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The 21 Best Horror Movies of the 1990s

20 July 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by Tessa Williams

The+Silence+of+the+Lambs

Horror is a brilliant genre of film. Horror films are fantastic fun to watch if you like being scared, and it is extra fun knowing that you can hide behind your hands at scary scenes.

Because there are so many wonderful horror films in existence the best lists of horror films tend to need to be broken down in to categories. The 1990s may possibly not be pictured as the best decade for horror films, however the 90s could be credited with the beginning of a new sub-genre of horror; the self-aware slasher film.

The 90s saw the release of Scream (1996) which was a welcome addition to the slasher sub-genre which was becoming rather tired after many slasher films were released in the 80s and early 90s.

Scream revived this genre by being a horror film in its own right, whilst constantly acknowledging the fact that it was a horror film and thus becoming self-aware. Scream led to countless other new slasher films which on the whole were not as good; however there were a few other horror films from the 90s which were generally scary and fun to watch.

Some on the list may not be the most serious of films, for example they may include the antagonist of a giant underground worm or serial killer spiders. The 90s certainly had some intriguing horror film premises produced and as such a lot of the films listed are a lot of fun to watch. Some are based on books, but a lot were completely original ideas.

There are a mixture of all types of sub-genre of horror, the slasher, the serial killer film, the psychological horror, the vampire film, the monster film and the ghost story for example. Horror is such a fantastic genre as it has so many sub-genres and the genre is constantly growing and changing.

 

21. Copycat (1995)

Copycat (1995)

Copycat is a serial killer horror film which was released in 1995. It stars the fabulous Sigourney Weaver as serial killer expert and psychologist, Helen Hudson. Helen has been an agoraphobic since the murderer, Daryll Lee Cullum, (Harry Connick Junior) viciously tried to murder her.

When a serial killer who is copycatting other serial killers starts killing in San Francisco, Detectives Monahan (Holly Hunter) and Goetz (Dermot Mulroney) end up seeking Helen’s advice. The serial killer starts targeting Helen and it all gets very frightening for her.

Copycat is an enjoyable horror thriller film; mainly due to the great acting and chemistry between the three main leads. The copycatting of famous serial killers narrative is very interesting. Copycat is a horror with a bit of a difference, and whilst it may be a bit silly and predictable in places it really is a great horror film to watch. Weaver and Hunter are a great double act too.

 

20. Tremors (1990)

Tremors (1990)

Tremors chief antagonist is a giant worm / snake creature that lives under the ground. Its chief protagonist is played by Kevin Bacon as Val McKee who works as a handyman with his friend Earl. Strange things start happening nearby such as finding a man dead on top of a tower, apparently unable to leave the tower and thus dying of dehydration.

When a shepherd and his flock of sheep are also killed, Val and Earl travel to a nearby town to warn the inhabitants. They soon find out who the murderer is and it turns out to be a giant snake like creatures living under the ground which occasionally emerges to kill people and animals.

Although Tremors is a monster film, it is also quite amusing and not particularly scary, but it is great fun and definitely a re-watcher. It is such a great film generally down to its great cast and humour, and it is great entertainment.

 

19. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

The tale of Dracula has of course been shown on the big screen in different ways for years. This version is one of the best in cinema. The film stars the wonderful Gary Oldman as Dracula and also features Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder. Keanu Reeves’ performance may not have been the best but the film is still very good. The direction and acting pulls together to make a brilliant, technically amazing film.

In this version of Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, it is quite closely based on Bram Stoker’s novel. A young lawyer, Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) is sent to an Eastern European village where he is imprisoned by Dracula (Gary Oldman). Dracula then travels to London after seeing a picture of Jonathan’s other half, Mina Murray (Winona Ryder).

Whilst in London Dracula seduces and terrifies the country, and sucks the life from Mina’s best friend, Lucy (Sadie Frost). After this Lucy’s friends try their best to rid them of this awful force. Gary Oldman is of course an absolutely amazing actor and he almost embodies the role of Dracula. Through Coppola’s visionary magic and the entrancing acting by Oldman this film pulls all elements together to be one of the best Dracula films ever.

 

18. Arachnophobia (1990)

Arachnophobia

If you are an arachnophobe it would be wise to advise you to avoid this film altogether. However, as an arachnophobe myself I couldn’t resist watching this, and of course it terrified me and I still to this day am unable to put my hand in a box of cereal or a bowl of popcorn.

When Dr. Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels) and his family move to a small Californian town they are unaware that the town is soon to be infested by a giant swarm of killer spiders. And these killer spiders are ferocious; they will kill anyone in their way. If you are scared of spiders this film is absolutely terrifying and the whole film may be a watch through your fingers spectacle.

The cast make this film great fun with Jeff Daniels, John Goodman, and Julian Sands playing their parts to perfection. It is a must see for horror fans who also like an element of black comedy, and for those who can stomach watching all those spiders. You will be itching for a while after it though.

 

17. Cure (1997)

cure-1997

Cure is a Japanese horror film which stars Koji Yakusho as Kenichi, a detective with emotional problems, who is married to a mentally unstable woman. He is in the process of investigating a spate of murders; all murders committed the same way, but by different perpetrators each time. Kenichi works with a psychologist, Sakuma (Tsuyoshi Ujiki) to find out what and who links these murders together.

Cure is a great horror film and a great scary murder mystery. It is a highly intelligent and brilliant thriller and horror film made brilliant by the built up atmosphere created in the film. The dialogue and performances are fantastic and Cure is just haunting and unsettling to watch.

 

16. Army of Darkness (1992)

army-of-darkness-1992

Army of Darkness is the third film in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise. It again stars the iconic Bruce Campbell in his role as Ash Williams, but this time he is trapped in the Middle Ages and must defeat the army of the dead to return to the present. Although it is not as good as the first two Evil Dead films, it is still funny and great for a third film in a trilogy.

Army of Darkness is action packed and full of fun. The special effects are brilliant; they make the undead come to life, as do all the severed limbs. Bruce Campbell is brilliant as ever as Ash, the supermarket worker turned Zombie wrestler. Army of Darkness is a real treat.

 

15. Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Sleepy Hollow

Directed by Tim Burton and based on Washington Irving’s tale, Sleepy Hollow tells the tale of Police Constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) who has been sent to the small village of Sleepy Hollow from New York to investigate gruesome murders caused by the apparent Headless Horseman.

Sleepy Hollow is extremely stylish and the acting is brilliant, which leads it to be such a great film. As ever, Tim Burton exudes his own style on to the cinematography and the feel is quite similar to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The visuals are stunning and the atmosphere is immensely creepy. As usual Burton and Depp fit together like glue, Depp morphs into his role. Christopher Walken is brilliant as usual as the frightening and mysterious Headless Horseman.

 

 

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  • Allister Cooper

    No Event Horizon? At least it’s on my list :).

    • I would put that over the fucking Sixth Sense. That film doesn’t hold up these days.

      • Allister Cooper

        I agree! Thought Sixth Sense had one scary scene for me – here it is – the boy, in the school hallway, turns to look at a Quaker girls who’s – never mind. ‘You mess with the laws of time and space, you think there won’t be a price?’ – Smith,
        Event Horizon.

  • Stephus

    Some cheesy movies on the list, and, silence of the lambs and from dusk till down are not rally horror movies. The Stendhal syndrome, interview with the vampire, trauma, and event horizon should’ve be considered somewhere

  • marcel

    From Dusk Till Dawn is so funny because they made Danny Trejo look even worse.

  • marcel

    Will watch Nightwatch, thx! But the picture is fron the russian Night Watch movie.

  • Tessa

    I must apologise for not including Seven, I don’t know how it could be missed.It’s one of the best films ever!

  • Jeroen Ledderhof

    Sixth Sense sucked big time!! Where is In The Mouth Of Madness????
    Or Tesis or Event Horizon, Hardware, Necronomicon…..

  • yeye

    In The Mouth Of Madness should be on this list!

  • dawnofmegiddo

    From that list, Jacob’s Ladder has the most impact, emotionally. It’s difficult to do creepy and sad simultaneously, and that movie delivers.

  • Jimi LaMort

    What a horrible list. Is this a joke? I can quickly name 14 horror films that are better then most of these.

    Exorcist 3, Frankenhooker, Singapore Sling, Begotten, The Rapture, Day of the Beast The Guard of the Underground, Man Bites Dog, Trance/The Eternal, The Kingdom, Funny Games, Gemini, and The Nameless.

    BTW- The picture for Nightwatch i think is from the later Russian vampire film Nightwatch

    • dawnofmegiddo

      Oww…Exorcist 3: Legion, yeah, I overlooked that one, too. Brad Douriff as the possessed spirit of the Gemini killer is mesmerizing.

      Begotten, a bizarre, pagan/religious art film. I’ve got an org dvd of that. The Rapture…with Mimi Rogers and David D?…the X Files actor, another challenging film! (if that’s the one you mean)

  • PAS

    nightbreed

  • Steve Petit

    probably the worst decade for horror, what about

    interview With The Vampire, Cube, In The Mouth Of Madness, The Frignteners, The Prophecy, The Faculty, even Idle Hands maybe…