The 1990s seem to be lightyears away from us now, making us feel that we are definitely getting older! But even as we have trudged into the 21st century, nostalgia will always remain among us. We can’t help feeling sentimental about the memories of the Nineties – the fashion, fads, music, television shows, and of course, movies. Speaking of movies, the 1990s are generally regarded as the worst decade for horror movies. But it doesn’t mean that it’s terrible in any way. Compared to the remarkable horror movies from the other decades, the 1990s may probably pale in comparison. Still, it produced its share of bona fide classics, blockbusters, unknown gems, and campy low-budget fare. However, the good thing about 1990s horror films is that originality was still king, just before the so-called “remakes” at the dawn of the new millennium. Here are the top 10 horror flicks of the 1990s (in no particular order:
Ravenous has an idiosyncratic mix of western, horror, black comedy, and cannibalism that may not appeal to everyone’s taste when it was first shown, maybe even among horror fans. In fact, it bombed at the box office. However, after a long time and some re-assessment, it is now rightfully recognized as one of the genre’s greatest and most unique offerings. The film revolves around cannibalism during the Civil War era.
The line “I see dead people” and the surprise twist at the end have long since become the backbones in pop culture. However, M. Night Shyamalan’s breakthrough blockbuster hit is much more than that. The solid performances – the gut-wrenching acting from child star Haley Joel Osment and Bruce Willis’ uncharacteristically against-type turn gives this film an emotional kick. But the scenes where Osment’s character is terrorized by the dead makes you want to run for cover, too.
The movie won big trophies at the Academy Awards – including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. And because of that, people might question whether or not it’s a horror movie. Granted, there was a thin line between thriller and horror that is typical in early 1990s horror films. Plus, the crime procedural nature of the movie makes it more ambiguous. However, this is a movie about a young FBI agent-trainee who seeks the assistance of the imprisoned serial killer/cannibal to track down another serial killer, who makes a “woman suit” out of his female victims’ corpses. Doesn’t the premise sound horror enough to you?
Candyman was based on Clive Barker’s short story The Forbidden. Directed and produced by Bernard Rose, this chilling and nasty tale of urban terror introduced us one of the best boogeymen in the horror film history. Tony Todd fits the movie’s titular role like a glove – it is tragic and timeless. He manages to be both terrifying and charismatic at the same time. The crude urban setting of the Cabrini-Green housing developments lends a unique and refreshing take to the slasher horror aesthetic. Not to mention that it delivers one of the best horror film endings.
Misery might have created a new nightmare for every writer – the fear of being kidnapped and held captive by a maniacal fan. That’s horrific enough. Rob Reiner helmed this celluloid adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name – and since Reiner is primarily known for directing comedies, this results in a flawless blend of horror and pitch-black humor. Kathy Bates’ Oscar-winning performance as the number one fan of James Caan’s bedridden novelist is terrifying enough to earn this film a place here on this list.
Scream (and the rest of the films in the franchise) became a massive success at the box office and made slasher films more mainstream. There are many reasons for that – it is campy, utterly meta in its use of references to other horror flicks, plus it boasts an attractive cast. It stars Neve Campbell as the teenager stalked by a murderer, and has a solid supporting cast: David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Rose McGowan, and Drew Barrymore.
7) Ring (1999)
This Japanese horror film made its first US mainstream appearance that marked a beginning of popularity among Asian horror films. Plus, who wouldn’t be scared by the image of the vengeful white-clad, long-haired ghost Sadako crawling from her well and to the TV screen?
While The Blair Witch Project was not the first “found footage” horror film, its unexpected success at the box office drove a wave of other found-footage horror movies that followed. The crude, “homemade” look is what makes the film so scary. It tells the story of three film students who head out to Maryland woods to find a local legend known as the Blair Witch. They never came back, but a year later, their footage was discovered and made into a movie. The Blair Witch Project launched with a shoestring budget, but raked in millions of dollars at the box office, making it a sleeper hit.
Event Horizon may have drawn lots of flak when it was first released. But time and critical re-assessment have found the film on the more favorable side of things, and it has become a cult classic. The story tells of a spacecraft, Event Horizon, disappearing into the black hole and returned in orbit… with some noticeable differences. A rescue team is sent to investigate the spaceship, only to find out something frightening is on board.
10) Audition (1999)
Audition is one of the Japanese director Takashi Miike’s greatest (and most twisted) works. It tells about a widower who is urged by his son to find a new wife. The man agrees, and with the help of a friend, concocts a fake audition to meet a potential new partner. He finds a young woman who he thinks is “the one.” The connection between the widower and the young woman blossoms into romance. But it’s not a quaint love story! The young woman’s sweet facade begins to crack, and the terror starts from there. Nothing can prepare you for the shock this film brings up to the end. Pricking a needle into the eye and the slow-moving cutting off of a foot with a wire saw are some of the most upsetting scenes of the movie.