The 40 Best 90s Horror Movies

Historically low gas prices. A boy band for every block. Philips CD-i. POGS. Maybe we just had it too good during the ’90s because audiences weren’t flocking much to horror movies this decade. As a result, there are less entries here than on our ’70s and ’80s lists. Nevertheless, if you feel like getting grungy and/or jiggy with it (in whichever order, we’re fair) then check out Rotten Tomatoes’ list of the 40 Best ’90s Horror Movies!

The first half of this decade was notoriously rough for horror, as diminishing production value, lost craft, and sequel bloat buried the genre. Jason, Michael, and Freddy all got canceled, with only Wes Craven’s New Nightmare getting good enough reviews to show up on this list. Even more, New Nightmare‘s post-modern meta-story would pave the way for Craven’s own Scream, which would revive horror leading into the 21st century. Other highlights from this era in horror movies include the only one to ever win Best Picture (The Silence of the Lambs), the rise of Peter Jackson (Dead Alive, The Frighteners) and Guillermo del Toro (Cronos, Mimic), sophisticated adult fare (Jacob’s Ladder, Candyman), and winking B-movie mashups (From Dusk Till Dawn, Tremors). The only stipulation for a movie to be considered for this list was a Fresh rating, before we sorted by a ranking formula that factors a movie’s number of reviews and release year.

Like a kiss from a rose or a rotting vegetable, here comes the best scary 1990s movies…TO THE EXTREME!

90 Best ’70s Horror Movies | 80 Best ’80s Horror Movies
80 Best 2000s Horror Movies | 140 Best 2010s Horror Movies
200 Best Horror Movies of All Time | Best Horror Movies of 2020

#40

Nadja (1995)
60%

#40
Adjusted Score: 60.915%
Critics Consensus: Nadja approaches the Dracula legend from an idiosyncratic angle - and with just enough visual style to overcome uneven storytelling.
Synopsis: A beautiful vampire is stalking the streets of downtown New York in this combination horror film and black comedy. Nadja... [More]
Directed By: Michael Almereyda

#39
#39
Adjusted Score: 60.915%
Critics Consensus: Lord of Illusions may come as something of a disappointment in the context of writer-director Clive Barker's best work, but genre fans should be reasonably diverted.
Synopsis: An ordinary private eye finds himself on a twisting, turning roller-coaster ride to hell when he enters the nightmarish world... [More]
Directed By: Clive Barker

#38
Adjusted Score: 62.951%
Critics Consensus: Cemetery Man will frustrate viewers seeking narrative cohesion or coherence, but this surreal blend of humor and horror should satisfy B-movie fans in the mood for quirk.
Synopsis: Achingly romantic and creepy-funny, this funereal fantasy from the director of La Chiesa (1989) is unlike any Italian film in... [More]
Directed By: Michele Soavi

#37
Adjusted Score: 63.278%
Critics Consensus: If you're only going to watch one black comedy about a real-life explorer whose fellow travelers ended up eaten, make it Cannibal! The Musical.
Synopsis: Set in 1873, this musical focuses on Alfred Packer who is accused of cannibalizing members of his West-traveling party. Japanese... [More]
Directed By: Trey Parker

#36

Wolf (1994)
61%

#36
Adjusted Score: 64.12%
Critics Consensus: Wolf misses the jugular after showing flashes of killer instinct early on, but engaging stars and deft direction make this a unique horror-romance worth watching.
Synopsis: Jack Nicholson becomes a werewolf in this bizarre comedy-horror film directed by Mike Nichols. Nicholson plays Will Randall, a book... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 64.363%
Critics Consensus: A pulpy crime drama/vampire film hybrid, From Dusk Till Dawn is an uneven but often deliriously enjoyable B-movie.
Synopsis: In this action-horror flick from director Robert Rodriguez and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino, Tarantino stars with George Clooney as a pair... [More]
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

#34

Cube (1998)
63%

#34
Adjusted Score: 64.448%
Critics Consensus: Cube sometimes struggles with where to take its intriguing premise, but gripping pace and an impressive intelligence make it hard to turn away.
Synopsis: Six people are inexplicably imprisoned in a booby-trapped system of boxes, with no hope and fewer means of escape. A... [More]
Directed By: Vincenzo Natali

#33
Adjusted Score: 67.537%
Critics Consensus: Held aloft by gonzo black comedy and socially conscious subtext, The People Under The Stairs marks a unique -- though wildly uneven -- change of pace for director Wes Craven.
Synopsis: Wes Craven wrote and directed this surrealistic horror-comedy, which was inspired by a true story of parents keeping their children... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#32

The Frighteners (1996)
64%

#32
Adjusted Score: 65.623%
Critics Consensus: Boasting top-notch special effects and exuberant direction from Peter Jackson, The Frighteners is visually striking but tonally uneven.
Synopsis: Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) is blessed, or cursed, with the ability to see ghosts easily. He has gone into... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#31

Mimic (1997)
64%

#31
Adjusted Score: 66.012%
Critics Consensus: Mimic finds director Guillermo del Toro struggling to inject his unique sensibilities into a studio picture - and delivering just enough genre thrills to recommend.
Synopsis: While one would imagine that the average New Yorker would be used to dealing with bugs after years of apartment... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 66.016%
Critics Consensus: Though it is ultimately somewhat undone by its own lofty ambitions, The Devil's Advocate is a mostly effective blend of supernatural thrills and character exploration.
Synopsis: Supernatural forces hover over the courtroom in this devilish drama adapted from the novel by Andrew Neiderman. Attorney Kevin Lomax... [More]
Directed By: Taylor Hackford

#29
Adjusted Score: 66.12%
Critics Consensus: Despite lacking some of the book's subtler shadings, and suffering from some clumsy casting, Interview with a Vampire benefits from Neil Jordan's atmospheric direction and a surfeit of gothic thrills.
Synopsis: Anne Rice's best-selling romantic horror tale about the origins of a centuries-old vampire inspired this popular, atmospheric chiller. One of... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#28
Adjusted Score: 67.334%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The title affliction causes sufferers to react to paintings in extreme and bizarre ways. In the case of police detective... [More]
Directed By: Dario Argento

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 67.674%
Critics Consensus: Night of the Living Dead doesn't quite reinvent the original's narrative, but its sleek action and amplified gore turn it into a worthy horror showcase.
Synopsis: Makeup wizard Tom Savini's color remake of George A. Romero's 1968 classic follows the original almost shot-for-shot, so quality comparisons... [More]
Directed By: Tom Savini

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 68.005%
Critics Consensus: Though hampered by an uneven second half, It supplies a wealth of funhouse thrills and an idelible turn from Tim Curry as Pennywise.
Synopsis: Based on one of Stephen King's bestselling novels, this is a story told in flashbacks. In a small town, a... [More]
Directed By: Tommy Lee Wallace

#25

Body Snatchers (1993)
69%

#25
Adjusted Score: 70.661%
Critics Consensus: Body Snatchers may not topple previous adaptions, but it boasts an effective sense of dread and strong characterizations.
Synopsis: Abel Ferrara's Body Snatchers is the third screen version of Jack Finney's cold war science fiction novel Invasion of the... [More]
Directed By: Abel Ferrara

#24

Stir of Echoes (1999)
68%

#24
Adjusted Score: 72.373%
Critics Consensus: Kevin Bacon's acting is so genuine that it's creepy and director David Keopp knows how to create true suspense.
Synopsis: In this supernatural thriller, Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is a fairly typical working-class guy living in Chicago with his wife... [More]
Directed By: David Koepp

#23

Habit (1997)
74%

#23
Adjusted Score: 74.363%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: It's autumn in New York. Sam has broken up with his girlfriend, and his father has recently died. World-weary and... [More]
Directed By: Larry Fessenden

#22

Sleepy Hollow (1999)
69%

#22
Adjusted Score: 74.242%
Critics Consensus: It isn't Tim Burton's best work, but Sleepy Hollow entertains with its stunning visuals and creepy atmosphere.
Synopsis: Washington Irving's tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman gets a few new twists in a screen adaptation directed... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 75.431%
Critics Consensus: Gremlins 2 trades the spiky thrills of its predecessor for looney satire, yielding a succession of sporadically clever gags that add some flavor to a recycled plot.
Synopsis: Where the original Gremlins was a horror film spiked with comedy, Gremlins 2: The New Batch is essentially a black... [More]
Directed By: Joe Dante

#20
#20
Adjusted Score: 76.011%
Critics Consensus: Overblown in the best sense of the word, Francis Ford Coppola's vision of Bram Stoker's Dracula rescues the character from decades of campy interpretations -- and features some terrific performances to boot.
Synopsis: Based on Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel, this film from Francis Ford Coppola and screenwriter James Victor Hart offers a... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#19

Jacob's Ladder (1990)
73%

#19
Adjusted Score: 77.515%
Critics Consensus: Even with its disorienting leaps of logic and structure, Jacob's Ladder is an engrossing, nerve-shattering experience.
Synopsis: A tortured man finds himself caught in a middle-ground between hallucination and reality in this supernatural thriller, scripted by Bruce... [More]
Directed By: Adrian Lyne

#18

Army of Darkness (1993)
73%

#18
Adjusted Score: 76.496%
Critics Consensus: Army of Darkness is a madcap adventure worth taking thanks to Bruce Campbell's hammy charm and Sam Raimi's acrobatic direction, although an intentional lack of shocks make this a discordant capper to the Evil Dead franchise.
Synopsis: The third in director Sam Raimi's stylish, comic book-like horror trilogy that began with The Evil Dead (1982), this tongue-in-cheek... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi

#17

Poison (1991)
77%

#17
Adjusted Score: 77.924%
Critics Consensus: Claustrophobic and quirky horror, this is a decently dirty debut for director Todd Haynes.
Synopsis: Todd Haynes' feature debut is structured around three interlocking vignettes. In the AIDS allegory "Horror," filmed in the style of... [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

#16

Candyman (1992)
75%

#16
Adjusted Score: 79.961%
Critics Consensus: Though it ultimately sacrifices some mystery in the name of gory thrills, Candyman is a nuanced, effectively chilling tale that benefits from an interesting premise and some fine performances.
Synopsis: Researching urban folklore, a University of Chicago student snoops around the housing projects of Cabrini Green to find more about... [More]
Directed By: Bernard Rose

#15
Adjusted Score: 82.052%
Critics Consensus: Wes Craven's New Nightmare adds an unexpectedly satisfying - not to mention intelligent - meta layer to a horror franchise that had long since lost its way.
Synopsis: Freddy Krueger is back from the grave in another thriller from famed horror director Wes Craven. This film differs from... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#14

Beloved (1998)
78%

#14
Adjusted Score: 81.316%
Critics Consensus: A powerful, emotional and successful film adaptation of the original novel.
Synopsis: When a former slave takes in a feral young woman, strange occurrences begin to take place, begging the question: could... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#13

Scream (1996)
78%

#13
Adjusted Score: 81.978%
Critics Consensus: Horror icon Wes Craven's subversive deconstruction of the genre is sly, witty, and surprisingly effective as a slasher film itself, even if it's a little too cheeky for some.
Synopsis: The sleepy little town of Woodsboro just woke up screaming. There's a killer in their midst who's seen a few... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#12

Mute Witness (1995)
83%

#12
Adjusted Score: 83.762%
Critics Consensus: Mute Witness is a slickly crafted horror/thriller with some surprising comic twists.
Synopsis: This British thriller takes many unusual twists and turns as it follows the perils of three young American filmmakers in... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Waller

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 84.94%
Critics Consensus: An audacious, unsettling Japanese horror film from director Takashi Miike, Audition entertains as both a grisly shocker and a psychological drama.
Synopsis: Controversial Japanese director Takashi Miike creates this unnerving horror film about a widowed TV producer auditioning prospective wives. In his... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#10

Scream 2 (1997)
81%

#10
Adjusted Score: 85.594%
Critics Consensus: As with the first film, Scream 2 is a gleeful takedown of scary movie conventions that manages to poke fun at terrible horror sequels without falling victim to the same fate.
Synopsis: The crafty Wes Craven follows up lastÕs yearÕs surprise hit with another supremely self-referential but satisfyingly droll thriller.... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#9

Tremors (1990)
86%

#9
Adjusted Score: 88.676%
Critics Consensus: An affectionate throwback to 1950s creature features, Tremors reinvigorates its genre tropes with a finely balanced combination of horror and humor.
Synopsis: Tremors is actually two movies in one. On its own terms, it's an enjoyable modern sci-fi horror-thriller, with good pacing... [More]
Directed By: Ron Underwood

#8

Dead Alive (1993)
88%

#8
Adjusted Score: 90.854%
Critics Consensus: The delightfully gonzo tale of a lovestruck teen and his zombified mother, Dead Alive is extremely gory and exceedingly good fun, thanks to Peter Jackson's affection for the tastelessly sublime.
Synopsis: Considered by many to be the goriest film ever made and one of the funniest "splatstick" horror films since Sam... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#7

The Sixth Sense (1999)
86%

#7
Adjusted Score: 93.085%
Critics Consensus: M Night Shayamalan's The Sixth Sense is a twisty ghost story with all the style of a classical Hollywood picture, but all the chills of a modern horror flick.
Synopsis: In this chilling psychological thriller, eight-year-old Cole Sear is haunted by a dark secret: He is visited by ghosts. A... [More]
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan

#6
#6
Adjusted Score: 93.289%
Critics Consensus: Full of creepy campfire scares, mock-doc The Blair Witch Project keeps audiences in the dark about its titular villain, proving once more that imagination can be as scary as anything onscreen.
Synopsis: Combining Hi-8 video with black-and-white 16 mm film, this film presents a raw look at what can happen when college... [More]

#5

Cronos (1994)
91%

#5
Adjusted Score: 94.12%
Critics Consensus: Guillermo del Toro's unique feature debut is not only gory and stylish, but also charming and intelligent.
Synopsis: This surreal variant on the classic vampire tale is the directorial debut of Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who garnered... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#4

Arachnophobia (1990)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 94.175%
Critics Consensus: Arachnophobia may not deliver genuine chills, but it's an affectionate, solidly built tribute to Hollywood's classic creature features.
Synopsis: Referring to the fear of spiders, Arachnophobia features a particularly deadly species of spider that manages to make its way... [More]
Directed By: Frank Marshall

#3

Misery (1990)
90%

#3
Adjusted Score: 94.682%
Critics Consensus: Elevated by standout performances from James Caan and Kathy Bates, this taut and frightening film is one of the best Stephen King adaptations to date.
Synopsis: Adapted from a Stephen King novel, Rob Reiner's Misery cast James Caan as a writer at a career crossroads. The... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#2

Ringu (Ring) (1998)
97%

#2
Adjusted Score: 98.512%
Critics Consensus: Ringu combines supernatural elements with anxieties about modern technology in a truly frightening and unnerving way.
Synopsis: In this psychological horror story from Japan, a legend circulates among teenagers that if one watches a certain video at... [More]
Directed By: Hideo Nakata

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 103.834%
Critics Consensus: Director Jonathan Demme's smart, taut thriller teeters on the edge between psychological study and all-out horror, and benefits greatly from stellar performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.
Synopsis: In this multiple Oscar-winning thriller, Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI's training academy whose... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

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