The 1990’s saw a shift from supernatural horror like Nightmare on Elm Street and the more popular films of the era focused on teen slasher films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. While there were still some pure horror films left in the decade, many of them had to compete with sequels. We decided to narrow the criteria to actual horror films so there won’t be any Urban Legends or The Faculty type films on the list. If those films are what you consider horror, please feel free to leave a comment below to educate us on why. Here are the top five horror films of the 1990’s.
5. Event Horizon (1997)
Taking the isolation and danger of space to the next level, Paul W.S. Anderson adds in an interesting supernatural element to this story of a deep space research vessel that discovers the deserted ship Event Horizon drifting in space. When the crew goes to investigate the derelict and discover what happened to it after it entered an artificial black hole, demonic visions and madness begin to take over the crew as they discover that the black hole was a portal to Hell itself and the ship didn’t come back alone. Although the film wasn’t successful at the box office when it was released, it has gained a cult following for its ambitious and terrifying haunted house in deep space story.
4. Nightbreed (1990)
Clive Barker makes another list as both writer and director of another ambitious horror film. Nightbreed turns the table on the monster movie by making the monsters the heroes and the humans as the enemy as Aaron Boone discovers his destiny as a member of the Nightbreed: a race of monsters who were forced underground where they create their own society. Not only does the film sport some impressive creature effects and truly brutal deaths, but it also has the distinction of having director David Cronenberg (Scanners, The Fly) play the villain in the film.
3. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Adrian Lyne (Fatal Attraction, Flashdance) was not a horror director, but the psychological horror of Jacob’s Ladder allowed the director to bring in some disturbing horror elements into the story of Vietnam veteran Jacob Singer. Jacob’s life begins to fall apart as he is subjected to monstrous visions as he deals with PTSD. Jacob’s descent into madness leads him to more strange hallucinations culminating in an ending that was shocking to many viewers when they finally saw it.
2. In The Mouth of Madness (1994)
Mixing elements from horror masters like HP Lovecraft and Stephen King, John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness follows insurance investigator John Trent as he and a literary agent are tasked with finding the final manuscript of missing horror writer Sutter Cane. Cane’s books are so popular that people who read them often kill others or themselves and Trent’s journey to a fictional town featured in Cane’s other books leads him down a path of insanity as monstrous creatures emerge from Cane’s works as well as possess the humans living in the town. Trent begins to question his own sanity when his place in Cane’s final story is revealed by the author himself. The film is a brilliant mix of psychological terror and horror with an interesting story and brutal visuals.
1. Candyman (1992)
One of the more annoying tropes in horror films is the cliché of the African American character dying in the beginning of the film. Bernard Rose’s Candyman turns that cliché on its ear with the story of a young graduate student researching urban legends. When she hears the story of the Candyman, a creature who lives in folklore and can only be summoned by calling his name into a mirror, she begins to investigate a series of murders attributed to the creature. The deeper she gets into her investigation, the more she learns about the legend of Candyman and what he will do to ensure that his legacy continues. The film is filled with atmosphere and the soundtrack by Philip Glass is brilliant as well.
What were your favorite horror films of the 90’s? Let us know in the comments below.
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