AN A-Z INTRO TO UNDER APPRECIATED HORROR OF THE 1990S

A primer to the wild underbelly of a decade unjustly ignored in the film community.
  1. The Ambulance (1990, dir. Larry Cohen)
    This fun late-night-cable-style thriller from genre master Larry Cohen has a mega-mulletted Eric Roberts in full-on-Eric-Roberts-mode as a Marvel Comics illustrator on a one-man mission to uncover the truth behind a rash of diabetic disappearances. With James Earl Jones as the skeptical detective, Red Buttons as a fast-talking reporter and Stan Lee as himself!
  2. Blood Games (1990, dir. Tanya Rosenberg)
    The fine folks over at Bleeding Skull wrote a great review that captures the magic of this baseball babes vs bad news rednecks trashterpiece. Excerpt: “This movie is fast and loose with two things: nudity and slow-motion. Clothes get torn off at half-speed, and girls dodge bullets and rapists very slowly. Everyone cocks their rifles in slow-motion, aims and shoots in slow-motion, and dies in slow-motion. It’s all very dramatic."
  3. The Crawlers (1993, dir. Fabrizio Laurenti)
    A feature length version of Evil Dead’s tree rape scene (but without all the messy sexual implications), this financed-by-Canadians-but-filmed-in-Utah-by-Italians direct-to-video flick is low-tier stuff but has a pleasant, professional spark that is lacking from today’s digital onslaught. With costumes by Laura Gemser! For fans of the Spaghetti Americana movement (think Curse II: The Bite).
  4. Demon Wind (1990, dir. Charles Philip Moore)
    I have no idea what the hell is going on in 90% of this movie but at least it moves quick, has cool makeup & rotoscoping effects and, most importantly, features a dude roundhouse kicking a demon’s head off. The VHS has a lenticular cover and two awesome taglines: 1. There’s something deadly in the air 2. It’ll blow you away.
  5. Endless Descent (1990, dir. Juan Piquer Simón)
    Jack Scalia, R. Lee Ermey & Ray Wise lead a battle against deep sea beasties during the height of the underwater horror craze. Leviathan, DeepStar Six and The Abyss may have ruled theaters but your exploitation dollars are best spent with this chiller from the director of Slugs.
  6. Frankenstein and Me (1997, dir. Robert Tinnell)
    Set in a small California desert town in the early 1970s, Frankenstein & Me follows a group of young monster-loving friends (including a young Ryan Gosling) coping with the death of one of their fathers (Burt Reynolds in a one-day-on-set sized role) through frequent re-enactments of their favorite horror flicks.
  7. The Gifted (1993, dir. Audrey King Lewis)
    The “Best Feature Film of 1993 voted by the Black Filmmaker’s Hall of Fame” is a myth-heavy headscratcher about a Southern family possessing supernatural abilities. For 5,000 years the Dogon Tribe has passed down the “Gift,” ever since the earth was in danger of being taken over by an evil alien force from the star Sirius. Now a West African King is determined to join with his American relatives to fight off the ominous entity with lots of talking, phone calls & serious looks.
  8. Hauntedween (1991, dir. Doug Robertson)
    What does a group of southern fried frat brothers do when they need to raise some much-needed cash? They host a haunted house hoe-down full of beers, babes, blood and bros. All the good stuff with some pretty mind-blowing accents to boot. A shot on 16mm highlight in Kentucky’s cinematic history.
  9. The Invisible Maniac (1990, dir. Adam Rifkin)
    The feature film equivalent of a horny 12 year old boy, Adam Rifkin’s The Invisible Maniac trades in 70 minutes of terrible jokes and endless shots of locker room cuties for a full-on INVISIBLE RAMPAGE in the last act culminating in an invisible man vs invisible man showdown. I will never get enough c-list actors improv-ing their way through an invisible attack. Featuring Savannah in a non-porn role!
  10. Jack-O (1995, dir. Steve Latshaw)
    A no-budget Fred Olen Ray-produced groaner built around previously-unused footage of John Carradine (died 1988) and Cameron Mitchell (died 1994). While the effects and non-professional cast (the child lead is the director’s son) have surprisingly charm, the movie as a whole doesn’t work. But the argumentative audio commentary track between the director and Ray on the special edition dvd is one for the ages.
  11. Komodo (1999, dir. Michael Lantieri)
    Oscar-winning special effects maniac Michael Lantieri teams with the screenwriters of Anaconda for his sole directorial effort, a brutal mix of cutting edge ’99 CGI, bloody practical effects and real komodo action.
  12. Lisa (1990, dir. Gary Sherman)
    Gary Sherman directed one legitimate masterpiece (Vice Squad), two excellent, underrated chillers (Dead & Buried, Raw Meat) and a third Poltergeist movie before helming this tame afterschool-special-cum-erotic-thriller. My Two Dads’ Staci Keanan makes late night calls to the new man of her dreams… but is he a hot L.A. hunk or the vicious candlelight killer? These low-key, tv-quality thrills somehow squeaked into theaters and would seemingly only appeal to 13 year old girls. And, of course, me.
  13. My Boyfriend’s Back (1993, dir. Bob Balaban)
    That this is the best zom-com of the ‘90s is even more surprising when you remember it was made by Disney. A pitch black good time that pushes the kids-friendly boundary, with big names behind the scenes (produced by Friday the 13th founder Sean S. Cunningham and directed by legendary character actor Bob Balaban) and early roles for up-and-comers in front of the camera (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew Fox, Matthew McConaughey).
  14. The Night Brings Charlie (1990, dir. Tom Logan)
    A late era slasher firmly stuck in 1983 that knows how to keep it simple: a quiet, hooded tree-trimmer goes on a twisted killing spree in a small town. The movie starts, runs for less than 80 minutes and then ends. Just the way I like it.
  15. Omen IV: The Awakening (1991, dir. Jorge Montesi + Dominique Othenin-Girard)
    The directors of Halloween 5 and Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal unite for the 4th installment of this diabolic franchise, returning the series to the killer kiddie fun of the first while continuing the political mumbo-jumbo of the sequels. A huge shout out to the flood of other unnecessary sequels that kept this horror fan busy throughout the decade - I’m looking squarely at you Amityville.
  16. Premutos (1997, dir. Olaf Ittenbach)
    The chunk-blowing splatter masterwork of Olaf “The Burning Moon” Ittenbach serves better as a practical effects showcase than as an actual coherent film but once the non-stop carnage kicks in during the second half, Premutos becomes mandatory viewing for gorezone fanatics.
  17. Quake (1992, dir. Louis Morneau)
    A psychosexual thriller set against the backdrop of the Great Quake of ’89. Steve Railsback is a photographer pervert who comes to the rescue of the object of his obsession, local hottie Erika Anderson (from Nicolas Cage’s legendary ZANDALEE). He saved her from the earthquake. Now, she must save herself… from him.
  18. The Ritual Of Death (1990, dir. Fauzi Mansur)
    A supremely metal Brazilian occult slasher featuring gory kills, a lead character named Brad and some of the most laid-back, otherworldly English dubbing this side of Italy.
  19. Scary Movie (1991, dir. Daniel Erickson)
    Oscar-nominated John Hawkes gives an inspired performance as a paranoid teen convinced a deranged convict is on the loose at the local haunted house spook show. Writer/producer/director Daniel Erickson’s Austin-lensed feature debut is fast-paced fun fueled by youthful exuberance and remains woefully underseen outside Texas.
  20. They Bite (1996, dir. Brett Piper)
    A spiritual remake of Humanoids From The Deep (not to be confused with the official remake, also 1996) follows a XXX film crew making their new opus “Invasion of the Fish Fuckers” while an actual invasion of tentacled sex beasts happens around them. A monster goof with a memorable performance by Ron Jeremy and a killer end credits rap / dance-a-long.
  21. The Untold Story (1993, dir. Herman Yau)
    The brutal, insane Cat. III nasty is as viciously disturbing as it is gross-out funny. Hong Kong legend Anthony Wong is a restaurant owner with a dark side. But as the cops close in you have to wonder what’s really in those delicious pork buns.
  22. Vampire Cop (1990, dir. Donald Farmer)
    Vampire Cop takes a bite out of crime and destroys your mind in this bizarro-world soft-core procedural from low budget auteur Donald Farmer. Recommended for fans of Acting (with a capital A), ‘90s fashion and films that climax with a nearly endless slow motion vampire battle.
  23. Wheels Of Terror (1990, dir. Christopher Cain)
    Duel & The Car updated for the ‘90s, this loud & fast made-for-tv terror delivers the goods with nearly half of its running time spent on a pulse-pounding chase between a badass Dodge Charger (the murderous driver unseen throughout) and a middle school mini-bus piloted by Joanna Cassidy.
  24. Xtro II: The Second Encounter (1991, dir. Harry Bromley Davenport)
    The writer & director of the original cult classic reteam for an in-name-only sequel that is 0% Xtro trying to be 100% James Cameron’s Aliens. If you can accept that going in, this is a gory, gooey good time filled to the brim with damaged Jan-Michael Vincent, hip cyber graphics and heavy trans-dimensional exposition.
  25. Yeuk Saat (aka Red To Kill, 1994, dir. Hin Sing 'Billy' Tang)
    NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. A brutal rapist at a home for the mentally disabled overheats every time he sees the color red in this completely deranged Hong Kong Category III shocker guaranteed to have something to offend EVERYONE. [It should also be noted that the English subtitles translate rapist as “sex lupine”]
  26. Zipperface (1992, dir. Mansour Pourmand)
    AIP Studios (the David Prior & co. direct-to-video powerhouse not to be confused with the Roger Corman drive-in machine) pumped out some of the most glorious genre pics ever to hit store shelves. Zipperface is not one of the good ones. But it features a punked out S&M gimp killer that has to be seen to be believed. In fact, he’s so rad that he’s even in the freeze frame opening title card.