The ’90s weren’t a golden age for horror. The ’70s were. The ’80s were too. In the ’70s, horror got hard. The Hollywood Production Code, which had kept screens clean and tidy for 40 years, was dead. And the filmmakers that took the most advantage of it were the ones that wanted to scare the bejesus out of you. By the ’90s, things chilled out — maybe too much. The slasher movie was dead; the major studios mostly stopped making horror. Reagan was gone, and George H.W. Bush was perceived as a wimp. Clinton would make America so boring he’d be impeached for lying about sex. And during this time, you had to really look to find great horror. But it was there if you made the effort.
As Halloween approaches, you’ve got a better excuse than any other time of year to sit in front of some damn fine horror. Here are our favorites from an inglorious, but far from inessential, decade. Note, as with our ’80s list: We stuck to one film per filmmaker, for the sake of fairness.
25. Army of Darkness (1992)
For his third Evil Dead movie, director Sam Raimi tried a sneak-attack. He took a franchise that had been known primarily by cult audiences, ditched the name and tried to pass it off as a standard (if weirdo) blockbuster. It didn’t work, but that’s to the film’s (and the fans’) benefit. Even sending Bruce Campbell’s Ash to the distant past — a year before Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III — turns out to be an inspired idea, allowing our chainsaw-armed hero to battle medieval ghosts and goblins, bop about dilapidated castles and dole out some legit decent fish-out-of-water antics. (More fantasy romps need lines like “Give me some sugar, baby.”) By Army of Darkness, we’re more than several centuries away from the grindhouse gross-outs of the original The Evil Dead. But that’s not a problem when you have Ash fighting an army of mini-Ashes.