In the 1990’s, we said goodbye to Bill Cosby Sweaters, cassette tapes, Reaganomics, Aqua Net Hairspray, Swatch Watches, and Mullets. We also said goodbye to what many consider a Golden Age of Horror, one that started with The Shining, included Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, and wrapped up with Pet Sematary.
By most accounts, on the other hand, the 1990’s was a pretty sad period for Horror movies as the industry struggled to find a successful medium outside of the now-trite slasher formula. While no one will ever refer to the 90’s as a “Golden Age” for Horror, there were some solid stand-outs.
See my list of 10 Awesome 90’s Horror Movies after the jump.
Jacob’s Ladder (1990): Enter a hallucinatory nightmare world of war, sex, and death. Jacob’s Ladder was the first successful mainstream departure from formulaic 80’s Horror offerings. Jacob’s Ladder had the power to terrify you—even if you didn’t exactly understand the story (cut me some slack, I was 16 the first time I saw it). This film has remarkable staying power and still sports some of the creepiest hospital scenes ever committed to film.
Misery (1990): While nowhere near as good as the book, Misery was an incredible success and made Kathy Bates Horror movie Royalty. Her unnerving portrayal of Annie Wilkes even won her a Best Actress Oscar and, along with Silence of the Lambs, went a long way towards legitimizing the Horror genre. The “hobbling” scene is still extremely cringe-worthy.
Nightbreed (1990): Clive Barker may have lost his claim to the Hellraiser Franchise to the Weinstein Brothers in the 90’s, but that didn’t keep him out of the game. In fact, I think Nightbreed is even better than all the Hellraiser films—except of course for the first. Still, with Nightbreed, Barker created a world that was just as terrifying, yet somehow more inviting. David Cronenberg, the famous director, is awesome as Decker, a dastardly villain who can go toe-to-toe with the best of them. Barker flips the idea of “monsters” on its head, presenting a misunderstood race as diverse and multi-faceted as our own.
The People Under the Stairs (1991): Sure it’s dated and even a little bit offensive in its portrayal of poor African Americans, but still, The People Under the Stairs is an unsung 90’s Horror gem. Proof that, even before Scream, Wes Craven was breaking free from the overused slasher-formula.
Army of Darkness (1992): With Army of Darkness, Sam Rami brought his Evil Dead franchise to a whole new level and reached a brand new audience. Bruce Campbell’s Ash is now a fully transformed action hero, sent back to Medieval times to battle the dreaded Deadites. The effects, the acting, and the cinematography are all awesome, as is the humor which is leaps and bounds beyond its predecessors. I’d even go so far as to say Army of Darkness is one of the best Horror sequels ever produced.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of this list.