Here are the top-grossing scary movies of the last 20 Halloweens

Entertainment

(WGHP) — October is a month for all things spooky, and for a lot of people that means hunkering down with some popcorn and some frightful flicks.

Despite being the prime season for it, horror movies don’t usually spell box office domination, even in October. But reliably, a scary flick will always creep into the top 10 at the box office around Halloween time.

So if you’re looking for some scares to get ready for Halloween, here are the highest-grossing horror movies in October for the last 20 years according to Box Office Mojo.

2001 — From Hell 

Based on a graphic novel, “From Hell” is inspired by Jack the Ripper killings, following Johnny Depp’s supernaturally empowered investigator as he races against the prolific serial killer terrorizing London. It comes in low on the monthly box office list, at #6, but is the closest thing to a horror film near the top spot.

Release Date: October 19, 2001
October Gross: $21,589,863
Total Domestic Gross: $31,602,566
Rent it on Amazon Prime

2002 — The Ring 

The top-grossing movie of October overall was Red Dragon, a Hannibal Lecter vehicle starring Ralph Fiennes as the titular Red Dragon. While the presence of pop culture’s most famous cannibal might make it an obvious contender, it is not technically a horror film.

The true title of top horror goes to “The Ring,” which fell just two slots below “Red Dragon” in October but beat its overall domestic gross by $36 million. The remake of the classic Japanese horror film “Ringu” was a box office smash, ushering in an era of remaking foreign films for American horror audiences.

The Ring
Release Date:
October 18, 2002
October Gross: $46,426,210
Total Domestic Gross: $129,128,133
Stream it on Amazon Prime

Red Dragon
Release Date:
October 4, 2002
October Gross: $86,318,490
Total Domestic Gross: $93,149,898
Stream it on HBOMax

2003 — The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

“Scary Movie 3” is not a scary movie, but it was the #2 highest-grossing movie in October of 2003, just edging out “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” a remake of the titanic horror classic.

Release Date: October 17, 2003
October Gross: $58,938,000
Total Domestic Gross: $80,571,655
Stream it on Peacock

2004 — The Grudge 

The Grudge (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment)

“The Grudge,” the Sam Raimi-produced remake of the Japanese horror movie “Ju-On,” dominated other spooky contenders in 2004. Sarah Michelle Gellar leads the film as a woman working as a nurse in Tokyo, plagued by a horrifying curse.

Release Date: October 22, 2004
October Gross: $70,684,627
Total Domestic Gross: $110,359,362
Rent it on Vudu

2005 — Saw II 

Saw II (Courtesy of Lionsgate)

2005 marked the beginning of years-long dominance at the box office for the expansive “Saw” franchise, and truly was the beginning of horror franchise domination in general. The followup to James Wan’s iconic, genre-redefining classic is regarded nearly as highly as its predecessor, not suffering from the diminishing returns the franchise would see in the following years. 

Release Date: October 28, 2005
October Gross: $36,252,287
Total Domestic Gross: $87,039,965
Stream it on Peacock

2006 — Saw III

Saw III is an interesting entry in the Saw franchise as it continues its Halloween box office domination. A brain surgeon is abducted to keep Jigsaw alive while the surgeon’s own husband is put through a string of torturous traps. Saw III contains some of the all-time best Saw traps: the shotgun collar, the rack and an inescapable machine connected to your rib cage, ripping an unlucky cop open in some kind of reverse blood eagle.

Release Date: October 27, 2006
October Gross: $40,709,627
Total Domestic Gross: $80,238,724
Stream it on Peacock

2007 — Saw IV

Saw IV (Courtesy of Lionsgate)

Saw IV opens with the autopsy of Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw. It also crushes a Wahlburg brother’s head with two blocks of ice. Donnie, I think. Those are my most visceral memories from seeing Saw IV in theaters. Saw’s domination of the October box office is notable because these films are often released as close to Halloween as possible, so they’re making more money in 3 days than some films make for the entire month or year.

Release Date: October 26, 2007
October Gross: $38,495,537
Total Domestic Gross: $63,300,095
Stream it on Peacock

2008 — Saw V

This is the final year of Saw domination. The carousel of torture lets us off after 2008 with another slide in overall profits marking the franchise’s overall worn-out welcome. Saw would return years later with surprise-prequel Jigsaw, but never really recaptures the domination of its early installments. 

Release Date: October 24, 2008
October Gross: $38,899,702
Total Domestic Gross: $56,746,769
Stream it on Peacock

Saw V (Courtesy of Lionsgate)

2009 — Paranormal Activity

As Saw’s endless sequels began to lose their shine, a new boss emerged. Same as the old boss. The found-footage flicks started strong with $80.7 million in October. Paranormal Activity marked a shift from the torture and gore-heavy horror of the mid-aughts to the haunting-and-possession genre that defined the 2010s. 

Release Date: September 25, 2009
October Gross: $80,724,102
Total Domestic Gross: $107,918,810
Stream it on Hulu

2010 — Paranormal Activity 2 

Franchise dominance continues for smash-success Paranormal Activity’s sequel, the found footage format firmly in place for this follow-up. 

Release Date: October 22, 2010
October Gross: $65,665,972
Total Domestic Gross: $84,752,907
Stream it on Hulu

2011 — Paranormal Activity 3

The third Paranormal Activity movie somehow did better than the second one, coming close to its originators’ domestic gross and eclipsing its gross for the month of October by $3 million. However, the time of the franchise would soon be ending…

Release Date: October 21, 2011
October Gross: $83,450,755
Total Domestic Gross: $104,028,807
Stream it on Hulu

2012 — Paranormal Activity 4

…But, uh, not yet. Paranormal Activity held on for one more year, though its domestic gross was just over half of what Paranormal Activity 3 raked in, and it was the 5th highest-grossing movie in October, instead of taking one of the top spots like its predecessors. 

Release Date: October 19, 2012
October Gross: $44,700,446
Total Domestic Gross: $53,885,000
Stream it on Hulu

2013 — Carrie

The Chloe Grace Moretz “Carrie” reboot brings in 2013, but only at the #5 spot for the whole month. Reboots and remakes of horror classics have been a staple of the October box office, but just below Carrie sits a movie that most would rate as scarier, although not a horror film in the classic sense: Denis Villeneuve’s “Prisoners,” a tight, anxiety-inducing thriller about the lengths a father would go to find his missing child has more horror-oomph than a bog-standard horror remake. 

Carrie
Release Date: October 18, 2013
October Gross: $28,572,888
Total Domestic Gross: $35,266,619
Rent it on YouTube

Prisoners
Release Date:
September 20, 2013
October Gross: $20,147,302
Total Domestic Gross: $61,002,302
Stream it on Hulu

Annabelle (Courtesy of Warner Brothers)

2014 — Annabelle 

Annabelle, the first spinoff from the now endlessly spun-off “Conjuring” universe, held scary movie domination in 2014. But the horror offerings of 2014 were eclipsed by a movie that may not be a horror film in the traditional sense, but manages to be scarier: David Fincher’s “Gone Girl.” Introducing us to a movie monster unlike any other, “Gone Girl” nearly doubled what Annabelle made overall and scored Academy recognition.

Annabelle
Release Date: October 3, 2014
October Gross: $81,190,454
Total Domestic Gross: $84,273,813
Rent it on Amazon Prime

Gone Girl
Release Date:
October 3, 2014
October Gross: $129,599,665
Total Domestic Gross: $167,767,189
Stream it on Hulu

2015 — Crimson Peak

2015 was a year where horror was thin on the ground. So you had to go all the way to number 8 on the top-grossing list with Guillermo del Toro’s lush period piece, “Crimson Peak.” A beautifully realized “story with ghosts in it” took del Toro away from robots punching monsters and back to his horror roots, where he has remained with Antlers being released in 2021

Release Date: October 16, 2015
October Gross: $26,990,090
Total Domestic Gross: $31,090,320
Rent it on Amazon Prime

2016 — Ouija: Origin of Evil 

The first “Ouija” movie was a paint-by-numbers slasher with a pretty standard gimmick. Somehow, “Origin of Evil,” a prequel, manages to make that into something fun and remarkable. This is not groundbreaking cinema by any means, but an enjoyable horror romp is always worth it if you’re searching for some scares. Another year where the horror offerings remained pretty low on the box office list.

Release Date: October 21, 2016
October Gross: $25,909,815
Total Domestic Gross: $35,144,505
Stream it on HBOMax

2017 — Happy Death Day 

“Happy Death Day,” a slasher “Groundhog Day” that is somehow infinitely more enjoyable than it would sound just by that description alone, takes the top spot for October 2017.

However, just behind “Happy Death Day” lurks “It,” which didn’t do as well in the month of October, but is one of the most profitable horror movies of all time, floating to the top of the crop with an eye-popping $327.4 million domestic gross. 

Happy Death Day
Release Date: October 13, 2017
October Gross: $49,510,105
Total Domestic Gross: $55,683,845
Rent it on Amazon Prime

It
Release Date:
September 8, 2017
October Gross: $37,948,630
Total Domestic Gross: $327,481,748
Stream it on HBOMax

2018 — Halloween

The “Halloween” reboot generated a huge amount of money and hype, coming in at #3 overall in October and definitely earning its spot as the top-tier horror film of 2018. But the #1 slot overall goes to the horror-inspired comic book flick “Venom.” While this isn’t itself a horror movie, the fight between Myers and symbiote will continue…

Halloween (2018)
Release Date: October 19, 2017
October Gross: $137,885,715
Total Domestic Gross: $159,342,015
Stream it on Peacock

Venom
Release Date: October 5, 2018
October Gross: $190,033,601
Total Domestic Gross: $213,515,506
Rent it on Amazon Prime

2019 — Zombieland: Double Tap

Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin and Emma Stone in ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment)

The decade-in-the-making “Zombieland” sequel is firmly a horror-comedy, but the zombie movie rose to the top of the spooky crop, bringing back the original cast and having fun with a sequel that expands on the original’s great chemistry and witty dialogue, though sadly with less Bill Murray.

Release Date: October 18, 2019
October Gross: $51,957,162
Total Domestic Gross: $73,123,082
Rent it on Amazon Prime

2020 — Come Play

2020 is a hard year to quantify in box office success. Most of the top-grossing movies were rereleases like “Hocus Pocus” or “Jurassic Park,” playing because no one was releasing new movies in the midst of the pandemic. But “Come Play,” a horror movie about an autistic boy’s alleged imaginary friend, managed to scrape into the top 10.

Release Date: October 30, 2020
October Gross: $2,425,275
Total Domestic Gross: $10,475,990
Stream it on Showtime

2021 — Halloween Kills… or does it? 

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Courtesy of Sony Pictures)
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Courtesy of Sony Pictures)

October 2021 has not ended yet. The final totals have not yet been tallied. One might think that “Halloween Kills” is firmly in place to be a horror movie to beat financially.

However, the fight between symbiote and killer continues. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” a sequel that hews much closer to the definition of a horror film than the first “Venom,” has dominated the month, and it doesn’t seem like Michael Myers stands a chance against Eddie and Venom’s chaotic love story

Halloween Kills
Release Date: October 15, 2021
Current Domestic Gross: $73,104,845
Stream it on Peacock

Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Release Date: October 1, 2021
Current Domestic Gross: $182,031,539
Watch it in theaters

Go forth and be scary!

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