I’m sure I’ve talked a little about my love for slasher movies, but another specific subgenre that I’m pretty obsessed (that sometimes overlaps with slashers) with is 90’s teen horror movies. I think part of it is because I’m a 90’s baby. I grew up loving the fashion, the slang, and the overall aesthetic of the 90’s. It’s no wonder that the thriller and horror movies of the time are some of my favorites. Though most people could name classic 90’s teen horror movies like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend, there are some lesser known movies that are definitely worth the watch, if not for the scare factor then definitely for the humor, social commentary, and classic 90’s aesthetic.
Below is a list of some of the movies that went under the radar in the 90s but are still pretty dope.
- Disturbing Behavior (1998)
Much like The Faculty (1998), Disturbing Behavior takes the premise of Invasion of the Body Snatchers but puts a teenage twist on the tale. In fact, the reason Disturbing Behavior didn’t get as much attention may be because the plots are so incredibly similar but it’s a shame because Disturbing Behavior had much more of the 90’s teen angst and melodrama than The Faculty did (in a good way). DB is grittier and a little darker with the plot too. Instead of aliens taking over the teen minds of the town, it’s the adults in their town who have turned to some pretty fucked up science to make their drunken disorderly teens into model citizens via brainwashing.
I think Disturbing Behavior does a better job of highlighting the themes of conformity and the whole jock versus burnout mentality that was present in the original IotBS. The movie stars a young James Marsden in one of the few roles where he’s not getting his girlfriend stolen from under him, and a pre-Tom Cruise Katie Holmes.
Check out the trailer!
- Idle Hands (1999)
Like many of the other movies on this list, this movie has a bunch or pre-stardom big names like Jessica Alba, Vivica A. Fox, and Seth Green. The plot of the is basically a play on the saying “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Teen Anton Tobias is a lazy stoner teen living his lazy stoner life with is lazy stoner friends until he wakes up one morning to find his parents murdered.
Turns out, Anton’s hand is possessed by the devil and is determined on wreaking havoc throughout the town. Anton rids himself of his hand thinking that will end the chaos, but it only makes matters worse.
This movie is pretty good, but I can see why it wasn’t as popular as some of the other teen horror movies of the time. It’s a horror-comedy (which some people are stuck up about), I’m pretty sure the boys in the movie make some sexist jokes here and there, and some of the plot is a little over the top, but I thoroughly enjoy this movie all the same. It’s definitely worth a watch.
- Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999)
Katie Holmes makes her second appearance on this list with the underrated Teaching Mrs. Tingle. So, Mrs. Tingle (played by the incomparable Helen Mirren) is the meanest teacher around right? Like an absolute nightmare. She’s so tough that’s it’s nearly impossible for anyone to get an A in her class, even school nerd Leigh Ann Watson (Holmes). The problem is that Lee Ann is super broke and really needs that A so she can become valedictorian and get out of that town (Katie Holmes is basically just playing Joey from Dawson’s Creek again but who cares? It’s fun). Anyway, because of some stupid hijinks by the “bad boy” classmate Luke (played by Barry Watson) Mrs. Tingle finds the answer key to a test in Leigh Ann’s bookbag and threatens to have her expelled. Luke, Leigh Ann, and a friend head to Mrs. Tingle’s house after school to try to convince her that Leigh Ann is innocent, but things take a bad turn and Mrs. Tingle ends up tied to her bed and at the mercy of the students she’s tormented for four years.
Now, this movie isn’t perfect and like I said, Katie Holmes was just being type casted at this point (which is another reason to watch Disturbing Behavior because her character is totally different in that one) but it has some good points. One: Helen Mirren’s acting. She’s so mean and condescending to the students and even when she’s tied to the bed she won’t let up. Just chipping away at their insecurities and pitting them against one another.
Two: It’s funny. This movie is technically a “dark comedy/thriller” but I still count it in my teen horror category because it has nearly all the genre tropes: dark-haired, virginal teen girl, a seemingly unstoppable villain, ominous atmosphere (for real tho, Mrs. Tingle’s house is like a dark tower). This movie isn’t the best or even the scariest, but if you’re home alone one day and want something entertaining to watch, this is a good candidate.
- Cherry Falls (2000)
Continuing the theme of famous actresses in horror movies before they were famous, Brittany Murphy stars in our number four pick, Cherry Falls. Now Cherry Falls shouldn’t really classify as a 90’s horror movie because it came out in 2000 but I’m bending the rules on this one because it’s the only “slasher” (I’m using that term loosely) pick on the list.
The movie tells the story of Jody Marken (Murphy), an ordinary teenage girl living in the quiet town of Cherry Falls, Virginia. Everything is in Jody’s life is normal until a long-haired woman starts killing virgins in the town sending everyone in the school into a panic. Jody’s father the sheriff and her teacher are the only people she can trust as she searches for the murderer and discovers a dark secret linking her to the killer.
So, this movie’s premise is a little too on the nose for me. A slasher who exclusively targets virgins? Sounds like a cheap reason to have an orgy scene (they do), but the movie is worth it if only for the reveal at the end of the movie. It’s fucked up and that’s all I’m going to say.
- Sleepwalkers (1992)
Yet another story in which the villains are after virgins (it ain’t safe out here in the horror streets for V-Card holders).
Stephen King’s screenplay tells the story of Charles and Mary Bradford (Brian Krause and Alice Krige) who are shape-shifting beasts who feed off of the virginal life force of teen girls. Charles tries to take the life force of Tanya Robertson but Tanya fights back and all hell breaks loose.
(Honestly, I don’t want to give away too many spoilers so that’s all you’ll get from me, but check out the trailer below.
I love this movie. Yes, it’s a little campy. Yes, the whole preying on virgins thing is tired as fuck, but man, when else are you gonna see a movie where a gang of cats are the town’s only salvation?
Do yourself a favor and watch it!
Why watch: Teen Julia Stiles being a little shit.
Why It Didn’t Make the Cut: It’s just meh.
The Rage: Carrie 2 (1998)
Why watch: Teen girl with telekinesis wreaks havoc over some asshole jocks
Why It Didn’t Make the Cut: It doesn’t live up to the first Carrie AT ALL.
Don’t Look Under the Bed (1999)
Why watch: Really good premise and the visuals are surprisingly scary. For real tho, I know a few people who were scared shitless by this movie.
Why It Didn’t Make the Cut: It’s a Disney movie so they couldn’t go that far with the blood and gore or the horror elements.
Remember these are the underrated movies. Is your favorite underrated 90’s teen horror movie on the list? Let me know! Don’t forget to like, comment, and share! Subscribe to stay up to date.