The Scariest Movies '90s Kids Can't Forget
From hardcore horror to chilling children's classics, these '90s films are still giving us nightmares.
Can you remember the first movie that scared you? Chances are, it's still giving you nightmares. Kids who grew up in the '90s had a wide variety of films to traumatize them, from horror movies we stumbled on when we were far too young to children's movies that were way more intense than they needed to be. With that in mind, we've compiled a list of some of the scariest movies that spooked '90s kids. Don't be surprised if remembering some of these frightening flicks still sends a chill down your spine. And for more '90s nightmares, check out our Ranking of Every '90s Horror Movie, From Worst Reviewed to Best.
Child's Play 2 (1990)
Though decidedly not for kids, the Child's Play series centered on a doll terrorizing a little boy, and somehow managed to scar a generation of young people who should never have been watching these movies. And if you're looking for more chills, This Is the Scariest Horror Movie of All Time, According to Science.
The Witches (1990)
There's no way the remake of The Witches can be anywhere near as terrifying as the original, starring Anjelica Huston at her most frightening as The Grand High Witch. And before the reboot arrives, discover The Best Horror Films of 2020, According to Critics.
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Sure, Gizmo was cute, and Gremlins 2 had a more comedic bent than its predecessor, but that doesn't mean it wasn't also really scary when viewed at a young age.
Another movie very much for adults that somehow managed to worm its way into the subconscious of children, Candyman gave kids another urban legend to be scared of. And to see how your favorite horror stars have fared over the years, check out The Biggest '90s Horror Icons, Then and Now.
Don't Look Under the Bed (1999)
Disney may have wanted to make sure Don't Look Under the Bed was "scary but not too scary," but someone clearly missed the memo, because we're still recovering.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
With a PG-13 rating, The Sixth Sense lured us into a sense of complacency, then made us worry about seeing dead people for weeks. And for more movies that featured stars before they were famous, revisit these Celebrities You Forgot Were in Horror Movies.
Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
Oh, sure, the trolls are silly, and Ernest himself can't be taken seriously—and yet, this movie still made us afraid to look under the bed. And, weirdly, terrified of Brussels sprouts.
Bride of Chucky (1998)
With Bride of Chucky, the titular doll got a mate, and the two became pop culture icons, determined to haunt us at every turn.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
"It's not gory" became the rallying cry around The Blair Witch Project, which is why a lot of parents let their kids watch this absolutely terrifying film. And for more of the all-time greatest scary movies, these are The Best Horror Films of All Time, According to Critics.
If you weren't scared of Pennywise in the '90s, you weren't paying attention. The remake might have been more adult, but the miniseries left the most lasting trauma. And for more fun content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Just because it was a light horror-comedy doesn't mean you didn't get freaked out about the idea of vampires hovering over your bed.
Jurassic Park (1993)
There were so many reasons for '90s kids to be scared, but until everyone saw this game-changing blockbuster, reanimated dinosaurs hadn't made the list.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Another movie that was too popular to escape, Silence of the Lambs made us scared that cannibalism was a lot more rampant than it really was in the '90s.
Many people didn't even realize they suffered from arachnophobia until they saw Arachnophobia, a movie that's all in good fun until you think about how many spiders there are, everywhere.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Edward Scissorhands isn't a horror movie so much as a tragic love story. That doesn't mean the titular romantic antihero wasn't a frightening prospect for young ones.
Sometimes They Come Back (1991)
While Sometimes They Comes Back makes for cheesy viewing as an adult, the TV movie delivered genuine terror as a kid, particularly when the bullies murder a boy in front of his brother.
The People Under the Stairs (1991)
Because of its plucky young hero, The People Under the Stairs feels a little bit like a kid-centric adventure—a spookier Goonies, if you will. Anyone who got tricked into watching it as a child knows that's far from the truth.
How scary can a little leprechaun be? When his pot of gold gets stolen: very!
Long before COVID, '90s kids feared airborne viruses and capuchin monkeys, thanks to this visceral (and admittedly very loose) adaptation of the nonfiction book The Hot Zone.
Jack Frost (1997)
Not to be confused with the 1998 family film—which is terrifying in its own way—the 1997 Jack Frost is a satirical slasher movie that left a lasting impression on the kids who watched it by mistake.
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
Who would have thought that the Henry Selick adaptation of the relatively wholesome James and the Giant Peach would provide so much more genuine nightmare fodder than his earlier The Nightmare Before Christmas?
The Good Son (1993)
If Home Alone made you enough of a Macaulay Culkin fan to seek out The Good Son, you better hope your parents kept you away from this film about a budding psychopath.
The Stand (1994)
If Randall Flagg didn't scare you as a '90s kid, perhaps scenes of a highly contagious virus destroying human civilization did.
Tales From the Darkside: The Movie (1990)
The anthology horror series got a film adaptation, and young audiences got sucked in by a kid telling stories before realizing how scary those stories would be.
Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
Just when we thought we were safe from Freddy Krueger, he had to go and return with an even more alarming visage in this meta-slasher film that got under our skin.
Pinocchio's Revenge (1996)
Another one of the low-budget horror slashers that confused '90s kids by presenting a beloved character in a very different context, Pinocchio's Revenge is as strange as it is haunting.
As much a comedy as it is a horror film, Tremors is a lot of fun, but for those of us who saw it when we were a little too young, it was also an excuse to worry about giant worms lurking beneath us.