Think back to some of the big movies of the 1990s and chances are that for every film you recall, there are countless you forget. But what if we narrow things down to just the fantasy films – surely that would make things easier, right?
Maybe so; but it’s likely that there are still a large number of fantasy films that you would draw a blank on. And some of those titles are likely to be featured in this post: Forgotten fantasy films from the 1990s.
Below are ten fantasy movies from 1990s that have slipped through the cracks in time. These are pictures which have either largely been forgotten, don’t gain a lot of chatter, or are just simply gosh darn awful.
The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)
OK, let’s start off with a gentle fantasy film directed by Frank Oz. The movie – based on a book by Lynne Ried Banks – follows the story of nine-year-old, Omri and his adventures with a native American figurine which is brought to life… via a magical cupboard.
The Indian in the Cupboard was produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, and Jane Startz, and features cameos from RoboCop and Darth Vader (both in toy form). But, cameos aside, The Indian in the Cupboard is quite bland, and while it’s not terrible, it is not a thrill-ride either, meaning that most people forget it even exists.
Joe’s Apartment (1996)
Next up is Joe’s Apartment – a musical comedy about a guy who has talking (and singing) cockroaches living in his home. The movie – based on an MTV short called Joe’s Apt – starred Jerry O’Connell as Joe, with Billy West, BD Wong, Tim Blake Nelson, and Dave Chappelle providing voice over duties for the roaches.
If you remember this one then chances are you rented Joe’s Apartment on VHS – you didn’t see it at the cinema. Barely anyone turned up when it played in theatres, causing it to bomb big time, then slip into obscurity.
Cool World (1992)
Directed by legendary animator and director Ralph Bakshi, Cool World told the story of a cartoonist who is transported into a comic book. The film starred Brad Pitt, Kim Basinger and Gabriel Byrne, and combined live-action with animation.
Conceived as an adult take on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Cool World could have been something truly special. Unfortunately, it lacked the charisma, uniqueness, and talent to achieve its goals.
If you were one of the few people who caught this at the cinema, then you know how bad it is. And I say “few people”, as this film was a huge financial disaster, which made less than half of its budget because no one went to see it.
We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (1993)
And now onto the first of two dino-based movies on this list. Thanks to Jurassic Park, dinosaurs were big business in the 1990s and this meant a number of films were either based around or featured dinosaurs.
This one – We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story – was an animated feature about a group of dinos transported from the Jurassic era to live in the 1990s. Somewhere along the way they spent some time wandering around New York… oh, and they could talk.
The animation was fine in We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, but the story was bland and uninspiring. It didn’t make a huge impact in 1993 and it’s barely remembered today.
Theodore Rex (1996)
Sticking with the theme of dinosaurs brings me onto Theodore Rex – a buddy cop movie about a detective who partners with a dinosaur.
Once again, this is an actual film – I’m not making it up!
Whoopi Goldberg played the detective, while George Newbern – the voice of Superman in the ‘00s Justice League cartoon – voiced the dino.
How bad was the movie?
Well, not only did Whoopi Goldberg regret making this film, she also tried to pull out before it went into production. That pretty much tells you all you need to know.
Hudson Hawk (1991)
Bruce Willis as a master thief in a fantasy action comedy? Sounds like a decent movie, right?
Yep. But sadly, Hudson Hawk is anything but good. In fact, it’s one of the worst films of the 1990s.
Richard E. Grant, Sandra Bernhard, Andie MacDowell, and James Coburn all joined Willis to try to inject life into this very, very bizarre film, yet they all failed. Tonally it was all over the place, and every attempt at comedy missed the mark by a mile.
This film is only remembered by people who point out it is a bad movie. Or by those who make lists about forgotten fantasy films of the 1990s.
Last Action Hero (1993)
Another action film, and another high-profile action hero, this time in the form of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie is Last Action Hero, which some people will remember.
So, if some people remember this film, why is it on the list?
Simple – everyone should remember Last Action Hero, and they don’t.
Directed by John McTiernan, Last Action Hero was a big budget adventure movie conceived as a satire of the action genre. The film told the story of a young boy, transported to a parallel universe where movie characters were real and movie clichés were a dime a dozen.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
And in part it was. Arnie got to play two roles, the film was loaded with cameos and self-referential dialogue and there were some good gags. But unfortunately, it just didn’t land the way it should and as a result, it is often over-looked in favour of stronger Arnie films.
Is it worth a watch?
Yes. Dial down your expectations and imagine what it could have been.
The Pagemaster (1994)
Macaulay Culkin, Christopher Lloyd, Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Stewart, and Leonard Nimoy all featured in The Pagemaster – a children’s fantasy film about a young boy transported to a world filled with literary characters. The film was largely animated, but was bookended by live-action sequences… which were actually the best parts of the movie.
So, what gives with this one?
Well, due to the involvement of Macaulay Culkin – a big box office draw during the early 1990s – The Pagemaster had quite a lot of buzz surrounding it. That was until it opened in theatres and both critics and audiences were left underwhelmed.
In the years since its release, The Pagemaster has simply drifted into obscurity. Some people remember the name, but few seem to recall seeing it.
Bob Hoskins directed and starred in this children’s movie about a group of kids who ride a rainbow to Kansas. Along the way, one of them steals some gold and this causes all of the colour to drain from the world… making humanity turn bad in the process.
No, seriously, that was the story.
Rainbow was a huge flop at the cinema and it didn’t do much better on home video. The result? No one remembers it… except me, who watched it recently. And yes, it is bad.
And finally, another movie that should be remembered as being a big hit of the 1990s, but for many reasons it fails to stir up many memories.
Here’s what the movie had going for it:
- Congo was based on a book by Michael Crichton, the author of Jurassic Park
- The movie starred Tim Curry, Bruce Campbell, and Ernie Hudson
- Frank Marshall – the director of Arachnophobia – helmed this picture
Sounds alright, so why is it on this list?
Because Congo is bobbins. Absolute poop.
Dodgy special effects, some bad performances, and a weak story about apes all helped to bury Congo. Both critics and audiences hated the film, it died a quick death at the box office, and few people remember it today.
Thank you for taking time to read this post about forgotten films of the 1990s. If you would like to read about more movies, then check out the recommended reads below.
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- What is the best order to watch the Mortal Kombat movies?