Horror 1990 - Present

Audition The 1990s ushered in a new wave of horror movies - scary and very respectable, often produced with big-budgets spent on big named actors and directors. Many of the highly successful 1990s horror entries were terrifying and original but, for the most part, just not really horror movies, especially compared to the legacy of nightmare created during the 1980s - for instance, the most terrifying and memorable horror "monster" to emerge from the 1990s was neither supernatural nor satanic nor immortal, he was a common and brilliant man (with a doctorate in fact) called Lector in Jonathan Demme's mega-hit, Oscar-winning Silence of the Lambs (1991).

The 1990s saw a mild resurgence of schlocky fun goodness of the 1970s and 1980s, mostly in satirical and creative form like Wes Craven's hilarious, blood-fun satire Scream (1996), comical gore-fests like Peter Jackson's blood-red Braindead (1992), and Tony Todd's blood-curdling performance in Clive Barker's twisted story of evil, Candyman (1992). M. Night Shyamalan closed the decade with his first (and really, his only quality) effort, The Sixth Sense (1999), which is a quality and intelligent horror flick even before the twist ending, which further served to establish the film's rightful legacy in the genre.

Japan became a major player during the 1990s and 2000s, producing the very popular and effective Ring (Ringu) and Grudge (Ju-on) entries. The first American remake of these, The Ring (2002), proved to be utterly terrifying. Takashi Miike made a splash with Audition (1999), a cautionary tale of the dangers of embarking on a blind and manipulative courtship with a beautiful (and insane) woman.

Thus far however, the 2000s have been fairly forgettable. The Hostel and Saw anthologies are fun, but for reasons discussed here, not really candidates to consider for any upper echelon of horror cinema. Then there are the remakes and "reimaginings", over and over again, too many to mention, some very fun yet most devoid of any real horror consideration. The most unique and interesting horror entries have come from abroad during the 2000s, most notable the UK's 28 Days Later (2002), Dog Soldiers (2002), and The Descent (2005), as well as Let the Right One In (2008), a fresh and unique twist on vampires out of Sweden.

The last two decades in horror have been interesting and saddening, to say the least. While the international world (The UK, Japan, Italy, and France) continues to break new ground with inspired, entertaining and gory movies, America struggles to stamp the genre with its own contemporary footprint. Actually, to call it a struggle is being too kind, because that implies some level of effort. The reality is American producers seem content to sit and wait for the next Blair Witch to fall in their lap, while churning out boring, cheaply made remakes and other quick-money forgettable rip-offs.