Time Warp: 10 Memorable 90s Slashers

Being born in 1981, I was in full horror freak mode by 1992. Eleven years after arriving on this unforgiving planet, I’d already endured a baptism by fire – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre being the film that welcomed me into the horror fold – and the effect it had on me, mentally, was equal parts paralyzing and fascinating. I never looked back.

I did, however, enjoy the hell out of the slasher sub-genre, even after the slasher’s prime days were long passed. The 1990s weren’t exactly kind to the genre as a whole, and many felt as though (it sounds preposterous now, but it’s entirely true) horror had run its course and would gradually work its way from the minds of moviegoers.

As it turns out, horror was far from dead. It was the slasher film that had flat-lined, and that all changed in 1996, when Wes Craven reinvented himself yet again and injected new life into the slasher branch with the first Scream release. The picture was brutally clever, and it won big at the box office. Naturally a number of sequels and similar efforts would follow suit, all looking to cash in, and while most of those copycat pics were nauseating, there were a handful that worked to keep us thrilled and chilled.

Now, we head back to the 1990s – even before the release of Scream – to take a closer look at 10 slasher pics worthy of multiple viewings.

Scream
Scream was a blast, and it was smart in a way that most slasher films weren’t. It was self-aware, so to speak. Not only was it a crafty film, it also captured the essence of teenage life perfectly. From the ensemble’s wardrobe to the lingo to the trendy soundtrack – it was all there.

It was also the first frightening slasher film in years. But the willingness to incorporate good humor worked wonders for the flick. From the jump, we high schoolers (I was a sophomore or junior the year Scream snuck into theaters) could relate to a terrifying feature that had no qualms in offing likable characters or spilling copious amounts of blood on set.

Scream was one of Wes Craven’s greatest features, and no one can ever take away the fact that Scream single-handedly revived the slasher genre. Blast of a movie and an unorthodox trailblazer, if ever there was one!

Scream

Scream 2
One of those extremely rare sequels that impresses almost as much as its predecessor, Scream 2 did a whole lot of things right. Introducing a new pair of killers created another enjoyable mystery, and Scream’s keeping up on the youthful trends carries directly over into the sequel.

There are a few overtly cheesy sequences (cafeteria singing scene, anyone?) to contemplate and a few characters are closer to disappearing than being outright slaughtered, which makes for a few missed opportunities on the gore front. But the pic still proved to be a lot of fun, and the soundtrack was somehow even stronger and more time/trend appropriate.

Not only did Wes Craven revive a sub-genre, he also delivered the first awesome sequel to the newly revived slasher sub.

Scream 2

I Know What You Did Last Summer
In retrospect, I Know What You Did Last Summer was a pretty shaky film. Ah hell, it was a terrible flick that couldn’t have come across as a bigger rip-off if the subtitle had been “Scream Rip-off.” But back in the 90s, this was a fun feature that put Jennifer Love Hewitt’s lovely bosom on display (over and over again) and featured an unrelenting villain that – admittedly – looked pretty badass. Murderous fishermen are just bad news… always.

Production values were solid, and the cast featured a load of fresh but recognizable faces. Although nearly every vocal exchange is cringe-worthy, I Know What You Did Last Summer could have been a certified dud; it wasn’t. It worked for well for youth of the 90s.

I know what you did Last Summer

Disturbing Behavior
A modern day (or… 90s day) spin on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Disturbing Behavior was actually a rather slept on film that followed the slasher formula despite offering a different story crux. It had some strong, impactful scenes and featured a young, vibrant, but suddenly rebellious Katie Holmes and a fresh-faced James Marsden.

The pic is loaded with some intense sequences (the fluids in the car scene is a total WTF moment), and once the ball gets rolling, the action never subsides. This is a much better film than many would admit, and it’s got an absolutely stellar appearance from the always amazing William Sadler.

Disturbing Behavior

The Faculty
One of the two truly amazing films on this list, Robert Rodriguez also delivered his own take on the good old alien invasion idea in the 90s. Rodriguez’s film was appropriately titled The Faculty, and it too deviated from the slasher core ideology while using all the slasher tricks in the book. While Disturbing Behavior was a damn good time, The Faculty puts it to shame, as it is truly an absurdly polished picture with a top-notch cast and a breakneck pace. The movie just flies by and leaves the viewer feeling completely fulfilled.

Like Scream before it, The Faculty nails teenage life in the 90s seamlessly. The fact that Rodriguez was able to piece together a group of protagonists with radically different attitudes and personalities, and make that group really work as a cohesive unit, speaks a great deal to Rodriguez’s understanding of film and storytelling in general. Although a bit heavy on the CGI, The Faculty still holds up very well today.

The Faculty


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Matt Molgaard

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