By Raquel Stecher
A fellow DVD Netflix writer asked us recently what got us interested in watching movies in general. For me it was Congo (1995). Crazy right? I grew up watching some movies but was mostly a child of TV and books. It wasn’t until I saw Congo on the big screen that I thought oh movies are cool I want to watch more. Throughout the latter half of the 1990s I watched a lot of movies, mostly period pieces and literary adaptations but I loved cheesy romcoms and an over-the-top thrillers.
I selected four of my favorite guilty pleasure movies from that decade. These are all available to rent on DVD Netflix. I don’t feel any actual guilt for loving these movies. I’m a big advocate for the freedom to watch whatever you want without judgement. Don’t let people shame you into or out of watching a movie because of some preconceived notion of worthiness. Watch what you want! Fill up your queue with movies that pique your interest, whether they be good, bad, or something in between.
As a teen, I was an outspoken environmental activist with a fascination for African wildlife. When Congo came out touting the logline “Where You Are the Endgangered Species,” I was instantly sold on the concept and headed straight to the theater. This science fiction thriller based on Michael Crichton’s novel was directed by Frank Marshall and featured performances by Laura Linney, Tim Curry, and an animatronic gorilla named Amy!
It’s equal parts thrilling and cheesy. It had a $50 million budget and Paramount made bank when the film did well at the box office. It got terrible reviews and was nominated for a bunch of Razzies. But teenage Raquel loved this film! So much so that I saw it twice during its theatrical run. This was a rarity for me and I only repeated that once during that decade with another guilty pleasure movie, The Big Hit (1999).
Chances are, if you watched Fear when it came out in 1996, you were talking about that epic roller coaster scene with Reese Witherspoon and Mark Wahlberg. -fans self-
This psychological thriller features Wahlberg as David, a handsome and charming young man who sweeps virginal high schooler Nicole (Witherspoon) off her feet. Her father Steven (William Petersen) senses something off about David right from the start. We soon learn that David is deeply disturbed and capable of great violence.
Nicole is torn between her strong feelings for David and the warning signs. Alyssa Milano plays her best friend, the more experienced and world-weary Margo. I love a good stalking movie (who doesn’t?) and Fear excited and terrified me in ways I wasn’t quite prepared for! I watched this film more times than I care to admit. This was quite a departure for both stars. Witherspoon’s previous role in Freeway was the polar opposite of the one she played in Fear, and Wahlberg was primed and ready to leave his Marky Mark days behind him; this movie definitely helped.
I first logged on to AOL in 1994 and the Internet opened up a whole new world to me. It was fitting that I watched technological thriller The Net, which explored the potential dangers lurking in our rapidly advancing world.
Sandra Bullock stars as Angela, a computer analyst and all-around internet guru. Her coworker discovers a floppy disk program Mozart’s Ghost that offers secret entry into some secure databases (banks, government offices, hospitals, etc.). When her friend dies in a plane crash, we discover that a group of dangerous hackers, led by the smooth-talking and just plain frightening Devlin (Jeremy Northam), will stop at nothing to get that disk back. Angela’s identity is stolen and only her friend Alan (Dennis Miller) can help identify her. The technology is already outdated, but the threat of cyberterrorism and identity theft are still alive and well today. I found this film endlessly watchable and even preferred it over Bullock’s other thriller Speed (1994).
No, it has nothing to do with Robert Palmer’s song or music video, but everything to do with a magic crab. Yes, you read that correctly... a magic crab.
Simply Irresistible was a quirky little romcom that mixed magical realism with culinary delights. Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a chef who owns a failing little restaurant. She’s a terrible cook. She meets department store heir Tom (Sean Patrick Flanery) at a farmer’s market where a mysterious man has just sold her some crabs. Little does she know that the one of the crabs has cast a spell on her. The spell transforms her into an amazing cook. Anyone who eats her culinary creations will also be under a temporary spell. They’ll feel the exact same emotion that she was feeling when she cooked it. Oh, and she can levitate too. Still with me? The movie also stars Patricia Clarkson and Amanda Peet.
It’s a head scratcher of a film, but I watched it incessantly. I was particularly obsessed with the trailer, which had scenes not included in the final film and I even bought the novelization to read, just so I could learn a little more about what the heck was going on in the story (spoiler alert: I didn’t learn anything). It’s a cute film nonetheless.
Raquel Stecher has been writing about classic films for the past decade on her blog Out of the Past. She attends the TCM Classic Film Festival as well as other events where old movie fanatics get together to geek out. Raquel has been a devoted DVD Netflix member since 2002! Follow her on her blog Out of the Past, or find her on Twitter @RaquelStecher and @ClassicFilmRead, Facebook, and Instagram.