Saturday, April 12, 2014

Best Horror Films of the 90's

The 90's are certainly not known universally as the "golden age" of horror by any means. The genre struggled to gain traction and really didn't find a true identity until about halfway through the decade. With that said, there were certainly films worth of discussion. So now let's take a look at the top 10 films of the 1990's.

1. Silence of the Lambs (1991). Half horror film, half FBI crime drama, "Silence of the Lambs" is an epic film that still resonates over twenty years later. Anthony Hopkins is brilliant as the psychopathic Hannibal Lectar and Jodi Foster shines in her role as FBI Agent Starling. "Silence" gets under your skin in a way that very few films are able to achieve.

2. Misery (1990). One of the greatest adaptations of a Stephen King novel to date, "Misery" is a simple yet provocative thriller that slowly builds dread and makes you realize that James Caan's character may not survive at the hands of his quirky caretaker Annie (played by Kathy Bates). The storytelling in this movie is outstanding and by the end you are cheering for Caan to brutalize the psychopathic Annie in any way possible.

3. Scream (1996). This movie single-handedly salvaged the horror genre in the 1990's and is a quintessential pop culture flick as well. Wes Craven created a perfect parody of the slasher genre which would lead to countless copycat movies such as Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer, etc. Craven used references to many horror films of the past and put his own stamp on the classical "who done it?" movie.

4. Se7en (1995). Seven is an amazing psychological thriller that cleverly blurs the lines between horror and drama. The idea of a "John Doe" serial killer using the seven deadly sins to off his victims proved to be absolute brilliance on screen as we find ourselves almost dreading what kind of horrors will be uncovered next by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman.

5. The Blair Witch Project (1999). The film that kicked off the "found footage" craze that still exists today, "The Blair Witch Project" was a gigantic box-office success back in the summer of '99. We had never really seen anything like this before and this movie made it clear that the horrors you can create in your own mind while watching it were far worse than the actual events shown on screen. Today it is both loved and hated, but there is no debating its influence on the horror genre.

6. Strangeland (1998). Written and starred in by Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, "Strangeland" introduces to the sadistic sexual saddist, Captain Howdy. Howdy preys on victims via internet chat rooms which was pretty ground breaking subject matter for the time period. This movie is wildly entertaining as Snider portrays the psychopathic Captain Howdy to perfection.

7. Army of Darkness (1991). The third installment to the "Evil Dead" trilogy showcases our hero Ash as a bonafide comedic, comic book hero as he continues battling deadites in midevil times. "Army of Darkness" picks up right where "Evil Dead 2" left off and turns the comedy meter up to 11. Some fans of the original "Evil Dead" did not enjoy the comedic direction but this is movie is as entertaining as a horror/comedy can get.

8. Candyman (1992). A college student uncovers the urban legend of the "candyman," and the result is a very original film that deviated from the forumlaic slasher movies we had grown accustomed to in the late 80's/early 90's. Tony Todd's creepy presentation of the hook-wielding candyman definitely brings the film to life.

9. Brainscan (1994). Perhaps the most underrated horror film of the decade, "Brainscan" was another film that was far ahead of its time. "Brainscan" is a virtual reality video game that allows you to be the serial killer. Which seems cool except that after playing, the lines of reality and fiction become blurred and it is very possible that you are actually killing people. Edward Furlong shows up here in a post-Terminator 2 role and finds himself woven in a web of terror after becoming addicted to the hypnotic "Brainscan."

10. Dead-Alive (1992). Long before director Peter Jackson was directing "King Kong" and "Lord of the Rings," he brought us this gory gem from the early 90's. "Dead-Alive" is an unabashed, bloody, gut-wrenching puke fest that was one of those movies that all the kids were talking about back when it was released in 1992. It is likely that there are movies in existence which contain more blood and guts as "Dead-Alive" but certainly none of them present it in such a ridiculous, humorous fashion.

Honorable Mentions: Event Horizon, Jacob's Ladder, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, Urban Legend, It, Bram Stoker's Dracula.

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