Shudder is the go-to streaming service for anybody with an interest in the darker side of cinema. But as there are a lot of horror movies to choose from on this platform, knowing what to watch can sometimes be a little tricky.
Well, fear not! If you’re a horror fan, The ReviewGeek regularly reviews movies that are on Shudder, and we feature monthly previews that highlight the upcoming movies that we think are worth watching.
After covering the best horror movies on Shudder UK from the 1970s and Shudder fright flicks from the 1980s, here are our top picks for the 1990s.
Do you agree with our picks? Or have you seen another ’90s movie on Shudder that you think is worthy of a mention? Let us know in the comments below.
From director Hideo Nakata comes this critically acclaimed J-horror about a cursed videotape that brings about the death of anybody who watches it after 7 days has passed.
The fate of the victims in this film is a terrible one – a vengeful spirit known as Sadako climbs out of their television screens to frighten them to death! Who is Sadako? Well, she’s not a former Blockbuster employee taking unusual measures to wreak revenge on people who didn’t rewind their video rentals after watching them! As is discovered by the reporter investigating the tape, she is the ghost of a girl who drowned years before after being thrown down a well.
This disturbing movie was followed by several sequels and a surprisingly decent remake in 2002 starring Naomi Watts. All of these movies are worth watching provided you don’t purchase them on cursed videotapes from a dodgy-looking guy down the market.
Head Of The Family (1996)
Some horror directors create movies that aspire to be high art. Others create movies that are relatable due to characters and themes that are based on our realities. Then there are directors like Charles Band who create movies so bizarre, so bonkers, you might wonder what narcotics they were taking when they dreamt up their story ideas.
Head Of The Family is probably the weirdest movie on Band’s resume, which is no small feat considering he also directed such movies as Dollman Vs Demonic Toys (imagine Toy Story but with added violence) and Evil Bong (a movie about a giant bong with magical powers).
The ‘head’ of the family in this movie is literally that – a giant head on a tiny body – who uses his psychic powers to control the rest of the family who are only slightly less unusual than he is!
The movie falls into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category so is well worth a watch if you have a taste for the weird. It will never be considered the ‘head of the class’ in rankings of ‘best’ 90s horror movies but it definitely qualifies as one of the strangest.
This direct-to-video flick isn’t the most well-known title on this list but it has enough blood and splatter to please any gorehound looking for something gruesome to watch on Shudder.
The movie begins with a young couple discovering a savagely beaten girl lying in a pool of her own blood and then flashes back to a few days earlier where we get to discover the cause of the girl’s violent injuries.
In these flashback scenes, we are introduced to a group of young people who are taking part in a Big Brother-type reality show in a house that is fitted with video cameras that capture their every move. Unfortunately for them, they have more to worry about than childish squabbles about who took the last tea bag or silly challenges that cause them to lose their dignity!
These housemates have to deal with a house full of devious booby traps and a faceless killer who relentlessly hunts them down, one by one. As such, this isn’t the kind of show that you can expect to see on national television!
The movie is clearly made on a low budget but the kills are inventive enough to warrant a watch if you have the stomach for graphic skin peelings and other unpleasant moments.
Castle Freak (1995)
Castle Freak is from director Stuart Gordon, a celebrated horror filmmaker who is most well-known for Re-Animator and From Beyond. This one isn’t quite as good as those masterful gems but it has enough frights in it to make it worthy of a watch if you’re looking for a lesser-known title from the late director.
The movie tells the tale of a family of three (including Re-Animator’s Jeffrey Combs), who visit the castle that they have inherited. They have no plans to live in it as they want to sell off the property, which in retrospect is a good idea, as a deformed cannibal lies in wait within the castle’s dungeons.
Of course, this monstrous threat manages to get loose, which is the reason why dead bodies start popping up everywhere. Needless to say, that won’t do much for the castle’s resale value.
This isn’t the most violent movie of Gordon’s career but there are a few grisly moments that are purely there for shock value. A remake followed in 2020 but it was a dull retread of the more enjoyable original.
Angus Scrimm (who you may remember from the Phantasm movies) cameos as the ‘king of the vampires’ in this underseen horror movie about a group of students who get caught up in a deadly struggle between two vampire brothers in the Transylvanian mountains.
This is far from being the greatest vampire movie you will ever see – its inclusion on this list is mainly due to the shortage of 90s horror movies on Shudder’s UK streaming service.
But it was popular enough to spawn several sequels that continued the exploits of the undead Radu Vladislas, the warring bloodsucker that some fans of the movie consider to be one of the finest vampire antagonists in horror cinema. I’m not so sure about that but thanks to his disturbingly long fingers and cool persona, he is certainly the best thing about this movie and those that followed.
Puppet Master II (1990)
In 1989’s Puppet Master, a group of psychics arrived at a hotel where one of their friends had been murdered. After carrying out their own investigation, they came across those responsible for the death of their unfortunate pal – a deadly squad of living puppets.
The movie is fun to watch but it can hardly be called groundbreaking. There have been a fair few horror flicks that have featured murderous toys and dolls (including Dead Of Night and Child’s Play) but at the time of its release, the movie was popular enough to spawn several sequels.
Puppet Master II was released a year later and it featured a new group of paranormal investigators coming face-to-face with the killer puppets. The movie is just as silly as its predecessor but the stop-motion animation techniques are improved in this first sequel and there’s enough nudity, gore, and creative death sequences to please fans of gratuitous horror.
Several sequels followed, as well as a spin-off movie and a crossover with Demonic Toys, a movie that needs little explanation as all you need to know about it is in the title. Puppet Master II is often cited as one the best in the franchise so can be recommended if you want something a little (or a lot) more violent to watch than Chicken Run!
The Pit & The Pendulum (1991)
This Edgar Allan Poe adaptation is another film from director Stuart Gordon and while it’s not quite as good as the 1961 adaptation which starred Vincent Price, it’s still one of the director’s better works and a decent horror movie in its own right.
Set in Spain in 1942, the movie tells the story of a baker named Antonio and his wife Maria who run afoul of the Spanish Inquisition when Maria speaks out against one of their executions. She is promptly accused of witchcraft by the Inquisition and is arrested and tortured for her apparent ‘crimes.’ Her husband tries to rescue her but in the process, is captured and brought before the chief torturer who is played with sinister relish by Lance Henrickson.
The Pit & The Pendulum was made on a low budget but due to the authentic castle locations, the strong cast, including Oliver Reed and frequent Stuart Gordon collaborator, Jeffrey Combs, and the powerful source material, any weaknesses in the production can easily be forgiven.
The sight of the huge pendulum which swings back and forth over the imprisoned Antonio is especially impressive and is one of the reasons why this atmospheric chiller lives long in the memory.
Def By Temptation (1990)
Former child actor James Bond III (no relation to the superspy) made his directorial debut with this chilling horror movie about an evil succubus that goes around New York City murdering African American men.
Bond stars as a minister-in-training who teams up with a cop and an actor to take down this evil temptress before other libidinous Black men fall victim to her charms.
The movie was released by Troma, a studio not exactly known for high-quality productions, but you shouldn’t let that put you off this underrated blaxploitation chiller. Despite the low budget, it has some great special effects, a decent cast (including Bill Nunn and Samuel L. Jackson), and some imaginative camera work from future Walking Dead director Ernest R. Dickerson.
There are better vampire movies out there that will lure you in with their bigger budgets and lurid charms. But if you have never seen Def By Temptation, which has gained a cult following in the years since its initial release, it’s worth giving it a go if you currently have a Shudder subscription.
The Addiction (1995)
The Addiction is from Bad Lieutenant director Abel Ferrara so you shouldn’t expect a straight-up horror movie this time around. Made with impressive black and white cinematography and a strong cast including Christoper Walken, Lili Taylor, and Annabelle Sciorra, this tells the story of a young student (Taylor) who becomes addicted to blood after being accosted and bitten by a female vampire going by the name of Casanova (Sciorra).
This has more bite than those vampire movies that favour bloodletting and gruesome special effects over intelligent storytelling, as it’s really a metaphor for heroin addiction and addictive personalities than it is a typical vampire tale.
The movie is definitely not for all tastes – some people will find this movie ponderous and boring – but if you like Ferrara’s work and you aren’t averse to bloodsuckers spouting philosophy, you might appreciate this unusual and occasionally relatable arthouse horror.
The Last Broadcast (1998)
Made on video for a measly $900, this found footage movie (which grossed around $4 million at the box office) was a precursor to The Blair Witch Project and all of the other horror mockumentaries that look convincing even though they have been creatively staged.
The movie follows ‘Fact or Fiction’ hosts Steven Avkast (Stefan Avalos) and Locus Wheeler (Lance Weiler), alongside sound man Rein Clackin (Rein Clabbers) and a psychic named Jim Suerd (Jim Seward), who enter the Pine Barrens one very chilly night to make a live TV show about their search for the legendary Jersey Devil.
The Last Broadcast is made to look like a documentary, with found video footage of the doomed expedition, news reports, interviews, and a genuine sounding 911 call recorded on an audio tape.
In hindsight, we know that the events depicted in the doc aren’t real but at the time of its release, it may have fooled unsuspecting audiences who didn’t realise that what they were watching was mostly a work of fiction.
We say ‘mostly’ because there are some who still believe the Jersey Devil is real. So, while this movie is just a movie, it’s possible that something evil really is haunting the New Jersey Pinelands. We won’t be taking a video camera out there to take a closer look!
So, there we have it. Our list of the top 10 best 90s horror movies on Shudder that The Review Geek recommends. Do you agree with our picks? Let us know in the comments below.