10 More Nostalgic Horror Films from the 90’s!

90's Nostalgia!

Dawson-s-Creek-dawson-27s-creek-105914_348_500In my first article about 90’s Nostalgia I stated that the decade didn’t have a lot to be proud of when it comes to horror movies—and I was roundly taken to task for that assessment. In the feedback I got, you all named dozens of 90’s movies that you believed represented truly top-notch horror filmmaking. It made me realize that I may have been short sighted, not just about the number of quality genre films produced in the Bill Clinton Daze, but about the entire decade’s output of cinematic blood and guts.

In a lot of ways of ways, the 1990’s were an era of blissful ignorance; Pre-9/11, we had no concept of the real-life terrors on the horizon. The preceding decade-plus of war, government oppression, and world-wide political instability has made our previous anxieties seem rather tame by comparison. And in terms of horror movies, the 1990’s gave us more of what we came to expect from the 1980’s (with notable exceptions, of course) before the way we perceive and process fear changed forever.

This doesn’t mean that nothing that terrified us in the 1990’s still holds sway today; in fact, the movies that still terrify us in our post-9/11 mindset represent some of the most penetrating examples of horror, portraying deep seeded fears that are at the core of our very biology. Films that stand the test of time deserve acknowledgement.

The list below consists of 10 more films that epitomize the best genre-offerings of the 1990’s. Shine-up your tribal tattoos and bust out the Nirvana CD’s.

 

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Director: Jonathan Demme

Writers: Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)

Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney |

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Certainly the most glaring omission from my first list of 90’s Horror; on Oscar-Night 1991, in one mighty swoop, The Silence of the Lambs legitimized our genre, elevated horror to the level of high art, and delivered it to the masses. The film’s place in Horror History cannot be denied or understated. Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter holds high rank in the Pantheon of Horror Icons, standing toe-to-toe with the greatest. More than a decade later, The Silence of the Lambs is still a powerful and disturbing masterpiece.

 

Se7en (1995)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker

Stars: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey |

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When I reflect on Se7en with my 21-Century mindset, the film’s stars come to mind: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Spacey. You can’t name 3 more mainstream (safe/boring) actors than those guys: Benjamin Buttons, God, and K-Pax—and don’t even get me started on Gwyneth Paltrow! Then I remember how often the film has been spoofed and satirized, with “What’s in the box?” becoming a joke repeated ad-nauseum. I ask myself, “Can Se7en still hold up in today’s darker horror landscape?” So I pop in the old DVD and reconnect with this piece of past-popular culture to get my answer: Yes, yes it does. Don’t let time sanitize your memory of this brave and unnerving classic.

 

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

Director: John Carpenter

Writer: Michael De Luca

Stars: Sam Neill, Jürgen Prochnow, Julie Carmen |

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I always loved In the Mouth of Madness, but I had no idea so many of you did until I was royally chastised for omitting it from my first list. John Carpenter’s work of Lovecraftian horror becomes a mind-bending meta-film, blurring the line between fiction and reality. Sam Neil’s portrayal of John Kent, along with his portrayal of Dr. William Weir in Event Horizon makes him an unsung hero of 1990’s horror. Hallucinatory and fantastic, In the Mouth of Madness is an unforgettable trip down an extremely dark rabbit hole.

 

Starship Troopers (1997)

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Writers: Edward Neumeier (screenplay), Robert A. Heinlein (book)

Stars: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer |

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Starship Troopers, based on the 1959 militaristic sci-fi novel by Robert A. Heinlein, already had themes that transcended decades when released in 1997, speaking volumes about its profound resonance. Almost 20 years later the film still reflects our treatment of opponents in war and our tendencies to portray them as less than human. Now, with our drone’s-eye-view of battlefields, the enemy has literally become insect-like. And while it’s packed with scathing political subtext, Starship Troopers is also a rip-roaring balls-out action flick with a hefty dose of black comedy. It also brought us one of the most profanely disgusting aliens ever committed to celluloid: The Brain Bug.

 

Idle Hands (1999)

Director: Rodman Flender

Writers: Terri Hughes, Ron Milbauer

Stars: Devon Sawa, Seth Green, Elden Henson |

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Idle Hands is successful on a few levels: It’s a brilliant example of horror-comedy, a send-up of teenage Coming-of-Age flicks, a work of stoner comedy that rivals Half Baked and Friday, and a top-notch piece of 90’s nostalgia. It’s the Can’t Hardly Wait of horror, soaked in THC and dick jokes, with some truly excellent practical FX—gory and hysterical. If a blossoming Jessica Alba can’t persuade you to give Idle Hands a spin, the scene with “Gene Simmons” having sex with “Paul Stanley” should make it worth your while.

 

Candyman (1992)

Director: Bernard Rose

Writers: Clive Barker (story), Bernard Rose

Stars: Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, Tony Todd |

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Hats off to director Bernard Rose for staying so true to Clive Barker’s original work of short fiction. Candyman is a celebration of urban legends and a testament to the power of storytelling. Tony Todd is outstanding is the titular Candyman, a hybrid mix of Bloody Mary and the Man with a Hook-Hand. His hypnotic voice and mouthful of bees made him a horror icon, perhaps the only African American actor to reach that illustrious status.

 

The Faculty (1998)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writers: David Wechter (story), Bruce Kimmel (story), 1 more credit »

Stars: Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris |

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The greatest Students VS Administrators showdown since The Breakfast Club comes from the twisted mind behind El Mariachi, From Dusk ‘til Dawn, and Planet Terror; Robert Rodriguez’s The Faculty is a stylish high-octane thrill-ride with a wicked script and a sexy cast. When you’re a teen, teachers can seem like they’re from another planet—but what if they really were? And what if the worst villain of them all was a narc who’d already infiltrated your ranks? The Faculty has a great twist, and I don’t just mean the identity of the top-alien, I mean the fact that amphetamines save the Earth from invasion. Good job, Meth!

 

Lost Highway (1997)

Director: David Lynch

Writers: David Lynch, Barry Gifford

Stars: Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, John Roselius |

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The films David Lynch produced in the 1980’s are polarizing; movies like Eraserhead, Wild at Heart, and Blue Velvet were either loved or loathed. His work was extreme and tended only to appeal to fans at a particularly dark end of the cinematic spectrum. 1997’s Lost Highway was his most accessible film to date, and remains one of the most popular in his canon. By no means light or easy to decipher, Lost Highway is nonetheless captivating, engrossing, and seductive. A throbbing soundtrack produced by Trent Reznor and a supporting role by infamous actor Robert Blake help make this film a deliciously demonic slice of 90’s nostalgia.

 

Stir of Echoes (1999)

Director: David Koepp

Writers: Richard Matheson (novel), David Koepp (screenplay)

Stars: Kevin Bacon, Zachary David Cope, Kathryn Erbe |

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Kevin Bacon leads a stellar cast in this urban ghost story that explores themes of justice and atonement. A phantom is the perfect metaphor for a dark, guilty secret that just won’t go away. What makes Stir of Echoes particularly intelligent is the way it flips the script on supernatural terror by making the ghost sympathetic, a tactic rarely attempted in 90’s horror. It’s a movie that holds an emotional sway over its audience that keeps us tense and invested.

 

Dead Alive (1992)

Director: Peter Jackson

Writers: Stephen Sinclair (story), Stephen Sinclair (screenplay), 2 more credits »

Stars: Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody |

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In the 21th Century, Peter Jackson is the King of Middle-Earth, but in 1992, he was a relative newbie who had just released one the most disgusting and hilarious horror-comedies of the decade. When I say Dead Alive is disgusting I mean it’s literally gag inducing, flowing with endless barrels of blood and other bodily viscera. It’s a far cry from high art, but it remains a cult favorite that continues to delight and nauseate gore-hounds worldwide. If you haven’t see this one before, you might want to keep an empty bucket by your side; you might get sick or simply laugh until you puke!

Have I still failed to sing the praises of your favorite horror movies from the 1990’s? Sound off in the comments section and maybe it’ll make the next 90’s Nostalgia list!

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5 Comments on this post.

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  • Evan A. Baker
    30 November 2014 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Great additions to your earlier list! Some of these are definitely among my very favorites, and, of course, in terms of critical praise, there aren’t many genre flicks that top Silence of the Lambs and Candyman.

    I enjoyed The Faculty, but the final coda always bugged me (in the same way that part of the finale of The Breakfast Club bugs me, as well); it feels like, in the end, the “outsider” characters achieve a place of elevated status in their high school community, but they’re just ultimately just “buying in” on the problematic social order that once kept them down. What could be revolutionary change in favor of the oppressed becomes instead a betrayal of the nerds and freaks, and an endorsement of the status quo.

    I haven’t watched Stir of Echoes in way, way too long.

  • Dame
    5 December 2014 at 4:12 am - Reply

    Solid lists when putting the 2 together I think this easily could be almost the top 20 of the 90s only a few films from over seas make it feel incomplete but still great lists overall. Main 2 I was thinking of were Ringu, and Audition.

    • Evan A. Baker
      5 December 2014 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      Yeah, Ring and Audition are both very good, and massively important, genre entries. For some reason, I tend to forget about Audition a lot of the time, which is weird, because I really love genre-benders.

      • Josh Millican
        5 December 2014 at 5:08 pm - Reply

        I wish I could forget Audition! I didn’t mind the needles or piano wire, but the puke eating really got to me!

  • Josh Millican
    5 December 2014 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Ringu and Audition are solid films for the 90’s. Yes, my lists are definitely short on foreign horror. I’ll take this into consideration when I make my next list of great horror from the 1990’s. Thanks for reading Dame!

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