Entertainment Industry Nostalgia: December 1991

Ukrainian people vote for independence. Muslim Shi’ites release American hostages Joseph Cicippio, Terry Anderson, and Alan Steen. Pan American World Airways ceased operations. Orion Pictures filed Chapter 11 for bankruptcy protection. NY assembly speaker Mel Miller is convicted of federal mail fraud. UN reverses ruling that Zionism is racism by 111-25 (13 abstain) vote. DeForest Kelly (Dr McCoy on Star Trek) gets a star in Hollywood. Soviet Union formally dissolves as 11 of 12 republics sign treaty forming Commonwealth of Independent States. Mikhail Gorbachev formally resigns as President of USSR in a televised speech. Jack Ruby’s (guy who assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated JFK) gun sells for $220,000 in auction. 8 are crushed to death at a RAP basketball game at City College, NYC. Ted Turner is named Time Magazine Man of Year. Actress Jane Fonda (55) weds CNN founder Ted Turner at the groom’s home in north Florida. Britney Spears appears on the program Star Search.

Music

Honorable mentions: Cathedral: Forests of Equilibrium, doom metal isn’t really my thing.

Monster Magnet: Spine of God (6)

Standout tracks include Spine of God, Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother, and Snake Dance. My pick for album of the month. I believe they call this psychedelic rock.


Until the End of the World: Motion Picture Soundtrack (10)

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t include motion picture soundtracks when listing albums. But this is one of the rare cases where I have to make an exception. Most soundtracks either have instrumental music that is meant to go along with the visuals, and is less effective in general without them. Others have music from various artists thrown together to different effects. But then there’s something like this, where the various artists created music exclusively for the movie. Ambitiously, the artists were told to create music they believed would be used a decade from now (1991, so music they expected to hear in 2001). Not sure they succeeded in that regard, but regardless, this album deserves mention for its ambition.


Legião Urbana: V (15)

Normally foreign language music isn’t my thing, especially if it’s Spanish. But given how December isn’t the popular time of the year for album releases, and given how this actually has some groovy beats, I’ll make an exception for mentioning this one. Metal Contra As Nuvens won me over. Problem is, that’s pretty much the only track on this album I like.


Green Day: Kerplunk (17)


Live: Mental Jewelry (31)

They sound a bit like Pearl Jam. Standout tracks include Mother Earth Is A Vicious Crowd, Good Pain, Pain Lies on the Riverside,


Sleep: Volume One (?)

Not sure at what point this album was released, all I know is that it came out at some point in 1991. This is my kind of doom metal. Slower, not much in the way of lyrics, because they’d rather let the instruments do the talking (there’s vocals, just not as prevalent as they normally are in doom/death metal).




Movies

Honorable mentions: Life is Sweet, a decent slice of life Australian film with some good down to Earth moments; and little indications at how destructive radical feminism can be. Final Approach, something that would’ve been better as a 30 minute Twilight Zone episode, but is instead stretched out to 1 hour 40 minutes, and it just fucking drags; you can see the twist coming a mile away; primarily known for being the first film to be recorded, mixed, and mastered in pure digital sound. Meeting Venus, a film about the prep work for getting an epic opera performance to work; how much you appreciate opera and the characters will determine how much you’ll enjoy the film.

At Play in the Fields of the Lord (6)

While Black Robe may have been the biggest surprise of the month for me this year (as in 2 months ago), this ended up being the biggest surprise of the year. Without a doubt, the best film of the month. And I do not say this lightly, as this was up against not only one of the best Star Trek films ever (arguably 2nd to Wrath of Khan), not only one of the best Oliver Stone films ever made (not in my opinion), but also one of the best David Cronenberg films ever made (in my opinion). Made a review of this stating why exactly I hold this film in such high regard.


Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (6)

2nd best Star Trek film ever made. A fantastic close-out to the original series and original cast. And easily stands above any Star Trek film that has come out since. I can’t believe this ends up being released in a month where such fierce competition popped up wanting to be film of the month, because just about any other month other than July would’ve made this win film of the month.


Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Clause (8; TV movie)

Actually a fairly decent made for TV Christmas movie. With a very good speech to close the film out on.


Hook (11)

Now, while Spielberg is as blatantly emotionally manipulative as ever, it worked for this film. One of my favorite kid flicks acting as a spin-off of the Peter Pan tale, and it actually works. And there is nothing more rare in the film industry than a sequel/prequel/spin-off to a classic tale that is actually good. The action, the exploration of childhood and finding your inner child (and how important it is to have that lest you become too bitter and narrow-minded). The importance of family. It has flaws, but it’s quite good regardless. No one else could have played the role of adult Peter Pan better than Robin Williams.


The Last Boy Scout (13)

Another film with a, “This is the 90s…” line in it. It’s entertaining enough, but something always felt off about this film. Like it went through some rewrites or reshoots or something that didn’t gel as well as the original idea. Regardless, still has some great lines, decent action, and an interesting message about how corrupted the NFL is.


Bugsy (20)

I didn’t personally care for this film. But it did have a couple scenes that inspired other films afterwards, plus an scene that inspired that one infamous WWF segment where Vince McMahon tell Trish Stratus to bark like a dog. If I recall correctly, this also had a, “This is the 90s…” line too.


Father of the Bride (20)

The original is much better than this stupid tripe that give more power to the women who make the “father” feel guilty about being hesitant with regard to the insane amount of money he has to spend on the wedding. Fuck the spoiled daughter, fuck the wife who constantly smiles (which makes me want to see her get her teeth knocked out even more), and fuck Steve Martin who is one of the most overrated comedians. Because it is/was popular, I have to list it here, so fuck everyone who made this film popular too.


JFK (20)

Look, I understand why this film is so loved among the movie-goers. I get it. The way it’s filmed, how it paces itself. The editing tricks. The style. The paranoia. It’s a masterclass of film-making. But beyond that, it’s complete bullshit in regards to the JFK conspiracy itself. That other fucking JFK conspiracy film written by Dalton Trumbo titled Executive Action. That film had some bullshit too, but at least it admitted it’s just a theory among several potential theories. Not one of these films ever covers the theory that the Federal Reserve wanted him assassinated for wanting to go back to the gold standard. But hey, at least they cover the idea that he wanted to pull out of Vietnam as being one of the reasons. Interesting that this got released the same month as the gun that killed Lee Harvey Oswald was sold.


Daughters of the Dust (24)

Some like this, others don’t. About these African people on an island. Check it out if you want.


Fried Green Tomatoes (24)

One of my favorite chick flicks.


The Inner Circle (25)

About a film projectionist who began showing films to Stalin, and how his life and the world around him started to tumble. One of the better Stalinist Russia films out there.


The Prince of Tides (25)

This could’ve been a better film if Barbara Streisand didn’t let her ego get in the way to the point where it’s almost a vanity project. Emphasis on her psychiatrist character being a Jew (probably so that it’s more obvious why her nose is so distracting), and a little mention about the Holocaust in poems (which in all fairness does have a decent link to what is going on with a certain character’s struggles; too bad there wasn’t enough focus on that said character to make this effective at all in any way), her chemistry with Nick Nolte lacking, and her acting isn’t good enough. Plus I find her face annoying. The film is decent enough, but it could’ve been better if there was more focus on the past family issues than on the present, less of a romance angle between Nolte and the psychiatrist, less cliche’d asshole characters (I’m looking at you violin player; to a different extent the old dad, who I’m not sure is made too much of an asshole or not). A flawed but still decent effort that may be worth watching if character studies about childhood trauma are your thing.


Until the End of the World (25)

Whew, man. A slow-paced 280 minute film (if you watch the correct version; the 3 hour version is a disgrace to the vision) that’s primarily a drama. Traveling to different parts of the world, witnessing what 1991 believed 1999 would be like, stumbling upon someone with a technological device to record what other people see along with the sensations they had at the time, a message about memories, dreams, experiences, how technology is a double-edged sword, and some other stuff. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s worth experiencing at least once if you have the time. And there’s supposed to be 2 intermission points, which this nearly 5 hour film needs. Also note the soundtrack for this film (see the Music section).


Naked Lunch (27, limited)

I think I like this film primarily because of the ASMR vibes it gives off. This is probably Cronenberg’s most nonsensical film. As in it’s difficult for us non-upper class film connoisseurs who don’t watch artsy indie flicks and French films on a weekly basis and writing a book on them every month to truly appreciate. Or for those who aren’t familiar with the author the film is based on. But it rubbed enough on me to appreciate what there is. It’s the kind of weirdness that I like, more so than David Lynch’s weirdness.




Games

Honorable mentions: The Flinstones: The Rescue of Dino & Hoppy (NES). The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World (NES). Toki (NES), it’s good but the Arcade and Amiga versions are far superior to the NES version. Tom and Jerry (NES); this isn’t too bad of a game, just difficult; quite a month for videogames of cartoon shows. Treasure Master (13; NES); this has an interesting history about it, where you get good enough at the game to try and win some competition. John Madden Football ’92 (Sega Genesis); an improvement over the first. Battle Master (December 1991; Sega Genesis). Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 (SNES). Lagoon (SNES), wants to be Ys; try the X86000 version instead. Andre Panza Kick Boxing (TurboGrafx-16; also had ports on other platforms). Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon (MS-DOS), another D&D game. Commander Keen 6: Aliens Ate My Babysitter! (MS-DOS), the last of the Commander Keen games.

Dishonorable mentions: Beast Wrestler (Sega Genesis); Christ Almighty, this is one of the worst cases of a game that could’ve been awesome, but sucks loads of ass; and it predicted 2020 wrong. Dark Castle (Sega Genesis), a righteous piece of shit that many consider to be one of the worst games ever made. So terrible, game critics love making videos that harp on it. Slaughter Sport (Sega Genesis port of older fighting game Mondu’s Fight Palace, and Tongue of the Fatman). Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball (SNES); hacks trying to cash in on Super Speedball 2.

Captain America and the Avengers (December 1991; NES, Arcade)

The arcade and NES versions are each considerably different. The arcade version is more of a beat-em-up, while the NES version is more of a platformer. Genesis and SNES would each get their arcade ports later on, and while those each have their pros and cons, the Genesis version is probably the better of the two (responsive controls and more reasonable difficulty wins out over graphics). Either way, the arcade version is more fun than the NES version.


Shatterhand (December 1991; NES)

That cover! Phahahahahahah!!!! But in all seriousness, this game is actually fairly good. The power-up system is crazy.


Talespin (December 1991; NES)


Tecmo Super Bowl (December 1991; NES)

The legendary football game that is still considered one of the best, if not the best, to this day.


Tiny Toon Adventures (December 1991; NES)


Batman: Return of the Joker (December 20, 1991; NES, Sega Genesis [1992])

One of the definitive Batman videogames.


Joe Montana II Sports Talk Football (December 1991; Sega Genesis)

Noteworthy for being the first football game to feature actual sports commentary.


Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday (1991; Sega Genesis)

Ported from the PC (DOS). A favorite Genesis title among some. Has a bit of a Fallout feel in terms of movement and combat.


Caliber .50 (December 1991; Sega Genesis)

Obligated schmup arcade port.


Chuck Rock (December 1991; Sega Genesis, SNES [September 1992], Sega CD [October 1992])

Ported from the Amiga, where he was originally used as a mascot.


Quackshot starring Donald Duck (December 19, 1991; Sega Genesis)

Spiritual sequel to Castle of Illusion.


Valis: The Fantasm Soldier (December 26, 1991; Sega Genesis)

Remake of the first game in this series (original was made in 1986, but this is the first time it reached North America; after Valis III, which came out in April 1991 in the U.S.).


Romance of the Three Kingdoms II (December 25, 1991; NES [September 1991], Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Amiga)

The legendary franchise continues. It still has a ways to go before it started to get really good. Consider this more of a historical recognition rather than a game recommendation (that is reserved for RotTK IV).


Ninja Gaiden (December 1991; Game Gear)

Game Gear gets another port of a famous ninja game.


Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 (December 1, 1991; SNES)

A favorite for some who prefer baseball games (not my cup of tea personally).


Super Off Road (December 1, 1991; SNES)

This game got ported to consoles like crazy. Obviously playing in arcades is the best experience, but the NES was the only console port back in the day that allowed for 4 players at a time (with the right equipment to modify the NES console). But the SNES and Genesis versions are also noteworthy and good in their own right.


Super Castlevania IV (December 4, 1991; SNES)

Oh man. This could’ve been game of the month, if not for a certain PC game. That being said, some consider this to be the greatest Castlevania game of all time (alongside Symphony of the Knight, and III).


Ninja Gaiden: Shadow (December 13, 1991; Game Boy)

Solid Ninja Gaiden game on the Game Boy.


Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge (December 14, 1991; Game Boy)

This may or may not be the Mega Man game for you. The Game Boy titles are basically stand-alone from the NES and SNES and PS1 series.


Exile (December; Sega Genesis, Turbografx-16)

Bit on the easy side, but what shortcomings it has is made up for with the story (albeit in an edited form compared to the Japanese version), and in the music (especially in the Turbografx version).


Falcon 3.0 (December 1991; MS-DOS)

A combat flight simulator, that was initially very buggy, but had patches and a longevity that remains quite impressive.


Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (December 1, 1991; MS-DOS)

The other major title in this franchise; I think it’s downhill from here. Anyway, this isn’t game of the month either.


Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi (December 1991- January 1992; MS-DOS)

You bet your ass this is the game of the month, contender for game of the year too. This is still my favorite Wing Commander game, more than the first (of which it’s superior to in every way), and more than III and IV despite their more renown status. You can hear the characters can talk now, missions are less monotonous, and the story is more involved. This game is a masterpiece.




Shows

Shows that ended this month: Pyramid (premiered in 1973, returned in 2002), Chain Reaction (premiered in 1980, returned in 2006), Beetlejuice (premiered 1989).

Well, there weren’t really any shows that premiered this month (no good ones anyway). But there was a Christmas Special regarding a silly old bear.

Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too (14; ABC)




Edit (1-5-2021): Added Falcon 3.0 to Games.

Edit (1-9-2021): Removed Golden Axe II from Games. Wasn’t released in North America until January 1992.

Edit (1-10-2021): Added Exile to Games.

Edit (8-9-2021): Added Sleep: Volume One to Music.

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