Everyone talks up the ’80s as the golden age of horror movies, but the ’90s? More like a golden shower!
Aside from Leprechaun (Jennifer Aniston’s finest hour), 1990-1999 was a bust for scary flicks; scraping together a decade-encompassing list would be a fool’s errand.
Hi. Fool here. Halloween—formerly known as “October”—is a demanding month.
None of these 13 ’90s movies would be considered High Art; tellingly, few of them are even available on proper streaming services (at least not for free). Grab a Zima and some 3D Doritos, and prepare to be underwhelmed—though there are some accidental gems.
Highway to Hell (1992; Prime Video): Lovebirds Rachel (Kristy Swanson) and Charlie (Chad Lowe) are en route to get married in Las Vegas when a demonic highway patrolman kidnaps Rachel and drags her to hell to become a bride of Satan. Charlie follows, encountering hell-dwellers like Lita Ford, Ben Stiller and Gilbert Gottfried (as—wait for it—Hitler). Highway to Hell is aggressively stupid, but entertaining-ish.
Ice Cream Man (1995; Prime Video, Tubi): Creepy Gregory (creepy Clint Howard) takes over the local business of the Ice Cream King and starts sprinkling new ingredients into the product (bugs, blood, body parts, etc.), while also caging up kiddies in his parlor. Despite a few clever kills (a severed head in a giant waffle cone!), Ice Cream Man never earned a slasher franchise, because who wants more Clint Howard?
Tromeo and Juliet (1997; YouTube): Long before Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad, James Gunn co-wrote this sleaze-o-rama with Troma kingpin Lloyd Kaufman. Tromeo and Juliet adds new dimensions to the Romeo and Juliet story, like gratuitous violence, lesbian canoodling, closeup nipple-piercing, giant cow schlongs, and narration by Lemmy of Motörhead. Bravissimo!
Zipperface (1992; YouTube): A black-leather-bondage-suited goon is torturing and killing the BDSM prostitutes of … Palm City? Zipperface is a misogynistic mess that plays like Z-grade cable porn, but the writers really crossed the line by setting the movie in San Diego’s worst suburb. There’s not much here that would be out of place in a ’90s cop drama, an ’80s metal music video, or Tromeo and Juliet.
Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies (1999; Tubi): The first of three (!) sequels to Wes Craven’s 1997 original, Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies ups the game by pitting a sexy priest (Paul Johansson) and a sexier art thief (Holly Fields) against the demonic Wishmaster (Andrew Divoff, overacting to the nth degree). The gore of Wishmaster 2 revolves around verbal semantics; wishing someone to “go screw himself” is not cool.
Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway (1993; YouTube): A young woman (Ami Dolenz) moves into a Los Angeles loft, finds a Ouija board, and promptly summons the spirit of the previous tenant, who claims to have been murdered. (L.A. real estate is brutal.) The spirit then starts unleashing death and destruction whenever the Ouija board is accessed, but do they just stop? Nope. Related: Check out The Social Dilemma on Netflix.
Office Killer (1997; YouTube): When Dorine (Carol Kane) sees her office job at Constant Consumer (ha!) magazine downsized to a work-from-home gig, she loses it and begins plotting to kill her co-workers (including Molly Ringwald, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Michael Imperioli), and bring their bodies home for company. Could this be any timelier in 2020? Working from home sucks that much.
Full Eclipse (1993; YouTube): “There’s a new police force on the streets … and they only come out at night.” Rave cops? Nope: There’s a vigilante subsect within the LAPD made up of genetically enhanced werewolves—and Det. Max Dire (Mario Van Peebles) has infiltrated their ranks. Aside from some hilariously wolfed-up sex scenes, there’s not much action in Full Eclipse; 2014’s WolfCop did it better.
Death Machine (1994; Prime Video, YouTube): Set in the far-flung future of 2003, Death Machine is essentially RoboCop with a lobotomy. Genius cyborg engineer Jack (Brad Dourif) is out for revenge against the corporation that fired him, unleashing his ultimate creation, “Warbeast,” against it. (His first project was called … “Hard Man.”) Fun fact: Death Machine was Rachel Weisz’s first film role. Well, sad fact for her.
Embrace of the Vampire (1995; Tubi): Embrace of the Vampire led to the destruction of many a VHS player in the mid-’90s, thanks to horndog teens furiously pausing and rewinding the “scandalous” nude sex scenes of Alyssa Milano, sitcom sweetheart (Who’s the Boss?). Here, she’s a college student stalked by a suave vampire (Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet!); Embrace would be a tame Lifetime movie in 2020.
Bordello of Blood (1996; YouTube): Between his ’80s stint on Saturday Night Live and his current gig as a Republican-adjacent shill, Dennis Miller starred in this Tales From the Crypt footnote. Miller plays a P.I. out to rescue Corey Feldman from a vampire hooker coven led by supermodel Angie Everhart, which really sounds like Feldman’s element. Saving grace: Music by Anthrax, Thin Lizzy and Redd Kross.
Vampirella (1996; YouTube): Turning ’70s erotic-horror comic book Vampirella into a live-action movie was turrible idea, mostly because the costume was physically impossible to execute. Talisa Soto (barely) suited up anyway, resulting in this Blade for Dummies Dumpster fire starring Roger Daltrey as an alien (?) vampire ruling the Las Vegas underworld. Even Roger Corman completists say, “Uh, no thanks.”
Wild Zero (1999; YouTube): Japanese garage-rock legends Guitar Wolf befriend superfan Ace (Masashi Endo) just in time for a UFO-spurred zombie apocalypse. Wild Zero is pretty much Shaun of the Dead, just with leather jackets, transgender equalization, and a rock ’n’ roll-AF soundtrack. Try not to sing along as Guitar Wolf scream “Roaring blood! Exploding blood! Baby, baby, baby! Roaring blood!”