best 90s horror movies

The 13 Best ’90s Horror Movies

From 'Army of Darkness' to teen slashers like 'I Know What You Did Last Summer,' there's something for everyone on this list.


Avital Oehler

Pop Culture

Posted on Mar 17, 2024   Updated on Mar 18, 2024, 8:15 am CDT

With a resurgent interest in anything 90s, perhaps due to the so-called 30-year theory of nostalgia, or maybe because Gen Z is desperately seeking a pre-social media existence. Either way, we want to highlight another aspect of the ’90s that you should be binging: ’90s horror flicks

We’ve got campy teen slashers, deep psychological horror, and one of the best pre-release movie campaigns of, perhaps, all time. So, here’s our list, in no particular order, of the 13 best horror movies of the ’90s.

Arachnophobia (1990)  

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Arachnophobia refers to fear of spiders, and in this American horror film, two doctors and an insect exterminator in a small town in California have to contend with a prehistoric killer spider species that emerged from the depths of the jungles of South America.    

This horror comedy flick made it to our list because it revives a classic Hollywood subgenre of horror: the creature feature, like Attack Of The Mushroom People (1963) and The Blob (1958), which were very popular in earlier decades. 

Scream (1996) 

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This Wes Craven slasher gem (and its excellent sequel, Scream 2 (1997), released just a year later), is credited with rekindling interest in the horror genre in the 90s. The movie centers around a teenage girl and her friends whose obsession with scary movies might just be their undoing.  

We love this movie for this list because it expertly satirizes the horror genre while creating real jump-out-of-your-seat scares and a proper whodunit mystery to solve.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

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Keeping the campy teen slasher theme going, I Know What You Did Last Summer also revolves around a young girl and her friends, but this time, they have a dark secret that a hook-wielding maniac threatens to expose.  

This movie made it to our list because we needed to include at least one movie that encapsulates why the 90s gets a bad rep for horror films, and we believe that in the case of I Know What You Did Last Summer, sometimes bad is good bad. 

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

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Do you need to watch the first Gremlins in order to enjoy the second? We say absolutely not. The Gremlins are back, and they are uglier than ever, and in this satirical sequel, Gizmo and his friends reunite to destroy a rogue breed of talking gremlins who have gained control of a New York City skyscraper. 

We love this movie because it manages to serve proper horror scares while keeping flawless comedic timing, as well as engaging in deep commentary on the ills of capitalism and unmitigated greed. 

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992) 

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This delicious supernatural tale centers around the titular character Buffy, who is destined to slay all manner of creatures of the night—all while trying to survive as a teenage girl in high school. 

Buffy, the film, made it onto the list, mainly because we wanted to remind everyone that before the hugely popular TV series of the same name, this version existed and is the one that created the entire Joss Whedon Buffy universe. It also stars Luke Perry and we wanted to pay our respects. 

Army Of Darkness (1992) 

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While this is the last in the trilogy of the Evil Dead movies, it is the only one that makes fun of itself and the genre. It stars Bruce Campbell as Ash, who finds himself trapped in medieval times, and in order to get back home, Ash must find the Necronomicon, a book of evil, and defeat the army of the dead. 

Army of Darkness made it to our list because it is a case study in how to reinvent a trilogy, taking it from a small low-budget film and evolving it to a big-budget horror adventure story with lots of laughs. We also think it’s the best one of the trilogy. 

The Faculty (1998) 

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More teens, more blood, but in this high school, there is something really really wrong with the teachers, and only a super addictive stimulant can protect the teens from certain death. starring a very young Elijah Wood, Salma Hayek, and Jon Stewart before his Daily Show fame.

The solution for how the students defeat the bad guys is why this movie made it to our list. It is so out of the box and so very wrong, that it makes it a shoe-in for a best of horror movie list. 

The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

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This film is so well parodied that we barely need to say anything, but in case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s a horror thriller starring Jodie Foster as a young FBI agent who seeks the advice of Hannibal Lecter, a sociopathic cannibal, played expertly by Anthony Hopkins, in order to catch another serial killer named Buffalo Bill.  

Silence Of The Lambs is on our list because it is the only Oscar-nominated horror film to ever win the most sought-after award in Hollywood: the Academy Award for Best Picture. 

Funny Games (1997)

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The only non-English film on this list, this Michael Haneke psychological horror will have you asking “but why?” the entire time, and we can’t promise you that there will be a satisfactory answer by the end of the film. However, we can promise you a healthy dose of sheer Austrian horror. 

We included this film on our list because we love the fact that it isn’t American, and seeing other countries’ take on the horror genre is refreshing, especially because they tend to focus more on psychological terror than jump scares. 

Stir Of Echoes (1999)

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No list from the 90s is complete without including Kevin Bacon. In this creepy ghost story, Tom, who is a total non-believer in anything supernatural, lets his sister-in-law, played by Illeana douglas, put him under hypnosis. When he comes to, Tom begins seeing visions of a missing teenager, and begins a desperate search for her, one that spirals his entire life out of control. 

This movie is on our list because Kevin Bacon is the king of the era. There’s even a game named after him, called 6 Degrees Of Kevin Bacon or Bacon’s Law, all due to his very prolific film career. 

Candyman (1992) 

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Centering around the deeply neglected housing projects in Chicago’s north side, a grad student researches a local legend of a hook-wearing man who might be responsible for a recent murder.  It is a chilling tale that ups the ante on the “saying a name in the mirror” subgenre. 

we highly recommend this film mainly due to the incredible performance by Tony Todd as the titular character, and the eerie soundtrack of Philip Glass that underscores this tale of privilege and race. 

Cube (1997) 

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With plenty of gore to go around, this highly intelligent Canadian puzzle horror movie might be the precursor to The Saw franchise. Six strangers find themselves trapped in cubic cells with no memory of how they got there. they must use their combined skills to escape this seemingly endless maze with its many sophisticated deadly traps. 

This film earned a spot on our list because its main device was removing all traces of the outside world, leaving the characters and the viewers in a claustrophobic void, and we can’t think of anything more terrifying than that. 

The Blair Witch Project (1999) 

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If you were around in the 90s, you would have surely seen the super low-res / lo-fi website called with that super creepy stick figure thing. Famously made on a shoestring budget, this mockumentary-style horror movie follows three documentary filmmakers who go deep into the woods of the township of Blair in search of a local Maryland legend. 

While the film is definitely worth a watch, it was its marketing campaign that earned it a solid spot on our list. This film was one of the first to incorporate the internet into its marketing strategy, with faux police reports and found footage, and we assure you that it worked amazingly, even though the pages took forever to load.

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*First Published: Mar 17, 2024, 1:16 pm CDT