Entertainment Industry Nostalgia: February 1991

South African President F. W. de Klerk says he will repeal all apartheid laws. US Air & Skywest Fairchild jet collide at LA Airport killing 32. American writer John Grisham publishes his second novel “The Firm” (bestselling novel of the year). Baseball’s Hall of Fame board of directors vote 12-0 to bar Pete Rose, due to his betting on games while a player and manager. A Michigan court bars Dr Jack Kevorkian from assisting in suicides. All American Bowl ends after 14 years. Howard Stern kisses NY Giant Leonard Marshall’s ass over bet, Stern lost claiming the Giants would lose the Super Bowl. Lithuania votes for independence from USSR. UNPO, Unrepresented Nations & People Org forms in The Hague, Netherlands. Iceland recognizes Lithuania’s independence. North & South Korea form a joint team for table tennis competition. Syria tells Germany they are ready to recognize Israel. A gigantic statue of Albania’s long-time dictator, Enver Hoxha, is brought down in the Albanian capital, Tirana, by mobs of angry protesters. Military coup in Thailand, Premier Choonhaven arrested. US-led forces begin Operation Desert Sabre, the ground invasion of southern Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait. Bruce McNall, Wayne Gretzky and John Candy (yes, the actor) buy CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. Coalition planes bomb Iraqi forces retreating from Kuwait during the Gulf War, killing hundreds and creating the so-called ‘Highway of Death’. Singer James Brown is released from prison. Gulf War ends after Iraq accepts a ceasefire following their retreat from Kuwait. Actress Meg Ryan (29) weds actor Dennis Quaid (37).


Music

Honorable mentions: Marc Cohn: Marc Cohn. Mike Oldfield: Heaven’s Open. John Wesley Harding: The Name Above the Title. Nova Mob: The Last Days of Pompeii. Tanita Tikaram: Everybody’s Angel Throwing Muses: The Real Ramona.

There was another album released this month that I find to be very good, and gives the best rock/metal albums of the month a run for their money. But unfortunately, it didn’t get an official North American release, so I can only give it an honorable mention here: Uriah Heep: Different World.

Now this was a much better month for music.

Saxon: Solid Ball of Rock. (4)

Holy Mary Mother of God. Here I was worried if the music industry lost a step (at least in regards to music I personally enjoy) this year with last month’s outing. Then all of a sudden the month opens up with this incredible rock album. A sort of “comeback” album for this band.


Queen: Innuendo (5)

And then we have to go on a more solemn note. Years after Freddy Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS (unbeknownst to the public, even at this point in time), Queen release this, their 14th and final album. Freddy Mercury would die 9 months later. Also, it really bugs me that the main track on this album, Innuendo, isn’t played on the radio (at least down where I live), because it’s better than a good portion of Queen songs I’m normally bombarded with.


Material Issue: International Pop Overthrow (5)


Spacemen 3: Recurring (10)

Get ready for some music that’s best listened to while loaded.


Another Bad Creation: Coolin’ at the Playground Ya Know! (11)

Yep, more rap.


Saigon Kick: Saigon Kick (?)

Another solid entry this month (though I’m unsure of the official month this album was released), alongside the Saxon album. Not quite as good as Saxon, but still a fun listen for metal fans.


Dinosaur Jr.: Green Mind (11)

One of those “this is the 90s” picks. Top song on this album will always be The Wagon.


The Fixx: Ink (19)


The Tragically Hip: Road Apples (19)


Butthole Surfers: piouhgd (20)

Want some psychedelic avant-garde? The type that gives Ween a run for its money?


Great White: Hooked (26)

Now that’s what I call an album cover. Too bad they replaced it with a version that’s more submerged in water.


Motörhead: 1916 (26)

Arguably the best album they’ve done next to Ace of Spades. Yet another album to compete with Saxon for best of the month. Does it beat them? You decide.




Movies

Honorable mentions: King Ralph; a so-so John Candy comedy. He Said, She Said; another so-so rom-com, with Kevin Bacon. Queens Logic; it’s The Big Chill, except more for laughs, more sketch-based and less cohesive and not on the same level; but some seem to like it. Scenes from a Mall, a film with Woody Allen and Betty Milder that I didn’t really care for; this applies to most Woody Allen films (except Manhattan, I actually liked that one).

If you thought last month skimped too much on quality films, this month will have at least one that should impress you. Aside from that one solid standout classic, there were plenty of solid flicks to choose from this month. One of the most solid months for B films (to the point where I’d say they’re B+ most of the time), with at least one A+ title among them.

Run (1)

Surprisingly good rough diamond in the rough movie. It certainly lives up to the title. Once the action gets going, the protagonist is running most of the time he’s on screen. Solid action film not many know about. Beats out last month’s Eve of Destruction as far as pleasant action surprises are concerned.


Meet the Applegates (1)

It’s like Coneheads, but more mean-spirited, less funny, and not as well-made. None-the-less, it has some good practical effects, and has an interesting satirical message that is critical of both American capitalist society, and the socialist bug society. I honestly wasn’t expecting the latter to show up during the last quarter of the film, which made me appreciate it a bit more than I otherwise would’ve. Plus it takes a jab at feminism, even with the stereotypical guy rapist trope, which gains it another kudos point from me. That all said, I can’t swear to you being able to enjoy this film. Like I said, it’s not as good as Coneheads, which basically has the same message except told better.


Once Around (1)

Not a half bad drama-romance that plays up on the age-difference a bit, but not as much as the personality and conflicts that arise because of it. And how this leads to turmoil within the family that is handled far better and more believably than in most other films of this nature. They played up the negatives and positives of Dreyfuss’ character very well.


Heaven and Earth (8)

Do not confuse this with the Oliver Stone film that would come out years later.

Considered to be the last epic war film as far as I know. By epic, I mean with a crazy number of extras in a battle scene. A Japanese film, but with a moderate amount of advertisement and distribution in the U.S. (and Canada). While a bit rough around the edges, it’s a worthy war film.

My favorite of the month, but unfortunately I can’t say this would be the best or most popular of the month (plus it had the disadvantage of being a foreign film). That would go to another film.


L.A. Story (8)

I don’t believe it. A Steve Martin film that he stars in that I actually enjoy. I’m not a big fan of his, so me saying I actually enjoyed him and this movie is saying something. A satirical look at L.A. A rom-com that has fun with the cliches, being self-aware of them, and doing it’s own thing too. People who lived in L.A. back then (and a few years earlier) will probably get the biggest kick out of this. The highway shootout was hilarious.


Sleeping with the Enemy (8)

Personally, I couldn’t really get into this film, and I find it overrated. But, it’s a standout title, so…


The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter (8)

Ok, look, we all know this pales in comparison to the previous (and legendary) NeverEnding Story movie. But, in all honesty, it’s really not all that bad. Especially compared to the shitty third movie that no one really wants to remember.


Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (8)

Entertaining, albeit 4th wall breaking, companion piece to Hamlet.


Silence of the Lambs (14)

“It rubs the lotion on the skin or else it gets the hose again.”

The A+ title of the month. The now classic thriller film which contained the career-defining performance from Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector. Jodie Foster was solid as Clarice Starling too. Without a doubt, the best film of the month. Hell, some consider it the best film of the year, as it won the academy award for it (back when those mattered).


Cadence (15)

Solid outing about being in military prison amidst the Vietnam War. Perhaps a little too critical of the military commanders (mainly as an allegory). But I was impressed that, in a film with black guys primarily composed of the prisoners, save for Charlie Sheen being the lone white guy prisoner, this didn’t play up racial tensions anywhere near as much as I thought it would. Which is rather refreshing, considering other films from this year really did play that up (like the upcoming House Party 2, which I consider to be a sequel inferior to the first film in every way).


Nothing but Trouble (15)

Officially released poster.
Original poster art that never got an official release.

I have to admit, the only thing more wild than the movie itself is the story behind it:

This was a big surprise for me this month. This film starts out as a typical Chevy Chase comedy, except I actually found his character highly entertaining during the film’s first half. His attitude and mannerisms that normally grate on my nerves actually worked perfectly here for a good while. Then, all of a sudden, they get arrested by John Candy, go to this bizarre location, and everything goes completely batshit insane from there. The amount of work and effort that went into the practical effects, the mechanical gears, the sets… it’s crazy. The film went way overbudget, just like last year’s Bonfire of the Vanities (by the same studio). And this ended up bombing in theaters (just like Bonfire of the Vanities). But unlike Bonfire of the Vanities, this had something more tragic happen. The full intended director’s cut got edited down in post production after a first initial screening which would’ve made the film have a hard R rating. They opted to tone it down into a PG-13 rating. As a result, a decent portion of what happens seems like this belongs in an R rated flick, yet has this strange attempt at trying to be family friendly about it, which makes it all the more surreal and amusing in its own way. That being said, the film probably would’ve been better if it was released as intended, in its full hard R director’s cut glory. Unfortunately, that’s never happened, and the film hasn’t gotten a widescreen release either. And this ruined Dan Aykroyd’s chance of ever directing again in Hollywood. Despite the tragic circumstances surround the film’s production (primarily post-production), and Chevy Chase being a real asshole behind the scenes and going on autopilot during the film’s second half, this film is still a wild enjoyable and underappreciated ride. Highly recommended.


Edge of Honor (?)

This isn’t a film I would consider to be good. But when the content includes Don Swayze, Corey Feldman, and a plot about the Boy Scouts taking down gun smugglers… I mean it’s worth mentioning just in honor of the Boy Scouts (RIP), when they used to be good before getting corrupted by fags.




Games

Honorable mentions: The Last Ninja (NES; originally on Commodore 64 in 1988). The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants (NES), it’s not that great. Ski or Die (NES). Super Cars (NES).

Normally I don’t mention arcade releases, primarily because those are difficult to track, and mostly a dime a dozen. But this month is a tremendous exception. For this was the month and year that Capcom unleashed Street Fighter II: The World Warrior into the arcade world, which rejuvenated the arcade industry, and launched the arcade fighting tournament competition scene.


Just this alone makes this one of the greatest months in video game history. A truly historical and groundbreaking moment. No longer were fighting games all flash and little substance. Now they demanded skill, technique, craft, and mastery for a tournament setting. Not to mention it’s just plain fun to play for anyone. The first official U.S. Street Fighter Tournament would happen in 1994 at Northbrook, IL at Super Just Games.

While there wouldn’t be anything released this month that could match up to this epic title, there were some good contenders.


Over Horizon (1991; NES)


Metal Storm (February 1991; NES)

An NES classic.


Isolated Warrior (February 1991; NES)

What’s this? An isometric shooter on the NES? And it’s good?


Double Dragon III: The Sacred Stones (February 22, 1991; NES)

Port of the arcade version. It also got a Sega Genesis release, but don’t play that version, because it sucks. The NES version is better (which isn’t something I thought would ever be the case; SNES maybe, but an NES version?). That all said, this is the worst of the Double Dragon trilogy.


Adventure Island II (February 1991; NES)

That was quick, for a sequel to be released. And it ends up being a very solid sequel.


Flying Warriors (February 1991; NES)


Galaxy 5000 (February 1991; NES)

One of the best racing games on the NES.


Ikari Warriors III: The Rescue (February 1991; NES) (February 1991; NES)


Princes Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (February 1991; NES)

Uhhhh…


Twin Cobra (February 22, 1991, Sega Genesis [NES version released last year])


Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi (February 1991; Sega Genesis)

Under-appreciated Shinobi game.


Gaiares (February 1991; Sega Genesis)

This looks fun, with great cutscenes between the shmup levels.


Lemmings (February 14, 1991; Amiga [released on Sega Genesis in 1991])

Would be game of the month if not for Street Fighter II.


EcoQuest: The Search for Cetus (1991; PC)

Not much relation to Ecco the Dolphin, even though it seems like it should.




Shows

A notable series was ended this month as well. Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears, which started in 1985 on NBC, then ABC.

Freshmen Welcome (1; Nickelodeon)


Fifteen (2; Nickelodeon)

Considered one of the definitive premiere teen angst shows that helped start up this trend.


The Pirates of Dark Water (25; ABC)

One of the biggest cult classic cartoon series ever made. Too bad it was cancelled before it managed to get an actual ending (though one of the video game adaptations would manage to provide an ending for it).



A bonus mention:

Sarah, Plain and Tall (3; TV Movie, CBS)

Yeah, it’s a made for TV movie that has a solid fanbase. I’m not one of them, but it is a film I experienced back in the day. And, it means well. It’s just that Christopher Walken never fucking smiles in this movie, and it’s off-putting. That’s probably the intention, but it works too well.

Edit (5-18-2020): Added Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead to films.

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