The '90s were a weird decade for the horror genre. The tidal wave of demand created by the advent of VHS and video stores that began in the 1980s inundated the country with films. Many of the resulting '90s horror movies were sequels to older horror classics. Did anyone actually see Children of the Corn V? It was so bad that it made Children of the Corn 666 seem good.
Other films were new takes on the "slasher" genre, such as Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Psychological crime dramas like The Silence of the Lambs and Seven won international acclaim. Japanese horror was just starting to emerge as a force with films like Ringu. While the American version, The Ring, catapulted Japanese horror into the American mainstream, it also served as a harbinger of things to come: the remake.
With all these cross currents, a lot of great horror films got lost in the stream of time. Through a careful spelunking expedition, they have been rediscovered and put on this list. These obscure films represent the best horror of the '90s that you may have missed.
You wake up in a sterile, cube-shaped room with no recollection of how you got there. On each of the six sides of the room are passageways to other similar rooms. Oh, and most of the rooms happen to be death traps. That is the premise of this 1997 horror film that combines cerebral suspense with creatively gory killings. Six characters work together (or apart) to try and get out of the mysterious cube alive. Any more explanation would ruin the element of mystery that makes Cube a must-see.
This movie by John Carpenter has gone surprisingly unnoticed throughout the years. The 1994 film tells the story of a famous horror writer wearing a black turtleneck (sound familiar?) whose writing seems to be more than pure fiction. Thematically driven, the film manages to unfold like a novel, paying homage to the art of horror writing. Simultaneously, In the Mouth of Madness is as scary as any film out there, utilizing everything from shadows to gore to monsters to frighten the audience.
Johnny Depp stars in this underrated 1999 Roman Polanski film. Returning to his horror roots (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Depp plays a rare book dealer who is hired to seek out a particular text allegedly co-authored by Lucifer. There are many levels to this film, and the intricately interwoven symbolism continues to unfold even after watching it multiple times. It is a psychological thriller with supernatural elements, excellent cinematography, and a brilliant score.
Generally referred to as John Carpenter's Vampires, this 1998 horror film is an under-appreciated gem. Starring James Woods and Daniel Baldwin, the film follows these vampire hunters as they face off against the ancient vampire Valec. The gory special effects are great, the story is well-written, and the vampires are convincing (they do not sparkle). While this film didn't reinvent the genre, it at least deserves the title "best performance by a lesser Baldwin."