Before we turned the calendar to a new millennium, 1999 showcased a handful of delightfully spooky horror flicks. How does this year stack up to others before and after it?
Sleepy Hollow. The Blair Witch Project. The Sixth Sense.
These three movies are just a small part of a year that displayed some iconic scary movies. A wide variety of horror kept us on the edge of our seats for a 12-month period. Whether it was a classic tale come to life, a low-budget thriller that shocked the world or one of the most surprising twists in cinema history, 1999 was a horrifyingly brilliant year.
Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez ‘The Blair Witch Project’ (July 30th)
Heather Donahue in ‘The Blair Witch Project’-Courtesy of Artisan Entertainment
First came along The Blair Witch Project at the end of July. This movie was just as unusual and shocking as the fact that a successful horror movie came out in the summer. Typically, scary movies are put off until the fall, specifically Halloween, while blockbuster hits are put out in the summer. Fans took a break from movies like Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and American Pie to sink their teeth into what’s become one of the most iconic horror movies in the past two decades.
Blair Witch may not have been the first found-footage movie, but without a doubt it started a trend for the following decade to continue. Maybe what made the movie so effective though was the marketing.
The creators had everyone fooled that this was actual footage and then spun a story that the three characters were missing, presumed dead. We as fans have taken notes and learned, so now in 2016, this may not trick us but back then, people hadn’t seen a film like this. Rumors and hype spread like wildfire and pretty soon, BWP became the must-see flick.
M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (August 9th)
Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis in ‘The Sixth Sense’-Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures
Soon after came The Sixth Sense. Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, this movie instantly put him on the map and set the standard for jaw-dropping twists to follow. Forget being an all-timer in the horror movie genre, this is on some lists of best movies ever made PERIOD. The Sixth Sense was even nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, a rare feat for horror movies.
What everyone remembers from this film is obviously the ending but how about how they set up the ending?
Throughout the 107 minutes, clues are delicately planted and spaced out, challenging the audience to spoil the ending for themselves. To me, that’s what make twist endings great, when the writer and/or director can nearly tell us how it ends but it still gets by you.
Finally, of course, The Sixth Sense gave us what’s still considered one of the greatest movie quotes ever, “I see dead people.”
Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (November 19th)
Johnny Deep as Ichabod Crane in ‘Sleepy Hollow’-Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Lastly, Sleepy Hollow rolls out in November. The historic tale of the headless horseman finally comes to life on the big screen with Tim Burton and his creative mind holding the reins. The big question before making this movie was how would they expand on the legendary short story to create a full-length feature film.
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Personally, the addition of Lady Van Tassel having control of the headless horseman isn’t something I was fond of. I like to see villains with such notoriety really take over and establish motives for themselves.
Nonetheless, this movie does grab your attention from the opening scene. Give credit to Burton, and his director of photography, Emmanuel Lubezki. The way it’s shot, most notably the color palette, throws the audience right into the scene with Johnny Depp. Speaking of Depp, could there have been a better leading man for the role? Anytime he and Burton link up, a memorable performance follows.
A few honorable mentions: House on Haunted Hill and Idle Hands. I’m a little biased towards Haunted Hill and may be in the minority of people who love this movie but I can’t help it, mystery-horror movies speak to me. And who doesn’t love a quality horror-comedy blender movie? Idle Hands did it right by getting a perfect balance of laughs from the audience while still capturing some throwback horror elements and scenes.
What are your thoughts on horror movies from 1999? Is there any twisted tale we missed? Join the creepy conversation below by screaming in the comment section.