Halloween Feature: Counting Down The Top 10 Highest Grossing Horror Films Of All Time!


So, it’s that time of the year again; in which some people fear and some relish, Halloween. If you’re a fan of all things spooky/gory and just generally love the annual celebration, it’s likely you have a favourite horror movie.

Horror films don’t have the best success record at the box office, however, if this list is anything to go by, they don’t do too bad.

Counting down the highest-grossing horror films of all time; featured in this list are some classic nail-biters, some surprising additions and equally some infamous films missing from the top 10…without further or do, let’s begin!


10. Shutter Island (2010)

$128 million (£79.5m)

 It’s only been three years since this Leonardo DiCaprio horror/thriller hit cinemas. Set in 1954, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) heads to a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of the ‘67th’ in-patient, with the help of his partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo).

Despite the success of Shutter Island financially, the film did incredibly well across both the horror and thriller genre. It’s featured in many ‘films to see before you die’ lists due to the twisted, suspense-filled nature of the film.

If you haven’t yet seen the film, here is the trailer…there’s more to it than meets the eye:


9. The Ring (2002)
$129 million (£80.1m)

Previously mentioned in our Pop 5 Scariest Monsters Of All Time, Samara, the creepy little girl from The Ring, led the movie to a massive success at the box office, grossing almost $130 million at the box office.

The film which also has a sequel (The Ring Two) is about a deadly video tape – whoever watches it will die in seven days. Naomi Watts plays protective mother, Rachel. Her young son Aidan watches the tape unaware of the curse, with the help of ex-boyfriend Noah, Rachel makes it her mission to stop this tape in its course before it claims any more lives.

Watching this at an early age is not advised – I’d know:

 8. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991) 
$131 million (£81.4m)

 If you haven’t even heard of this film, you must be living under a rock. The Silence of the Lambs won 5 Oscars and features none other than Sir Anthony Hopkins who won his only Oscar for his role as the infamous villain, Hannibal Lecter.

The Silence of the Lambs follows a young FBI cadet (Jodie Foster) who is forced to confide in a notorious, manipulative killer in order to help get an insight of how a person in that mind-set works to catch another serial killer.

Witness the cannibal that is Hannibal in full-force:


7. The Conjuring (2013)
$137.4 million (85.4m)

The newest, most-recent film added to the list is 2013 supernatural horror, The Conjuring. To make it in to the top 10 in the company of some big name horrors; James Wan did an incredible job, making it the highest-grossing horror film in the past three years.

Based on the true story of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), the married couple specialise in exorcisms and bringing out evil spirits. They are called to one specific case in Rhode Island, where the Perron family reside. Noted as the worst case they’d witnessed, the Warren’s do their best to help this increasingly desperate family regain their lives without the evil spirits hanging over them (quite literally).

Personally, The Conjuring is one my favourite horror films to date; it has all the components of a classic horror; creepy dolls, fake scares/jumpy moments, exorcisms and paranormal activity.

Give the trailer a chance and see what you make of it:


6. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
$140 million (£87m)

Alike The Ring, The Blair Witch Project also has a sequel, however I’d avoid watching it if I were you, in fear that it will ruin the original. Partly to blame for the hordes of horror films in the past few years, The Blair Witch Project channels paranormal-like activity in its 81-minute run time.

Told in a documentary-style manner, three students take a trip to Maryland to explore the legend of the ‘Blair Witch’, with only cameras in hand to film their findings, nothing will protect them from what’s lurking within the woods.

Definitely a must-see film, even if you’re just watching it to see how it defined the horror genre and what came after it:


5. What Lies Beneath (2000)
$155.4 million (£96.5m)

Co-written by the one and only Clark Gregg aka Agent Phil Coulson of all Marvel related things; What Lies Beneath actually features a star-studded cast, too.

Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfieffer play husband and wife, Claire and Dr. Norman Spencer. After being involved in a car accident a year earlier, the result leaves Claire with gaps in her memory. Claire soon starts to expect the worst of her neighbour, Warren, after she hears and sees suspicious activity coming from next-door. She starts to believe her house is haunted by the ghost of next-door and questions if she’s losing her mind.

The placing of fifth highest-grossing horror of all time speaks for itself, What Lies Beneath is not to be missed:


4. Hannibal (2001)
$165 million (£103m)

Directed by Ridley Scott, Hannibal acts as the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs which placed at number eight on the countdown. Sir Anthony Hopkins reprises his role as Hannibal Lecter and is joined by acting royalty, Gary Oldman and Julianne Moore.

Set 10 years after The Silence of the Lambs, this time round we see Hannibal return to America, attempting to make contact with disgraced agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore replaces Jodie Foster in the role of Clarice). Mr Lecter must try and survive a vengeful plan from one of his former victim’s, Mason Verger (Gary Oldman).

Hannibal managed to rake in more than $30m/£20m than its predecessor, The Silence of the Lambs:

3. The Exorcist (1973)
$232.9 million (£144.7m)

The oldest of the films on the list and arguably the best horror made to date, The Exorcist. Many people see this film as the be all and end all of the horror genre. Along with the likes of Psycho and Scream, The Exorcist is known for defining the genre from an early age. There are numerous films that mention or base the entire story around the 1973 film; it really has made a massive impact.

The basic plot of the film is: a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, when things get too much for her mother; she enlists the help of two priests to try and free her daughter from the claws of the devil.

The Exorcist really is one-of-a-kind; cinema wasn’t as expensive or as popular in those days as it is today, however out of all the films out there, a film from 40-years ago stills hangs around the top 5 in more lists than one (Note: if you don’t like creepy teenage girls with devil voices then this probably isn’t for you):

2. Jaws (1975)
 $260 million (£161.5m)

…the runner-up is shark-thriller, Jaws. If I had the Jaws music now, I’d play it to create tension, but I don’t, so you’ll just have to imagine it…Duuun dun duun dun dun…

Steven Spielberg directs this epic at-sea film which revolves around a gigantic great white shark that begins to bite at the small island community of Amity. Determined to try and stop it; a marine scientist, a police chief and a fisherman all venture out in to the cold seas.

Jaws is the only film on the list in which an animal(s) is the villain:

1. The Sixth Sense (1999) 
$293.5 million (£182.3m)


…and the highest-grossing film of all time is The Sixth Sense.

Bruce Willis, Toni Collette and Haley Joel Osment steal the show in this mystery horror/thriller. Along with being the highest-grossing horror film, The Sixth Sense was nominated for six Oscars.

Bruce Willis plays a psychiatrist Dr Malcolm Crowe, who is called to help a young boy (Osment) who communicates with the spirits of dead people, without realising they’re in fact dead “I see dead people” sound familiar to you? There’s also a big twist in store that you won’t expect.

If you haven’t seen the film and have managed to avoid all spoilers then firstly, well done to you and secondly, watch the film!!!


So that’s it, the top 10 highest-grossing horror films of all time. You may be surprised at some of the films missing; The Grudge, Scream, Saw and Paranormal Activity – they just didn’t make the cut!

Enjoy your Halloween, and if you’re staying in and have Netflix or any other type of VOD, why don’t you give some of these films a chance if you haven’t seen them already…make sure to draw your curtains and leave a bit of room behind your sofa as you may be hiding there later on!


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