What are your favorites from the 1990s. Yes, I did a Top 10 for each year in the 1980s and I’ll drop a full Top 50 of the 1980s soon. For some reason today, I’m in the mood for some 1990s horror. I turned 10 in 1990, so I was at the right age to just take in everything I could. We had a grocery store up the road, walking distance and they had VHS tapes for rental and the Horror section was stocked full of all kinds of good stuff. This was before Blockbuster for me and Hollywood video. The overwhelming number of early 90s videos was jarring and amazing.
People look down at the 1990s when it comes to horror. It’s true, horror was struggling in the 90s. The 1980s were about consumption and indulgence. The market was flooded with horror films like never before, but the bubble popped in 1989 when the slasher boom slowed down. There were a few holdover series that were slowly dying and a few just beginning. We think of the deaths of Freddy in 1991’s Freddy’s Dead and 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell as the official end of the slasher boom. Child’s Play had barely begun, but felt that sting too, with Child’s Play 3 (1991) putting the franchise to rest until 1998’s Bride of Chucky.
What happened from 1991 to 1998?
So we’re gonna dig in with 25 horror films from the 1990s, a top 25 of course.
25. Nightbreed (1990)
To be honest, I’ve never really seen the appeal for Nightbreed. It is ok and does infact have some really cool moments and great makeup design. But I’m not really into this movie. It drags a bit in places and it’s not that entertaining.
24. Lord of Illusions (1995)
Two Clive Barker films back to back. While the 90s were an odd time for horror, there were some lesser know gems in there. Lord of Illusions is one of them. No one ever talks about it and that is a shame, it’s better than you think.
23. Event Horizon (1997)
From two Clive Barker films to a film that screams Clive Barker, in space. This movie at times can be terrifying. For some reason, space and some sci-fi takes me out of horror. Otherwise this may be higher on the list.
22. House on Haunted Hill (1999)
I didn’t realize I wasn’t the only one. I enjoy this remake of a classic William Castle film. It’s very much locked away as it seems to 100% take place in 1999. But it’s fun and has a few good scares
21. Exorcist III (1990)
“I didn’t know there was an Exorcist II”
That is a direct quote from my mother upon seeing a TV spot for Exorcist III. I really enjoy the story and feels more like an organic continuation of the original. George C. Scott carries the film, but Brad Doriff is spooky. Also, one of the best jump scares of all-time exists in Exorcist III.
20. Dead Alive (1992)
Peter fucking Jackson, that is his Christian name. He kicks ass for the lord. If you’re looking for a zany out of control gore fest that is utterly over the top, look no further. We have some of the sickest shit on screen, ever and a brilliant lawnmower scene. If you have not seen Dead Alive…just leave.
19. Vampires (1998)
Oh..more Vampires. I love this film. James Woods plays a badass vampire hunter who worked for the church. His crew is taken out and he has to find Terry Silver, aka Valak. Fun western vampire flick.
18. Army of Darkness (1993)
What a fun movie! Ash goes back to medieval times and leads an army against…well, an Army of Darkness. This is a fun ending to the Evil Dead trilogy, yes I know about the show, Ash vs Evil Dead. I will say, this is likely my least favorite of the three movies. But, I still have fun with it and love watching Army of Darkness.
17. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The lead up to the Blair Witch Project was outstanding. The marketing made many of us believe we were seeing these three college students final days. The movie itself was jarring and the legend the creators produced became something I was very interested in. There are so many who do not like The Blair Witch Project, but I really enjoy the film.
16. Stir of Echoes (1999)
This movie creeped me out. Kevin Bacon is a great actor and it was good to see him come back to horror. I think 1999 may be the best year of the 1990s, there were some good ones. I’ll figure that out another time. Stir of Echoes is underrated.
15. The Ninth Gate (1999)
There are many that have not seen The Ninth Gate. I worked in a video store for a short time and when we got a new release in, I took it home. I loved this movie, one of the best things, again is the legend they built around the book, the The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows. Frank Langella was superb as was Johnny Depp. I really enjoy the Ninth Gate.
14. Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)
This is Demons 94. This is one of the oddest movies I have ever seen. It is so wild and so much fun. I honestly don’t think I can describe the movie at all. It is a must watch. Check it out, if you can find it.
13. Scream 2 (1997)
This is a terrific sequel to the movie I believe brought horror back from the brink of being completely direct to video. Scream 2 had the task of continuing the story and adding to the lore without taking anything away from the original movie. It is likely the best sequel in the franchise.
12. Frighteners (1996)
Randomly Frighteners was on television after something I was watching and I was hooked. The idea is really kind of brilliant in my mind. Michael J. Fox is a paranormal investigator who can see ghosts, but he uses a couple to con others out of money. He starts seeing people with numbers in their foreheads and a bad CGI grim reaper looking character. Oh and Jeffery Combs is amazing in this film.
11. People Under the Stairs (1991)
I never considered this movie a horror movie. But over the years and understanding the film more, it is kind of a brilliant movie. Great characters and a spooky house. I really love this one and have a good time with it. I think this is one of Wes Craven’s better movies.
10. Child’s Play 2 (1990)
There are some movies that actually surpass the original and Child’s Play 2 kind of does that. While Child’s Play is a really good horror film, Child’s Play 2 is like Scream 2, it adds to the original without taking anything away. I really enjoy the opening and the finale of the film, really badass effects, so damn cool.
9. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
It isn’t perfect, but it seems to be the closest thing to the original Bram Stoker novel. Gary Oldman is wonderful in the role and the production design is so fantastic. I will admit, the damn hairstyle above is odd and does look like butt cheeks.
8. Misery (1990)
I have never read the book. I saw the movie only knowing it was based on a Stephen King book and I had just watch Pet Semetery. Early on, it wasn’t much, but the hobble scene was unforgettable and it made the movie go from, not bad to excellent. This was also the film I learned about James Caan, whom I ended up loving as an actor.
7. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
I’ve always been a big Elm Street fan and for many years this was one of my least favorite. I wouldn’t even watch this while I would marathon my VHS collection. As I got older, it got better to me, I think understanding what they were doing more made this movie become one of the very best Elm Street movies.
6. The Sixth Sense (1999)
I’ll never forget seeing the Sixth Sense in the theater. I was absolutely blow away, no joke. I had so much fun and it had a few good jump scares and a great twist reveal at the end of the movie. The second viewing was just as good, but it loses points due to the fact it is barely rewatchable. I showed this to my kids last year and they loved it.
5. In the Mouth of Madness (1995)
Say it with me…UNDERRATED! In the Mouth of Madness seems like the culmination of John Carpenter’s career. In the 1980s he made some of the best horror films of all-time and his track recond in the 90s is a little shaky. In the Mouth of Madness is not only one of his finest films of the 90s, it is one of his Top 3, along The Fog and Prince of Darkess, wait, The Thing and Halloween. Holy shit Carpenter is king! I love pretty much everything about this, “Do you read Sutter Kane?”, the decent into madness and the ending is so damn wonderful. Give it another watch and report back.
4. Scream (1996)
While yes, I love Scream. It would be criminal to keep it out of the top 10 of the 1990s. Wes Craven made some of his best in the 1990s and Scream helped usher in a new generation of horror as things were looking kind of bleak. I have said this before, I think horror was headed for straight to video if not for Scream. As for the movie itself, well it has a strong legacy and it keeps you guessing until the end of the film.
3. Night of the Living Dead (1990)
1968’s Night of the Living Dead is legendary and absolutely never needed to be remade. I’d saw this is more of an update with a few character changes that help the story. While Tony Todd is an amazing actor, stunt person Patricia Tallman gives us a totally different Barbara from the original film and better. She has a full story arc over the course of the film and she is badass. I know it is not a popular opinion, but I like the 1990 Night of the Living Dead over the Romero original. Still love Romero’s film. But I have got to give props to Tom Savini on this one.
2. Candyman (1992)
For many years I slept on Candyman. I didn’t care, it was another slasher…or so I thought. Candyman is so much more than a slasher and we get a social commentary that is nearly as strong as Night of the Living Dead. The film is lead by Virginia Madsen and she is brilliant. But we feel the presence of Tony Todd’s Candyman allover this film. The odd thing is, we don’t see in for nearly half of the movie and when we do, it is amazing. Tony Todd is an underrated horror icon.
1. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Silence of the Lambs is just a great film. I never had it in my horror section of my collection until I started THS. But it is 100% horror and the best of the 1990s. It is one of those films that is so well made the Academy can praise it, as can horror films alike. I also believe Silence of the Lambs helped bring horror to the forefront as a subgenre worth taking more serious….well, not all horror films.
Thanks for checking out the list and I hope you come back for the Top 25 of the 2000s, 2010s and the Top 10 of the 2020s so far.
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