17 cult '90s horror movies that really need remakes

I scream, you scream, we all scream for remakes!

It's not easy picking one decade of horror that could do with a makeover. There's duds across the history of cinema, but the 1990s were a special time for the genre, a turning point of sorts, when slashers, monster flicks, and whatever the fuck Sleepwalkers is, had become, well, not scary. While Scream came along midway through the decade to kick it back to life, it still took time for cinema to catch up. What we were left with were a bunch of truly effective horrors and those that missed the mark. The latter, of which there are hundreds, shouldn't be discounted. No, they should be remade.

I know. Remakes are evil proof of the film industry's dwindling creativity. But there's plenty of terrific horror flicks that are themselves remakes: The Thing, Let Me In, The Crazies, The Fly, Dawn of the Dead and Psycho - ha, just kidding - are just some examples. Here's a batch from the 1990s that could also benefit from a fresh take.

17. Dr. Giggles (1992)

Dr. Giggles sounds like a prequel to Patch Adams. It's not. Don't watch it with your niece or nephew expecting frivolity and a tearjerker ending. This is about a deranged doctor - who isn't licensed to practice, by the way - on a killing rampage in his hometown. After helping his own dad do the exact same thing thirty years earlier, he escapes a mental asylum and carves up teens to extract their hearts. The butchery has something to do with reviving his dead mother but that doesn't really matter as the whole movie is an excuse for cheap medical gags.

There's potential for the gory elements to land with impact if the script was reworked to delete the naff comedy, and go straight for the jugular. Plus, Dr. Giggles does some proper fourth-wall breaking toward the end, which might work if used all the way through, Deadpool-style.

16. Bad Moon (1996)

Bad Moon comes across suspiciously like a blend of An American Werewolf in London and Dog Soldiers except it's no way near as creepy as either. A couple are attacked by a beast one night while camping. The girl dies, and her boyfriend Ted slays the beast but not before getting bitten. He slowly begins to wonder why everyone around him keeps dying in horrific ways, and even when he does realise that he's a werewolf, still accepts an offer from his sister to move in with her and his nephew. 

There's wolf attacks galore and they're pretty darn bloody, but the biggest quibble is how bad Ted's transformation looks. It's terrible. A shame as the central idea of the movie breathes a little life into the tired lycanthrope schtick. Full moons and silver bullets are out. Weird canine-wolf relations are in. Ted's sister's dog Thor plays a large part in the movie, and it's quite clever to see this skilled pup act. If there were a little more attention paid to Thor and the gore, I'd fork out for a ticket.

15. The Faculty (1999)

This is the movie Kevin Williamson wrote post-Scream that isn't Teaching Mrs. Tingle. It could be argued that The Faculty is already a loose remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, fitted with hyper-aware dialogue and oh-so-trendy actors, but if that's the case Scream is a remake of every slasher it references. 

Williamson's homage to the body snatcher subgenre remains a fearful examination of an alien invasion that unspools like a high school whodunnit. Director Robert Rodriguez piles on several brutal moments that seemingly come out of nowhere, the cast is sharp as a tack and there's a few nice twists to body snatcher lore. It's a good movie that could use a refresher to make it a great movie. Like the hugely-underrated Halloween H20 did for Michael Myers, there's still something in The Faculty's concept that's worth exploring again.

14. Sometimes They Come Back (1991)

Stephen King adaptations are notoriously hit and miss. Sometimes They Come Back falls somewhere between the two. It's not up there with The Shining but it carries an element from King's short story that's absent in his other flicks: tension. It's also got a fair bit in common with Christine as a schoolteacher finds himself bullied by a bunch of 'greasers' - '60s kids - who killed his brother before they died in an auto wreck. Their ghostly reappearance is the reason loads of high schoolers are being murdered because they all want to come back to life for good. 

Despite its R-rating it never embraces the real horror of King's original tale. Update the eras to make the ghost gang an '80s crew, give Jim's wife more to do than look worried and amp up the basic chills. If you saw someone you know to be dead sitting in the back of class wouldn't that send you screaming from the room?

13. The Haunting (1999)

As a horror fan it's the worst when the credits roll on a film that wasn't scary, especially when you can still recall the sleepless nights you had after reading the novel. Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House is a truly chilling book; Jan De Bont's The Haunting is about as scary as a basket of kittens. The story is heralded as one of the best haunted house novels ever written and focuses on events that take place when four strangers come together at the abandoned Hill House for a supernatural experiment. However, De Bont decided that CGI is way better than character or plot. 

The best way to build real, palpable fear is with a tight script that plots out every beat meticulously. James Wan achieved that with both Insidious and The Conjuring. Relying on CG scares isn't enough. The Haunting requires its characters be three-dimensional people who exist outside of the horrible situation they're in. Only then will audiences care as they wander deeper and deeper into the house. 

12. Brainscan (1994)

Brainscan is bad and brilliant. Is it a cult classic? Eh, not quite. But its remake could easily nab that title. It's now 22 years old and for a movie that's based on crazy advanced tech - an interactive CD-ROM! - and stars Edward Furlong, it's not aged particularly well. John Connor plays a teenager caught up in a gamer's nightmare: whatever happens in his new horror video game, happens in real life. Ish. There's a sting in the tail which suggests otherwise, but for the most part, Furlong skulks around an affluent neighborhood stalking girls. 

It's hard to believe that this was co-written by Seven's Andrew Kevin Walker. For a successful redux, Walker's script needs tweaking to include darker dips into depravity. The basic horror of the situation is already there: this is a kid committing murder. So where's the brutal evidence of Furlong's nighttime gaming excursions? Those nitty gritty details shouldn't be glossed over but cranked up. 

11. Tales From The Darkside: The Movie (1990)

V/H/S mixed the vignette format with found footage to make something fresh for gorehounds. Tales From The Darkside could easily do the same. Based on the TV series of the same name, the 1990 film uses a wraparound story featuring Deborah Harry as a child-eating witch whose paperboy regales her with three tales to delay being shoved into the oven. The first - and best - is set on a college campus and begins with a murderous reanimated mummy, and ends with Julianne Moore delivering the creepiest line of her career.  

The Stephen King-adapted middle tale lags a bit but the final segment packs a nice twist at the end. While it was dubbed the unofficial second sequel to Creepshow, it doesn't quite nail that film's black humor. Reworked with a modern Black Mirror-esque angle, a remake might just do the trick.

10. In the Mouth of Madness (1995)

In the Mouth of Madness is one of John Carpenter's most ambitious films. It's self-reflexive, darkly funny, and bloody weird. A Mobius-strip of a plot opens with Sam Neill's insurance investigator holed up in an asylum telling his doctor how he came to be there. The rest of the movie flashes back, and we see him head off to the quaint-sounding Hobbs End to track down missing horror author Sutter Cane who owes his publisher a manuscript. 

To discuss any more would be to ruin a unique cinematic experience. It's part Stephen King, part H.P. Lovecraft along with a giant tab of acid that screenwriter Michael De Luca was presumably taking while he wrote it. This would be perfect in the hands of someone new on the horror scene, like Ti West or Adam Wingard.

9. The People Under The Stairs (1991)

The title just sounds horrible doesn't it? It conjures up an image of walking down an open-backed stairway into a basement, holding your breath as you wait for a hand to grab your exposed ankle. Wes Craven knew how to keep you suspended in that state for the duration. The People Under The Stairs is not his most accomplished piece yet at the time of release, it was a welcome return to what he did best - making ordinary things terrifying. 

The story is all about social injustice, circling around a boy named Fool and his dying mother as they face eviction. Together with Ving Rhames' opportunistic thief, Fool breaks into the landlords' suburban home and discovers that they're not just hoarding money, they're hoarding people. Yes, those of the title, who it turns out aren't the bad guys at all. Nope that's the batshit Robesons, who hoot and holler every time they kill someone while dressed like dumpster dwellers. This is Craven's blackest comedy horror, with a political angle that'd make it perfect for a contemporary makeover. It's a damn shame we'll never see his own proposed remake

Gem Seddon

Gem Seddon is GamesRadar+'s west coast Entertainment News Reporter, working to keep all of you updated on all of the latest and greatest movies and shows on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Outside of entertainment journalism, Gem can frequently be found writing about the alternative health and wellness industry, and obsessing over all things Aliens and Terminator on Twitter.