Alright folks, it’s round two! Make sure to take a look back at part one if you missed it for some more recommendations, for now here are the final six.
#6- Scream (1996)
This list simply couldn’t exist without this Wes Craven classic teen-scream. Sidney Prescott is a student at Woodsboro high school, she has a good group of friends but a dark mark on her past. One year ago her mother was murdered by a man named Cotton Weary. Upon the anniversary of her mother’s death, students are being gruesomely murdered in what seems to be a copycat killer case and Sidney is thrust in to the middle of a cat and mouse chase for the masked murderer. What makes this film so fun is the way it approaches the genre, it served as the jumping point for characters who actively acknowledged horror film tropes on screen. Many times throughout the film we see characters narrating the situation they’re in or describing how an offscreen victim is being slaughtered by referencing scenes or tropes from other famous horror flicks. Not to mention an absolutely dynamite cast and a cheeky cameo by Craven himself. Available to stream on Tubi and Amazon Prime.
#5- Anaconda (1997)
A small amateur film crew takes to the Amazon River in search of documenting a lost tribe called the Shirishama, and along the way they pick up a stranded snake hunter named Serone. He claims to know the way to this tribe, but as time goes on the crew gets more apprehensive of this stranger. Soon they face to face with their worst nightmare, a giant anaconda who begins to hunt them down one by one. This film is such a good time, from beginning to end. It has some lackluster digital effects, as it was released in the late 90s, but the practical effects they utilize make up for it. It shares that same cheeky demeanor of horror from this decade, and again features a knock-out cast. Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Jonathan Hyde and Danny Trejo make for a campy array of performances that fit the overall tone of the film. Available on Netflix!
#4- I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Another teen-scream slasher loosely derived from the Duncan novel of the same name, and oddly enough written by the same man who wrote Scream. For the 4th of July, four friends decide to take a late night drive to the beach to celebrate. Along the way a man appears on the road causing them to accidentally hit him, because they had been drinking they agree (mostly) to dump his body in the water and never speak of it again. A year following the accident, Julie receives a letter saying “I know what you did last summer!” prompting her to track down her friends and figure out who the man was. They must try to survive a killer equipped with a hook while trying to keep their secrets buried. A dark storyline, some creative kill scenes, and yet another stacked cast makes for a film you won’t want to miss. Available on Shudder and Amazon.
#3- Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
Twenty years after the explosion at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, Michael Myers is still missing. Marion Chambers (colleague of Michael’s former doctor Dr. Loomis) returns home to discover that Laurie Strode’s file is missing. Laurie, Michael’s sister, has been presumed dead though she really faked it. Laurie has been attempting to create a new life as headmistress of the boarding school her son attends, but Michael has another plan in store. As expected with this series the story drives the film, with its well executed suspense that Michael is lurking behind every corner because well… he almost always is. Of course Jamie Lee Curtis returns, alongside faces like Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams and LL Cool J. Definitely a must see if you enjoy any of the original installations, available to stream on Amazon!
#2- The Faculty (1998)
Casey Connor, Herrington high school’s resident photographer finds a mysterious creature on the football field which he introduces to his science teacher. The teacher determines it must be a sort of parasitic creature, one that unfortunately has begun taking over the entire staff in a mission to posses the bodies of them all. Now, a misfit group of kids from different circles is thrown together in an attempt to save the town from total takeover. This one might take the cake as far as my favorite from the decade, it’s the perfect mix of visceral and campy where the effects are so grossly over the top. The cast performs each of their roles stunningly (once again, lots of familiar faces), and the writing can be really witty at times making this kind of the full package. Available on Shudder and Amazon.
#1- House on Haunted Hill (1999)
Evelyn Stockard-Price is married to amusement park mogul Steven Price, and this year he has planned a macabre birthday soiree for his bride. Hosting in the now abandoned Psychiatric Institute, abandoned because the former patients killed the staff and cruel doctor, Evelyn’s guests arrive to realize that no one knows why they’re there. None of them know each other, her guest list has been mysteriously rewritten. Somehow the emergency lock system is set off and they are trapped inside, left to the vengeful souls of the patients… and their cruel doctor. This one has it’s rough digital effects moments, but also has some amazing effects thanks to the mastery of Greg Nicotero. This film is overall an interesting modern take loosely based on the 1959 original, with maybe the best cast on the list (Famke Janssen, Geoffrey Rush, Taye Diggs, Chris Kattan, Ali Larter, and even Jeffrey Combs to name a few). Available on Amazon Prime.
This list was twice the length as usual, and was still really difficult to put together. The 90s is a decade that really, truly changed the game for horror cinema on so many levels, paving the way for the future trajectory of the genre. Whether this is your first exposure, or you’re a long time fan, there are countless titles to explore so enjoy!