(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 dont 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 youre 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.
Based on a graphic novel, From Hell is inspired by Jack the Ripper killings, following Johnny Depps 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, 2001October Gross: $21,589,863Total Domestic Gross: $31,602,566Rent it on Amazon Prime
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 cultures 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.
Red DragonRelease Date: October 4, 2002October Gross: $86,318,490Total Domestic Gross: $93,149,898Stream it on HBOMax
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, 2003October Gross: $58,938,000Total Domestic Gross: $80,571,655Stream it on Peacock
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, 2004October Gross: $70,684,627Total Domestic Gross: $110,359,362Rent it on Vudu
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 Wans 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, 2005October Gross: $36,252,287Total Domestic Gross: $87,039,965Stream it on Peacock
Saw III opens with the autopsy of Tobin Bells Jigsaw. It also crushes a Wahlburg brothers head with two blocks of ice. Donnie, I think. Those are my most visceral memories from seeing Saw III in theaters. Saws domination of the October box office is notable because these films are often released as close to Halloween as possible, so theyre making more money in 3 days than some films make for the entire month or year.
Release Date: October 27, 2006October Gross: $40,709,627Total Domestic Gross: $80,238,724Stream it on Peacock
Saw continued to dominate through the mid-00s, but the overall gross of the franchise flicks began to dwindle steeply in 07. Saw III made $80.2 million domestically, and just a year later Saw IV only brought in $63.3 million
Release Date: October 26, 2007October Gross: $38,495,537Total Domestic Gross: $63,300,095Stream it on Peacock
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 franchises 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, 2008October Gross: $38,899,702Total Domestic Gross: $56,746,769Stream it on Peacock
As Saws 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, 2009October Gross: $80,724,102Total Domestic Gross: $107,918,810Stream it on Hulu
Franchise dominance continues for smash-success Paranormal Activitys sequel, the found footage format firmly in place for this follow-up.
Release Date: October 22, 2010October Gross: $65,665,972Total Domestic Gross: $84,752,907Stream it on Hulu
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, 2011October Gross: $83,450,755Total Domestic Gross: $104,028,807Stream it on Hulu
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, 2012October Gross: $44,700,446Total Domestic Gross: $53,885,000Stream it on Hulu
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 Villeneuves 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.
CarrieRelease Date: October 18, 2013October Gross: $28,572,888Total Domestic Gross: $35,266,619Rent it on YouTube
PrisonersRelease Date: September 20, 2013October Gross: $20,147,302Total Domestic Gross: $61,002,302Stream it on Hulu
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 Finchers Gone Girl. Introducing us to a movie monster unlike any other, Gone Girl nearly doubled what Annabelle made overall and scored Academy recognition.
AnnabelleRelease Date: October 3, 2014October Gross: $81,190,454Total Domestic Gross: $84,273,813Rent it on Amazon Prime
Gone GirlRelease Date: October 3, 2014October Gross: $129,599,665Total Domestic Gross: $167,767,189Stream it on Hulu
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 Toros 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, 2015October Gross: $26,990,090Total Domestic Gross: $31,090,320Rent it on Amazon Prime
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 youre searching for some scares. Another year where the horror offerings remained pretty low on the box office list.
Release Date: October 21, 2016October Gross: $25,909,815Total Domestic Gross: $35,144,505Stream it on HBOMax
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 didnt 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 DayRelease Date: October 13, 2017October Gross: $49,510,105Total Domestic Gross: $55,683,845Rent it on Amazon Prime
ItRelease Date: September 8, 2017October Gross: $37,948,630Total Domestic Gross: $327,481,748Stream it on HBOMax
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 isnt itself a horror movie, the fight between Myers and symbiote will continue
Halloween (2018)Release Date: October 19, 2017October Gross: $137,885,715Total Domestic Gross: $159,342,015Stream it on Peacock
VenomRelease Date: October 5, 2018October Gross: $190,033,601Total Domestic Gross: $213,515,506Rent it on Amazon Prime
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 originals great chemistry and witty dialogue, though sadly with less Bill Murray.
Release Date: October 18, 2019October Gross: $51,957,162Total Domestic Gross: $73,123,082Rent it on Amazon Prime
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 boys alleged imaginary friend, managed to scrape into the top 10.
Release Date: October 30, 2020October Gross: $2,425,275Total Domestic Gross: $10,475,990Stream it on Showtime
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 doesnt seem like Michael Myers stands a chance against Eddie and Venoms chaotic love story.
Halloween KillsRelease Date: October 15, 2021Current Domestic Gross: $73,104,845Stream it on Peacock
Venom: Let There Be CarnageRelease Date: October 1, 2021Current Domestic Gross: $182,031,539Watch it in theaters
Go forth and be scary!
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero