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The Best and Worst Horror Films of the 1990's

And the Oscar goes to...
by Charles Tatum

Have I seen a lot of horror films in my day? After looking through the over one hundred and fifty horror films I had on for the 1980's, I thought I would check on the 1990's...what do you know, 155! Of course, the slasher film was winding down at this point, so my best and worst have a nice variety:

The Best:
10. Frankenstein Unbound 1990 (Directed by Roger Corman)
I never thought Corman's name would be associated with any list with the word "best" in its title, not counting "Best Waste of Video Rental Money," but Rog directed John Hurt in a lovely sci-fi spin on the Frankenstein story. Not everyone else likes this as much as I do, but of course, not everyone has sat through "The Bride," either.

9. Misery 1990 (Directed by Rob Reiner)
Pish-posh, this ain't a horror film. If a crazed nurse locks up her favorite romance writer in her farmhouse to write a final novel while she takes assorted heavy tools to his ankles, it's horror. Bates is wonderful, alternately laughable and creepy.

8. Blade 1998 (Directed by Stephen Norrington)
I needed a simple kick-ass film, and "Blade" provides. The action is great, special effects are good, Wesley Snipes is ultracool as the vampire killer, and even Kris Kristofferson scores as his mentor. Bloody good.

7. Arachnophobia 1990 (Directed by Frank Marshall)
This one had many squirming in their seats at the beginning of the decade. I don't have a "thing" about spiders, but the finale in the basement with Jeff Daniels sporting a nail gun is a great piece of horrific action.

6. Night Flier 1997 (Directed by Mark Pavia)
Another gory flick, as reporter Mel Ferrer chases down an airplane flying vampire. This one has atmosphere to burn, and Ferrer is so brilliant an actor, he should be getting nominated for awards at this point in his career. Where was his Oscar for "RoboCop"?

5. Sleepy Hollow 1999 (Directed by Tim Burton)
I still can't get the taste of "Mars Attacks!" out of my mouth, but Burton gets Johnny Depp and his normal cast of regulars into a creepy frightfest that is the best version of Washington Irving's story, cartoon or otherwise.

4. The Ugly 1997 (Directed by Scott Reynolds)
The old psychologist and the nutty killer face off is put on its ear in Reynolds' creepy film. He plays weird with colors (black blood?), but still manages to scare while making the main characters sympathetic. Ugly, it ain't.

3. Happy Hell Night 1992 (Directed by Brian Owens)
My one real obscure film in the Top Ten, this diddy has Darren McGavin and Sam Rockwell. A college prank releases a psychotic killer priest, who turns out to be one of the scariest looking screen villains I have ever seen. Those eyes! Creepy, if you can find it, not even Amazon has it listed.

2. Afraid of the Dark 1991 (Directed by Mark Peploe)
A nice little boy has a number of emotional problems in this great effort from Peploe. The movie twists itself half way through, and if you have a "thing" about your eyes (how can people put in contact lenses, I ask?), then this one will make you grab for the Visine.

and the best horror film of the 1990's?
1. Killer Tongue 1996 (Directed by Alberto Sciamma)
Oh, come on, it's all there in the title. Mindy Clarke has a bit of a tongue problem, Robert Englund gives his best performance as a sadistic prison guard, and this film had me alternately giggling and screaming. A tongue hasn't done that for me since...well, never mind.

and then there's the worst
5. Aberration 1997 (Directed by Tim Boxell)
Some creature attacks some animals and some people in some woods somewhere. The creature is, in fact, an awful special effects puppet, the movie is, in fact, awful.

4. Species II 1998 (Directed by Peter Medak)
Why is Natasha Henstridge now appearing in cheesy syndicated action television series? Oh, yeah, the Industry is punishing her for following an average sci-fi/horror flick with this argument for the banning of all sequels.

3. Elves 1990 (Directed by Jeffrey Mandel)
There is only one elf, and that is more than enough in this terrible Christmas horror film. Poor Grizzly Adams fights another puppet special effect; this film and "Silent Night, Deadly Night" prove that horror and Christmas do not mix unless it is "Black Christmas."

2. The Coroner 1999 (Directed Juan A. Mas)
Obscenely stupid suspenser has the title psycho character killing people, then hiding his own crimes because he is...THE CORONER! Bad.

...but the worst?
1. Ghosts 1997 (Directed by Stan Winston)
Don't worry if you cannot find this at your local video store, just wait until VH1 decides this nightmare needs to be trotted out almost weekly. Michael Jackson tries to repeat his "Thriller" success by doing another dance horror short film, but his coy behavior and grin quickly grate. This marks the second time, after "Moonwalker," where a group of young children get all teary eyed and beg for Michael to "come back" in the finale. How can you watch this and not be profoundly disturbed by this man?

That is all, and once again, these lists can change depending on how many more videos I can rummage through at the video store. Agree? Disagree? Review and rate, Mr. or Mrs. I-Know-Better!

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originally posted: 01/23/04 06:11:42
last updated: 05/06/06 05:21:12
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