Top 90s Horror Movies list: What is your favorite scary film? And today we’ll be ranking the top ten horror films of the 1990s.
Best 90s Horror Movies List
This list focuses on the decade in which horror was reborn and revitalized, became self-aware and self-referential, and was given a breath of fresh air. This is part of a video series that spans the decades of horror cinema from the 1920s to the 2000s.
best horror movies from 1990: In the midst of horror cinema’s current obsession with urban legends, “Candyman” is an instant classic and a cut above the rest, beginning with its unexpected acting talent and ending with its very realistic poverty-stricken inner-city setting. Based on a Clive Barker short story, we follow Virginia Madsen as she tries to finish her thesis on urban legends but becomes enthralled by Candyman, an all-too-real legend. The Candyman, a monster born of tragedy and hatred, becomes a poetic response to Freddy Krueger and a blueprint for ’90s slashers.
90s horror movies:Another urban legend, “Ringu,” became the underground sensation that spawned a million imitators, this time about a mysterious Japanese videotape that kills its viewer after a week. The first Japanese horror film to make it to the West, it sparked a new wave of Asian imports like “The Grudge,” “Shutter,” “Dark Waters,” and “Pulse,” as well as their endless sequels, spin-offs, and mostly pointless American remakes. The story of Sadako, who is thrown in a well and seeks vengeance from beyond the grave, was exactly what the world needed: a modern ghost story.
“Darkness to Dawn” (1996)
90s horror movies:The slick coolness of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez in the ’90s translated perfectly into horror. Tarantino and George Clooney play criminal brothers on the run, attempting to cross the border into Mexico. They suddenly wish the police had caught them after kidnapping a poor preacher’s family and hiding out at the Titty Twister strip-club. They discover a club overrun not only by strippers and gang members, but also by demonic vampires from hell who use the club as a feeding ground. Tarantino’s trademark banter begins.
“Dracula by Bram Stoker” (1992)
best horror movies from 1990: The director of “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now” was in a rut until he decided to take on the biggest baddie of them all. Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” the most literate adaptation of the classic novel we’ve ever seen, brought such elegant style and gothic appeal to the Count, a story now centuries old, that audiences forgot they were watching a horror film. Meanwhile, Gary Oldman’s hypnotic performance had us forgetting we were even watching a film. If only we could get rid of Keanu Reeves’ accent.
“Army of Darkness” (1992)
90s horror movies: Ash has returned for a third battle with the undead. The ending of “Evil Dead 2” was misinterpreted by audiences as a sick joke, but Ash is actually stuck in mediaeval times. He sets out on a quest to find the original and magical book known as the “Necronomicon Ex-Mortis” after proving his worth to Lord Arthur and his knights. Ash fights his way through monsters and Deadites with futurist weapons and science, as well as his signature catchphrases, in order to return to his mundane present.
“Braindead” [also known as “Dead Alive”] (1992)
best horror movies from 1990: Originally titled “Braindead” in New Zealand, this was the splatterfest masterpiece of Peter Jackson, a then-unknown indie filmmaker. Before he gave us “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit,” Jackson gave us “Dead Alive,” one of the funniest and goriest zombie attacks ever put on film. When Lionel’s mother is bitten by a diseased animal, a zombie plague breaks out, and Lionel finds himself fending off hordes with his lawnmower. This film deserves its cult status thanks to its memorable dinner scene and shocking epic finale.
“The Sixth Sense” (1999)
90s horror movies: Having one of the year’s highest grossing films is no small feat, especially for a writer and director with so few credits. When M. Night Shyamalan’s atmospheric thriller took the world by storm, he was hailed as the next big thing. The story of a young boy with the ability to see and help the dead was haunting and poetic, scaring you to death while tugging at your heartstrings at the same time. This massive worldwide hit was nominated for six Academy Awards and is best known for its huge surprise twist ending.
“The Blair Witch Project” (1999)
90s horror movies:The sleeper hit of 1999, speculation about how real this footage could be was the year’s hot topic. Following in the footsteps of “Cannibal Holocaust,” this film was marketed as the real footage left behind by the vanished crew that went in search of the Blair Witch in the woods. It also popularized the use of found footage in horror films, which is now annoyingly unavoidable. Everyone wanted to believe it was true at the time, and this little indie horror showed the world how much you can scare an audience for so little money.
90s horror movies:”Scream,” known as the film that resurrected a dying genre, was released as a brilliant, satirical, self-referential look at horror films and their demise, but it was no laughing matter. Wes Craven, like he did in “New Nightmare,” turned the genre he helped create and popularize on its head in a setting where teens are all too familiar with the slashes formula. Although it’s not clear where he draws the line between satire and homage at first, it’s still terrifying as hell and a must-see for any horror fan.
Here are a few honorable mentions before we get into our top pick.
- “Stigmata” – (1999)
- “Cube” (1997)
- “The Faculty” (1998)
- “Tremors” (1990)
- “Misery” – (1990)
“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
best 90s horror movies: This multiple Oscar winner was one of the most acclaimed and awarded horror-thrillers of all time when it was released. Based on Thomas Harris’s already classic novel, it appears to be a simple crime story, with rookie FBI detective Clarice Starling chasing the notorious Buffalo Bill. But throw in some mental manipulation in the form of the intensely charming Hannibal Lecter, and you’ve hit gold. Despite not being Hannibal’s first on-screen appearance, Anthony Hopkins created a sophisticated cannibal serial killer for the new millennium who still chills to this day.