Saturday, October 20, 2012

Horror in the Nineties (Top 13)

The Eighties may have had more fun with horror, but the Nineties used the genre to say things, even if in an often dour way. Oh, there was silly fun to be had too. This was the decade we got “It” and “Arachnophobia.” But the stand outs this time around mostly stand out due to the ideas they were exploring:

13. “The X Files” (1998) Rob Bowman

One of the best TV series ever tried its luck on the big screen. This film is not really as good as it should be to make this list. (Certainly the second theatrical installment drags this one ever further dawn.) However, the goodwill earned and the ideas explored on the better episodes of the series raise this into my top horror (or at least tension) of the decade.

12. “Candyman” (1992) Bernard Rose

One of the earlier philosophical postmodern horror films. It does its job better than the likes of “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” but not as well as some films from the end of the decade.

11. “Flatliners” (1990) Joel Schumacher

As with all Schumacher, this is almost too stylish to be scary, but the horror here is the best sort: the kind that makes you think about life and what really matters.

10. “The Witches” (1990) Nicholas Roeg

This films feels more like an Eighties film. Fun and creepy.

9. “The Frighteners” (1996) Peter Jackson

In some ways, this may be Peter Jackson’s best creation. It falls in between his schlocky, early, cheap horror and his later adaptation with mixed results. Here we get a truly original and intricate story.

8. “Scream” (1996) Wes Craven

The meta, postmodern, pop culturally savvy, analysis of the Eighties slasher genre. This is an important film.

7. “The Mummy” (1999) Stephen Sommers

This one only qualifies as horror in the faintest of ways. But as such it is one of the more entertaining films of the decade.

6. “Silence of the Lambs” (1991) Jonathan Demme

This film may be the most disturbing film on this list, because it is nothing like a flight of fancy. This is close to reality and it makes one consider a concept that was not at all popular to be taken seriously in the Nineties: evil.

5. “Jurassic Park” (1993) Steven Spielberg

The two films that followed this one drug its reputation down a bit, but it is a great film, and it touches on some great, classic horror themes.

4. “Sleepy Hollow” (1999) Tim Burton

You might dismiss this as simply good fun. (It is Burton in one of his god efforts.) However, it does have things to say about faith, reality, the supernatural, and religion. But does it really know its subject matter?

3. “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992) Francis Ford Coppola

Even though it is highly stylized, and has frustrating bookends added on, this is one of the most thematically faithful adaptations of the book brought to film.

2. “The Sixth Sense” (1999) M. Night Shyamalon

Forget the second half of M. Night’s career. This was spectacular and stunning when you first saw it. That and it set the world talking and speculating about things like the supernatural and the afterlife.

1. “Dark City” (1998) Alex Proyas

Horror? Or simply dark Sci-Fi? Either way this is a philosophical exploration of reality and identity and every bit as good as The Matrix. Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

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