The Best (and Worst) of the ’90s Teen Horror Craze
In which Alex Brown from Tor.com attempts to separate the good camp from the bad camp.
The late-1990s and early-2000s were a transitional period in horror movies and for a brief, shining moment, B-horror movies reigned. During this period the villain shifts from a deranged outsider (the height of popularity in the 1970s and 1980s) to one of the cast on the poster secretly hellbent on revenge. Even thrillers got in on the action, with Dead Man’s Curve, Gossip, and The Skulls. Then as J-horror influenced ghost stories rose in popularity and with torture porn on the horizon, the teen slasher fell by the wayside. The post-9/11 horror movie world wasn’t interested in watching a bunch of pretty people get picked off by dorks leaving disgruntled valentines. There was a last gasp in the mid-aughts as studios re-upped their obsession with 3D and blended gore gimmicks with teen slashers, but they never reached the same level of popularity.
The following flicks have all the cheese of 60s B-movies and practical effects of 80s teen slashers but with the added bonus of self-awareness and sarcastic detachment. Of course nostalgia plays a big role in my undying love, but still. Horror movies today are all nihilism all the time, a game of one-upmanship to see who can produce the most grotesque, gag-inducing festival of guts and gore, but in the late-nineties and early-aughts frights were still fun. No one went into The Craft with an eye on an Oscar. Hating on Idle Hands or Cherry Falls for being terrible movies is easy, but completely misses the point that they’re supposed to be terrible. So come take a walk with me down memory lane past some of the best and worst of a subgenre lost to the sands of time.
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