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20 Must-See Horror Films of the 90's... That You May Have Missed!

Every decade produces an assortment of high quality terror that somehow fails to register on radar. While we’ve discussed underappreciated works plenty in the past, I thought it would be a good time to shed a little light on the 90’s, as the decade saw the release of some severely neglected flicks.

Take note of the fact that some of these movies enjoyed warm reception upon release. Also note the fact that just about every one of them has also been practically forgotten over the years. It’s a shame: these are fine features with beefy shelf lives!

The First Power: This flick fuses eerie atmosphere, a fantastic villain and some fast paced action to create a uniquely creepy package. I still can’t grasp the non-sealant demeanor the public market issued when The First Power hit the market. This flick has a little bit of everything, and Jeff Kober is ealy one of the most menacing onscreen villains to be introduced to moviegoers in decades.

Darkman: A bit of dark humor, a load of action and the smell of sweet revenge make this franchise springboard a must see for genre fans. While initially met with generally potive critical response, Darkman has become a forgotten product. Not only does this flick boast kick ass performances from Liam Neeson and Larry Drake, there are trademark Sam Raimi shots all over the place; this one is unforgettable, hopefully fans begin to remember that!

Pacific Heights: Forget gore or disturbing atmosphere, this story leans on its characters, and those characters are developed well enough to carry the picture. Like Darkman, Pacific Heights was embraced upon release only to become a forgotten masterpiece. Michael Keaton is brilliant, and this film marks one of the first times that Keaton truly shined in the seat of the antagonist. Along with Beetlejuice, Pacific Heights paved the way for the onscreen birth of notable villain, Peter McCabe in Desperate Measures.

Dr. Giggles:

A campy comedic undertone acts as support to this gruesome gorefest that stars Larry Drake, who finds himself directly involved with this list for a second time. Dr. Giggles has always flown under the radar, and I’ll be the first to admit that the picture is flawed in a whole lot of ways. That doesn’t sway my love for this goofy picture in the slightest: certainly a candidate for "best so bad it's great" flick!

Mother’s Boys: Yves moneau’s creepy tale of a psychotic mother is really a very disturbing piece of work. Jamie Lee Curtis changes her typical tune and tackles the role of antagonist for the picture, and she’s wonderful as a twisted mother who crosses just about every boundary you can draw. A very disquieting incestuous undertone pushes this one over the edge; it should in all honesty make your skin crawl, if you can remember it exists long enough to seek it out.

Lord of Illuons: This one has Barker’s dere to venture to the extreme all over it; unfortunately the story feels a little murky after transferring to film. I’ve never been sold on Scott Bakula’s portrayal of Barker’s fan favorite character, Harry D’Amour; there’s something a little… soft about his performance that’s never sat too well with me, but ade from that and a few plot points that get lost in translation, this flick is extremely entertaining! Lord of Illuons rarely gets mentioned during “Barker’s best work” discusons, but it’s a good enough film to be right in the mix for conderation.

The Prophecy: This inimitable hybrid borrows elements of horror, drama and action, and makes them work together in seemingly effortless synchronicity. The performances on hand (from an absolutely fantastic cast that includes Christopher Walken, Elias Koteas, Eric Stoltz, Viggo Mortensen and Virginia Madsen) are marvelous, and Gregory Widen’s script is tight and engaging. How The Prophecy is so frequently underrated is beyond my grasp: this is one of the finest genre pieces to see release in the 1990’s. A handful of direct-to-video sequels have seen release, and believe it or not the first few are fine features!

Screamers: I’m mesmerized by this film’s atmosphere every time I watch it. It’s bleak, it’s disheartening, it’s hopeless, and ultimately it’s almost perfect. Long unheralded, this picture is legitimate entertainment with some solid performances from familiar faces and some nice twists that elevate a fairly run-of-the-mill script. It’s by no means the perfect picture, but it’s far better than its reputation indicates.

The Craft: The Craft is ealy one of the finest witch pictures you’ll find on the market. While it’s earned its fair share of loyal followers, the film still doesn’t typically garner the praise it’s worthy of; the general opinion seems to be that it’s a fine but forgettable film. I disagree. The Craft is a must see gem that’s found itself further distanced from casual fans as the years tumble by. Change that: discover a treasure ad snatch this flick up, fast!

The Arrival: The Arrival is certainly more science fiction than horror, but it’s got its chilling moments all the same, and it’s a surpringly well put together piece of work! Before Charlie Sheen spoke like he’d just returned from a vacation to Mars, he spoke like he’d just returned from a vacation to Mars! Some awesome twists and a dash of near palpable paranoia make for an awesome viewing experience. How The Arrival has been all but forgotten is a mystery I can’t solve, it’s actually an awesome flick.

The Frighteners: Back in the 90’s Peter Jackson was refining his craft in preparation for a masve leap in the industry. Along the way he worked on some fine genre pieces, including this 1996 offering, that just so happens to be one of the decades best. The film offers a bit of everything: mystery, intricately woven plot, terrific performances, big laughs and atmosphere fine enough to rival any film available to the public. This is definitely a well-received film. The problem (as is often the case) is, it’s also oft forgotten, and overshadowed by some of Jackson’s better known works.

The Relic: You want to watch a kick ass modern (well, not anymore I suppose!) monster movie? This one is for you. It’s unforgiving, moves at a deliberate but impacting pace and boasts a clever setup for a quality monster reveal. The film showcases a prime, pre-drug addicted Tom zemore and the girl-next-door cute, Penelope Ann Miller. Don’t look into this one expecting perfection, as you won’t find it. You will however find a spirited flick with some decent gore and solid performances. The throwback structure of the script is greatly overlooked as well: this one certainly has a vintage feel to it!

Lost Highway: David Lynch’s Lost Highway is one hell of a mind bender. It’s really tough to pin down exactly what makes this film so brilliant; don’t get me wrong, the obvious answer is atmosphere, but there’s a whole lot more to this picture than just that. Look for some kick ass performances and staggering visuals in this beauty that’s garnered more confuon than praise, sadly.

Mimic: Much like Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro spent the 90’s gearing up for greener pastures. En route, del Toro would craft some extremely kick ass flicks, including Mimic, the tale of creepy humanoidish shape-shifting bugs. The acting is excellent, the script is superb and the creatures are creepy as hell! Dig into del Toro’s back catalog to discover this piece of art (take a peek at the awesome Cronos while you’re at it!), although not many talk on the picture, it’s stellar in every way imaginable!

The Wishmaster: The Wishmaster received plenty of love from US crowds upon initial release. It’s nce become a franchise greatly ignored by younger crowds. Sure the film already carries a dated feel. It also carries a giant load of respect and nostalgia courtesy of constant tributes and cameos. If you’ve let this one t in the “I’ll get to it eventually” pile, stop wasting time and treat yourself to a goofy feature loaded with goodies any true horror fan will cherish.

The Night Flier: Hands down the most unheralded vampire flick of the 90’s, The Night Flier is a startlingly well assembled flick! Mark Pavia notched a masve win in his lone foray into the industry. This film oozes chills, and Pavia’s script translation (the flick is based off a Stephen King short, if you were unaware) makes for fine bragging rights. If you’re looking for a frightening bloodsucker, he’s here, in the folds of this eerie picture.

Dark City: If you enjoy the abstract, you’ll likely love Dark City. Often regarded as convoluted, this flick is a fine period piece and dark character study. The imagery alone should have ensured Dark City thrive in the memories of genre fans for decades to come, yet somehow, many have forgotten the film even exists. Alex Proyas may be best known for manning The Crow, but his true masterpiece has been tting under our collective noses nce 1998.

Disturbing Behavior: Make no mistake; Disturbing Behavior is a near brainless rendition of the age old invaon tale we’ve seen executed too many times to count (few rival Don egel’s 1956 feature, Invaon of the Body Snatchers). Somehow, director David Nutter manages to dip the entire picture in charm. There’s a lovable quality to this picture that I can’t truly understand. By all accounts, this should probably be a pretty terrible film, all the elements are in place; trendy cast, recycled script, and expected cliché’s aplenty. But believe me, it’s actually very enjoyable! Anyone who grew up in the 90’s will note the cultural relevance on display, and maybe that’s precisely why the film manages to exceed expectations, despite toting some sure-fire pitfalls.

Virus: A masve box office flop, Virus is surpringly entertaining. It’s always nice to see Jamie Lee Curtis embrace the heroine role in a genre piece, and this film makes for no exception. The story is kooky, and not exactly original, but the cast and the efforts offered forth by Curtis, Joanna Pacula and Julio Oscar Mechoso in particular are admirable. Some cool mechanical effects are certainly worthy of note as well. Ignore the repulve reviews this flick garnered and give it a shot, it’s no Halloween, but it’s a nice showcase for the always endearing Jamie.

Ravenous: When it comes to cannibalism films, Ravenous is by far one of the finest to be shot. The set pieces are absolutely gorgeous, the atmosphere mirrors the mood of the script wonderfully, and there are a handful of absolutely genius performances to feast on. Guy Pearce is a fine unlikely hero, but the true show stealer is Robert Carlyle, who offers a career defining performance. Don’t let the fact that it looks like a potentially drab period piece fool you: this one is practically insanity personified, and it deserves to be recognized as one of the truly great features of the 1990’s!
Matt_Molgaard Tuesday 8/30/2011 at 06:49 PM | 81861
As per usual, I really liked this list. I just don't think some of these are THAT overlooked. The Craft found a devoted audience in its day; Disturbing Behavior did the same, as it was part of that mid to late 90's tween set horror blitz (which is probably why I notched them both on my horror soundtrack gems list a while back!). The Night Flier gets a lot of play on SyFy during their almost monthly SK marathons. Lord of Illuons, though, is definitely an overlooked gem. I

know so few people who've even heard of this film!

On a personal note, I so hated Wishmaster. First time I was ever really tempted to walk out on a film.
dew Tuesday 8/30/2011 at 07:14 PM | 81863
While I haven't seen it, I read that Lord Of Illuons was received and turned out so bad, that Clive hasn't returned to directing nce. Screamers is one of my all time favorite movies, and it's Canadian too! I love showing people Frighteners, and telling them Peter Jackson did it. While many of these movies are close to my heart, Darkman, Wishermaster, Night Flier, the one I haven't seen, and always wanted to is Ravenous, IMDB use to say it was directed by Paul Verhoeven, and I use to want to see everything he did. Even though it's nce been corrected, the movie has always been on my list to check out. Good list.
HorrorDaily Tuesday 8/30/2011 at 08:29 PM | 81869
Great list, I definitely agree with The Craft it was an amazing movie that nobody knows about anymore. It's a shame that all these great movies are unknown to most people.
Scout Tuesday 8/30/2011 at 08:43 PM | 81870
While I haven't seen it, I read that Lord Of Illuons was received and turned out so bad, that Clive hasn't returned to directing nce. Screamers is one of my all time favorite movies, and it's Canadian too! I love showing people Frighteners, and telling them Peter Jackson did it. While many of these movies are close to my heart, Darkman, Wishermaster, Night Flier, the one I haven't seen, and always wanted to is Ravenous, IMDB use to say it was directed by Paul Verhoeven, and I use to want to see everything he did. Even though it's nce been corrected, the movie has always been on my list to check out. Good list.

Barker is actually tapped to return with an animated feature soon.

LOI is certainly flawed, but its a lot of fun, and its such a spectacle to see. For me, Bakulah has always been the films big question mark.
Matt_Molgaard Tuesday 8/30/2011 at 11:13 PM | 81887
Some good movies on here.

I still watch The Frighteners every Halloween season.

The Craft and The Relic have been on cable pretty frequently lately, so it's a good time to check those out.

The Prophecy is an under-appreciated clasc in my eyes.

Engaging story and a terrific cast.

I love the final scene with Elias Koteas and Viggo Mortensen's Lucifer.

This is more of a horror comedy, but I'd put Tremors on the list also.
gummi Wednesday 8/31/2011 at 04:36 AM | 81908
Extra points on The Frighteners for ung a real spree killing couple as bas for the storyline.
dew Wednesday 8/31/2011 at 12:24 PM | 81928
Just added about five more movies to my Movies To See list. My library has The Frighteners and I'm hoping Family Video has the rest. So far they've only had about 1 in 5 movies I want to see.
Ed Reilly Wednesday 8/31/2011 at 02:24 PM | 81934
I agree with all of these, especially Screamers, Wishmaster, and Ravenous.

I have the workprint of Disturbing Behavior before the studio cut the soul out of it to make it more of a teen romp. As it stands now it is still and entertaining movie but the original cut is better. It's about 15-20 minutes longer, has a full plot line that was removed from the theatrical release, and even sheds more light on the parents motivation in Cradle Bay. Many of the "huh?" moments from the theatrical cut make sense here because the story is uncut. Also, Katie Holmes never looked hotter. Holy crap.
Cecil Thursday 9/01/2011 at 01:38 AM | 81966
Love Ravenous, Dr. Giggles, Lord of Illuons, The Prophecy,

The Craft, The Arrival, The Frighteners, and Disturbing Behavior.Though I didn't care for The Relic or Mimic.

And yeah, I thought these were not under the radar films.

But just because they aren't to us doesn't mean there aren't lost mainstream folks ;)
KB24 Thursday 9/01/2011 at 10:32 PM | 82043