10 Movies That Are Secretly Horror Films

What does it take for a film to be considered a horror movie? True, it should be scary, suspenseful, shocking, and someone will more than likely meet an unfortunate and rather disturbing demise, though perhaps not required. The point is, to be called a horror movie, there should be some element of fear.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th are all prime examples of the medium, but what about those films that contain everything listed prior and yet don’t qualify in the public’s eye? It’s quite remarkable how many flicks are actually horror movies but aren’t often labeled as such.

10 And Then There Were None

Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None shares more than a few similarities with today’s modern slasher flicks. Consider the fact that it has a spooky and secluded location, a host of victims who are all picked off in creative ways, and there’s a killer lurking.

Think about it, how many scary movies start with a group of people gathering together somewhere far from the public’s view, all have some kind of dirty secret, and there’s someone wanting vengeance? It’s one hockey mask away from being a Jason movie.

9 Batman Returns

Danny Devito as the Penguin in Batman Returns

Tim Burton’s sequel to his successful adaptation of DC’s Dark Knight is a prime example of what can happen when a director is given the freedom to go all the way. Batman comes out as the hero Gotham needs, but characters like Catwoman and The Penguin get a completely twisted makeover.

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Catwoman is an adrenaline-sick psychopath and the Penguin is a creepy performer who has a history of kidnapping and murdering children. What more grounds for horror could Burton possibly add?

8 Disney’s A Christmas Carol

Disney’s CGI adaptation of A Christmas Carol is incredibly freaky, but so was the original novel. Yes, it has the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his redemption, but it also has every element that made the book so creepy cranked up to the max.

It’s been said countless times before, but A Christmas Carol is a ghost story first and a Christmas tale second. Both the book and the Disney version are full of ghosts, rotting corpses, and the plot itself begins with someone’s death.

7 The Snowman

On the subject of winter horrors, let’s talk about The Snowman. Though the film was not exactly praised, the main MO of the thriller’s titular murderer sounds like something more out of a modern slasher film than a realistic psychological murder mystery.

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A killer who turns the heads of his victims into snowmen sounds like the plot of a winter-themed horror movie if there ever was one. Maybe if the studio had gone all the way with that idea, it would have performed better with viewers.

6 9

Dolls in Tim Burton movie 9

is an interesting film, to say the least. And it is honestly very hard to classify in terms of genre, so to say it’s a horror movie would be correct but also only part of the equation. That being said, when the film does venture into horror territory, it goes all the way.

The steampunk-inspired monsters that prowl the wastes of this post-apocalyptic masterpiece are truly the stuff of nightmares, especially the snake creature. If Five Nights At Freddy’s didn’t give viewers a case of automatonphobia, this will.

5 The Terminator

Terminator original Cut Scenes

Simply put, The Terminator is a sci-fi-themed slasher film, end of discussion. Just because the titular cyborg doesn’t carry around a machete or some other standard sharp instrument of horror doesn’t mean he doesn’t meet the qualifications of a slasher.

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Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese spend most of the film being stalked and hunted by an unstoppable killing machine, not unlike the teenagers that fall prey to several massive masked murderers. Sounds like the familiar horror formula.

4 Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban

Fans could argue that the beloved Harry Potter series started taking a darker turn around the end of The Goblet of Fire, but this entry was certainly one of the darkest chapters in the saga. The film sets up Sirius Black as a demented dark wizard, almost the magical equivalent of a serial killer, and that’s not even mentioning the Dementors.

This feels both out of character from the previous two films, but at the same time, it was when the saga started to come into its own identity. Not all magical beings are as benevolent as Dumbledore and this film made fans realize it.

3 Macbeth

No matter what version you watch, whether it’s Orson Welle’s version or Sir Patrick Stewart’s interpretation, Macbeth is William Shakespeare’s horror story. The tragic tale of the Scottish King’s ambition and rise to power is loaded with typical horror tropes.

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The original text is full of curses, witches, ghosts, and lots of murder. Next to Titus Andronicus, it’s probably the bard’s most violent work. This classic has quite the body count.

2 Pan’s Labyrinth

The Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth

If there’s one thing Guillermo del Toro will forever be known for, it’s perfecting the modern monster movie. And while his Shape of Water took home Oscar gold, Pan’s Labyrinth is another real MVP.

The film has its magnificent monsters, nightmare fuel, and murders, but yet it remains being shelved into strictly the fantasy section. Often called an adult fairytale, this magical and mysterious movie definitely has as many horror elements as the Grimm fairytales and classic myths that inspired it.

1 Joker

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in Joker

Take the Batman motifs out of Joker, and fans are left with the origin story of an aspiring killer clown. This award-winning character study isn’t just a solo movie for the Dark Knight’s deadliest nemesis, but a foray into psychological horror.

Not only are viewers exposed to the fracturing of Arthur Fleck’s already fragile psyche, but they see where he gets his taste for blood, chaos, and clown culture. No vat of acid, no jester sidekick, and no Caped Crusader, but the terror the Joker inflicts is more than manic.

NEXT: 10 Thrilling Horror Movies You Can Watch For Free Online & Where To Find Them

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