One thing I can guarantee: No one will ever claim that 1993 was an amazing year for horror movies. The 1990s were an uneven time for genre fans; while there are plenty of amazing films produced during the decade, it was a chaotic time between the slasher heydays of the 1980s and the extreme shifts that arrived in the 21st Century. Still, 1993 was a rather abysmal year nonetheless.
But as I continue my retrospective series on films celebrating significant anniversaries in 2018, I landed in 1993 in my search for horror movies turning 25. While you probably won’t find any serious heavyweights below, there are nonetheless some underappreciated gems and sleepers worth checking out.
Related Article: Top 10 Horror Movies Turning 40-Years-Old in 2018
We’ve already brought you lists of films turning 40 and 30-years-old respectively, today we’re looking at the best horror movies turning 25 in 2018. Over the next week or so, we’ll continue to look back with lists of the best horror films celebrating their 20th and 10th Anniversaries. Stay tuned!
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The films below are listed in no particular order whatsoever. Give it a read and let us know what you think in the Comments section! Did your favorite horror movie from 1993 make the list? Are there other genre films from that year that deserve a shout out? Let the debates begin!
Cronos (Directed by Guillermo del Toro)
Release Date: 1993
Official Synopsis: Antique dealer Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi) stumbles across Cronos, a 400-year-old scarab that, when it latches onto him, grants him youth and eternal life — but also a thirst for blood. As Jesus enjoys his newfound vitality, he’s unaware that a dying old man, Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook), has sent his nephew, Angel (Ron Perlman), to find the scarab and bring it back to him. But Jesus will not give immortality up easily, even risking the life of his orphan granddaughter (Tamara Shanath).
While Cronos didn’t arrive in the US until 1994, it was released overseas in 1993 making it one of the most significant saving graces of the year. The debut movie from Guillermo del Toro shows the then-up-and-comer always had huge potential. Cronos led to a gig directing Mimic which, in turn, gave del Toro the clout to become the cinematic master he’s recognized as today.
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Return of the Living Dead III (Directed by Brian Yuzna)
Release Date: October 29, 1993
Official Synopsis: Having recently witnessed the horrific results of a top-secret project to bring the dead back to life, a distraught youth performs the operation on his girlfriend after she’s killed in a motorcycle accident.
I’ll probably go to my grave fighting an uphill battle convincing people Return of the Living Dead III is an incredible film. Though severely flawed, I found it every bit as entertaining as 1987’s Return of the Living Dead. While the original treated its punk protagonists as stereotypes and comic relief, Return III oozes with legitimate youth angst. Combined with off the rails practical FX, it’s perhaps Brian Yuzna’s least celebrated gem. Return of the Living Dead III has enjoyed a brief resurgence in popularity thanks to a recent re-release from Vestron Video—a must-have for collectors.
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Needful Things (Directed by Fraser Clarke Heston)
Release Date: August 27, 1993
Official Synopsis: When a creepy older man named Leland Gaunt (Max von Sydow) moves to a small town in Maine and sets up an antique shop, bad things soon follow. Gaunt has the remarkable ability of selling people exactly what they want most, but his ideal purchases come at a price that involves more than just money. Through Gaunt’s manipulation, the citizens of the town gradually turn on one another, resulting in violence that Sheriff Alan Pangborn (Ed Harris) struggles to contain.
Needful Things is elevated singlehandedly by an engrossing turn from Max von Sydow as shop owner Leland Gaunt. Though it’s a somewhat generic tale of greedy, petty people receiving their comeuppances, it feels like a spiritual cousin of 1990’s IT, which originally aired as a mini-series.
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Hocus Pocus (Directed by Kenny Ortega)
Release Date: July 16, 1993
Official Synopsis: After moving to Salem, Mass., teenager Max Dennison (Omri Katz) explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani (Thora Birch) and their new friend, Allison (Vinessa Shaw). After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy) who used to live in the house. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must steal the witches’ book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal.
Today’s horror fans may be most drawn to Hocus Pocus for a brilliant early performance by body actor Doug Jones, the man who would go on to play The Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth and The River God from The Shape of Water (among literally hundreds of others). It’s also interesting to see a young Thora Birch, who showed tremendous talent even as a pre-teen. I miss her in movies.
Related Article: “Hocus Pocus” Remake Is in the Works as Made-for-TV Movie
Fire in the Sky (Directed by Robert Lieberman)
Release Date: March 12, 1993
Official Synopsis: In 1975, a group of five men are driving home after working in a forest when they see a mysterious light. Intrigued, Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney) leaves the truck — only to be sucked up by a flying saucer. The other four men report the strange event, but they are skeptically interrogated by Lt. Frank Watters (James Garner), who suspects that murder is behind Walton’s disappearance. When Walton reappears five days later, his story of alien abduction is met with disbelief.
There are plenty of scary sci-fi movies, but few deliver palpable, claustrophobic dread like Fire in the Sky. Most likely ignored by horror fans in its day and too intense for the average sci-fi connoisseurs, the film never enjoyed its moment in the sun. Fire in the Sky is also bolstered by the fact it’s based on the book by Travis Walton who swears the account is true.
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The Good Son (Directed by Joseph Ruben)
Release Date: September 24, 1993
Official Synopsis: Mark (Elijah Wood), a young boy who loses his mother, must stay with his extended family while his father is away on business. Mark becomes acquainted with his cousin Henry (Macaulay Culkin). However, the extent of Henry’s depravity becomes clear when Mark sees him kill a neighbor’s dog and intentionally create a traffic pileup on the highway. After a supposed mishap on an icy pond with Henry’s sister Connie (Quinn Culkin), Mark tries to reveal Henry’s crimes before it’s too late.
More interesting than scary or relevant, The Good Son is nonetheless an able reimagining of The Bad Seed with an ambiance and aesthetic similar to 2009’s Orphan. It’s best described as a thriller, but it must be noted that this movie had the balls to kill a kid—something even extreme horror offerings often consider taboo. It was certainly a shocking move in 1993.
Leprechaun (Directed by Mark Jones)
Release Date: January 8, 1993
Official Synopsis: Dan O’Grady (Shay Duffin) steals 100 gold coins from a leprechaun (Warwick Davis) while on vacation in Ireland. The leprechaun follows him home, but Dan locks the murderous midget in a crate, held at bay by a four-leaf clover. Ten years later, J.D. Redding (John Sanderford) and his daughter, Tory (Jennifer Aniston), rent O’Grady’s property for the summer. When their new neighbors accidentally release the leprechaun, he goes on a murderous rampage to reclaim his gold.
Before you write off Leprechaun, it’s actually an important film—and not just for the fact that it’s Jenifer Aniston’s debut feature. The film spawned 5 sequels and a remake, making it an enviable franchise for its quantity and longevity. It’s also worth noting that Leprechaun has successfully transitioned into the 21st Century—something heavyweight franchises like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street have been unable to do in earnest.
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The Dark Half (Directed by George A. Romero)
Release Date: June 10, 1993
Official Synopsis: Thad Beaumont (Timothy Hutton) has had success writing novels under both his real name and his pseudonym, George Stark, which he uses to publish base thrillers. When word gets out that they are one and the same, the author holds a mock funeral for Stark. But after a rash of murders eerily similar to those in the Stark books, Thad and his wife, Liz (Amy Madigan), realize that Stark is real and responsible, and must work with local Sheriff Pangborn (Michael Rooker) to stop him.
The Dark Half, in my opinion, could be the middle entry in a trilogy the begins with Misery in 1990 and ends with Secret Window in 2004. All 3 films are adaptations of Stephen King novels, and all feature an author being terrorized by his own creations (a fan, a pseudonym, and a character). The Dark Half takes place in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, meaning its characters could end up appearing in the upcoming Hulu Series produced by King and J.J. Abrams.
Related Article: Top 10 Stephen King Horror Movies That Deserve ANOTHER Remake
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (Directed by Adam Marcus)
Release Date: August 13, 1993
Official Synopsis: After being blown away by a team of FBI agents, Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) needs to find a way to overcome certain death. When his bloodied remains are sent to the morgue, his heart, still intact, is able to hypnotize a coroner and take over his body. After brutally dispatching a couple of FBI agents, he heads back to his favorite stomping grounds: Crystal Lake. Jason commences another teen massacre while a bounty hunter (Steven Williams) discovers the only way to kill him.
While often considered one of the Black Sheep of the Friday the 13th franchise (along with A New Beginning, Jason Takes Manhattan, and Jason X), a colleague recently put it into a different perspective. He said the film can be enjoyed if you think of it as a movie about a body-hopping ghost bookended by Jason Voorhees as opposed to a traditional Friday installment. There’s been a resurgence of interest in Jason Goes to Hell since director Adam Marcus proclaimed Jason is a Deadite, thus connecting the Friday franchise canonically with The Evil Dead. There’s also a tell-all documentary in the works.
Related Article: Jason Voorhees Was a Deadite? Not All Experts Agree!
Kalifornia (Directed by Dominic Sena)
Release Date: September 3, 1993
Official Synopsis: Brian Kessler (David Duchovny) is a writer, and his girlfriend, Carrie Laughlin (Michelle Forbes), is a photographer. They’re working on a book about serial killers, and planning a trip across the country to document the sites of famous serial murders. To cut costs, they set up a ride-share with strangers, Early Grayce (Brad Pitt) and his girlfriend, Adele Corners (Juliette Lewis). But what they don’t know is that Early is a violent sociopath in the middle of his own serial killing spree.
Kalifonia cast David Duchovny as its leading man and features Brad Pitt in a rare turn as the villain. Pretty-boy Pitt makes himself look decently ugly and his performance is likewise unnerving. When it was recently announced that Quentin Tarantino was courting Pitt for his upcoming movie about the Sharon Tate murders of 1969, I couldn’t help but imagine the actor as Manson based his performance in Kalifonia.