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Scariest Movies of the ’90s

Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, and Skeet Ulrich/Matthew Lilliard star as Sidney Prescott, Dwight ‘Dewey’ Riley, Gale Weathers, and Ghostface in “Scream” Dimension Films

All Your Favorite Horror Films

’90s Horror

From “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Halloween” to “Chucky” and “It,” the horror franchise is home to some of the world’s most gut-wrenching, spine-tingling films of serial killers and monsters. Between all the sub-human slashers like Freddy and Jason, creatures like The Thing and xenomorphs, and regular humans like Norman Bates and Jack Torrance, there are ample movies to watch in this genre. Whether viewers prefer a creature-feature like “Leprechaun” and “DNA,” or viscous animals like the ones in “Deep Blue Sea” and “Lake Placid,” the ’90s has it all. But out of all the ’90s horror films, which ones are considered the scariest?

“The Silence of the Lambs”

“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) — sometimes referred to as “Lambs” starts off the ’90s with an impeccable performance by the cast and enough blood and guts to get one through the whole decade just by watching this film alone. The movie follows Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), an FBI trainee who needs help from former psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to catch current serial killer Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), who skins his female victims.

This movie set the precedent for later horror films with its horrific murders and unnerving primary antagonist (save for Buffalo Bill) Dr. Lecter, played wonderfully by Hopkins. As Hannibal Lecter, Hopkins exudes a terrifying air of confidence and charisma throughout the film, so much so that he even scared actress Jodie Foster. Between Lecter’s lack of blinking paired with hissing reminiscent of a reptile and the brutal and bloody beating and flaying of his prison guard, “The Silence of the Lambs” earns its spot on the list as one of the scariest movies to come from the ’90s.


From slashed throats and decapitated dogs to attempted immolation, the 1992 film “Candyman” became a well-known slasher alongside “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th,” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” The movie is about an urban legend that turned out to be true, where a man named Daniel Robitaille (Tony Todd) becomes the infamous Candyman after his racially motivated murder. In order to sustain his legacy, the Candyman kills anyone who summons him after chanting his name five times in front of a mirror.

Aside from the well-executed amount and style of gore, this movie earns its spot as one of the scariest for many reasons. The killer in “Candyman” is made of and able to control swarms of bees, stinging people to death and even forcing a swarm down protagonist Helen Lyle’s (Virginia Madsen) throat. While it might not have the body count other slashers do, it makes up for it by disgusting anyone with a fear of insects. “Candyman” is also especially terrifying due to its realism, bringing to light racial inequality and the horrors of lynching and mobbing that many Black Americans faced throughout history. 


Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) is one of the most familiar and iconic slasher films of all time, and it’s an ongoing franchise. In the movie, the Ghostface killer taunts his victims by calling them when they’re home alone, using a voice modulator to disguise his identity. After forcing his victims to play a game in which they answer horror movie trivia, he brutally murders them, usually by disembowelment. Final girl Sidney Prescott (Neve Camobell) becomes the killer’s main target, leading to a protection detail from family-friend and local cop Dwight “Dewey” Riley (David Arquette) and harassment from news anchor Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) as they try to pinpoint who the Woodsborough killer could be.

What makes “Scream” one of the scariest ’90s movies is the fact that it is something that could and can happen in everyday life. There’s no werewolf or ghost behind the slaughter — just a twisted human that uses psychological torture before butchering their victim. One of the other aspects of this film that is considerably frightening is the reveal of not one, but two killers at the end. The final question Ghostface asks the films’ first victim, Casey Becker (Drew Berrymore), is, “Which door am I at?” The reveal of a homicidal duo changes one’s perspective of the opening scene when the realization that either answer given is both correct and incorrect, and therefore Casey would die either way.

“I Know What You Did Last Summer” 

The film “I Know What You Did Last Summer” closes ’90s horror with a bang, containing a well-known cast of phenomenal actors who would go on to play beloved characters from various movies and shows. After striking a pedestrian on their way to a 4th of July beach gathering, Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and her friends Helen Shivers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Ray Bronson (Freddie Prinze Jr), and Barry Cox (Ryan Philippe) attempt to hide the body before finding out the man is still alive. After drowning him, the group agrees to never speak of what happened. A year passes and a hooked killer begins stalking the group, exacting revenge for the events from the previous summer.

Multiple chase scenes and sprays of blood from slit throats make the film one of the scariest from the ’90s, leaving viewers anxious and disgusted as the main characters try to both evade and identify the killer. Despite its lack of violence, the scene where Jennifer Love Hewitt screams “What are you waiting for?!” while the camera pans around is especially chilling. Both the intensity of the line’s delivery from the extraordinary actress and the incredible cinematography helps set the tone for this eerie movie.

The Best of the ’90s

While the 90s contained many great horror movies, “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Candyman,” “Scream,” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” are some of the best. What makes these movies the scariest of their time isn’t just the blood and gore, but also the realism of each film. While Candyman ends up becoming a vengeful spirit, he starts off and still appears physically as a normal human. A human killer is a far cry from monsters that don’t exist because they look and act just like other humans, only with a warped mind and a thirst for blood, making these films an absolute must watch.

Official Sony Pictures “I Know What You Did Last Summer” Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Author at Dead Talk News

Hi, I'm Haley! I recently graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington with a B.F.A. in creative writing and a B.A. in psychology. I love writing and have been doing it since I was little, with my niche being the dark and macabre in short stories and poems.