1990s was not the best decade for horror films in general. Yes, we still had “Scream”, “Misery” and “Audition” and some fun cult films like “Tremors”, “The Craft” and “From Dusk Till Dawn” but the decade failed to bring us great horrors as much as we wanted. Instead, we got tons of useless sequels to the classics of previous decades. One may have lost the track of how many sequels they made to “Children of the Corn” or “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.
Despite of it all, there were still some great or at least fairly entertaining movies and unfortunately, some of them ended up overlooked or forgotten through the time.
14. The Reflecting Skin (1990)
When “The Reflecting Skin” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, critics claimed it’s “already a cult” film. It was around the time when Lynch – while hasn’t made “Mullholland Drive” or “Lost Highway” yet – already gave us “Blue Velvet” which was a gamechanger and it’s easy to catch Lynchian influence on “The Reflecting Skin” which is probably the best film in Philip Ridley’s filmography who described it as a “mythical interpretation’ of childhood.
Also featuring young Viggo Mortensen in his cast, “The Reflecting Skin” is an unusual but at the same time a stunning film. If you love more questions than answers, then “The Reflecting Skin” is a film for you.
13. Ravenous (1999)
Half-western, half-black comedy, half-horror, half-suspense – Ravenous has it all. It’s especially recommended for those who enjoyed “Bone Tomehawk” as you can say both films are somewhat of distant relatives for several reasons. They both are westerns, both have some humour, a great cast (I mean Guy Pearce is always good, isn’t he?) and of course, both films deal with cannibalism.
The scenery/cinematography is amazing. Lots of remarkable imagery. The way the whole atmosphere has a strange, haunted feeling. Not only it’s an unfairly overlooked horror of the decade, but also has a much underrated soundtrack as well.
12. The Prophecy (1995)
As its star Virginia Madsen said “that was another one of those weird movies” she has made and indeed it was. Even though according to her, the script was not fully ready when they started to shoot, there’s still a lot to appreciate in this strange and distinctive 90s horror starring Christopher Walken in one of his deliciously entertaining turns.
The plot is hard to describe and it’s bit insane too. Gabriel and other angels start to hate God because he cares for humanity more than them which end up with some kind of a civil war in Heaven. Then Gabriel comes to Earth to collect a soul he needs. Walken’s performance and his remarkable ability of mixing humour with scares is what makes this film work and as if it’s not enough, we have a small but a very cool part performed by Viggo Mortensen (as Satan!).
11. Vampires (1998)
When John Carpenter’s filmography is mentioned, people usually act like he stopped being great after “They Live” which is far from the truth. “Vampires” is a proof to that. Carpenter always loved westerns, they had always been a major influence on them, and even one of his masterpieces “Assault on Precinct 13” is very much inspired by “Rio Bravo”. “Vampires” was the first (and so far, the last) film in his filmography that was actually a western/horror.
Sets in New Mexico, the film has a distinctive atmosphere and if you’d replace some of the main elements here with western elements (like take out vampires and put a typical western villain), then you get a western film. Those were the days when James Woods were more interested in his career than politics and his performance here is simply astonishing. The score, composed by no other than Carpenter himself, is very cool too.
10. Cronos (1993)
Guillermo Del Toro is now an Oscar-winning filmmaker. He claims he thought everything is going to fail when he was young and he was already losing hope. “Cronos” took 8 years to make but it paid off. It was received as an astonishing debut and got major acclaim from all over the world, establishing him one of the most promising young filmmakers of his time.
The critics loved the film and they didn’t know how to describe it, as “charming horror” sounded bit strange to them but that’s what makes the film unique. It’s such a stylish and original take on the vampire legend and has a compelling mythology and interesting religious references and without a doubt, is one of the most imaginative films came from Mexico in 1990s.
9. People Under the Stairs (1991)
Racism is a subject rarely explored in horror films. It played an integral part of interpretation of “Night of the Living Dead”, but even there it was not necessarily Romero’s intention. Wes Craven, however, in his “People Under the Stairs” sort of tackled the subject along with many other social issues varying from class warfare to gentrification.
Nearly the whole film sets in the same place, the film has an impressive production design and pure craziness and wildness that only Craven could deliver. Even though Craven’s unique style may it look like a typical crazy comedy-horror, “People Under the Stairs” is definitely more than that and its socio-political themes are still relevant.
8. Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)
Also known as “Cemetery Man”. It’s another one of bizzare and yet at the same time original films made in 90s. It’s possible to explain the plot as it’s about a guy who works in a cemetery, then suddenly deads come back to life again and our main guy – without questioning it much – just kills them again. But there’s more to it than. You can claim it’s almost about an existential crisis.
Full of black humour (in a bit campy way), some surrealism and some romantic moments even, “Dellamorte Dellamore” is one of the best zombie films of the 90s if not the best and probably one of the most memorable parts Rupert Everett ever got in his career.