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 2021

#40
#40
Adjusted Score: 61178%
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: Private eye Harry D'Amour (Scott Bakula) travels to Los Angeles and meets with a new client, Dorothea Swann (Famke Janssen).... [More]
Directed By: Clive Barker

#39

Cemetery Man (1995)
60%

#39
Adjusted Score: 61381%
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: Something is causing the dead to rise from their graves as flesh-eating zombies, and cemetery custodian Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett)... [More]
Directed By: Michele Soavi

#38

Raising Cain (1992)
59%

#38
Adjusted Score: 62028%
Critics Consensus: Raising Cain doesn't rank with Brian De Palma's best work, but John Lithgow's spellbinding split-personality performance makes this thriller hard to dismiss.
Synopsis: A highly regarded child psychologist, Dr. Carter Nix (John Lithgow) has shown signs of being unstable, but he completely snaps... [More]
Directed By: Brian De Palma

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 63508%
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: A man (Juan Schwartz) convicted of cannibalism tells a reporter his story, complete with singing and dancing.... [More]
Directed By: Trey Parker

#36

Wolf (1994)
62%

#36
Adjusted Score: 64932%
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: After being bitten by a wolf in rural Vermont, aging book editor Will Randall (Jack Nicholson) finds himself full of... [More]
Directed By: Mike Nichols

#35
#35
Adjusted Score: 64595%
Critics Consensus: A pulpy crime drama/vampire film hybrid, From Dusk Till Dawn is an uneven but often deliriously enjoyable B-movie.
Synopsis: On the run from a bank robbery that left several police officers dead, Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his paranoid,... [More]
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 65589%
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: Aspiring Florida defense lawyer Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) accepts a high-powered position at a New York law firm headed by... [More]
Directed By: Taylor Hackford

#33

Cube (1997)
64%

#33
Adjusted Score: 65908%
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: Without remembering how they got there, several strangers awaken in a prison of cubic cells, some of them booby-trapped. There's... [More]
Directed By: Vincenzo Natali

#32

Mimic (1997)
64%

#32
Adjusted Score: 66437%
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: When a cockroach-spread plague threatens to decimate the child population of New York City, evolutionary biologist Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino)... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#31
Adjusted Score: 66930%
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: Born as an 18th-century lord, Louis is now a bicentennial vampire, telling his story to an eager biographer. Suicidal after... [More]
Directed By: Neil Jordan

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 67139%
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: For reasons unknown, the recently deceased are rising from the grave as flesh-hungry zombies. Fleeing from the undead horde, a... [More]
Directed By: Tom Savini

#29

The Frighteners (1996)
66%

#29
Adjusted Score: 67254%
Critics Consensus: Boasting top-notch special effects and exuberant direction from Peter Jackson, The Frighteners is visually striking but tonally uneven.
Synopsis: Once an architect, Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) now passes himself off as an exorcist of evil spirits. To bolster... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#28

It (1990)
68%

#28
Adjusted Score: 69147%
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: In 1960, seven preteen outcasts fight an evil demon that poses as a child-killing clown. Thirty years later, they reunite... [More]
Directed By: Tommy Lee Wallace

#27
Adjusted Score: 68056%
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: When young Fool (Brandon Adams) breaks into the home of his family's greedy and uncaring landlords, he discovers a disturbing... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#26

Stir of Echoes (1999)
68%

#26
Adjusted Score: 72041%
Critics Consensus: Kevin Bacon's acting is so genuine that it's creepy and director David Keopp knows how to create true suspense.
Synopsis: Blue-collar family man Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) scoffs at supernatural phenomena -- until he lets his wife's sister, Lisa (Illeana... [More]
Directed By: David Koepp

#25

Body Snatchers (1993)
70%

#25
Adjusted Score: 72343%
Critics Consensus: Body Snatchers may not topple previous adaptions, but it boasts an effective sense of dread and strong characterizations.
Synopsis: When Environmental Protection Agency inspector Steve Malone (Terry Kinney) travels to a remote military base in order to check for... [More]
Directed By: Abel Ferrara

#24

Habit (1996)
74%

#24
Adjusted Score: 73556%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Sam (Larry Fessenden), a down-and-out New Yorker who is grieving over his father's death and has just broken up with... [More]
Directed By: Larry Fessenden

#23

Sleepy Hollow (1999)
69%

#23
Adjusted Score: 74347%
Critics Consensus: It isn't Tim Burton's best work, but Sleepy Hollow entertains with its stunning visuals and creepy atmosphere.
Synopsis: Set in 1799, "Sleepy Hollow" is based on Washington Irving's classic tale "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Faithful to the... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: 75378%
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: The magical collectibles store that Gizmo calls home has just been destroyed, and the tiny monster finds his way into... [More]
Directed By: Joe Dante

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 76034%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A police detective falls under hallucinatory spells while trying to capture the sadistic man who raped her.... [More]
Directed By: Dario Argento

#20

Army of Darkness (1992)
73%

#20
Adjusted Score: 76350%
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: 3rd Evil Dead movie. Ash (Bruce Campbell) finds himself trapped in medieval times. He must quest for the Necronomicon, a... [More]
Directed By: Sam Raimi

#19

Jacob's Ladder (1990)
73%

#19
Adjusted Score: 77474%
Critics Consensus: Even with its disorienting leaps of logic and structure, Jacob's Ladder is an engrossing, nerve-shattering experience.
Synopsis: After returning home from the Vietnam War, veteran Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) struggles to maintain his sanity. Plagued by hallucinations... [More]
Directed By: Adrian Lyne

#18

Poison (1991)
77%

#18
Adjusted Score: 78196%
Critics Consensus: Claustrophobic and quirky horror, this is a decently dirty debut for director Todd Haynes.
Synopsis: Three stories: "Hero," about a boy who kills his father; "Horror," black-and-white sci-fi; and "Homo," set in prison.... [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 79902%
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: Adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic vampire novel. Gary Oldman plays Dracula whose lonely soul is determined to reunite with his... [More]
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

#16

Beloved (1998)
78%

#16
Adjusted Score: 80995%
Critics Consensus: A powerful, emotional and successful film adaptation of the original novel.
Synopsis: In 1873 Ohio, Sethe (Oprah Winfrey) is a mother of three haunted by her horrific slavery past and her desperate... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#15
Adjusted Score: 81496%
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: Reality and fantasy meet in unsettling ways in this installment of the long-running horror series, which finds director Wes Craven... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#14

Scream (1996)
79%

#14
Adjusted Score: 83536%
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

#13

Mute Witness (1995)
83%

#13
Adjusted Score: 83004%
Critics Consensus: Mute Witness is a slickly crafted horror/thriller with some surprising comic twists.
Synopsis: Billy (Mary Sudina) is mute, but it hasn't kept her from becoming a successful makeup artist. While in Russia, working... [More]
Directed By: Anthony Waller

#12

Candyman (1992)
77%

#12
Adjusted Score: 83987%
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: Skeptical graduate student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) befriends Anne-Marie McCoy (Vanessa Williams) while researching superstitions in a housing project on... [More]
Directed By: Bernard Rose

#11

Audition (1999)
82%

#11
Adjusted Score: 85486%
Critics Consensus: An audacious, unsettling Japanese horror film from director Takashi Miike, Audition entertains as both a grisly shocker and a psychological drama.
Synopsis: This disturbing Japanese thriller follows Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), a widower who decides to start dating again. Aided by a film-producer... [More]
Directed By: Takashi Miike

#10

Scream 2 (1997)
81%

#10
Adjusted Score: 86036%
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: Sydney (Neve Campbell) and tabloid reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) survived the events of the first "Scream," but their nightmare... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#9

Tremors (1990)
86%

#9
Adjusted Score: 89314%
Critics Consensus: An affectionate throwback to 1950s creature features, Tremors reinvigorates its genre tropes with a finely balanced combination of horror and humor.
Synopsis: Repairmen Val McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) are tired of their dull lives in the small desert... [More]
Directed By: Ron Underwood

#8

Dead Alive (1992)
88%

#8
Adjusted Score: 91681%
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: Overprotective mother Vera Cosgrove (Elizabeth Moody), spying on her grown son, Lionel (Timothy Balme), as he visits the zoo with... [More]
Directed By: Peter Jackson

#7
#7
Adjusted Score: 93374%
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: Found video footage tells the tale of three film students (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams) who've traveled to... [More]

#6

Cronos (1993)
91%

#6
Adjusted Score: 93842%
Critics Consensus: Guillermo del Toro's unique feature debut is not only gory and stylish, but also charming and intelligent.
Synopsis: Antique dealer Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi) stumbles across Cronos, a 400-year-old scarab that, when it latches onto him, grants him... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#5

The Sixth Sense (1999)
86%

#5
Adjusted Score: 93204%
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: Young Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) is haunted by a dark secret: he is visited by ghosts. Cole is frightened... [More]
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan

#4

Misery (1990)
90%

#4
Adjusted Score: 95099%
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: After a serious car crash, novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is rescued by former nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), who... [More]
Directed By: Rob Reiner

#3

Arachnophobia (1990)
93%

#3
Adjusted Score: 96219%
Critics Consensus: Arachnophobia may not deliver genuine chills, but it's an affectionate, solidly built tribute to Hollywood's classic creature features.
Synopsis: After a nature photographer (Mark L. Taylor) dies on assignment in Venezuela, a poisonous spider hitches a ride in his... [More]
Directed By: Frank Marshall

#2

The Ring (1998)
97%

#2
Adjusted Score: 98905%
Critics Consensus: Ringu combines supernatural elements with anxieties about modern technology in a truly frightening and unnerving way.
Synopsis: When her niece is found dead along with three friends after viewing a supposedly cursed videotape, reporter Reiko Asakawa (Nanako... [More]
Directed By: Hideo Nakata

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 105380%
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: Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI's training academy. Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) wants Clarice... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

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