If you’ve never woken up in cold sweat because you’ve been dreaming of horrific figures haunting your imagination since childhood–can you even say you’ve ever been truly scared? Whether you’re looking for a spooky nostalgia trip for Halloween or just want to explore the vintage horror genre, we’ve go you covered. Below, you’ll find our list of the top 10 best 90s horror movies you absolutely cannot miss!
What do you get when you cross a giant dude with a chainsaw, an undead clown, and some of the most terrifying scenes from your childhood? That’s right–it’s our list of the best 90s horror movies!
The 90’s were a time when Hollywood was reaching the zenith of its creativity. Horror fans, in particular, were treated to some of the most unforgettable scenes, iconic characters, and performances in movie history.
Do you prefer creepy thrillers or slasher films? Whatever your preference, there is something for everyone in these 90s horror movie recommendations. You’ll even find some cult classics on here!
Short on time? Jump to our descriptions of the best 90s scary movies:
- The Silence of the Lambs
- The Sixth Sense
- From Dusk till Dawn
- Ringu/The Ring
- The Craft
The Best 90s Horror Movies
What made 90’s horror flicks so awesome? They all had one thing in common: they knew how to scare you without relying on cheap jump scares.
In fact, there are three pillars of any great horror film: mystery, suspense, and gore. Throw one of those factors out, and you’re going to have a hard time creeping out your audience.
But this is why the ’90s was such a great time for horror movies. This decade saw to some of the most innovative and influential horror movies ever made.
As we celebrate these gory yet iconic moments that will forever be etched in our memories, here is a list of what we consider the best 90s horror movies of all time:
1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The Silence of the Lambs is based on Thomas Harris’ novel of the same name. It follows Clarice Starling, a student at the FBI academy. She begins to question her career choice after her assignment to interview Dr Hannibal Lecter.
Lecter is a psychiatrist with a taste for human flesh. He is imprisoned in an underground cell in Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
Starling has to convince the brilliant but deranged psychiatrist to help her find a serial killer on the loose. What follows will have you on the edge of your seat throughout the over two-hour movie.
The Silence of the Lambs is often cited as one of the most fascinating thriller movies in cinematic history. It also remains one of only three films in Oscar history to win Academy Awards in all the five nominated categories.
They include Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Screenplay.
2. Misery (1990)
Misery is a psychological thriller based on Stephen King’s 1987 novel of the same name. The film is about a psychotic fan who holds an author captive and forces him to bring his most famous character back to life.
Misery (1990) received four Oscar nominations at the 63rd Academy Awards held in 1991 for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Kathy Bates), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Joan Allen), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.
It was also nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama (Bates) and Best Director – Motion Picture (Rob Reiner).
3. The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Sixth Sense is a supernatural thriller written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film is renowned for its surprise ending. It went on to do tremendously well at the box office and became a blockbuster hit, clenching nominations for six Academy Awards.
Bruce Willis plays Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist who starts treating 10-year-old Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment). Cole is having “visions” of dead people walking around in his day-to-day life.
What follows is nothing short of extraordinary, as Shyamalan slowly unravels this brilliant masterpiece that has helped define his career.
4. IT (1990)
IT is a psychological horror movie based on the 1986 novel by Stephen King. The movie follows seven adults as they recall their encounter with a powerful demon that preyed on their fears and phobias as children.
Now grown up, those men and women are called back to their hometown. They have to face the monster once more – but this time, as a group.
The film features Tim Curry as the voice of Pennywise the Dancing Clown. An evil being disguises itself as a harmless circus clown to lure young children into the sewer.
The usual screams are there, along with plenty of gore and violence. However, viewers tend to remember something else about this film: the ending.
5. Candyman (1992)
This 90’s horror movie is about a Chicago graduate student who comes across the legend of Candyman. Candyman is a vengeful spirit with a hook for a hand. According to the legend, you can summon him by saying his name five times while facing a mirror.
Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), the protagonist, slowly becomes engrossed in the urban legend. She learns more about it through various letters and newspaper clippings she finds while doing her research.
Eventually, Lyle succumbs to her curiosity and looks into summoning him. This results in a cascade of events that will have you avoiding mirrors in the foreseeable future.
Candyman received numerous accolades, including a Saturn Award, a Fangoria Chainsaw Award, a Blockbuster Entertainment Award, and the Harvard University Film Society Award.
6. Scream (1996)
Scream is an American slasher film written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. It stars David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, and Drew Barrymore.
The movie combines the violence of a horror film with the humor of a teen comedy in an attempt to satirize the horror movie genre. It is renowned for its opening plot twist that sets the tone for the rest of the movie.
After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 1996, Scream was released theatrically on December 20, 1996. It went on to gross over $173 million worldwide. The film’s soundtrack played a large role in popularizing rock songs from the 1980s.
7. From Dusk till Dawn (1996)
From Dusk Till Dawn is a horror movie about a pair of American criminal brothers who depart from a bank robbery and end up in a bar named ‘Titty Twister’. Little do the patrons know that the bar is also frequented by vampires.
The movie stars George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, and Harvey Keitel and features direction by Robert Rodriguez as well as Tarantino. From Dusk Till Dawn was released on March 8, 1996, after having been originally conceived as a video game.
8. Ringu/The Ring (1998/2002)
The Ring is a 2002 horror film about a videotape that kills its viewers within seven days of watching it. The film stars Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, and Daveigh Chase. Gore Verbinski directed it.
It is an American re-telling of the popular 1998 Japanese horror film, Ringu. Contrary to popular belief, it was not a direct translation. Some characters were changed, while others were added in for the sake of the new story.
The Ring is considered one of the scariest horror films in Hollywood history. In fact, it is #20 on Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
9. Tremors (1990)
Tremors is an American monster comedy-horror film directed by Ron Underwood. It stars Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward as two handymen who battle deadly man-eating worms called “Graboids”.
These worms surface from underground and begin attacking the inhabitants of a small town near Death Valley. Tremors has become a cult classic over the years, resulting in four direct-to-video sequels.
10. The Craft (1996)
The Craft is an American supernatural horror film about four misfits who use magic as a way of dealing with their teenage angst. The girls are outcasts at their Catholic school, so they band together to learn the ways of witchcraft to explore the dark side.
The movie was written by Peter Filardi and directed by Andrew Fleming. It stars Robin Tunney, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, Christine Taylor, Skeet Ulrich, Assumpta Serna, Joe Mantegna, and Christine Dunford.
The Craft was reasonably successful in theaters, earning around $55 million worldwide. It has since become a cult hit and even has a sequel.
The 90’s was a time when horror movies were at their best. Whether you’re looking for an atmospheric thriller, or something more gory and visceral, the 1990s had it all.
And we’re not just saying that because we feel nostalgic. There was an element of fear in these films that you don’t see as much today. Maybe our society has become desensitized by all the violence on TV and video games, so nothing feels real anymore.
If we have left out your favorite horror fix from the ’90s? We must apologize. Please let us know what it is; we’ll see whether it’s worthy of a special mention.