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The 20 Best Horror Movies of the 1990s

A few of your favorites won’t be on this list, but that’s only because the ‘90s gave us so many good horror movies.
Horror Movies S
By  · Published on August 19th, 2019

5. Candyman (1992)


America deserves its monsters. We’re a nation built on blood and bones, and those that sit comfortably on top (or even in the middle) should be confronted by that hellish history. Writer/Director Bernard Rose snatched a decent Clive Barker short story involving a nasty urban legend and injected the premise with an extra layer of pain as he transplanted it across the pond and upon colonial shores. Candyman is a grim, vengeance story where everyone is a victim, including the creature that stalks the Cabrini-Green housing projects. Tony Todd cuts a terrifying figure, but the most satisfying moments are those in which the actor aches for the character he is playing. In a land of teenage slashers, Candyman is the killer you can root for and encourage as he stalks his way to the real scum that inherited the earth. (Brad Gullickson)

4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Silence Of The Lambs

Since this movie won several Academy Awards, some people will tell you that it’s not a horror movie. If it came out today, it’d probably be described as “elevated horror” at best just so the naysayers who think horror is a dirty word could enjoy it without feeling guilty about having an appetite for cannibalism and a morbid fascination with serial killers. And who can blame for enjoying psychological horror that’s this compelling? Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) is one of the most intriguing movie villains; he’s calculated, unsettling, and manic while being simultaneously charming and intelligent. His ability to probe minds is terrifying, but his attempt at getting under people’s skin makes for some interesting psychological chess. The Silence of the Lambs is pure psychological horror at its finest. Enjoy it with some fava beans and a nice chianti. (Kieran Fisher)

3. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

Mouth Of Madness

We all have a “Them.” Those monstrous bastards that cocked it all up and sent us down the dark paths we all currently occupy. What? Not you? You’re good? Next, you’ll tell me you’ve never read Sutter Cane. Foolish. By 1994, John Carpenter had firmly established himself as a master of horror and could have closed up shop and never directed another film again. Then he comes along and delivers what is probably the best cinematic adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft without ever actually tackling a specific short story. Lovecraft knew that true horror, even the slimy-creepy crawlies that rise from the oceans and lurk in your attic walls, are indescribable. You can see a tentacle here, and a rolling eye there, but the printed page and the motion picture image could never do justice to their wretched nature. Carpenter tells a fantastic monster movie by not focusing on the creatures that haunt the shadows, but in the reality that their very existence would disrupt. Confrontation with Them would be awful, but knowledge of Them is just as deadly. (Brad Gullickson)

2. Audition (1999)


Takashi Miike has made 88 feature films as of this writing — he’ll probably be at 92 by the time I finish this paragraph — but while his voracious appetite for filmmaking might suggest a quantity over quality situation, the truth is far more nuanced. He makes good movies, bad movies, and great movies. Audition is one of the greatest ones. It’s a slow burn film that moves effortlessly through genres, from drama to comedy to thriller to absolute and exquisite horror. It’s immensely entertaining along the way as we laugh along with it before laughing nervously at our own increasing anxiety. There’s fun here, of the unusual and dark variety, but there’s also a commentary on men’s casual mistreatment of women. It’s no light theme either, and while Miike’s been accused of being a misogynistic filmmaker in the past, Audition makes it clear that’s not the case. He sees all people, men and women, as both monster and victim, and he loves his creations equally. Of course, it’s entirely possible that he might despise them equally, as well. Either way, Audition is a film that creeps up on you before shocking your system with its beautifully orchestrated madness. If you’ve yet to see it, avoid any other writing about the film and simply watch it. It’s not only a great Miike film, it’s one of the best films of the 1990s. (Rob Hunter)

1. Ravenous (1999)


Antonia Bird’s Ravenous is bloodthirsty, off-beat, and a goddamn miracle: a $12 million survival-horror-comedy-Western that bombed at the box office and is now rightfully recognized as one of the genre’s greatest offerings. Without saying too much, Ravenous follows John Boyd (Guy Pearce), an American soldier banished to an isolated outpost in the Sierra Nevadas after being ousted as a coward. Fort Spencer is populated by a ragtag group of character actors all on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Then, one night, their numbers are rounded out by Colghoun (Robert Carlyle), a stranger who staggers up to their doorstep with frostbite and a hellish tale of a lost wagon party that has descended into cannibalism. I love stories that underline the horror show of history, and I’m a particularly big fan of fancy colonial men losing all of their pomp and civility by being where they shouldn’t be and letting their greed get the best of them. (Meg Shields)

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