1990 Trimming the fat and a Stephen King Comeback
There's a surge in the creation of horror movies as direct-to-video/direct-to-cable becomes a moneymaker for some studios. So I'm just going to pick 10 movies that were important to me or influential to the genre. Some decent movies may be left out, but man there's a bunch of garbage out there.
While this is a strong year for Stephen King adaptations, my #1 horror movie from 1990 is The Exorcist III.
So The Exorcist is an amazing movie based on an equally amazing book by William Peter Blatty. Exorcist II was a terrible money grab and when William Peter Blatty was offered the chance to direct a movie based on his book Legion, he fought the studio on naming it The Exorcist III. He wanted it titled Legion or at worst Exorcist 1990 so no one would recognize part 2 as anything other than a mistake.
They refused his request knowing that the name would attract the fans of the original. Weird thing about the book it's based on ... there are no exorcisms. There are characters from both movies, all though they needed to be played by different actors since #3 took place almost 20 years later. The studio decided that wasn't enough and forced a new ending on Blatty, and they added a full-on exorcism in act 3. For years, the studio said all the footage of the original scenes was lost but the year before Blatty's death, they found it and produced a Director's cut.
I love George C. Scott. He is one of my favorite actors, and when he is interested in a role, he always delivers. Brad Dourif lends a hand in this movie as the Gemini Killer as Jason Miller couldn't handle all the duties of playing Father Karras in this film - he was suffering from alcoholism and couldn't memorize the large monologues. Stream it on peacock, amc+. and tubi.
Blurb - A police Lieutenant uncovers more than he bargained for as his investigation of a series of murders, which have all the hallmarks of the deceased Gemini serial killer, leads him to question the patients of a psychiatric ward.
Considered by many to be Creepshow Part 3, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie is one of my favorite anthology pictures. They were in negotiations with Romero to make a part 3 but decided to change the name - using the title of a horror anthology show from the 80s.
The cast is terrific with Debbie Harry, Christian Slater, Matt Lawrence(Joey's younger brother, Steve Buscemi, William Hickey, Alice Drummond, Rae Dawn Ching, James Remar, and introduced Julianne Moore (who I can't stand but won't hold it against this movie.) Add in stories by Conan Arthur Doyle, Stephen King, George Romero, and Michael Mcdowell and you have a perfect mix of talent providing 4 segments of terror. There are 3 main stories and a story that weaves them together as the 4th. You can stream it on Max.
Blurb - A young boy tells three stories of horror to distract a witch who plans to eat him.
Kevin Bacon has said the single most fun movie to make for him was Tremors. You can see it on the screen. It's a fun movie with cool monsters and lots of action. You can stream it on Netflix.
Blurb - Natives of a small isolated town defend themselves against strange underground creatures which are killing them one by one.
The first of 3 Stephen King-based movies in 1990(not including what he added to Tales of the Darkside) is the made for TV mini-series IT. This was a pretty big deal when they announced it and they secured an impressive cast of Television stars & up-and-comers for the event. Most important was the casting of Pennywise, and as he almost always does, Tim Curry shines as the murderous clown. He was so creepy in fact, that the other actors did all they could to avoid him outside the set while filming.
Tommy Lee Wallace (Fright Night 2, Halloween 3) returns to the director's chair to steer this movie in the proper direction for both the kids' section and the adults. Something the remake fails to do. Even though this one was made for regular TV, I think it's superior to the remake as a whole. Both movies do the kids' half well, but Wallace does a much better job with the adults' section of the story. Even though he felt the adults were a weaker part because the kids simply outshine them on the screen. You can check it out on HBOMax.
Blurb - In 1960, seven pre-teen outcasts fight an evil demon who poses as a child-killing clown. Thirty years later, they reunite to stop the demon once and for all when it returns to their hometown.
I think Rob Reiner is a moron but the man can direct. He proves this by stepping from his comfort zone of comedies & dramas to give us one of the best adaptations of Stephen King's works, Misery. Kathy Bates is hypnotic as the fan and James Caan nails the role of the writer. This movie controls the tension and tempo that shows Reiner was paying attention when he deep-dived Hitchcock to pick up on how to direct a real thriller. You can stream it on HBOMax.
Blurb - After a famous author is rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse.
King's final contribution to 1990 is The Graveyard Shift which in the end he disliked and names it one of his least favorite adaptations. This movie was forced to go through a number of cuts to get to an R-rating but it's still one of the bloodiest of the King movies. Stream it on HULU & Paramount+.
Blurb - In a very old textile mill with a serious rat infestation, deadly accidents start happening, but the corrupt foreman continues to put his workers in danger, until they discover a horrifying secret deep in the basement.
Child's Play 2 picks up where the 1st one left off. The writer of part 1 steps into the director's shoes and produces a good sequel. Most importantly, it helps keep the Chucky mythos going. Stream it on Peacock.
Blurb - While Andy's mother is admitted to a psychiatric hospital, the young boy is placed in foster care, and Chucky, determined to claim Andy's soul, is not far behind.
To get Society done, director Brain Yuzna had to agree to direct a sequel to Re-Animator the next year - Bride of Re-Animator. Jeffrey Combs & Bruce Abbott return to reprise their roles and continue for ways to conquer death. Combs really shines as Herbert West. It's worth watching just for him. This one is a little more humorous than the first, and still has a ton of gore. Watch it on tubi.
Blurb - Doctors Herbert West and Dan Cain discover the secret to creating human life and proceed to create a perfect woman from dead tissue.
Clive Barker returns to the director's chair to tackle another one of his books, giving us Nightbreed. The studios didn't get it and released a cut-up version that had no direction or real identity. The director's cut that gets released much later is a better film. Look for that one. Stream it on tubi, peacock, and VUDUfree.
Blurb - A troubled young man is drawn to a mythical place called Midian where a variety of friendly monsters are hiding from humanity. Meanwhile, a sadistic serial killer is looking for a patsy.
While I struggled with who to put #10, in the end, I went with the more unique movie, Jacob's Ladder. I think the movie is so different from the typical horror movie of the time is director Adrian Lyne. He was the guy who did movies like Flashdance, 9 1/2 Weeks, and Incident Proposal so he gives a fresh perspective to this particular horror film. If you like a slow burn horror film that deals more with psychology than straight-up slashers then you should check it out. Stream it on pluto or if you wait a bit, it should pop up on Prime.
Blurb - Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to uncover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusions, and perceptions of death.
Just missed - The Night of the Living Dead Remake, Arachnophobia, Brain Dad, Buried Alive, Flatliners, Frankenstein Unbound, Gremlins 2, and Predator 2.
6 non-horror movies that I think people should see.