Aaah, the 1990’s. The birth of Friends, the Grunge and Britpop music movements, a golden period for the cowboy traders before the rampant popularity of Trading forex sites…. the final decade of the 20th Century certainly had plenty to offer.
The era of the N64, VHS, and an embryonic internet was also a good time for movie lovers, and fans of the horror genre certainly weren’t left out. Here we take a look back and pick out five of the best fright fests to hit the Movie news during the golden years of Britney Spears, Pamela Anderson, Whitney Houston, and co.
5. Scream (1996)
With Freddy Krueger and Jason having terrorized audiences during the 1980s, the 90s brought news of a new slasher in town, Ghostface. In the capable hands of A Nightmare on Elm Street director Wes Craven, this 1996 release brought the stalker-killer feature well up to date.
In a nod to its predecessors, the star-studded cast, including Drew Barrymore, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and Matthew Lillard, seems fully attuned to horror cliches. All is well and good, but it does little to help them avoid the crazed antics of whoever lies beneath the Halloween costume.
Attempting to figure out just who is terrorizing the teenagers is all part of the fun in this slasher/who-done-it crossover. Also adding to the suspense is the fact that, just because a character is played by a star name, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to last very long……at all.
4. Ringu (1998)
A Japanese horror classic brought to you by the master of horror, Hideo Nakata. Making his debut with Curse, Death & Spirit in 1992, Nakata hit the big time with this 1998 spine-tingler. Not only a success in Japan – much like the cursed videotape which lies at the center of the plot – Ringu spread far and wide, inspiring an (inferior) Hollywood remake in 2002.
The movie tells the tale of a journalist’s investigation into a mysterious videotape which causes those unfortunate enough to watch it to die exactly seven days later, having apparently been quite literally scared to death. Crammed with creepy imagery and truly memorable scenes – the girl in (and out) of the TV screen being the most iconic – Ringu gave viewers nightmares from Japan to the US and almost everywhere in between.
3. Candyman (1992)
Crossing the boundaries between American Gothic and Urban Legend, this loose adaptation of the Clive Barker short story “The Forbidden” struck fear into the hearts of moviegoers. Given that Barker association, it would seem safe to assume that there is nothing particularly sweet about this “Candyman”, and that assumption would be correct.
Candyman, Candyman, Candyman, Candyman….nope we still aren’t brave enough to say it a fifth time either. Speak the name of the titular character five times whilst standing in front of a mirror, and you will summon Candyman with his hook for a hand and very bad intentions. Featuring a suavely menacing Tony Todd in the title role and exquisite camerawork from director Bernard Rose, Candyman is easily one of the best and most iconic horrors of the early 90s.
2. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The found footage genre is now heavily populated, but that wasn’t the case at the time this low-budget classic hit the screens. Expertly marketed prior to release – via a mysterious online campaign which hinted at this being a true-to-life found footage movie – The Blair Witch Project had viewers on tenterhooks before they even took their seats in the cinema. For once, the movie comfortably delivered on the hype.
A handheld camera, teenagers, lost in the woods, and a few rustling branches were just about all that was needed to create one of the most instantly recognizable horror movies in cinema history. What begins as a relatively light-hearted investigation is soon overtaken by a spiraling sense of dread, all leading to a brilliantly executed and unforgettable finale.
1. The Silence of The Lambs (1991)
Adapted from the 1988 Thomas Harris novel, this 1991 release set an early benchmark for the decade, which in the realms of psychological horror was never surpassed. Subsequent movies Hannibal and Red Dragon were solid additions to the canon, as were the tv series Clarice and Hannibal, but, as is so often the case, the original was by far the best.
The Silence of the Lambs follows Jodie Foster in a career-defining role as investigator Clarice Starling. Hunting down a sadistic murderer known as “Buffalo Bill”, Clarice turns to an incarcerated killer for a little insight into the mind of a highly intelligent lunatic. But is she biting off more than she can chew when attempting to deal with Dr. Hannibal Lecter?
Good as Foster is, her performance is at least matched by that of Anthony Hopkins, who is simply magnificent in his menacing portrayal of the cannibalistic Dr. Lecter. Six Oscars, including Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Picture, tell you all you need to know about this chilling character-led masterpiece.