Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Orion Files: 1991

1991 was the beginning of the end as the studio shut down production and sold several films off to other studios (including one which might have helped a bit if they had been able to keep it which we will cover). They would file for bankruptcy at the end of the year, leaving a stack of films in flux which we will cover next installment.

Oddly enough, out of the seven films they were able to get out in theaters, five (the last one released does count as it was started by them) were more commercial fare than what they tended to put out.

The Terminator gets a shot of estrogen in this mild action flick that sees Gregory Hines as a tough Colonel tasked with taking down an out of control female android designed for deep cover work who has gone berserk. Dull and lifeless, even by the standards of dump month releases (though for this studio, every month would soon become a dump month), this did not get the year off to a promising start for the company.

As with the previous year, there was one shining star for the studio and, as with Dances with Wolves, The Silence of the Lambs ended up scoring a ton of Oscars including Best Picture. The studio's last collaboration with Jonathan Demme, this is one of the best movies about a serial killer I have ever seen. Jodie Foster is quietly awesome as the rookie FBI agent but of course, all is overshadowed (even Ted Levine doing some seriously freaky shit as the killer) by Anthony Hopkins and his iconic performance as Hannibal Lecter. Impeccable in all areas, this more than deserved the success it got. To date, it is still the only horror movie to ever win Best Picture. A wonderful, if somewhat bittersweet in hindsight in regards to the studio, success.

And it goes downhill in a big damn hurry with this unnecessary, sort of pointless sequel to the quite good 1986 original. Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy are back, trying to foil killers once again with a bevy of special effects but what was fresh and fun in 1986 comes off as stale and formulaic here. Just a waste of time.
Even with the fun turn from William Sadler as Death, the sequel to the studio's 1989 hit failed to make much of a dent when released in the summer of 1991. In fairness, Terminator 2 was out at the same time and nothing was going to beat that, especially not an oddball sequel to a surprise success from a few years earlier. Got some decent reviews, though. Scarily enough, it might be the second best reviewed film of the year for the studio, behind The Silence of the Lambs.

This one is a hectic, poorly reviewed comedy about a date that takes a surreal turn as all sorts of wacky things occur. Needless to say, nobody was overly impressed with this one and it died a quick death upon being released.

Jodie Foster makes her directorial debut in this drama about a single mom trying to give her genius son some semblance of a normal life. Yeah, that's about all I got on this. Got okay reviews.

Finally, we have the one that got away. In an effort to save some money, Orion sold off the distribution rights for this one to Paramount. Actually, its even worse than that, Paramount had to step in and complete the film due to the financial issues Orion was going through and as a a result, Orion only got international distribution rights. The end result was a huge success for Paramount as the film is a fun take on the TV series (Raul Julia, Angelica Huston and Christina Ricci are perfect in their roles and Christopher Lloyd makes for a fun Uncle Fester) though it was rather calculating in terms of marketing. An M.C. Hammer song over the end credits? Ah, the early 90's.

1991 was a really bad one for the company, in spite of the success of The Silence of the Lambs. The next three years would see the gradual release of their held back releases as they were mired in bankruptcy. Until then...


  1. It's a bit sad that a studio can put out so many great films (among the dross) and still go under.


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I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.