When it comes to being scared, the U.S. is one of the places that loves it most. Whether it's thrillers, ghosts, monsters, or something else that's spooky, horror fans will eat it up. Of all the films in the genre, these scared up the most dollars at the box office.
Scream 2 (1997) - $101 million
Unlike Jaws 2, the slasher sequel benefitted from the return of the original writer and director. While critics mostly liked it, fans were split, and few wanted a third. Yet, when a horror film grosses six figures domestically you're bound to get another.
Jaws 2 (1978) - $103 million
Just when audiences were feeling safe to go back into the water, Jaws returned to New England. This time, Steven Spielberg wasn't around and the film's quality suffered for it.
Scream (1996) - $103 million
Wes Craven reclaimed his throne as the king of horror behind Kevin Williamson's slasher film. With a cast that included Neve Campbell and Drew Barrymore, teens and young adults flocked to theaters for the first in the franchise.
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) - $104 million
As the prequel to the previous two films, Paranormal Activity 3 broke records as the largest midnight opening for a horror film and largest opening day for the genre. In this film the girls from the first film encounter “Toby” for the first time, and, the origin story did well enough to garner enough acclaim from fans and critics alike.
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) - $105 million
Adapted from Anne Rice's novel, the Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt vampire story thrilled audiences everywhere. When modern vampire films get criticized, this is one of the films fans of the genre usually refer to for quality viewing.
Paranormal Activity (2007) - $108 million
The found footage horror franchise has a similar story to The Blair Witch project. The film raked in millions of dollars on a budget of just $15,000 dollars. Since then, the franchise has been cranking out seasonal sequels just as rapid as the Saw franchise had done.
The Grudge (2004) - $110 million
Based off the wildly popular Japanese films Ju-On, The Grudge followed most of the plot for its Sarah Michelle Gellar adaptation. While expecting to be somewhat of a hit, the film defied expectations becoming one of the highest-grossing horror films to date.
Ghost Rider (2007) - $116 million
It's a stretch, no question. But this supernatural film did solid numbers despite poor reviews, and wound up getting a sequel... which critics also hated.
The Ring (2002) - $129 million
Based off of popular Japanese horror films, The Ring burst onto theaters with a truly surprising ending that had people talking for weeks. Daveigh Chase's horrifying portrayal as Samara still make some cringe in fear.
The Conjuring (2013) - $137 million
James Wan's critically acclaimed film is based off of tapes from the film's two inspirations and lead characters, Ed and Lorraine Warren. A major source of buzz heading into the release was the MPAA's R-rating for the film's truly horrifying nature, which the studio gleefully embraced.
The Blair Witch Project (1999) - $141 million
This is one of the original viral marketing success stories in cinema, if not the original. The found footage film scared up the box office during an impressive run in theaters. Making the whole thing more impressive is that the budget for the film was right around $1 million.
Gremlins (1984) - $148 million
The Christmas-time dark comedy is the perfect cautionary tale about listening to instructions when buying pets from shady businesses. Ok, maybe that wasn't the goal, but it still taught audiences that a Mogwai does not make a good pet.
What Lies Beneath (2000) - $155 million
Robert Zemeckis' supernatural film had audiences split on the end result. Regardless, fans kept coming in to see for themselves. The presence of Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer probably gave the summer thriller a boost as well.
World War Z (2013) - $202 million
Despite reported massive rewrites and production headbutting, Brad Pitt's zombie horror film resonated with audiences that never tire of the undead. While fans of the novel were frustrated seeing the source material being disregarded so much, the end result is hard to argue with.
Jaws (1975) - $260 million
Spielberg's classic may be considered a thriller to most these days, but that was not the case in '75. The sheer terror when the shark finally popped out of the water horrified fans into multiple viewings. When adjusted for inflation, it's still one of the highest-grossing films of all time.