It was 25 years ago last month, Wes Craven's teen slasher "Scream" was released. The iconic 90s scary movie, with its meta-commentary, was revolutionary for its day. Its popularity led to even more sequels and a short-lived television reboot. The latest sequel is out now. "Scream," the fifth film in the series, continues the legacy of the original with a new Ghostface killer on the loose. Or is it an old killer back for revenge with a side of nostalgia?
As the new "Scream" takes you back to the quiet town of Woodsboro 25 years later, we wanted to help you reconnect with your inner '90s child. For the original's 25th, we have put together the ultimate '90s movie playlist - 25 films you would be watching if you were a kid in the 90s, like the kids of the original "Scream" cast. So, take your Discman, crank up some Nirvana, and hit the local Blockbuster in your mind (now accessible on your smartphone). We've got you covered with our ultimate watchlist of classic '90s kid cinema.
"Light as a feather, stiff as a board." It's the classic stuff of sleepovers. In the '90s, goth was never more in fashion. And no movie typified the Hot Topic aesthetic better than "The Craft." The film follows a group of wannabe witches who find their key to witchcraft in the form of transfer student Sarah (Robin Tunney). It's all set to a soundtrack featuring top post-grunge, alt-rock tunes of the day to set the mood. Of course, "The Craft," and its spooky vibe, wouldn't be as big if it wasn't for the next movie on our list.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It may not have been a hit upon its release, but five years after its cinematic debut, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" broke through pop culture. The film, about a Valley girl who discovers that her true fate is to slay vampires, became a massive force of the late-90s with its popular small-screen adaptation. However, the original film contains one of the most memorable big-screen performances of late actor/heartthrob Luke Perry, a '90s icon we'll forever miss.
Can't Hardly Wait
We'll admit it – the male gaze is strong in this one. Looking back, it's hard not to cringe at the movie's setup and plot. Life pro-tip to learn here: Never put a person on a pedestal. Still, we can't blame Ethan Embry for his overeager obsession with Jennifer Love Hewitt.
The Mummy (1999)
We love the Keanu-ssance, but we are really looking forward to the Brendan Fraser-issance of 2022 (though, we'll have to come up with a less awkward name for it). This year, the '90s movie icon is returning to star as DC baddie Firefly in the upcoming "Batgirl" movie for HBO Max. Of course, the man is no stranger to action roles. And none of those roles were more exuberant than that of throwback adventurer Richard O'Connell. "The Mummy" is popcorn thrills at its finest, and it's all carried by Fraser and Rachel Weisz's chemistry and charisma. Oh, and how about we all pretend that the 2017 Tom Cruise reboot never happened. Cool? Cool.
The clarion call for humanity to band together to defeat aliens hellbent on destroying the world (starting with each city's most familiar landmark) is a fine idea. It certainly played well for its time, resulting in box office success. Not to mention a less-memorable and more lackluster sequel that came too many years too late. Sadly, as life continues to demonstrate, should such a scenario befall our species, it is far more likely that we would become more divided than ever. We really do need a President Whitmore for our time. Bill Pullman/Dwayne Johnson 2024 – who's with me?
Pop Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" into your car's tape deck and rock out to this unlikely hit from 1992. Based on a series of "SNL" sketches, the 90s comedy movie about two headbanging hosts of a public access TV show became an instant hit that spawned countless catchphrases and a sequel. It's also a great comedy directed by a woman. "No way!" "Way!"
Boyz N the Hood
Four young men face hardships as they come of age on the unforgiving streets of South Central Los Angeles. Based on the people he knew growing up, John Singleton's urban drama was a hit when it was released, and the cultural impact remains today. Singleton made even more history with "Boyz N the Hood." He became the first African-American and the youngest director to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Director.
Basketball legend Michael Jordan and Looney Tunes' Bugs Bunny made for a winning combination in 1996. Jordan and his all-star ballers teamed up with Bugs and his famous cohorts as they played an epic and interstellar basketball game. Oh, and Bill Murray was there, too. Even though the nostalgia still hits hard, last year's legacy sequel with modern-day all-star LeBron James simply did not have the same magic.
The first rule of "Fight Club" is don't talk about it. But we gotta write something here. Due to its use of violence and destruction and its anti-Capitalist message, Fincher's psychological thriller caused quite a stir upon release. Those who did separate the art from the message found a wild ride with strong performances by Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter. Its famous twist ending made "Fight Club" a '90s movie classic for the ages.
The Lion King
We couldn't have a '90s movie list without a bit of classic Disney. With a subtle nod to Shakespeare, the Disney Renaissance continued with this tale of a lion cub who just can't wait to be king. But first, he must avenge his father's death against his brutal uncle, who usurped the throne. We recently ranked this one as the best of the Renaissance. "Toy Story" would also have been a fitting inclusion on our '90s movies list, but classic Disney animation holds a special place in the hearts of any '90s kid.
A group of inmates commandeers a plane taking them to a maximum prison, while a parolee on board (Nic Cage) works with a U.S. Marshal (John Cusack) to foil their plans. Simon West's self-aware action-thriller might not have had the most believable premise, but it did not matter to those looking for perfect popcorn fodder in the summer of '97.
Two wisecracking narcotics officers investigate stolen drugs from a precinct's evidence locker while protecting a witness in Michael Bay's bombastic big-screen debut. There was undeniable chemistry between leads Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, which led to a sequel in 2003 and a third outing that became the highest-grossing movie of pandemic-ravaged 2020.
Pop quiz, hotshot? What '90s movie was loosely based on a 1985 Jon Voight thriller called "Runaway Train"? All they had to do was switch up the mode of transportation and bring in a scene-chewing Dennis Hopper to play against budding action star Keanu Reeves. The result? Instant box office success and one of the most memorable action movies of all time.
Although the superhero genre was struggling a little throughout the '90s, you would be wrong to think that studios didn't take any chances to bring comic book characters to the big screen. "Blade," starring Wesley Snipes, was bold for its day. A large part of that success can be attributed to "Blade" director Stephen Norrington, who brought the Marvel vampire slayer to the screen. Norrington didn't continue with the franchise through the aughts, but he hoped to succeed again and bring another diverse Marvel property to the big screen, Shang-Chi. Now that both characters are officially part of the MCU, we're eager to see what Mahershala Ali does with Marvel's daywalker. As such, "Blade" and its sequels are probably the last time DC Comics' owner Warner Bros. would produce a Marvel cinematic franchise.
A hacker gets sucked into an underground world and soon learns that everything he knows is wrong. The Wachowskis' neo-noir cyberpunk thriller was revolutionary. It gave us bullet time. It made shades and trench coats cool. And it proved that Keanu Reeves does, in fact, know kung fu (and other martial arts, as he'd remind us later in the "John Wick" action series). The "Matrix" sequels don't quite reach the same heights as the original, but the most recent one does come pretty close to finding that 90s movie magic once again.
As far back as we can remember, Martin Scorsese's mob flick was always a classic. Scorsese's often copied crime drama tracks the rise of mobster Hank Hill (Ray Liotta) and his wiseguy pals Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), all leading up to and following a big heist in the 1970s. Its stacked cast, quotable lines, and a killer soundtrack (and that one incredible tracking shot) make this a must-see staple for any '90s kid. It's a crime that "GoodFellas" did not win Best Picture that year. "Dances With Wolves"? Really?
Director and screenwriter Roger Kumble updates the classic French novel "Dangerous Liaisons" for the '90s. Set in an ultra-modern, yet decadent upper-class New York City high school, "Cruel Intentions" is most memorable for its attractive cast, perfectly placed tunes, and that kissing scene between Selma Blair and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Do you like scary movies? Imagine if her answer was "No." Was the Ghostface killer prepared for that? Enjoy the latest "Scream" in theaters, but come back to see why the original still holds up, even in the day of smartphones and caller I.D.
It's a simple tale of four teenage boys looking to lose their virginity by prom night. From its premise, it still seems hard to believe that this gross-out, sexed-up romp would go on to inspire a whole franchise that rivals National Lampoon.
This comedy about a crew of young adults working in a record store might not have been a hit with critics, but it struck the right chord with young moviegoers. And it had a killer soundtrack that was on everyone's CD rotation. As proof of the film's cult status, the Internet still celebrates "Rex Manning Day" every year.
Queue up Dick Dale's surf-rockin' licks, and hit the streets with two hitmen as they wax poetic on life, Biblical verses and hamburgers. Quentin Tarantino's ultra-hip, ultra-violent crime drama redefined independent cinema and revived the career of John Travolta. The film's interweaving of four different storylines, which required multiple viewings to understand its through-line, greatly contributed to its success.
October 14, 1994
It's almost fitting that a movie based on one of the grandest, most opulent, state-of-the-art ocean liners would be just as extravagant and rich, featuring some of the most state-of-the-art effects for its day. However, unlike the ship, James Cameron's "Titanic" was not unsinkable in the slightest. It took the box office by storm, just as its love theme dominated airwaves, weddings and proms. For a while, "Titanic" stood as the highest-grossing movie of all time. That is, until 2009, with the release of Cameron's next blockbuster, "Avatar."
The Big Lebowski
A former hippie bowler becomes involved in a grand scheme to extort money from a rich man, who happens to share his last name. A case of mistaken identity sets in motion one of the most irreverent comedies of the decade. It took years for critics to grasp the genius of this gem from the Coen brothers, but now, everyone abides, just like the Dude.
Director and screenwriter Amy Heckerling takes Jane Austen's classic tale of a meddling matchmaker and sets it in 1990's Beverly Hills. "Clueless" is a quirky satire of teen films and pop culture that is now considered one of the best teen movies of all time - duh! It is also our first proof that Paul Rudd does not age. Like, seriously.
Two store clerks trudge through life and relationships in Kevin Smith's quotable slacker comedy that was practically financed all by himself. They philosophize on "Star Wars," play hockey on the roof. Oh and sometimes they actually deal with customers. Dante and Randall are the slacker heroes that defined the '90s generation. And to think, one of them wasn't even supposed to be working that day.
Matt Lissauer is a writer & data manager for Noovie. When he is not busy writing listicles, Matt is enjoying life in New Jersey with his lovely wife and three kids.