Hey, folks! Lately I’ve been hearing/reading that a lot of people think horror in the nineties sucked. Different people seem to be referring to different things – quality of movies, or the variety of movies available. I’m baffled by this opinion, as the nineties had so many great movies, and a huge variety of horror sub-genres. Seriously, the nineties couldn’t figure out what they wanted to be, so they threw everything at us. And that’s a good thing! It resulted in a decade that assured that no matter your personal horror tastes, there would be something there to please you. It was the decade that either kicked off or continued dozens of huge horror franchises. Hell, it was the decade of the Stephen King miniseries! A terrible decade for horror? I . . . I don’t understand these words coming out of your mouth. (Or your Twitter, or your Reddit, or your . . . well, you get the picture.)
So, take my hand and join me on this journey through the nineties, year by year, as we explore the best the decade had to offer.
1990 kicked off the Tremors franchise, and had entries in over a dozen more – Puppet Master; The Exorcist; Child’s Play; Texas Chainsaw Massacre; Maniac Cop; Psycho; Basketcase; Slumber Party Massacre; Silent Night, Deadly Night; Prom Night; Sorority House Massacre; Amityville Horror; and Xtro. Not all of them are good, or worth watching, but they’re all recognizable series. And massacres. My God, there were a lot of massacres in nineties horror movie titles.
Standouts of the Year
Nightbreed – The nineties were also the decade of Clive Barker. This is one of those rare movies where the monsters are the good(?) guys, and David Cronenberg proves why he should stay behind the camera of his own movies rather than jumping in front of the camera in other people’s movies. Regardless, Nightbreed is grotesquely beautiful, and if you’ve never seen it, please watch it immediately.
Night of the Living Dead – Yes, this is the remake. Yes, it’s fantastic. Yes, it stars Tony Todd a couple years before he would become Candyman. I know we’re supposed to think remakes are all bad, but give this one a chance.
Child’s Play 2 – Yes, this has been recapped on this site. It’s one of the best horror sequels out there, and it’s definitely better than you probably remember.
Exorcist 3: Legion – If you’re hesitant to jump into this one because of how bad Exorcist 2 was, put that piece of garbage out of your head. This was written to be the direct sequel to The Exorcist, and it continues the story in unexpected ways. There’s a solid psychological horror story here, along with disturbing imagery that stays with you, and standout performances from Brad Dourif (this was also apparently the decade of Dourif) and Jason Miller, playing the same character. Kind of. Look, it’s weird, but it works, okay? The only downside is the ending, which was fucked sideways by studio interference. This won’t be the last movie on this list with that issue.
It – The miniseries that spawned countless children’s clown phobias. (Not mine; I have Dumbo to thank for that. Weird, I know. Maybe I’ll elaborate on it some time.) It’s probably nostalgia keeping this one going, but its impact can’t be denied. Also, Tim fucking Curry.
Misery – Yes, I’m counting this as horror. Yes, I do a full-body cringe at the hobbling scene. Yes, in the book, Annie Wilkes chops one of Paul’s feet off with an ax rather than breaking his ankles with a sledgehammer. I’m honestly not sure which one is more horrifying.
Graveyard Shift – *sigh* Okay. This one is terrible. I love it, but yeah, it’s bad. Still, the rat/bat monsters are pretty cool/gross, and Brad Dourif gives basically the best/weirdest performance in this movie. Also, Andrew Divoff (whom we’ll see again when we get to 1997 and Wishmaster) has a small role here, so that’s pretty cool.
The nineties were the decade for low-budget B-movie studio, Full Moon Features (also called Full Moon Productions/Full Moon Entertainment), before they started making shit like Gingerdead Man and Evil Bong. They pretty exclusively did sci-fi and horror, and if you’re unfamiliar with them, please check out the link and bask in their cheesy glory.
Full Moon in 1990 brought us Puppet Master 2, an entry in one of their most popular (and one of my favorite) series; Meridian, which I own but haven’t seen, and appears to be a very odd werewolf movie with twin werewolf brothers and some sort of weird circus outside a castle (the link is to the YouTube channel Good Bad Flicks’s video about it); and Shadowzone, which I’ve also never seen, but sounds like a solid little horror-sci-fi mashup.
Tremors – Speaking of B-movies . . . . Tremors is just plain fun, okay? If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen it, I recommend a rewatch.
Arachnophobia – Not recommended if you’re actually arachnophobic, unless seeing the little fuckers get what’s coming to them is cathartic for you. At any rate, another super fun movie that feels like a B-movie despite being a big budget release. John Goodman’s performance alone is worth the price of admission.
Gremlins 2 – More a comedy than a horror, I’ll admit. Still, the gremlins manage to be menacing and funny, so I’ll take it. Also, Gizmo finally starts standing up for himself, so props to him.
So Bad It’s Good/Personal Faves
Shakma – Look, sometimes you just want to watch Roddy McDowall accidentally turn a baboon into a frenzied killing machine that proceeds to attack Tina from A Nightmare on Elm Street and her merry band of LARPer buddies who have for some fucking reason decided to lock themselves in the lab to play their role-playing game, okay? And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Soultaker – Okay, this movie is pretty awful. I’m only including it here because the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of it is hilarious. Watch that, not this.
Flatliners – Part horror, part medical drama, part “look at all these famous actors before they got huge!” Well worth a watch.
Tales from the Darkside – The obligatory anthology of the year. The wrap-around story is fairly weak (it’s basically Hansel and Gretel, but . . . no Gretel), but the three stories are pretty solid, with the Stephen King one maybe being the weakest.
’91 gave us the beginning of Full Moon’s Subspecies series; two(!) Scanners sequels; and entries in the Nightmare on Elm Street; Child’s Play; Critters; Puppet Master; Basketcase; Omen; Ghoulies; Silent Night, Deadly Night; and The Howling franchises. Again, some good, some bad, all big names.
Standouts of the Year
Silence of the Lambs – Yup, I’d fuck me.
The Pit and the Pendulum – Full Moon does Edgar Allen Poe. Sort of. This is one of the best little movies Full Moon ever put out. Also, Lance Henriksen as Torquemada. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition?
The Golden Years – This miniseries is kind of a mess. Loosely based on King’s book, Insomnia, it was meant to lead to a regular TV series. When it didn’t, the ending was changed for home video, taking out the cliffhanger it originally ended on. Honestly, there’s a reason people don’t remember this one.
Sometimes They Come Back – Based on the short story of the same name, this movie is actually lots of fun. Maybe not highbrow fun, but fun nonetheless. Vengeful zombie greasers? Sure!
The Pit and the Pendulum – See above. I really can’t stress enough how much I love this movie.
Puppet Master 3 – The prequel! It’s pretty good, if you’re interested in seeing how the killer puppets got their start. I love those stupid little stop-motion bastards.
Subspecies – Full Moon’s take on vampires. I never got into this series myself, but plenty of people love it.
So Bad It’s Good/Personal Faves
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare – Ah, yes. The sixth Nightmare on Elm Street movie decided to give Freddy a back story with a child, who’s now grown and being called back to Springwood. Yeah, it’s bad. But it’s bad in an almost transcendent way.
Strays – If I were doing a “Creature Feature” section for 1991, this would be the front-runner. This was a TV movie about . . . feral cats. A family rudely moves in and tries to run the kitties out of the house they’ve got squatter’s rights in, so the cats cut the phone lines and try to kill them. Okay, they chew through the phone lines. Potato, tomato. It’s dumb, and hilarious, and available for free on YouTube.
Body Parts – A serial killer’s body parts are harvested out, and the parts start turning the donors into killers. It’s a fairly basic concept, but the movie gets pretty bonkers at times. Worth a watch.
Child’s Play 3 – Another one that’s been recapped here before. Despite many people remembering it as bad, it’s got some amazing set pieces and a few pretty great kills. Personally, every time I watch it, I end up liking it more than I thought I did, so that’s something.
The People Under the Stairs – Maybe the most un-Wes Craven-like movie Wes Craven ever made. I think I mean that in a good way. It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen it, but from what I remember, it’s a great watch. For some reason, this movie is considered somewhat obscure these days, and it deserves wider attention.
Cast a Deadly Spell – Not horror, exactly. More like supernatural noir. Worth a look, even if it doesn’t perfectly fit into the genre.
The Addams Family – Look, Letterboxd includes this in their horror category. I consider it comedy only, but who am I to argue? It’s great no matter what genre you shove it into.
This year gave us the amazing start to the Candyman series, and sequels to the Alien; Evil Dead; Hellraiser; Children of the Corn; Critters; Amityville Horror; House; Prom Night; The Stepfather; and Sleepaway Camp movies. About half of those this time around are pretty solid, or at least somewhat enjoyable.
Standouts of the Year
Candyman – I don’t know if I need to elaborate here (although I saw someone on Reddit call Candyman terrible, and had to suppress my rage because people are allowed to have opinions no matter how wrong they are). Anyway. Candyman is smart, scary, gory, and kind of beautiful. Also, I have now made you say “Candyman” five times in the last two paragraphs, so . . . it’s been nice knowing you.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula – As opposed to Dr. Seuss’s Dracula, I suppose. Francis Ford Coppola tried to make a grown-up, extravagant, mainstream horror movie, and mostly succeeded. It’s beautiful, gross, fascinating, and (at times) convoluted.
The Lawnmower Man – Did Stephen King sue to have his name taken off this movie? Sure! But despite not resembling his story in the slightest (okay, maybe just barely in the slightest), it’s still an interesting/silly look at what 1992 thought virtual reality was going to look like. Also, why was virtual reality a part of this movie?
Sleepwalkers – Mother/son/lover werecats who suck people’s lifeforce and can only be killed by cats? Am I remembering this movie correctly? It’s a trip.
Children of the Corn 2 – This was the first Children of the Corn movie I ever saw. Yay? I remember literally nothing about it. Probably doesn’t bode well for its quality.
Pet Sematary 2 – This has been one of my favorite bad movies for the last twenty years. I love it because of how bad it is. Everything else I have to say about it, I already said when I recapped it.
Demonic Toys – You’d think it’s just a story about, well, demonic toys, right? Nope! There’s also a boy who’s really a demon, who has to impregnate a woman, eat the baby’s soul, and be born as that baby! Or something. It’s weird, and fun, and WTF, and one of the brighter spots in the Full Moon catalog.
Bad Channels and Seedpeople – I haven’t seen either of these, but they look pretty awful. I’m aware that they’re on some people’s lists of favorite bad movies, though, so I won’t judge.
Doctor Mordrid – This is actually fully sci-fi/fantasy and doesn’t belong on this list, but I just wanted to shout out how much I love it.
Braindead (aka Dead Alive) – Peter Jackson’s bonkers zombie movie. While people have heard of this movie, I don’t know if a lot have actually seen it, so I wanted to put it in this category. All the good things you’ve heard are true.
Innocent Blood – Vampires! Mobsters! Vampire mobsters! A very confused (and hot!) detective Anthony LaPaglia! Seriously, it’s quite a ride.
The Vagrant – Everything about this movie is just slightly off-kilter. It has the feel of one of the better episodes of Tales From the Crypt. Poor Bill Paxton just wants to enjoy his new home, but Marshall Bell (the titular vagrant) shows up to gaslight the fuck out of and frame him for murder, while detective Michael Ironside doubts his story. This movie goes to some weird fucking places, and it’s worth going along.
So Bad It’s Good/Personal Faves
Pet Sematary 2 – Cross-posting from the Stephen King section, because this movie definitely qualifies for this category as well.
Dr. Giggles – This one is so ridiculous, and yet Larry Drake’s performance is 100% worth watching. Dr. Giggles’s backstory is fucking wild, y’all.
Army of Darkness – Hail to the king, baby.
Raising Cain – It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this, and there are serious (SER-I-OUS!) issues with how mental illness is presented (and it’s from Brian De Palma, so do with that what you will), but as a scary fucking movie, it works.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Does this count as horror? It’s hella fun, whatever it counts as.
’93 was the beginning of the Leprechaun series, and gave us new entries in the Friday the 13th; Return of the Living Dead; Puppet Master; Subspecies; and Amityville Horror series.
The Dark Half – Don’t you hate it when your pseudonym turns out to somehow be the twin you absorbed in the womb who then tries to take over your life? Yeah, me too. Seriously, though, this movie is really good. I don’t know why it gets shit on.
Needful Things – People say this is good. All I remember is being mad that the movie adaptation completely leaves out Ace Merrill’s character. Anyway, this movie shows us that the devil needs his own prank show on TruTV or some shit.
The Tommyknockers – This is the only King book that I could never finish. I tried twice, got to page 200 the second time around, and finally gave up. This miniseries version is okay, but I really think King doesn’t do aliens well.
Puppet Master 4 – I never got this far in my Puppet Master viewing, but hey, we know what to expect from these movies, right?
Subspecies 2: Bloodstone – I haven’t seen this one, but people seem to like it; some even think it’s better than the first. So that’s not nothing.
Dollman vs Demonic Toys – I’ve seen Dollman. I’ve seen Demonic Toys. So I’m not sure how I never got around to this one. Reviews are very mixed, and apparently about half the movie is just recycled footage from the two OG movies, plus some from Bad Channels, oddly enough.
Mandroid – I . . . I’ve got nothing. I guess 1993 just wasn’t my year for Full Moon features.
Arcade – Imagine if Tron were a horror movie. Yeah, it’s sort of like that. Pretty fun, although there’s a similar movie called Evolver that I prefer (and will talk more about when I get to 1994.)
Cronos – Guillermo del Toro does one of the most original vampire stories you’ll ever see. Seriously, just watch this one, no questions asked.
Trauma – One of Dario Argento’s lesser-known movies. There is some very fucked up shit in here, so trigger warning for . . . pretty much everything. Or maybe just for the one scene I remember vividly.
Necronomicon – The most Full Moon picture that Full Moon never made. Because Full Moon produced a shit-ton of Lovecraft stories, you see. Anyway, this is a pretty solid anthology of Lovecraft stories, with Full Moon favorite Jeffrey Combs playing the author himself.
Skinner – Okay, I can’t in good conscience actually recommend you watch this movie. It’s been too long since I’ve seen it; the VHS copy I got hold of had fucking terrible sound quality (since that’s not a thing I’ve heard anyone else complain about, I’m assuming it was just the copy I watched); and this movie is definitely not for everyone. But, if you’re a Ted Raimi fan and think you would enjoy watching him skin people while past victim Traci Lords hunts him down for revenge, certainly give it a go. It’s on Prime video as of this writing, so . . . *shrug*
Leprechaun – Look, it’s not exactly good or anything, but it is iconic, right? And, you know, pre-Friends Jennifer Aniston and whatnot.
The Good Son – Remember when Kevin McAllister tried to kill Frodo? You know I’m a sucker for an evil kid story, guys.
Man’s Best Friend – People insist on saying this movie is bad. I insist on telling them they’re wrong. It’s not the hill I’ll die on, but I will make a stand here for a while. Max is just your typical genetically engineered dog who goes a little Cujo if he doesn’t get his regular anti-Cujo injections, okay? But he’s really sweet otherwise! I mean, except when he’s killing the neighbor’s cat, or the mail carrier, or Ally Sheedy’s boyfriend . . . okay, fine, no cookie for Max. Hrumph.
Darkness – I have to mention this one because it was made by local filmmaker Leif Jonker. Some guy hanging out in the local video store one day convinced me and my cousin to rent this because it was made by his friend. (As we watched it, my cousin claimed it was filmed down the street from her house and that you could still see the fake blood stains on that house’s driveway, but my cousin is known to be wrong about . . . many things, so who knows.) It’s a vampire movie where the vampires are more like zombies; there’s almost no dialogue; and everything is really, really gross. I remember not being very impressed, but other people hold it in pretty high regard, so there you go. Check it out if gory vampire splatter-punk is your thing.
This year gave us new Nightmare on Elm Street; Phantasm; Leprechaun; Pumpkinhead; Puppermaster; Ghoulies; Subspecies; Watchers; and Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies.
Standouts of the Year
Interview with the Vampire – I guess it’s become cool these days to call this movie bad, but it was a VERY BIG DEAL when it was first released.
In the Mouth of Madness – Nobody ever talks about this movie, but it’s one of 1994’s best. Confusing, complex story; creepy visuals; Lovecraftian monsters; Sam Neill acting his ass off. It’s great!
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – One of the best movies in the Elm Street series, if not the best. This shit was meta before Scream ever thought the word “meta.”
Serial Mom – I’ve always thought of this as comedy, but Letterboxd has it in the horror category, so here we are. Kathleen Turner is the perfect suburban housewife, who kills people who mess with her family. Just your typical “Karen.”
The Stand – I used to love this miniseries. It’s not perfect, and whoever thought King himself should get to act as much as he does in this should reexamine their judgement, but it’s probably the truest adaptation we’ll get of this story.
Nightshift Collection – This is a “collection” of two King stories from his short story collection of the same name. I keep forgetting this is a thing that exists, and I’ve never seen it. Reviews are mixed, so I can’t speak to its quality or anything.
Puppet Master 5; Subspecies 3: Bloodlust; Shrunken Heads; and Dark Angel: The Ascent – I haven’t seen any of these, but at least a couple of them are highly rated among harder-core Full Moon fans than me.
Lurking Fear – More Lovecraft. Jeffrey Combs and the girl from Hellraiser fight zombies. Or something; it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen it.
Cemetery Man – The OG movie based on the Dylan Dog comics. This movie is weird, quirky, moody, and very Italian. It’s one of my favorite “weird” movies, although the way women are portrayed is . . . problematic.
Evolver – The other best Full Moon film that Full Moon never made. Boy wins “lasertag”-playing robot; robot takes game too seriously and starts killing people; boy and friends must destroy robot. I might love this more than it deserves, but I’d recommend giving it a look.
So Bad It’s Good/Personal Faves
Death Machine – If you follow this site, you know all my feelings about this movie from my recap of it. If not – it’s weird, over-the-top, bad acting, bad dialogue, trying to be too meta and “clever,” the story is both simple and hard to follow . . . and I love it because of all these things. And Brad Dourif. Always Brad Dourif.
Pumpkinhead 2: Bloodwings – I have no defense for this movie. It’s bad; it has an entirely different feel to it than the original Pumpkinhead; and somehow I still have so much fun every time I watch it.
1995 kicked off The Prophesy and Species series, and added movies to the Halloween; Candyman; Leprechaun; Children of the Corn; The Howling; and Xtro franchises. It’s also the year that Tales From the Crypt jumped onto the movie-making scene.
Standouts of the Year
Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight – Speaking of Tales From the Crypt . . . Demon Knight is so much fun. Asshole Thomas Haden Church; bonkers demon Billy Zane; weary demon-fighter Bill Sadler . . . I love this movie.
Lord of Illusions – Clive Barker again. Magic, cults, magic cults. Dark and moody and sinister as fuck. Great stuff.
Tales From the Hood – Whatever your taste in horror, there’s probably a vignette in here you’ll like. Dolls killing a racist politician? You got it! A black man murdered by cops gets his revenge from beyond the grave? Yup, that’s in there! An abused kid can manipulate the world through his drawings? Check! A gang member goes through a totally fucked-up rehabilitation procedure in prison? We got you! A wrap-around story that ties in to one of the other stories? Naturally!
The Langoliers – Solid little miniseries, with what I’m going to go out on a limb and say is terrible CGI by today’s standards. Probably terrible for the time, too. Anyway, this is the one where Critters-type creatures eat the past. Like, literally and shit.
The Mangler – This is . . . bad. So mystifyingly bad. But I’ve already covered everything I had to say in my second-ever recap on this site, so . . . yeah. Skip this movie unless you hate yourself.
Dolores Claiborne – Maybe not strictly horror, but there are some definite psychological horror moments. Bleak, depressing, but extremely well done.
Children of the Corn 3 – Yup, it’s . . . more evil kids killing adults, I guess.
Castle Freak – This is another one of those movies that I love, but hesitate to recommend to people. It’s quintessential Full Moon – based on a Lovecraft story, starring Jeffrey combs and Barbara Crampton. Gory, atmospheric, and a must for Full Moon fans! I just don’t know how others respond to it . . .
Blood & Donuts – Look, the only reason I’m spelling “doughnuts” that way is because it’s the title of the damn movie, and I respect misspelled titles. (See Pet Sematary.) Otherwise, this will someday be the hill I die on. Oh, right, the movie. It’s a neat little Canadian flick about the day (night) in the life of a just-awoken vampire and the people around him. One of those people is David Cronenberg as a Canadian gangster (lol), proving again that he belongs behind the camera rather than in front of it. Anyway, check it out if you can find it.
Candyman 2 – While not quite on the level of the first movie, this one is still interesting and pretty good. And Tony Todd’s performance is always worth a look.
1996 – aka The Year of Scream
This year kicked off the Scream series, as well as the From Dusk til Dawn franchise, and gave us another Tales From the Crypt movie, Bordello of Blood, which is awful and no one but the most hardcore Dennis Miller fan should ever watch. There were also movies in the Hellraiser; Tremors; Leprechaun; Children of the Corn; Sometimes They Come Back; and The Amityville Horror series.
Standouts of the Year
Scream – Okay, let’s get it out of the way. Scream is fine. I like Scream. There was a time in my teenagehood when I was obsessed with Scream. But constantly hearing how terrible horror was before Scream came along and single-handedly saved the whole genre makes me want to, well . . . scream. The story is still solid, and the movie is well done in all respects, but the “witty” “meta” dialogue is a bit much at times.
The Craft – A teen witchcraft classic. This movie still mostly holds up. It seems 1996 was the year of Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich?
Thinner – This movie gets a lot of shit, but I remember liking it okay. Looking back, it’s one big stereotype – fat man runs over Romani (that’s not the word they use, but . . . you know) woman, gets cursed to be “thinner” by her father. Then proceeds to wither away while he looks for a way to break the curse. Come to think of it, this movie is probably the definition of problematic.
Children of the Corn 4 – More evil kids? Probably? Yes?
Sometimes They Come Back . . . Again – Boy, those fuckers just won’t stay gone, will they?
Head of the Family – *shrug* Never saw it. Apparently a giant head in a wheelchair controls the rest of his mutant family?
Tremors 2 – Just as much fun as the first one. Here, we find out that the Graboids aren’t just the sandworms from Dune; they grow into weird mutant jumpy emu-like fuckers.
The Beast (tv miniseries) – It’s Jaws with a giant squid. I’m not kidding. The author of Jaws plagiarized himself to write this. Grissom from CSI fights a giant squid. I cannot say “giant squid” enough here. It’s hilarious, which is probably not what they were going for, but . . . it’s made-for-tv Jaws with a squid.
The Frighteners – This is probably my favorite movie from this year. People will try to call it a horror-comedy, but it’s not. It’s a horror movie with comedic elements. Anyway, great performances all around, the tone always fits the moment, and the story was original for the time.
Fear – Marky Mark is always the scariest thing in any movie.
From Dusk til Dawn – Vampires! Strip clubs! Outlaw George Clooney! Quintin Tarentino proving why he should stay behind the camera!
This year got us going with the start of the I Know What You Did Last Summer; Mimic; and Wishmaster movies. We also got another Scream movie, and Alien Resurrection showed us Joss Whedon’s first draft of Firefly. A terrible, misogynistic first draft of Firefly.
Standouts of the Year
Funny Games – Full disclosure: this has been on my watch list for a long time, but I’ve never gotten around to actually watching it. I know it’s well regarded, though, and it’s the top-rated horror movie of the year on Letterboxd.
Event Horizon – I’m not sure why people don’t like this movie. It’s scary as fuck, the performances are great, the visuals are disturbing. It was unfortunately the victim of studio interference, because fucking studios. The Good Bad Flicks YouTube channel talks more about the virtues of this movie here.
The Shining – The miniseries that King wrote himself to have a version that was true to his book. While it is a faithful adaptation (duh), it mostly doesn’t work. I find the kid playing Danny infinitely punchable, and the sappy ending is just weird and out of place. But, like, you tried.
Trucks – Based on the same short story as Maximum Overdrive. I haven’t seen it, but it can’t be worse than Maximum Overdrive, can it? Can it?!
The Night Flier – Something about vampires and private airplanes. I think. The short story is much better than the movie.
Quicksilver Highway (“Chattery Teeth” segment) – This was a TV anthology with this King story, and Clive Barker’s story, “The Body Politic.” It was pretty all right, although I’ve seen it get way more hate than it deserves.
Vampire Journals – A spin-off of the Subspecies series, I guess? Despite seeing the video on the shelf at my local Hollywood Video every time I went in there, I never rented it.
I didn’t watch any Full Moon from this year, apparently.
Anaconda – Ha ha ha ha ha! No, this movie was a huge hit, maybe because of how ridiculous it is? I mean . . . I have no words for this movie other than “hahahahaha!”
Mimic – The best Guillermo del Toro movie about roaches who pretend to be people that you’ll ever see. Seriously, though? This shit is creepy as hell.
Wishmaster – If you’ve read my recap, you’ve read me extol the virtues of this movie. If not, just know that this movie has a huge cult following and is very highly regarded in some horror circles. It’s tons of fun, and brings together so many capital-N Names in horror.
Scream 2 – It’s been a while since I’ve seen this one, but I remember it being a worthy follow-up to the first movie. Things get a bit convoluted by the end, but . . . don’t they all?
I Know What You Did Last Summer – Look, I’m not a huge fan of this movie, but it was a pretty big deal when it was released. It’s (so so so loosely) based on Lois Duncan’s novel, which was a teen mystery whodunnit that resembles this movie barely at all. I guess we can thank Scream for turning everything that came after it into a teen slasher?
Nightwatch – I haven’t seen the original Danish version, so I can’t compare it to this, the remake. I suspect it’s better than this one (and I could have included it in the 1994 section of this post, so . . . let’s pretend I did that), but this version is still interesting and disturbing. Plus, morgue movies creep me out. I’d recommend giving it a look if you’re unfamiliar.
This year kicked off the Blade franchise; gave us the pointless Psycho remake; and brought us sequels to Halloween; Child’s Play; I Know What You Did Last Summer; Phantasm; Species; Children of the Corn; Puppet Master; The Prophesy; Sometimes They Come Back; and Subspecies.
Standouts of the Year
Ringu – The beginning of the J-horror craze in America. Seven days, bitches!
Blade – The next time someone tries to tell you that Deadpool was the first R-rated Marvel movie, just stare them down while slowly pointing at Blade. (Actually, there’s a Punisher movie from 1989, but that doesn’t fit my narrative here, so fuck it.) The blood disco club scene alone is worth the price of admission.
Fallen – Yep, the Denzel Washington, “demon moves through touch” movie. I haven’t been able to listen to “Time is on My Side” the same way since.
Disturbing Behavior – This movie is unfairly derided by many. Yes, the dialogue is cringey at times. I cringe just as hard at the meta dialogue bullshit in Scream, though. Yes, Katie Holmes needs to stop trying to make “razor” happen. But! This movie is a really smart study on paranoia, brainwashing, and the pressure to conform. It’s also yet another movie that was nearly ruined through studio interference, which you can find out more about by watching (you guessed it!) the Good Bad Flicks video about Disturbing Behavior!
The Faculty – Basically The Puppet Masters/Invasion of the Body Snatchers in high school. Very enjoyable; very tropey; very genre-savvy. Although I am still salty as hell about Clea Duvall’s character, who’s supposed to be this sci-fi expert, telling people that the aliens win in the book, The Body Snatchers. Nope. Humans win. We win in the original 1956 version of the movie, too. Apparently the 1978 movie is all anyone ever thinks of? When (not if, definitely when) I recap The Faculty, I’m expecting to spend a couple paragraphs reiterating this rant, y’all.
Apt Pupil – Brad Renfro forces Ian McKellan to school him in how to be a Nazi. It’s disturbing stuff, but very well made and interesting, although difficult, to watch.
Children of the Corn 5 – The children are still evil, I assume. I don’t think any of them are Nazis, though.
Sometimes They Come Back . . . For More – Wow, they’re, uh . . . still coming, huh?
I haven’t seen any of these from this year, so I’ll just list them without comment:
Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm
Curse of the Puppet Master
Bride of Chucky – The one that embraced humor before things went completely off the rails with Seed. There are some great kills in here, and introducing both Tiffany and Jennifer Tilly was a stroke of genius. Even if they did suddenly bring some heretofore unmentioned amulet into it. (I will rage about this in the recap of this movie, as soon as my esteemed co-recapper, Dove, gets around to writing it.)
Urban Legend – Look, people shit on this movie, too, but there’s a lot here to like. It’s bonkers as fuck; red herrings practically jump off the screen to slap you in the face; Robert Englund and Brad Dourif show up and try to convince you they’re shady AF; what’s not to like? Have some fun, already!
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer – I’m starting to realize this section may be turning into “so bad it’s good,” but hey, oh well. I’m convinced this movie is an accidental comedy. The first time I saw it, I laughed so hard I fell off the bed and rolled around with tears streaming down my face for a solid few minutes. I’m also convinced that nothing I was laughing at was actually intended to be funny.
Deep Rising – I don’t give a fuck if it’s bad. It’s fun as hell, and I’m usually not a “sea monster on a boat” type of girl, okay? Get drunk, pair it with Deep Blue Sea, and let’s move on, okay?
Dee Snider’s Strangeland – AKA the movie Dee Snider made after discovering chat rooms and internet predators exist. It’s kinda grimy and weird at times, but it’s interesting and was at least trying to be original for the time. I’m convinced that Saw (or at least some of the sequels) stole the basic premise of “I torture you for your own self-improvement” from this movie.
Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder – Oh, just a demon who wants to corrupt/kill a kid who will otherwise grow up to be some pure, full-of-light saint, while Michael Rooker and Tony Todd protect him from . . . everyone in town that’s been possessed by the . . . shadow demon? I think? Okay, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched this, but I promise it’s worth a view.
So, there was a time in the ’90s when television was trying to cash in on the horror/teen slasher scene, and we got some pretty forgettable TV movies. They’re still worth mentioning as being a notable attempt to cater to horror fans.
I’ve Been Waiting for You – Based on Lois Duncan’s book, Gallows Hill (which I recapped here), this movie has . . . almost nothing to do with the book. I think it was just an okay movie, but like I said – forgettable.
Wes Craven Presents: Don’t Look Down – Yeah, this “Wes Craven Presents” thing is a thing they were trying to get going. It didn’t work. Craven wasn’t even the director; he was a producer. I barely remember this one, but I do recall it was super predictable.
The last year of the decade gave us sequels to Ringu; Wishmaster; Puppet Master; Children of the Corn; Candyman; and two(!) sequels to From Dusk til Dawn. (Full disclosure: I love From Dusk til Dawn 2. I know it’s just me, but Robert Patrick fucking kills me in that movie. I mean, he stakes a vampire with the obnoxious longhorns mounted on the front of someone’s car, come ON!)
Standouts of the Year
The Blair Witch Project – It’s not really my jam, but it was a fucking cultural phenomenon, right?!
The Sixth Sense – I’m always unsure whether or not to include this on a “horror” list, but here it is, guys. Shyamalan before he wore out his welcome with his cameos and twists and telegraphing every shocking moment with the color red. Anyway, this at least is a great fucking movie.
Audition – I can’t even explain this one properly, but if needles near your eyes are something you can’t handle, maybe skip this one.
Ravenous – I love this movie! The anachronistic tone, the weird swings from dark comedy to gore, but Robert Carlyle’s performance is the fucking best. There’s a reason this movie is so highly regarded.
Storm of the Century – Until Rose Red came around a couple years later, this was my favorite King miniseries. Dude who might be an immortal sorcerer/the devil rocks into town during a blizzard and demands that the townspeople choose which one of their children to give him or he’ll kill everyone. Mayhem ensues and shit.
Children of the Corn 666 – More children. More corn. More . . . murder?
The Rage: Carrie 2 – In which someone decided it somehow made sense for Carrie White to have a half sister from her dad, who also has telekinetic powers and is also tormented by asshats at school. It’s not terrible, just very run-of-the-mill.
Witchouse and Witchouse 2 – The spelling of this infuriates me. I’m looking at it and wanting to say either “Witch Ouse” or “Witc House.” Or worse, “Wit Chouse.” Argh! Anyway, I assume there’s a witch . . . and a house.
Retro Puppet Master – This is the prequel that completely retcons the other prequel. Way to go, guys.
The Killer Eye; Blood Dolls; and Totem – I haven’t seen any of these. But Full Moon sure does like dolls, don’t they?
The Dead Hate the Living – This is a cool little zombie movie, with a title based on a line from Frankenstein. This was maybe the last good Full Moon movie before they started churning out a thousand and one Evil Bong movies. Anyway, consider this one a Hidden Gem as well, even though I don’t have anything else listed for that category in this year.
Deep Blue Sea – Sharks! Smart sharks! I love the smart sharks!
Lake Placid – Crocodiles! Smart crocodiles! I love the smart . . . what’s that? They’re not actually that smart? Oh, well. Look, I just want a buddy comedy with Oliver Platt and Brendon Gleeson’s characters, where Betty White stops in every once in a while to curse at them and feed someone to the crocodiles. I mean, that’s basically this movie, but . . . okay, I guess I just want to watch this movie again. Also, this apparently spawned a bunch of sequels I was unaware of until a couple years ago. One of them has Michael Ironside in it, so I’ll probably end up watching it eventually.
Stir of Echoes – This had the misfortune of coming out the same year as The Sixth Sense and bearing a superficial resemblance to that movie, meaning this one got lost in the Shyamalan hype. Which is unfortunate, because this movie is great.
Sleepy Hollow – As much as I hate extolling the virtues of anything starring domestic abuser Johnny Depp (but I guess let’s be real – half the movies in this post have problematic people attached to them), this movie is everything you could want from a Tim Burton horror movie in 1999.
Existenz – David Cronenberg discovers virtual reality. I realize that also kind of describes Videodrome, but at least we’re spared the sight of James Woods’s stomach vagina here. Or the sight of James Woods. Anyway, there’s plenty of weirdness and body horror to go around in this one, too.
The Haunting – I know, I know, people hate this movie. There’s some cheesiness to it, sure, but there’s also some genuine creepiness and melancholic atmosphere.
House on Haunted Hill – Again, I know, I know, people hate this movie. I love it. It will be recapped on this site eventually, and I’ll delve deeper into what works for me then. Until then, I guess I’m just a sucker for creepy doctors and nurses, and being trapped in a place with no way out. Come to think of it, a lot of movies I like have that escape room sort of thing going for them. Huh. Anyway, sadistic party games are fun.
While this post was mostly concerning movies, I want to take a moment to point out some of the great horror we were getting weekly on television, as well. The 1990s gave us Tales From the Crypt; The X-Files; Millennium; Goosebumps; Are You Afraid of the Dark?; The Hunger; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Poltergeist: The Legacy; The Outer Limits (I know it’s considered sci-fi, but there were some pretty horror-centric episodes mixed in there); Eerie, Indiana; and many more that are all but forgotten these days.
My point (and the point of this whole post) is that nineties horror rocked! There was something for everyone; things were going fine before Scream came along and “saved” the genre from itself; movies that weren’t in any way helped along by the roads Scream paved were thriving both before and after 1996.
And finally, hopefully this inspires you all to go out and look up some of these nineties movies and maybe find your own hidden gems!