6 Must See Movies from 1990

February 11, 2011

by Joel G. Robertson

It’s 1990 and we’ve reached the end of this year-themed series of “6 Movies You Must See” posts; however, for those of you who’ve enjoyed them, I’ve got some good news:  “6 Movies You Must See” will not only continue on via the podcast, but right here on the blog as well!

Of course, rather than basing each list on a year, I’ll explore different themes. Some serious, some not so. But be sure to check back every Friday to see what movies YOU MUST SEE!

So, let’s get this party started right with a quick breakdown of the box office returns for the top 10 films from 1990 (according to Wikipedia):

1. Ghost (Paramount) $505,702,588

2. Home Alone (20th Century Fox) $476,684,675.

3. Pretty Woman (Touchstone) $463,406,268

4. Dances with Wolves (Orion) $424,208,848

5. Total Recall (TriStar) $261,299,840

6. Back to the Future Part III (Universal) $244,527,583

7. Die Hard 2: Die Harder (20th Century Fox) $240,031,094

8. Presumed Innocent (Warner Bros.)  $221,303,1889. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (New Line Cinema) $201,965,91510. Kindergarten Cop (Universal) $201,957,688

Know what strikes me most about that list? It’s not just the movies. Or that several of the final domestic grosses from the top 10 are what some of today’s blockbusters make in their first 10 days.

Nope, it’s the distribution companies represented on that list. Specifically, their logos and “theme” music and how much of an emotional connection we have to these brands.

I gotta be honest. Whenever I hear those horns blasting, followed by Pegasus freezing mid-leap over the TriStar logo, I get chills (or at the very least goosebumps). Same for the starry-sky background of the Orion Pictures logo.

Or whenever those segmented pieces of a silhouetted film frame fell onto the screen, letting us know it was New Line Cinema. Do you remember when their logo was simply a line of video noise that flashed until the New Line title appeared? Check it out on Youtube here if you don’t.

And while Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount, and the like continue on, Orion is gone and so are some of the lesser known names.  Does anyone else remember Carolco, The Cannon Group, or the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG)?

I suppose waxing nostalgic over a company logo and brand just speaks to how pervasive mass consumerism has become in our culture. Or could it be that since each of those brands preceded movies that affected and touched all of our lives we have such a connection to them?

So what if I get a warm fuzzy whenever I catch the regal horn blowing of a Morgan Creek intro?

Hey, that reminds me… I think Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is on!


Tremors Rated: PG-13; Dir. Ron Underwood; Starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward and Finn Carter

The tiny desert town of Perfection, Nevada has a very big problem. It seems they have some new neighbors: prehistoric, subterranean, school bus-sized, man-eating worms. The good news for the townsfolk of Perfection: the damn things are blind. The bad news:  they can sense the slightest vibration through the ground.

Sucks for that little girl on the pogo stick…

Tremors Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Fred Ward starred in the first film to receive an NC-17 rating, Henry and June (1990).
  • Tremors originally received an ‘R’ rating. Not for violence, but for language.
  • Tremors was Reba McIntire’s acting debut.


Quick ChangeRated: R; Dir. Howard Franklin, Bill Murray; Starring Bill Murray, Geena Davis, and Randy Quaid

After Grimm (Murray), Phyllis (Davis), and their friend Loomis (Quaid) rob a bank, they think they’ve gotten away with the perfect crime; unfortunately, there’s one thing they didn’t count on… getting out of New York City.  

Quick Change Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Bill Murray has starred in two other movies from Howard Franklin, The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997) (written by Franklin) and Larger Than Life (1996) (Franklin directed).
  • Quick Change was based on a novel by Jay Cronley, which was made into a movie five years earlier called Hold-Up.
  • Bill Murray co-directed Quick Change with Howard Franklin (a decision made after original director Jonathan Demme bowed out), making it Murray’s directorial debut.


Darkman Rated: R; Dir. Sam Raimi; Starring Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, and Larry Drake

Peyton Westlake (Neeson), a scientist, is horribly disfigured and left for dead by mobsters. Hungry for revenge, he uses his invention of “synthetic skin” to replicate the faces of others as a way to get closer to those who wronged him.

Darkman Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Julia Roberts was almost cast as Julie Hastings, the part played by Frances McDormand.
  • Frances McDormand’s husband Joel Coen edited Raimi’s first film, The Evil Dead (1981).
  • Larry Drake, who played Durant, also played the titular killer in Dr. Giggles (1992).


Pump Up the VolumeRated: R; Dir. Allen Moyle; Starring Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis and Annie Ross

Mark (Slater) is a mild-mannered, introverted teen by day. You know the type: quiet, unassuming, ignored, if you blink he’s gone– even though he’s still standing right in front of you. But at night he transforms into the pirated-radio show host Hard Harry, the chain-smoking, cynical voice of the frustrated American teen (or any teen for that matter). However, when his controversial ideas begin to permeate his small Arizona town he’s racing against the clock to get his message out before the FCC shuts down his signal.

Pump Up the Volume Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Actress Annie Ross played Granny Ruth in Frank Hennonlotter’s Basket Case 2 (1990) and Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1992).
  • Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis also starred together in the John Woo actioner Broken Arrow (1996).
  • Writer/ Director Allan Moyle also made Empire Records (1995).


La Femme NikitaRated: R; Dir. Luc Besson; Starring Anne Parillaud, Marc Duret, Patrick Fontana, and Jean Reno

After a drug deal goes bad, Nikita is arrested and found guilty of her crimes. However, rather than a prison sentence, she’s enlisted and trained by a government agency to become an assassin.

La Femme Nikita Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • La Femme Nikita was remade in 1993 as Point of No Return, starring Bridget Fonda.
  • Anne Parillaud starred in Innocent Blood (1992), a tale of vampires and Mafiosos directed by John Landis.
  • Director Luc Besson also made Léon (aka The Professional [1994]), starring Natalie Portman, Jean Reno, and Gary Oldman.


Edward ScissorhandsRated: PG-13; Dir. Tim Burton; Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, and Anthony Michael Hall


After his inventor/father dies, a strange young man named Edward (Depp) with scissors for hands is taken in by a kind woman named Peg (Wiest) and her family. But suburban life ain’t what it seems as Edward tries to fit into his new surroundings.

Edward Scissorhands Trailer

Movie Trivia:

  • Edward Scissorhands was the last on-screen theatrical film performance of Vincent Price.
  • One of Tim Burton’s earliest short films was titled Vincent.
  • Edward Scissorhands was shot in central Florida, including the Southgate Shopping Plaza in Lakeland. The giant arch is still there. (I can personally vouch for that!)

Now that you’ve read my 6 must see movies from 1990, what are yours?

Until next time, remember, a flick is only forgotten if you’re not talking about it!

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