Retro | Entertainment

25 Horror & Thrillers That Terrified Every 90s Kid

There's nothing like a good scare to get your heart pumping and the oxygen flowing. Sure, you're ready to run like the wind, but all that adrenaline sure does make you feel alive - unlike pretty much everyone in the slasher you just watched.

Critics say that the 90's was pretty much the worst decade for horror and thrillers, but I disagree. It was our decade of teen stereotypes, plot twists and probably the final era of proper vampires. You know, the kind that didn't sparkle.

There are exactly 25 days until Hallowe'en, count down to trick-or-treat by watching one of these freaky films every night!

Arachnophobia, 1990

This film tries for funny, but leans heavily on the side of freaky and downright creepy. Even as someone who isn't afraid of spiders, this one had me squirming in my seat. Fans of Jeff Daniels and John Goodman will have a great time watching the duo battle against an army of poisonous spiders.

6.5 stars

Tremors, 1990

Two reasons to watch this film: Kevin Bacon and "Can you fly, you sucker?"

Seriously, not a scary movie, but a total classic that rates high on the nostalgia meter. If you're a fan of cross-over genres then this one is right up your alley! Settle on the couch for this slightly scary western/monster flick!

7 stars


Jacob's Ladder, 1990

Tim Robbins is Jacob Singer, the traumatized Vietnam vet whose vivid hallucinations will have him and you questioning reality. It's a twisted plot with plenty of creepy scenes that will have you hiding behind the pillow - just don't try to understand what's going on.

7.5 stars

Flatliners, 1990

Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts, William Baldwin all star in this tense life-after-death sci-fi/horror flick. Messed up medical students decide that it would be a good idea to walk the line between life and death. They flatline themselves, go for a stroll through the dark corners of their psyches and then are brought back to life. Each time, bringing something sinister with them.

6.5 stars

Misery, 1990

If you want to watch Kathy Bates in all her glory, then this is your movie. She is the certifiable Annie Wilkes, who "rescues" her favorite author, Paul Sheldon (James Caan) from a serious car crash. When she finds out that he's about to kill off her favorite character, she opens up a whole can of crazy on the novelist. Stephen King has said that the story is largely a metaphor for his drug and alcohol addiction, and the struggle he faced trying to get sober.

8 stars

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It, 1990

Clowns.

That is all.

IMDB gives it 6.9, but evil clowns are the thing of my childhood nightmares, so I give it a 10.

The Silence Of The Lambs, 1991

Anyone who says the 90s couldn't hack it as an era of horror has a clear case of amnesia, or else they were born in the 2000's. The Silence of the Lambs is horrifying in it's subtly. The spine-tingling moments between Clarice Starling and the Hannibal Lecter (made famous in the 1980's) are intense. Anthony Hopkins' performance as the cannibal gets under your skin and Jodie Foster's hunt for Ted Levine's Buffalo Bill keeps you guessing the whole way.

8 stars.

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Candyman, 1992

You'll never look in the bathroom mirror again. Seriously, this one and the creepy urban legend of "Bloody Mary" had me taking down my bedroom mirror.

Determined journalist, Virginia Madison is researching the legend of The Candyman - a murderous spirit with a hook for a hand. EVERYONE knows you just don't mess with dark magic, but she says his name and summons the killer. It was terrifying then, now, well.. you be the judge!

6.5 stars

Dead-Alive, (Braindead) 1992

Nothing says horror like zombies and over-bearing mothers. Watching this film, you'll probably laugh with disbelief more than jump out of your seat in fear. But, Hallowe'en wouldn't be the same without a cheeky jab at the truly terrifying.

Lionel is a mama's boy, whose overbearing mother dies after being bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey. Unfortunately, she doesn't stay dead and returns to the dismay of poor Lionel. Although he tries to lock her away, zombie-mom escapes and starts to eat the neighbors.

It's definitely a splatter film, so if you don't like gore, you should probably skip this AND the next one on our list. Like most cult films, this one bombed at the box office, but was resurrected by fans in later years. It's almost hard to believe that this move came from the same guy who did Lord of the Rings...

Army of Darkness, 1992

Alright, this is one of my all-time favorite horror/comedies. It is so perfectly creepy and ridiculous that it demands a serious suspension of reality. To be fair, you know that anything with Bruce Campbell is going to be full of perfectly-timed one-liners and physical comedy.

7.6 stars

The Good Son, 1993

We all knew that there was something dark beneath Macaulay Culkin's innocent face. He totally channeled those creepy children of the corn for this film. Culkin's character, Henry, is one twisted kid - killing pets, causing a traffic pileup and then trying to off his little sister on a frozen pond.  

It's not a terrifying film, but you'll be on the edge of your seat - will Elijah Wood's character, Mark, be able to reveal Henry's crimes before it's too late?

6.4 stars

The Crow, 1994

I remember a lot of the teenaged guys in my school dressed up as Eric Draven for Halloween the year this film came out. On the night before his wedding, Eric and his fiancée are brutally murdered by a group of gangsters. On the anniversary of their death, Eric rises from the grave and takes revenge.

7.6 stars

Wes Craven's New Nightmare, 1994

No self respecting 90s horror fan can hear the name Wes Craven without thinking Freddy Kreuger. After years of increasingly awful Elm Street sequels, this film really breathed new life into the series. In New Nightmare, Freddy makes his way into the real world to go after the cast and crew of the Elm Street films. Heather Langenkamp (who played Nancy in the first one), Wes Craven, and Robert Englund all play themselves. Because of it's meta-approach, many consider this to be the pre-cursor for Scream's dissection of slasher films. Just don't fall asleep.

7 stars

Interview with the Vampire, 1994

Although it's not very horrifying, the film is based on Anne Rice's best selling novel. If you're a fan of her work, then this is worth watching. It stars Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as well as a young Kirsten Dunst.

Set in modern-day San Francisco, a reporter interviews a self-proclaimed vampire: Louis de Pointe du Lac. These are not your millennium vampires, they're better.

Se7en, 1995

Is there anything that Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman  can't do? This film is classified as mystery/neo-noir/psychological thriller. It's a mouthful, but after watching it, you'll see all of these elements at play.

Freeman plays retiring police Detective William Somerset, who works his last case with the newly transferred David Mills. The two attempt to solve a series of heinous murders that turn out to be the work of a twisted serial killer. Each one, more gruesome than the last and all linked to the seven deadly sins. The ending? You won't see it coming.

8.6

Scream, 1996

A psychotic killer stalks his victims and taunts them with horror trivia, then brutally murders them. Not only does Sidney Prescott struggle with the death of her mother, but she must also figure out the identity of a psycho who is stalking her and killing her friends. But, she is running out of time.

It may seem campy now, but at the time, it was the film that brought horror as a genre in the 90's back to life by playing off of the clichés and tropes that had been done to death in slasher films.

7.2

From Dusk Till Dawn, 1996

Tarantino dips his toes in horror with his buddy Robert Rodriguez and comes out with a mutation of crime, action and black comedy in this film staring George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis and Tarantino himself.

Seth and Richie are bank robbers on the run when they kidnap a family and force them to smuggle the bandits past the Mexican border. They stop at a strip club full of vampires in the middle of nowhere and mayhem  ensues.

Sure, it's not exactly horror, but I suppose if there are vampires, it kind of is - sort of. If you love Tarantino's film style, and young George Clooney, then this flick's for you!

7.3

Cube, 1997

A group of strangers wake up in a prison of cubes, some of them are booby-trapped. Each prisoner has a special set of skills that could help them all to escape, but one of them knows more than they're letting on. Fans of the Saw series will definitely enjoy this one.

7.3

Event Horizon, 1997

Event Horizon is a starship that disappeared in 2040 and seven years later, rescue vessel Lewis and Clark is dispatched to answer their distress call. When they arrive, they find that the entire crew was massacred and a portal has opened up. The rescue crew struggles to escape the ghost ship and battle it's hellish visions. While it's definitely not as good as, say, the first two Alien movies, it's got a strong cast, beautiful visuals, and some pretty effective scares.  

6.7

I Know What You Did Last Summer, 1997

Remember that reference to stereotypes - this series is dripping with them. But, hey, it was the 90's, we were all about the tokenism. Four friends go for a drunken joyride late one night and hit a drifter walking in the street. They throw him off a cliff and assume that their worries are over. Right.

The "dead" guy isn't really dead, but he is a psycho hell-bent on offing them one at a time with a hook - à la Candyman. The film starred all of our favorite three-name teenage actors: Freddy Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt. And Ryan Phillippe.

6 stars

Scream 2, 1997

Although most sequels never match up to their predecessor, Scream 2 does a pretty good job at coming close. Sydney, Gale, Deputy Dewey and Randy re-living the horrors of the past as a copycat killer begins slashing his way through a college campus.

6 stars

Ring /Ringu, 1998

Prepare yourself for this seriously, seriously scary movie. Kids from the 90s still had Blockbuster, so the concept of a cursed videotape totally freaked us out.

Set in Japan, the murdered ghost of a psychic's daughter kills her victims within a week of watching the cursed video. This one is definitely sleep-with-the-lights-on scary.

7.5 stars

The Blair Witch Project, 1999

Arguably the most successful "found footage" independent film of all time. If it wasn't for The Blair Witch Project, we probably wouldn't have the Paranormal Activity series. I remember the controversy when this film was released! It was so realistic that kids were arguing at lunch about whether or not the story was true!

Definitely a nail-biter, this can be hard to watch at times - the shaky camera made me a little nauseous. I wouldn't suggest going for a walk in the woods at night after watching this one!

7 stars

Sleepy Hollow, 1999

If you're familiar with the tales of the headless horseman, then you'll love this film. "Sleepy Hollow" is directed by Tim Burton and set in a haunted town in the year 1799. Police constable Ichabod Crane is sent to investigate a series of murders in the small town of Sleepy Hollow.

Johnny Depp is great as the skeptical Crane, while Christina Ricci plays the beautiful daughter, Katrina, in the town's richest family - the Van Tessels. The movie is set in a foggy, frightening and dreamy world that easily sucks you into its world. You won't have nightmares, but you might jump a little in your seat.

7 stars

The Sixth Sense, 1999

This is the movie everyone was talking about at the end of the decade. It put M. Night Shyamalan and his surprise endings on the map. Personally, I loved this movie. There is this thick tension that fills every corner of each scene and Willis just crushes it as a troubled, child psychologist trying to grasp what he's experiencing.

There are definitely jump-out-of-your-seat moments, some gore and so many clues scattered throughout the film that watching it a second time is a must.

8 stars

Can you think of any others to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below! Don't forget to Like & Share!

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