Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1990

Happy New Year y’all! I am hitting you with a top ten list right off the bat; and what a wonderful array of insanely messed up celluloid this bunch is! The top four are films I rated 5/5 and spots 5 – 10 were all rated 4/5. It was tough choosing spots 5 – 10 as I rated seven other films 4/5; Two Evil Eyes, Adrenaline, Frankenstein Unbound, The Ambulance, The Death King, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie and Nightmare Concert (please do not start with Nightmare Concert if you have never seen a Lucio Fulci film, this one is for fans of daddy like myself). Let the 90s madness begin!

*Only feature-length films will be included on the top ten lists for the decade; I do not include shorts, documentaries or made for television movies.

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#10 SINGAPORE SLING
Directed By: Nikos Nikolaidis

Singapore Sling is the story of a private eye searching for a woman named Laura who follows the trail to the home of an incestuous, sadomasochist mother and daughter team. An absolutely bizarre mix of humour, weird, kinky, vile sex and a touch of blood, gore and torture. The two women although murderous are far more interested in exploring the lines between pain and pleasure. They don’t do anything to their captors they don’t do to themselves. Prepare yourself for shock therapy, water torture, and golden showers amoung other unsavory acts. Ever shove your fingers down your throat so you can vomit on your partners face while they orgasm? Needless to say, Singapore Sling is not for everyone! Thankfully filmed in black and white, and quite beautifully I might add with great performances too. Michele Valley and Meredyth Herold who play the mother and daughter roles are both bold, fearless and fascinating. The private eye whom they nickname Singapore Sling has little to no dialog and spends the film in a semi-comatose state, but actor Panos Thanassoulis does get to have some fun in the film’s finale. Singapore Sling has a very satisfying ending I won’t soon forget! Singapore Sling is a cheeky and nasty little film I found unique and thoroughly mesmerizing. To read the full review click here.

singapore sling

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#9 NIGHTBREED
Directed By: Clive Barker

I have an extra special place in my heart for Nightbreed. Nighbreed is written and directed by Clive Barker and is based on his story Cabal. Aaron Boone dreams of a city called Midian where strange creatures have been forced into hiding. Aaron goes to see psychiatrist Philip Decker at the bequest of his girlfriend Lori. Decker convinces Aaron that he is responsible for a series of murders that Decker himself has committed. Aaron in a hallucinatory state is hit by a truck and while in the hospital he meets a man who gives him directions to Midian. Aaron immediately seeks out Midian only to find he is not welcomed. He is bitten by one of the Nightbreed from whom he escapes only to be gunned down by police. The bite he took from the Nightbreed brings him back from the dead and he once again seeks out Midian. Aaron now accepted as one of the Nightbreed is forced to fight an all out war to save them. I do love my creatures and Nightbreed is jammed packed with beautifully realized nightmares. Equally impressive are the fantastic sets and sets pieces and I think this may just be one of Danny Elfman’s best scores. I will not deny there are some continuity issues and Craig Sheffer was not a great choice for lead but what it gets right is so very satisfying. I understand that Clive Barker was livid when a huge chunk of the film was cut before it was released. Barker casts David Cronenberg as the psychotic Philip Decker and he is just creepy as hell and Lori played by Anne Bobby is cute and likable. But really, this is all about the wonderful world of Midian and its gorgeously grotesque and massively creative creatures. I adore Nightbreed despite its problems and I think it is a must see for fans of creature features.

nightbreed

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#8 TREMORS
Directed By: Ron Underwood

Tremors is yet another creature feature from the decade but this one leans towards a 50s sci-fi and is played strictly for laughs. Handymen; Val and Earl attempt to vacate the teeny tiny town of Perfection but discover the dead body of a man on their way out. This is only the first of several corpses that turn up and a rock slide prevents the duo or anyone else from leaving. A young female seismologist suggests that the tremors and the deaths are related and it turns out she is correct. Giant sand worm creatures they call Graboids are determined to eliminate every last resident. I have a huge crush on Fred Ward who plays Earl and I really think he is one of the most under-appreciated actors out there. He has good chemistry with Kevin Bacon who plays Val. The two characters have some great back and forths. I also enjoyed the gun crazy fanatical Gummers played by Reba McEntire and Michael Gross. While there is a significant body count there certainly is not much here in the way of blood and gore. This is definitely PG but it sure is fun and action packed. The lightening fast pace, copious action, entertaining characters, solid performances and amusing dialog make Tremors a re-watchable amusement.

Tremors

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#7 THE EXORCIST III
Directed By: William Peter Blatty

The Exorcist III is the sequel that should have been called Exorcist II. Exorcist II: The Heretic is just shite. The Exorcist III is directed by William Peter Blatty the author of The Exorcist which the original movie is based on and he wrote the screenplay for. The Exorcist III is based on Blatty’s book Legion. Exorcist III takes place fifteen years after the events of the original film. Lieutenant Kinderman is investigating a series of murders that bare a striking resemblance to those of a dead serial killer coined The Gemini. Possession and death ensues. Suspenseful, intense, well-acted; The Exorcist III is both a visceral experience and a head trip. Some of the creepiest moments are relayed verbally and are equally as effective as the visual stuff. A fabulous cast including the great George C. Scott, Brad Dourif, Ed Flanders and Jason Miller amoung others and all are perfectly cast. Smart, well-acted and genuinely scary; The Exorcist III is a fantastic horror film worthy of multiple viewings.

exorcist iii

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#6 BEGOTTEN
Directed By: E. Elias Merhige

Begotten is filmed in black and white and features a barrage of violent and unsettling images. The film has no dialog, very little music and most of the sound filling the air is those of nature and grunting. It has a grainy ancient look that I found most alluring. I don’t profess to understand every aspect of Begotten by any means. It is a strange, trippy and violent journey full of Christian and Pagan symbolism that I believe is really left open to interpretation. The three key characters are God killing himself, Mother Earth and Son of Earth (Flesh on Bone); there is no disputing the religious imagery. Begotten opens with a particularly nasty snippet of God disemboweling himself. Mother Earth emerges from God’s gory remains and arouses his corpse to impregnate herself. Begotten is visually stimulating, challenging and utterly mesmerizing. To read the full review click here.

Begotten

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#5 MISERY
Directed By: Rob Reiner

There sure as hell aren’t too many films reviewed on ye olde blog that have won Academy Awards. Kathy Bates won a much deserved Oscar for best actress playing the role of the frighteningly dowdy and dangerous Annie Wilkes in Misery. Novelist Paul Sheldon crashes his car en route back to the city and is “rescued” by Annie Wilkes who also happens to be his number one fan. Annie is kind and accommodating initially but Paul quickly discerns the woman is not in her right mind. After Annie reads the draft for his latest novel and discovers Paul has killed off the heroine of his series Paul learns just how “off” the woman truly is. Misery is a well-paced and thrilling trip. I thought James Caan was an interesting choice for the role of Paul Sheldon. Other actors might have provoked more empathy than Caan but I sort of appreciated that the character was somewhat prickly. He didn’t exactly strike me as someone who would write romantic drama, but what the hell do I know about authors who write romantic dramas? There is a nice tension building and a cynical sense of humour throughout. Misery is really Kathy Bates show though, and she shines like a psychotic bright light!

misery

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#4 BABY BLOOD
Directed By: Alain Robak

This wonderfully twisted French horror film is an exceptional entry in the killer baby genre…sort of. It is more of a parasite than a baby actually. The parasite crawls into a woman’s womb and she is forced to nurture and feed it by killing and drinking the blood of her victims. Yanka is the abused wife of a circus performer; those of you who visit this blog regularly are well familiar with my obsession for carnival and circus-themed horror films. The circus theme is definitely secondary but adds an effective weirdness to the action. Baby Blood has a mildly sleazy vibe with plenty of blood to satisfy particularly in its delightful second half. The voluptuous Emmanuelle Escourrou is an absolute freaking delight as the involuntary parasite mama and her relationship with the thing that resides within her is intriguing, bizarre and sometimes humorous. The initially meek Yanka becomes stronger and more confident with every kill. Fun fact; Baxter, the dog from the excellent French film of the same name makes a cameo! Baby Blood is well-filmed, gory, bizarre, funny and over-the-top high jinx of the first order!

baby blood

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#3 FRANKENHOOKER
Directed By: Frank Henenlotter

Frank Henenlotter is a horror-comedy genius! I can’t say enough good things about Henenlotter’s Basket Case and Brain Damage; two of the highlights of the 80s! Frankenhooker if the name didn’t tip you off is loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Very, very loosely based! After losing his girlfriend Elizabeth in a tragic lawnmower accident Medical school dropout Jeffrey Franken will stop at nothing to have her back. Jeffrey creates a drug that makes people literally explode. He takes his supercrack to the streets and tries it out on some hookers whose parts help to reconstruct his girl. But of course Elizabeth is not the girl she used to be and is no longer satisfied with just Jeffrey. A tragic lawnmower accident?! That alone is some funny shit but Henenlotter keeps up the goodness right up to the end! Frankenhooker is a fast-paced, effects intensive, bit of hilarity! Jeffrey Franken is an absolutely mad character and is played with finesse by James Lorinz and the lovely Patty Mullen is a too perfect as Elizabeth Shelley/Frankenhooker. The effects are top-notch; there isn’t a computer generated image in sight. So few films get that balance of horror and comedy right but Henenlotter hits the nail on the head! Frankenhooker is utterly outrageous and an absolute shitload of fun!

Frankenhooker

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#2 THE REFLECTING SKIN
Directed By: Philip Ridley

The Reflecting Skin is about a nine year old boy named Seth Dove and his nightmarish life living in a small rural community in the 1950s. The film is really just teetering on the edge of horror. Although it explores some horrifying ideas it leans heavier towards the drama. The Reflecting Skin is beautifully filmed with its endless fields and massive sky that adds so very nicely to the film’s feeling of desolation. It has a relaxed pace and leisurely unleashes a series of vignettes; one more bleak than the other. Its mix of strange, melancholy and ugliness was compelling. There are some peculiar trippy snippets that give The Reflecting Skin a dream like feel; like Seth walking past two women chirping carrying a dead bird. Seth seems to immerse himself more deeply in fantasy as the film wears on. There isn’t much in the way of graphic violence but what they include is very effective and at times disturbing. The Reflecting Skin is a hypnotic watch and its slow grind added to that vibe. I loved its perfect slap you in the face finale! The Reflecting Skin is beautifully filmed, unique, powerful, strange, sad, hopeless and merciless. To read the full review click here.

the reflecting skin

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#1 JACOB’S LADDER
Directed By: Adrian Lyne

Jacob’s Ladder is a film I have seen several times over the years and it never fails to blow my mind. Tim Robbins completely and utterly bares his soul in this film. He is a likable and extremely empathetic character who runs through an impressive gamut of emotions. Tim Robbins plays Jacob Singer an ex-Vietnam vet. Our first shot of Jacob sees him at war. His platoon is attacked and several men are left dead while others are in a state of seizures. Jacob attempts to flee only to be stabbed. Jacob awakes on a subway train in New York. Jacob is plagued not just by his memories of the war but his young son’s untimely death. Now employed as a mailman and living in Brooklyn with a woman named Jezzie, Jacob begins to experience horrifying hallucinations pointing to a serious case of post-traumatic stress that may have more heinous roots to a chemical experiment gone horribly wrong. The line between reality and hallucination become blurred to nightmare proportions. While the film definitely focuses on Jacob, all of the minor performances are also noteworthy, particularly the wonderful Danny Aiello who plays Jacob’s chiropractor. Jacob’s Ladder is beautifully filmed with fantastic visuals that are hard to shake and the heart-wrenching performance from Tim Robbins makes this a re-watchable masterpiece.

Jacob's Ladder

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33 Responses to “Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1990”

  1. Fantastic list, GoreGirl!!! I agree with you 100% and was hoping that JACOB’S LADDER was in the #1 spot. It’s one of my favorite films of all time.

    I love your inclusion of BABY BLOOD … not many people have seen that one but it’s a fantastic film. An early precursor to the French Wave of horror films that swept through North America.

    And you can never go wrong with FRANKENHOOKER, TREMORS, and NIGHTBREED. All fantastic films worthy of every Best of 1990 list!!

    • Thanks Scott!! 1990 really was a strong year much to my surprise! Some of the 80s goodness did spill over into the dark decade. There are some nuggets still to come but they are pretty sporadic for the most part. I am working on 1991 right now and it is just freaking BRUTAL!! I watched 8 or 9 flicks back to back that were seriously unwatchable. I think I must have fallen and hit my head to have taken this project on.

  2. Such a great list. Absolutely Jacob’s Ladder is #1 for that year. That’s a horror movie that gets to your emotions like no other. Also, I had a memory while reading this that I haven’t thought of in years about seeing Misery in the theater: my date (male, 2 years older than me) grabbed my hand in a death grip right before the hobbling. I think he would have been happier if he could’ve just screamed lol. Such a scary movie, and yet for some reason I have only seen it that one time.

    • There was no doubt in my mind at all that Jacob’s Ladder would be at number one. It was the only 1990 that had a place on my top 100 of all time. Robbins shatters me. I don’t know what exactly but Misery lacked something to garner a perfect score in my mind, but its worth a revisit…at least for Ms. Bates. My first serious boyfriend who I ended up living with for a few years hated horror movies, didn’t even like to pass through the room if I had one on…which was often. No idea what I was thinking hooking up with a horror movie hater?!

      • Wow, that would never work in the long run. It’s like my first husband, who hated art films, he would always come in and say, “what the HELL you watchin’?” if something was the least bit “offbeat.”

  3. Totally concur with Jacob’s ladder in premier spot. Personally, I would have squeezed in Argento’s ‘The Black Cat’ (the better half of Two Evil Eyes) and Flatliners but other than that it’s all essential viewing. Thanks for sharing, Paul

  4. Big shout-out to “Tremors,” probably the most intelligently-written monster movie ever. The monster movies from the Fifties on always followed the pattern “Find out the monster’s weakness, then apply it and the monster is destroyed, end of story” (like “They’re here to occupy our planet but water is poisonous to them” not to name any names) but the genius of “Tremors” is that the “Graboids” are smart enough to watch what happens to their comrades, and learn from it; so you can’t fool them with the same trick twice. This has the characters having to rely on their wits to try and stay one step ahead of them. Brilliant.

    Love the scene in “Frankenhooker” where he wines and dines his girlfriend’s severed head and recites poetry. Ah, romance.

    • I seen Tremors in the theatre the first time around and loved the hell out of it! I think the last time I seen Tremors before this viewing was before I got rid of my cable several years back. Tremors seemed to have gotten regular rotation on TV. It is a ton of fun, and I have to admit it was more clever than I recalled.

      I just love every last second of Frankenhooker…crazy!

  5. Happy New Year,Gore Girl! A nifty ’90 top ten for sure! “Daddy” Fulci! hahahahaha Made me do a spit take with my rotgut moonshine laced egg nog! Bravo for the inclusion of The Exorcist III,a horribly overlooked classic. I had the same reaction to Craig Sheffer in Nightbreed,but still enjoy the film very much. Tremors is another favorite. I managed to see seven of the movies on the big screen,which for me in the 1990’s was I think a record for genre films.

    • Went to a house party last night which I didn’t arrive at until 11:45! It was ok but sort of wished I had just stayed home and did some writing. Cat in the Brain isn’t a great film and I damn well know it but I can not resist seeing the man playing himself!! I seen a goodly amount of these films in the theatre myself…never even heard of Singapore Sling or The Reflecting Skin until recently though.

      • I know what you mean. I stay home on New Year’s Eve now. And all kidding aside,haven’t had a belt of booze in years,although during parts of 2012,I felt like getting stewed to the gills! Fulci is a hoot in Cat In The Brain! Bums me out he’s gone. Have you seen his Western Massacre Time? One of my favorites. Bless your heart on taking on the 1990’s! I don’t recall a darn thing about 1991’s horror movies! But if anyone can find a diamond in the rough,it’s you,Gore Girl!

  6. THE REFLECTING SKIN – yes!

  7. didn’t realize 1990 was such a great year for horror – Nightbreed, Tremors, The Exorcist III, Misery and Jacob’s Ladder, all came out in the same year! Begotten sounds like an interesting film.

    • Some great choices here! Have you had a chance to see the Cabal Cut of Nightbreed?

      • I know it exists but to be honest I’ve yet to see it. I am still watching my crummy VHS copy!! I should definitely have that in my collection!

      • probably not, my only copy is a dvd recorded from a vhs I had.

      • andinheather Says:

        Fangoria had a nice snippet about the Cabal Cut and “Occupy Midian” movement this year. As far as I know as of recently is that Barker was still pasting together a final cut for wider release. The Cabal Cut shown at horror/movie fests was made by a fan I believe. The Barker authorized version is yet to be finished.

    • Yes! 1990 was an excellent year!! The walls do come crumbling down I can tell you that!! Some nuggets here and there still to come but a whole lot more tripe…1991 was a real bitch!

  8. Loved Tremors, Jacobs Ladder and Misery….surprised Arachnophobia is not on this list…

  9. Happy New Year, Goregirl!

    Great choice for number 1. I really have to re-watch that to see what I make of it today since it has been a long time since I last viewed it. I watched Tremors again a few weeks ago and thought it was pretty good. I really like the look of Nightbreed. It sounds like it has shades of Lovecraft’s weird fiction.

    • Thank you Jason…and a VERY Happy New Year to you also! I ended up monkeying around on the computer far too long last night and didn’t get to my house party until 11:45!

      I’ve seen Jacob’s Ladder many times and it kicks my ass every bloody time!! Honestly, Nightbreed is not without its problems but the creatures are magnificent! Worth checking out for sure…have you read any Barker?

      • I have read a short story by Clive Barker… I cannot remember the title or what it was about… All I know is that it was in a recent collection of Best New Horror Stories.

  10. The first time I saw Jabob’s Ladder I didn’t know much about it and my my roommate put it on late at night when I was exhausted and I was like whoaaaaa! I am still kind of that way about this movie.

  11. TREMORS!!! I love that film 😀

  12. I’ve held out long enough, your list posts are great so I’m going to be a stalker and comment on each as a fellow goregirl (boy). Apologies for the length…
    Singapore Sling: I haven’t seen, but I like the mix of horror and bizarro
    Nightbreed: I’ve only seen this once and wasn’t that impressed – it seemed rushed and collapsed under the weight of its ideas, but that was over 10 years ago so I must re-visit. I had a computer game based on the film which I’d played years before I ever saw the film, and the game managed to freak me out quite a bit.
    Tremors: This one I love, and has been a favourite since I first saw it as a child
    Exorcist III: Yep, another strong choice and sadly underlooked outside of the horror circle. Plenty of memorable moments and jump scenes.
    Begotten: This is awesome and unique and I’m constantly recommending it to people who say they love horror films – most are turned off by it though which, to me, is a sign of the truly horrific.
    Misery: One of the best King adaptations which doesn’t suffer from the cheese which destroys some of his other films, possibly because there are no supernatural elements.
    Baby’s Blood: I haven’t seen this one, I tend to steer clear of baby stuff due to having a couple of my own and a few prior issues, but again the essence of horror is challenging your own fears. This sounds like a delightful romp though, more akin to Basket Case than Inside.
    Frankenhooker: The shame! I haven’t seen this after being aware of it for many a year, so I must rectify that.
    The Reflecting Skin: I Hven’t even heard of this, possibly because it sounds like it lingers on the fringes of horror. You recommend it highly, so I’ll have a look.
    Jacob’s Ladder: A good choice for number 1, one of those films which will haunt you for years even after a single viewing.
    From my personal choices I’d have Arachnophobia and It, two of my favourites since childhood.

    • Thanks a lot! Singapore Sling is a crazy messed up film with a lot of content that would be most unsavoury to a good portion of the population…just an extra warning…this one really is not for everyone! I’ll give you Nightbreed is certainly not without its issues but I enjoyed it just the same. Baby Blood is crazy…pretty bloody stuff! If you are a fan of Henenlotter Frankenhooker is a must see for sure! There was no other choice for number one here…Jacob’s Ladder is an extraordinary film.

  13. andinheather Says:

    Thanks for Begotten! Wonderfully perverse and horrifying look at death and rebirth. And thank glob it was filmed in black and white, otherwise it’s gore rivals 70’s grind house.

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