gale, randy, & sidney in Scream

Best Slasher Movies of All Time, Ranked (’90s Edition)

Let's slash it up in the '90s.

Slashers are top tier in my book, as far as subgenres go. It’s been said to death, but it’s true that without slashers, horror wouldn’t be where it is. Black Christmas (1974), for instance, helped pioneer for all the slashers that followed it and helped shape how horror would carry on in terms of its villains especially—though I’m not here to talk about the best slashers across every era. I’m going to hold open the box and present you with the best ’90s slashers.

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“Why the ’90s?” you ask? Well this was a decade that gave us some of the most iconic slashers ever, making a ranking particularly challenging. Therefore, I’ve decided to rank them by how likable their protagonists are. Super original, right? Right. A slasher with awful protagonists means their potential demise is just … satisfying. Sorry.

Grab your weapon of choice, tie your laces, and get ready to scream your ass off. We’re going back in time to the ’90s, and it’s going to get bloody—from the least likable protagonists to the most.

7. Bride of Chucky (1998)

tiffany in Bride of Chucky
(Universal Pictures)

This entry in the Child’s Play franchise is beloved, and let’s be honest, it’s mostly because of Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly). She’s a delightful addition to the franchise as a whole. Plus, her scenes are so ridiculously iconic it’s silly. But Jade (Katherine Heigl) and Jesse (Nick Stabile), however? They are as dull as butter knives. When your slasher has horribly unlikable characters as the protagonists, it’s much easier to root for their downfall.

Essentially, the most interesting part about Jade is her best friend, David (Gordon Michael Woolvett). Otherwise? Neither of them are all that likable because they are just really annoying. And are a typical heterosexual teen couple making horrible decisions.

6. Urban Legend (1998)

sasha trying to survive in Urban Legend
(TriStar Pictures and Sony Pictures Releasing)

There’s no denying that there are very memorable moments in this slasher—the killer reveal and Loretta Devine’s overall presence in this movie being the most. As far as the likability of its final girl and overall protagonists (not includingReese, because she’s lovely)? Yikes. We’re stuck dealing with Natalie (Alicia Witt) and Paul (Jared Leto), who make me want to roll my eyes to the back of my skull. They both have a presence in this movie, but it’s unsavory.

They are the characters you don’t care about and yet are forced to since what’s left? A few minor characters and Reese (Loretta Devine), who doesn’t get enough screen time in my eyes.

5. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

the friend group in I Know What You Did Last Summer
(Columbia Pictures)

Please don’t come for me after I say the following: Julie James (Jennifer Love Hewitt) isn’t a good final girl. She actually contributes to why this well-known movie is relatively low on the list. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) is absolutely a staple in terms of slashers. It gave us an iconic chase scene and Helen Shivers (Sarah Michelle Gellar). Outside of Helen, though? Everyone sucks.

Barry (Ryan Phillipe) is a typical asshole with almost no depth, Ray (Freddy Prinze Jr.) is a flat character, and Julie is a wet blanket even before the time jump. There’s not enough to like about 3 out of the 4 in this friend group, making who survives all the more infuriating.

4. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

laurie and michael in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

Retconning everything but Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981) was a wise decision for this sequel. Laurie is an absolute mess and is still haunted by everything that happened to her, and has been forced to live a secret life with her son, John (Josh Hartnett). The thing about the protagonists in this film is that they are a mixed bag. Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is an icon of icons among final girls, so she’s not an issue.

However, John is one of those teens that you eye-roll. He doesn’t listen to his mother’s warnings or take her seriously, and his girlfriend Molly (Michelle Williams) isn’t very memorable. They mostly fall into the unlikable category because they’re boring—though, surprisingly, Ronny (LL Cool J) is pretty likable and actually survives to the end! Thumbs up to Laurie and Ronny, at least.

3. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

freddy getting ready to kill julie
(New Line Cinema)

After the last 2 horrible sequels (looking at you especially, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare), Freddy Krueger creator Wes Craven said enough. He returned to the franchise and decided that meta slashers were in. Heather Langenkamp—who played final girl Nancy in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street—also returned to the franchise and played herself. It’s genuinely one of the best films in the ANOES franchise, especially because it does something so different.

As far as the protagonists, who doesn’t love Heather Langenkamp/Nancy Thompson? Please point them out so Freddy can wave his glove—not to mention Wes and original Freddy Robert Englund star as themselves—all very likable individuals who make you care about the chaos that’s unfolding. I don’t even need to explain why they’re great. You know why if you’re a horror fan!

2. Child’s Play 2 (1990)

chucky holding a knife to andy's throat in Child's Play 2
(Universal Pictures)

In the Child’s Play franchise, it’s very touch-and-go with whether its protagonists turn out to be likable, especially when the films usually focus heavily on Chucky and then, later, Tiffany. But disliking Andy (Alex Vincent) or Kyle (Christine Elise)? Wrong move. They are just believable kids trying to defeat Chucky (Brad Dourif) and survive the foster system, and Kyle is a snarky teenager who isn’t written as foolish or ditzy, thus defeating the ideas that blondes always have to be just that in horror. Plus, Andy is just so cute and doesn’t deserve the shitty childhood he has to experience. No more explanation is needed.

1. Scream (1996) & Scream 2 (1997)

gale, randy, & sidney in Scream
(Dimension Films)

Seriously, if you didn’t think I’d put both these movies at the top, then I don’t know anymore. The reason they are lumped together is because they have the same protagonist(s). If we just discuss Sidney (Neve Campbell), then it’s been talked to death about what makes her an amazing figure in horror—not to mention her status as a final girl has lasting power. She literally grows so much as a character from the first to the 2nd film. Her personality is warm and bold. She’s smart and doesn’t take shit from anybody, and I’d go on, but you’ve heard it all before!

(featured image: Dimension Films)


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Author
Vanessa Maki
Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.