Many people that I know love scary movies because they give them an excuse to cuddle up to their partner seeking protection because they are so scared, many guys that I know love them because they give them the opportunity to be a strong protector. Some people think they’re comical and love them for that. These people are my brother and his friends who buy cheap Japanese horror films like Dead Sushi and Zombie Ass and laugh their butts of at them.
Then there are the people like me. I’m somewhat of a horror flick connoisseur.
I prefer a traditional blend of thriller and intellectual context in my scary movie cocktail. I’m talking murder your boyfriend with a nail clipper then delve into the deep psychological issues that led you to kill him type of scary movies. That psychological aspect in horror films combined with compelling writing and fantastic cinematography is best found in the era dubbed “The Golden Age of Horror” in the 1920s-30’s. Films such as Dracula contributed to that decade earning that title.
However, I beg to differ from the accepted belief that Golden Ages are free from the ever changing thoughts and circumstances of the current time. For example, citizens of the ’60’s were faced with nuclear wars, integration, mass killings, space travel, etc. The last thing that concerned them were tales of fake monsters from under the sea coming to hurt them, they had real monsters a block away! These circumstances reflected themselves in the accepted horror of the period. Horror such as The Birds or The Andy Griffith Show (just kidding, kind of…I mean two trigger happy white cops in the South does inspire fear in my black self) were praised and according to many from that era the horror movies and tv shows from the ’60’s were the best.
This belief is partly due to nostalgia, and I can relate because I dub my childhood decade, the ’90’s, as having the most memorable horror movies. The 90’s is dubbed by many a transitional time period in scary movies. It was coming out from that time period in the 80’s when a group of teens played by 30 year olds going into the woods and getting killed was the accepted horror movie format and going into a whole new millennium.
Fake monsters had been thoroughly used as villains in horror films of years past.
But in the ’90s the villains were human.
The ’90’s saw villains such as Candyman and Hannibal Lecter.
Scary movies in the 90’s were real and that’s what made them truly scary. We could imagine going to the woods with our friends to film something like on The Blair Witch Project or getting stuck in a blizzard and helped by a seemingly kind woman that turns out to be an obsessive psychopath like in Misery.
Being plausible is one of the most important factors in a good horror film. The others being a fluid plot line, relatable characters, and suspense. The following 10 movies from the 1990s have all of these elements and can be accessed on a variety of streaming platforms. So when deciding which movie to watch that will have you looking over your shoulder for days afterwards, consult this list.
This was the film that introduced me to the wonderful Kathy Bates. As a side note Kathy actually won the Oscar for Best Actress this year for her performance in this movie. This Oscar winning film was adapted from the novel of the same name written by Stephen King.
The plot of the film follows an author who was “rescued” by a crazed fan. Ensuing build up in each scene leads to great pace in regards to the plot. When that is then combined with phenomenal acting the ensuing great film is produced.
For some reason Candyman was always on tv and all the kids at my school were allowed to watch it. Now that I look back I question allowing a scary movie to run during primetime on a weekday, I also question the portrayal of Black Americans in media. Why we always got to live in the projects or the hood (Goodtimes, Lean on me, Menace to Society, etc.)? Black people can’t be middle class and have a healthy relationship like everyone else on tv? But I digress, back to the movie…
The foundational plot of Candyman is relatively simple and has an associated tale in countries around the world. Basically if you look in a mirror and say his name five times Candyman will appear and fudge stuff up. Simple, right?
Candyman is a gem for taking this simple plot and using it to explore deeper issues and to also examine inequities in America. Candyman also served as a visual representation of the true horrors faced daily by those living in housing developments.
3. The Sixth Sense
Most 90’s kids were too young to see this movie when it came out but may remember the line “I see dead people”. This line alone makes it a memorable movie but I will explain briefly why it is also a great movie.
It is great both for the foreboding sense that it brought to the audience by teasing us with the supernatural and also for its steady pacing.
4. The Silence of the Lambs
This film following the tale of a cannibal and profiler is most notable for the line “hello, clariece”. The scary thing is this line was actually never spoken. The fact that this film had the power to truly implant memories in the brains of viewers is the main reason it is dubbed one of the scariest films of the 90’s.
When it said it would get in your head, it meant it.
This film revitalized the horror movie. Everyone thought it had died then Scream popped up like
The iconic film sparked a yearly outpour of related merchandise and supplied Halloween costumes for all the kids that were too old to dress up as disney princesses but too young to dress up as slutty (insert ANYTHING).
Costume and subsequent films aside Scream was a great movie with a simple concept. The realism of being home alone and answering a call on your house phone (RIP) and finding the killer to be a murderous psychopath is very realistic and really inspired fear from the masses due to this.
6. Tales from the hood
I have a short attention span, movies have about 30 minutes of my undivided attention before I’m done. That’s why movies such as this carefully crafted anthology horror flick appeal to me so much. Tales from the Hood was directed by Spike Lee and contains a variety of pertinent issues subtly interjected in its scary context. Issues such as police brutality, mass incarceration, and racism from elected officials were explored in this film and are still pertinent today. Tales from the Hood is like Tales from the Crypt mixed with Boyz in the Hood and presidential debate. This diversity leads to why Tales from the Hood is one of the ’90’s best scary movies.
7. The Blair Witch Project
This film is the King of suspense! Viewers were on the edges of their seats for over an hour in anticipation of what “could happen”.
8. Hocus Pocus
This is literally every 90’s kids’ movie! This movie just symbolizes the good ole days when you didn’t have to pay bills and before student loan payments. When you actually got presents that weren’t alcohol and your biggest issue was whether or not that cute boy in class liked you. Good times.
Now it’s 25 years (feel old now?) after its release in 1993 and the phenomenal acting, memorable lines (“he’s a little leaguer!”) and phenomenal costume design stand out to me. Those elements combined with the unique plot as well as the addition of nostalgia make this film one of the best scary movies everrrr.
9. The Good Son
This movie showed us all the evil side of the kid from Home Alone. Kevin was done playing harmless tricks on two idiots and was ready to murder some people. This movie exemplifies juxtaposition. It’s akin to a literary classic. This is a great movie.
10. I know what you did last summer
This 1997 cult classic film inspired a slew of jokes from the title. My favorite pun is the following one from Family Guy.
But jokes aside, the acting and the plot of this movie was’t phenomenal. In fact, the story was a bit predictable. It was the eerie feeling of foreboding and resulting pop phenomenon of the film that cemented it’s place as one of the best scary films.
What is your favorite scary film from the ’90s? Do you agree with this list?