It’s almost Halloween, which means horror movies are coming to the big screen. However, these films can be made in different ways. While horror can be a big blockbuster project at times, since the genre doesn’t always seem to be the most popular for major studios, many horror films have had to be made independently.
While that usually meant a smaller budget and lesser-known actors, by no means meant the movies weren’t quite as good. Or, in the case of horror, are not so scary. Many have even been a game-changer for horror as a whole, and are still a great (and terrifying) time to watch. What were the best independent horror movies of the 90s?
8 Leprechaun (1993)
With Jennifer Aniston in one of her first roles, Leprechaun includes the titular creature as its main villain. While sprites are usually good luck, this one provides rough lines and ridiculous kills. All the while he pretends to be a cat and chases his victims on a tricycle. Overall, it’s so much fun to watch.
While this might not be the best movie on this list, currently rated at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, there’s no denying how enjoyable this movie is, as it produced a large following and many more. Leprechaun films over the past decades. It’s great to watch both Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day.
7 Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
This is the seventh part of the Freddy franchise, and it’s Wes Craven’s horror meta-style at its peak. Here, the iconic Freddy Krueger is portrayed as a fictional movie villain who manages to break into the real world, tormenting the cast and crew who have dared to make films about him.
While the premise sounds pretty comedic, Freddy is actually a lot more menacing in this episode. The film even involves actress Heather Langenkamp, who decides to reprise her role as Nancy in the story itself. While the film did not perform very well at the box office, it received positive reviews and the franchise continued beyond this film, much to everyone’s delight (and terror).
6 Candy (1992)
Before Get out, there was Candy. It’s the specter that appears when someone repeats their name five times in front of a mirror, and after the main character Helen does, her life crumbles horribly. It leads to a tragic, triumphant and haunting end at the same time.
This film explores the ghosts left behind by racial intolerance and the horrors living black people still face, all of which are embodied by the titular Candyman. Starring horror master Tony Todd himself as the villain, this movie got everyone looking at urban legends (and bees) in a very different way.
5 Cube (1998)
cube is special in that its success most likely led to the Seen series that exploded in the early 2000s. The film revolves around a group of very different individuals trapped in a cubic maze of rooms from which they must escape, or die trying. As each member is removed, secrets are revealed about exactly what they are trying to escape from.
cube has become a popular cult classic for its iconography; the Kafkaesque decor marked the film in the minds of the spectators. He’s even appeared in a series, and apparently a remake is in the works right now.
4 Scream (1996)
“What’s your favorite horror movie?” Ghostface asks, and the answer for many is Wes Craven’s 1996 Scream. This meta-horror defined the genre in the late ’90s. The film plays brilliantly on the tropes of other horror films and creates a number of characters who are still iconic to this day. Sidney Prescott is considered one of the best final girls, otherwise the better.
scream 2 can also be considered part of this entry. The films were hugely popular when it was released, but the sequel is still an independent film and offers just as many scares. So much so that a fifth film comes out of the Scream franchisee this year.
3 Army of Darkness (1993)
This film involves time travel and the living dead. What more can be said? Army of Darkness is an epic horror comedy and is the third installment of the evil Dead Franchise, created by Sam Raimi. The film once again follows Ash Williams as he is trapped in the Middle Ages and must find his way back to the present, while battling terrifying enemies, of course.
The film proves why the evil Dead The franchise is so beloved, because it provides all the ghouls, all the blood, and all the glory from the previous films. Add in some of Ash’s best quotes, and it’s definitely a cult classic.
2 The Blair Witch Project (1999)
This terrifying “documentary” of found images sees three film students disappear as they attempt to find the infamous Blair Witch. This great independent film actually used its lack of support from the major studios to its advantage. When the film first came out, the commercials used missing posters of the characters to sell the illusion that it was in fact a true story, as well as one of the spookiest trailers in all the time.
As the actors weren’t known and the camera equipment was low budget, people bought the illusion and were horrified afterwards. This tactic definitely cemented the film in people’s minds, and since then the found footage technique has exploded in popularity in the horror genre.
1 Nadja (1994)
Nadja is directed by David Lynch, so this horror movie is kind of an arthouse film as well. The vampiric film is about Dracula’s daughter who tries to survive after her death.
As the film is independent, it is able to explore subjects that may have been considered taboo in other films of the time. While Nadja is the villain of the film, she’s also the protagonist, and viewers will almost find themselves supporting her. Nadja’s actress Elina Löwensohn gives a great performance, so this movie is definitely worth seeing on her own.
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