiness than the previously mentioned film. It follows New York City yuppies, played by Chevy Chase and Demi Moore, who get lost in a decrepit town. After a small traffic violation, they face the town’s ancient Judge (also played by Aykroyd) and his heinous games.
It’s one of those films that you’ll either love for its strange hijinks or hate for its over-the-top crass. Perhaps a bone is thrown because it’s filled with comedy legends (the cast rounded out by the late Taylor Negron and John Candy), but it’s also just a wild experience. There’s even some impressive, if not ghastly special effects makeup that’s unforgettable.
Death Becomes Her (1993)
Want an extra-campy film about magical potions and “zombies”? Death Becomes Her is your girl. Starring icons Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn, the film follows the two as their romantic obsessions with Dr. Ernest Menville (Bruce Willis) lead them to seek an elixir that will keep them young and beautiful. As their rivalry hits a peak, hilarity and horror merge.
While the film, directed by Back to the Future‘s Robert Zemeckis, won awards for its wonderful makeup, it didn’t impress in terms of the story back when it premiered. However, its bonkers concept is truly a unique masterpiece. And it’s one that’s gained a cult following in the LGBTQIA+ community, inspiring drag queens and even being featured in RuPaul’s Drag Race.
The Frighteners (1996)
A few years before directing The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson crafted this supernatural romp with co-writer Fran Walsh. Love-able Michael J. Fox plays an architect turned psychic median who makes a living having his ghost pals haunt homes so he can “exorcise” them. But when a dark spirit begins killing those in the community, he’ll have his work cut out for him.
The Frighteners has some great special effects, a fairly action-packed story, and an always rousing performance by Fox. The tone is a bit all over the place, shifting from over-the-top scenarios to more serious plot points, but overall it’s a grand time.
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