‘90s nostalgia would have it that the ‘90s were one of the best decades. However, I would also argue that they were one of the creepiest decades, because, I mean… just look at all the nightmare fuel that came out of them. It’s funny, though, looking back on most of it — because nearly all of these things are only creepy if you grew up in the ‘90s.
I recall having vivid nightmares inspired by so many of these people, items, and pop culture phenomena when I was a kid: I dreamed of turning into a giant piece of fruit and being stuck that way forever; I dreamed of being chased by the ‘90s miniseries version of Pennywise; I dreamed of ghosts and goblins and ghouls and monsters the way they were depicted in the media I consumed during the day. At the time — due largely, I believe, to where we were at in our technological development — these images were the pinnacle of fear.
But the things that scared us back then don’t really have the same effect on the generations that came after us; they grew up with much more realistic-looking special effects than we did, and their tolerance for freaky stuff is often much higher simply due to having had more access to it through the internet. The most terrifying images that came out of the ‘90s seem almost quaint now — and we can only describe the fear they inspired by gesturing vaguely and saying, “You just kind of had to be there.”
But still. You remember, right? You remember what it feltlike when you turned the television on and saw a clown waving at a passing car.You remember turning away from a book because the illustrations made you feel alittle queasy. You remember it all.
Some things are just impossible to forget.
2The ‘Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark’ Illustrations
The Stephen Gammell illustrations in the editions we all couldn’t get enough of in the ‘90s were outright terrifying. Even though the pants off me, I was enormously upset when they were replaced by decidedly less creepy illustrations by Brett Helquist in 2011. At least the original illustrations came back recently; maybe they'll be terrifying to the kids of the 2010s, too.
Thanks for the nightmares, Scream.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Bill Skarsgard will have the same effect on today’s kids.
7Cabbage Patch Dolls
In 1997, Mattel put out a recall announcement for Cabbage Patch “Snacktime Kids” dolls on the grounds that the dolls — which were meant to eat fake food that came packaged with the toy — were at risk for eating hair and fingers instead. Uh... no, thank you.
Today? Laughable. In 1991 and 1995, when the VHS board games Nightmare and The Harbingers were released? Terrifying.
So. Much. Damage.
No one wants to be found wrapped in plastic.
11'The Blair Witch Project'
Nowadays, viral marketing and found footage are old hat. At the time The Blair Witch Project was released, however, we hadn’t ever before seen these two techniques taken to this extreme separately, let alone in tandem. And for those of us who weren’t yet grown then — who maybe hadn’t quite developed the skepticism necessary to tell fact from fiction — everything about this film was the stuff of nightmares. (Including Heather’s snot.)
This commercial, you guys. This commercial.
Look, we really thought we’d be thrown back into the Dark Ages due to a massive computer error when the calendar ticked over from 1999 to 2000, OK?
Hands down the scariest part of The Sixth Sense.
Mainly we were afraid we’d never be able to take them off again, because that is what Goosebumps taught us would happen if we put one on.
Raise your hand if you were traumatized by My Girl.
Thanks to Eerie Indiana, I live in fear of ATMs becoming sentient.
NOT OK, GUSHERS. NOT OK.