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Worst Years For Horror By Gregmo Roberts

“It’s been a shit year for horror”.  

If you haven’t heard someone make this claim either this year or last, you will.  The total number of horror films with a theatrical release in 2015 was 24.  Not a bad total.  But when you consider that the 24 consist of films such as Hayride 2, Human Centipede 3 and Ich, Ech, ich, ech, the number doesn’t seem that impressive. In fact, many of the horror films released in 2015 did not get a wide release.  Only 9 films of the 24 were given coast to coast attention releases and that number is …embarrassing.  

The 24 horror films released in 2015 combined for a total gross of $389 million.  Or, what Deadpool took in after two weeks of screenings.  Goosebumps was listed as the top grossing horror film of 2015 with $79 million and many of us could argue that the film was more family fantasy than horror.  

The result was 46,176,947 tickets sold for horror films in 2015 which gave the year a 3.44 percentage of the full years film grosses ranking it just about the musical genre.  

Still, the year was not a complete waste.  We got great horror in The Babadook and with It Follows.   Those two films definitely stand out amongst The Gallows and Dark Forest.  But it was still disappointing.  Just not the worst years for horror.  The distinction could be held by a couple of dud performing years over the past 25 years of horror.  

So we decided to look back on the last 25 years and we came up with our picks for the worst years the genre had to offer.  



Total Number of Horror Films in Theatres: 25

Top Horror Films: Saw 5, Mirrors, Quarantine

Total Gross of Horror Films: $294,256,854

Recap: The year was a disaster for horror fans.  The top 7 highest grossing horror films of the year were Saw 5, I Am Legend, Prom Night, Quarantine, Mirrors, One Missed Call and Shutter.  And I Am Legend was actually released in late 2009!  The year provided little to cheer about with Diary of the Dead and The Ruins failing to capitalize on the horror starved fan base.  Not since 1996 has less tickets been sold for horror theatrical releases.  



Total Number of Horror Films in Theatres: 11

Top Horror Films: The Ring, Resident Evil, Queen of the Damned

Total Gross of Horror Films: $296,701,842

Recap:  The Ring was bona fide hit taking in a healthy $120+ million.  But after The Ring, the drop off is staggering.  Resident Evil made $40 million and Queen of the Damned, $30 million.  Films that failed to impress were the submarine ghost story Below, Jamie Lee Curtis again going after her evil brother in Halloween: Resurrection, Ghost Ship, Feardotcom and Jason Voorhees venture into space in Jason X.  None of the titles were anything more than rainy day time wasters and had it not been for The Ring, the year would have been the worst year of horror ever recorded.


From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) 11996

Total Number of Horror Films in Theatres: 8

Top Horror Films: From Dusk Till Dawn, Scream, The Frighteners

Total Gross of Horror Films: $94,800,900

Recap: Only eight horror films saw the inside of a theatre in all of 1996.  From Dusk Till Dawn Scream, The Frighteners, Vampire in Brooklyn, Bad Moon, Bordello of Blood, Thinner and Hellraiser IV: Bloodline.  And Scream and Vampire in Brooklyn were carryovers from 1995.  Those 9 films combined for less than a 2% market share of the total box office pie and even if the numbers were adjusted for inflation today, the total would still only top out at just over $140 million.  Dismal.  



Total Number of Horror Films in Theatres: 16

Top Horror Films: Demon Knight, The Prophecy, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers

Total Gross of Horror Films: $147,196,046

Recap:  Here’s how bad the year was…after the above mentioned three titles, the rest of the year was highlighted with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Village of the Damned, Hideaway, The Mangler and Tales From the Hood.  Granted, there were some overlooked films – Lord of Illusions, Candyman: Farewell to Flesh and In the Mouth of Madness – but the year was overall forgettable.  But just think, Rumpelstiltskin was the 16th top grossing horror movie of 1995 taking in an embarrassing $185,000.


Total Number of Horror Films in Theatres: 28

Top Horror Films: Paranormal Activity 3, Insidious, Final Destination 5

Total Gross of Horror Films: $411,194,895

Recap:  $400+ million is nothing to shake a stick at.  But considering it was spread out over a total of 28 films and the number is less that generous.  This was the year of embarrassing horror titles such as, The Rite and John Carpenter’s The Ward.  There were plenty of missed opportunities in 2011.  The Thing, the prequel to the 1982 classic failed to garner much interest at the box office.  Neither did Fright Night or Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.  Paranormal 3 lead all peers taking in $104 million of 2011’s $400 million total.  And only Kevin Smith’s Red State can be considered ‘over-looked’.


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