The year was 1990. The Hubble Space Telescope sent down its first images from space to NASA. The number one TV show was Cheers, and girl you know it’s true how embarrassed Pop duo Milli Vanilli must have felt that year.
But, arguably one of the most important events to streamline and set the tone for horror in the ’90s, was quite possibly the legendary Tim Curry slapping on a red nose; inducing a mighty fear of clowns into TV audiences everywhere for the unforeseeable future. Thanks Tim!
Beyond the television terrors of Derry, 1990 was a pretty fantastic year for horror. Tasking myself with dwindling down the list down to, what I think, are the ten best, was slightly anxiety inducing. However, I’m pretty satisfied with the results and the lineage of order. Also, if we’re gonna celebrate anything in 2020, it might as well be things from the past that live on to keep us from losing our minds!
Can we at least agree on that?
So let’s get to it! I’ve also included handy Amazon links with the best deals I could find for said features if you feel inspired by this list to add to your horror collection! Also, I won’t bore you with an in-depth analysis of each film. I feel like most of you have seen or at least know the plots of these gems- and if you haven’t FOR SHAME and click the title links to remedy that immediately.
What do you get when you cross Hulk Hogan, a Grandpa Munster impersonator, and genetic splicer lab run by Christopher Lee? Why, Gremlins 2 of course! I fondly remember seeing this in theaters when I was about eight and I got to tell you, watching the Hulkster threaten the Gremsters with a 24 inch python beating was probably the highlight of my year and deserving of a top-ten slot.
Being as how this Puppet Master installment in particular is my favorite of the franchise, I couldn’t leave it off the list! The puppets return with a very aggressive physical form of Toulon in hopes to resurrect their old puppet party days; along with a few new tricks. A new group is at castle at the puppets’ disposal to slice and dice, but it was those damn “human” puppets that gave me nightmares for weeks on end!
Fun fact: Puppet Master II is playing in the Toyland Warehouse security office in Demonic Toys.
If you weren’t afraid of spiders before the “Roseanne” era John Goodman thriller, I’ll take a million dollar bet that Arachnophobia induced that anxiety in you. Pretty impressive as this IS the first film distributed by the Walt Disney Hollywood Studios label. Way to set the bar there Mickey.
Quite possibly the greatest horror anthology since Creepshow, the Tales From the Darkside feature presentation-as well as the series– is the perfect love-child for fans of the Romero-King collaboration and the unforgettable Tales From the Crypt with a star-studded cast to boot. Steve Buscemi, Christian Slater, Debbie Harry, and a young Matthew Lawrence who serves as the stories’ introduction opposite Blondie’s Harry. We got a homicidal mummy, an even more homicidal (adorable) cat, and one fucked up gargoyle tale of love and betrayal. Need I say any more?
As wild and bewildering as it is, there’s a lot to love about a pen-written Clive Barker film about a mental patient who believes he is a serial killer by none other than, David Cronenberg. The group in the film dubbed the Nightbreed, may look wonky and in movie-terms, scary. But are actually the misfits. The outcasts. And the dreamers. A lot of things I whole-heartedly believe many horror fans can relate to. Love it or hate it- it has a place in my heart.
Ok first off: YES. I know Ghost isn’t a traditional horror film like the others listed here. However, my motto has and alsways been- “If it scares you, it’s a damn horror movie.” And I’m sticking to that. Those demon ink-blobs scared the literal piss out of me when I was a kid therefore this masterpiece gets a slot here.
Ghost has just about everything the average cinema-goer could want in a film. Also could be why it was undoubtedly one of the most popular films of that year. Love, betrayal, drama, thrills, a little comedy, and a cool cat that sees ghosts. Ok, he has a small part but it’s still one of my favorite little quirks about the movie.
The sequel to the Mancini/Holland endeavor is every bit as great as the original with Chucky really coming into his own in 1990. Sure, the Chuck had some memorable one-liners from the first film. But in the sequel, the pavement has been laid for Chucky’s homicidal yet humorous personality with a dozen or so “you can’t help but laugh” lines and actions that just makes this one so great. Worth mentioning is the opening title sequence of the burnt remains of his body being pieced back together like a fucked up Frankenstein.
BEEP BEEP! I can fondly remember watching the 2 part-miniseries that premiered on the ABC network in November of 1990. I was eight-years-old and by God, as a young brooding horror nerd, this was absolutely thrilling for me to see something so terrifying being aired on a family-friendly network! As with above’s Arachnophobia, the rise of coulrophobia went full steam ahead with audiences everywhere and I hold the magnificent Tim Curry fully responsible for his genius performance as Pennywise for inducing clown-related panic attacks for years down the line.
Humorously enough, it was during the mini-series premiere of IT where I caught my first glimpse of that cockadoody nurse Annie Wilkes and the theatrical trailer for Misery during a commercial break. The strong, and ankle-anxiety inducing story from Stephen King for me, is perfectly represented on screen with Kathy Bates. Bates IS Annie and delivers a performance that can be compared to Hopkins’ Hannibal Lector one year later. You love to hate her. That’s not an easy feat for any character.
And now that you’ve exorcised my invitation to the top ten dance, here we are at the very greatest film of 1990- THE EXORCIST III. The film, adapted from William Peter Blatty’s “Legion”, is about as aesthetically pleasing being the first person to walk on fresh snow in the morning hours. Incidentally, it’s also intellectually the one true, and finest sequel to The Exorcist. Brad Dourif (his second appearance on this list-BRAVO), clocks into his One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest days to remind us that he’s a lot more than just the voice of a killer doll for horror fans. The man is an ACTOR. And one of the damn finest alongside George C. Scott who serves as his opposite making way for a beautiful on-screen performance that compliment each other wonderfullly.
Not to mention it has THEE greatest jump scares to this day of any horror film. EVER. And since it hold’s the number one spot, let me endulge you with you possibly shitting your pants one more time with the headless nun!
What’s your favorite horror gem from 1990? Sound off below and I’ll be back with a a top ten of 1980 list in the near future! Stay tuned!