Horror Films of the 1990s (Book)

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Horror Films of the 1990s ReviewWritten by John Kenneth Muir

Published by Published by McFarland & Company
(Order Line: 800-253-2187)

If you are at all familiar with the previous works John Kenneth Muir did on horror films of the 70s and 80s, then you should be excited that you can now add the 90s to your library. Covering over 300 films released between 1990 and 1999 (he couldn’t possibly cover EVERY film released in the 90s as a few people have claimed in postings), he has created an invaluable research book that horror fans NEED on their shelves (along with his books on the films of the 1970s and 1980s).

Opening with two introductions – one entitled It Depends on What the Meaning of the Word “Is” Is? and the other The Horror Genome Project: A Decade of Aliens, Conspiracies, Interlopers, Serial Killers, Science Run Amok and Other Grim Trends, the book begins with 1990 and the first entry, The Ambulance. From there Muir’s book covers on average 30 films per year, ending with 1999 and Witchouse. Between these two “gems”, one can read in detail about The Blair Witch Project, Se7en, Candyman, The Silence of the Lambs and many other important films from the decade.

With most of the entries, Muir adds such information as Critical Reception, Cast and Crew, Synopsis, Commentary and his own rating, ranging from one star (sucketh greatly; my words) to four stars (sheer genius; again, my words). There are also occasional entries in the more important films called “Incantation” (a witticism or line of dialogue from the film) and “P.O.V.” (where you can read opinions from the filmmakers). Unfortunately, due to an editing mishap, when I checked a couple of these – in the films The Silence of the Lambs and Candyman – the comments were reversed so a comment from director Jonathan Demme was put into the “Incantation” section and a quote from character Helen Lyle in Candyman was actually put in the “P.O.V.” section. Oh well, no editor is perfect, BUT McFarland is a great, scholarly publisher so this was a little sloppy on their part.

After perusing entries ranging from the well-known like Scream, From Dusk Till Dawn, Sleepy Hollow to the more obscure but no less interesting films genre fans should check out such as The Ugly, Snow White: A Tale of Terror, Ravenous, one can then sit back and enjoy the extensive and fascinating appendices Muir added to the book: Horror Conventions (i.e., “Ambulance Endings”, The Stay Awake”, “Serial Killers, “Stephen King”, “Science Run Amok” and MANY more), The 1990s Horror Hall of Fame (actors who appeared in three or more horror films during the decade – you would be surprised at who is included), Memorable Ad/Tag Lines, Movie References in Scream, Horror Films of the 1990s vs. “The X-Files”, and Muir’s list of the Ten Best Horror Films of the 1990s (I won’t tell you the top three, but included in the top ten are Alien 3, The Ninth Gate, The Devil’s Advocate and Se7en). It’s a very divisive list, but that is part of the fun of this book: Which of the 300+ titles covered would YOU pick as your top ten of the 1990s?

The book closes with References, a Bibliography and an Index, all of which are also interesting to read.

Christmas IS coming, boys and girls, and this is one book I would be asking Santa for. And if you are VERY good, I would also ask for Muir’s coverage of horror films of the 70s and 80s. I, for one, cannot wait to read what I hope he is already working on: Horror Films of the 2000s.

4 1/2 out of 5

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  • doubleh55

    This book is a good resource for whenever I get into arguments that the 90s was the worst decade for modern horror. It would be interesting to see what films I’ve might have over looked and so on.

  • James Coker

    oh he better cover 1995’s NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW, Necronomicon Book of the dead and Ticks in there…three practically unknown 90’s horror films that need a whole lot of love from fans