25 Best Teen Horror Movies Ever, Ranked
Horror movies love to terrorize teens. Almost as much as we love to watch the films. From masked killers to Final Girls, this genre has kept us entertained (and in therapy) for years.
Here are the best slasher pics that all fans of the horror movie genre should see.
25. 'Disturbing Behavior' (1998)
Not a great film, but a decent premise, at least -- it's a high school version of "The Stepford Wives," with delinquent teens turned into overachieving, fascist automatons. Katie Holmes and James Marsden are the well-scrubbed leads, but Nick Stahl steals the movie as the most tormented of the teens.
24. 'The Slumber Party Massacre' (1982)
This chiller, about teen sleepover guests menaced by a power-drill-wielding serial killer, was written as a genre parody (by "Rubyfruit Jungle" novelist Rita Mae Brown, of all people), but it was shot as a straight horror film. It works on both levels, scary and tongue-in-cheek.
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23. 'Urban Legend' (1998)
Here's one about a copycat killer whose murders mimic famous urban legends. A cast that includes Jared Leto, Joshua Jackson, Alicia Witt, and Rebecca Gayheart give this premise more credibility than it merits.
22. 'My Bloody Valentine' (1981)
Not just the name of a cool band, "My Bloody Valentine" was also perhaps the goriest of the early wave of holiday-themed slasher movies. Here, the target is a Valentine's Day dance in a mining town beset by gruesome tragedy. The killer is armed with a miner's pickaxe and has a fondness for cutting out people's hearts and putting them in candy boxes. How festive.
21. 'Sleepaway Camp' (1983)
You'd think "Friday the 13th" would have had this territory covered, but you'd be wrong. Typical exploitation fare, but for a gender-bending shocking-twist finale worthy of "Psycho."
20. 'The Faculty' (1998)
Robert Rodriguez's tongue-in-cheek teen horror movie, written by "Scream" scribe Kevin Williamson, probably deserves a better reputation than it's earned over the years. The tale of a high school whose students believe their teachers have been taken over by alien parasites is not that original, but it's well-executed -- thanks to Rodriguez's inventive direction and a cast of future all-stars that includes Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Josh Hartnett, and Jon Stewart.
19. 'I Was a Teenage Werewolf' (1957)
Today, it's considered camp, but back then, the idea of a teenage monster was actually considered shocking. This movie launched a series of similar exploitation films in which puberty, adolescence, and delinquency are conflated with monstrous metamorphoses. It was a huge hit, and it made a star out of Michael Landon in the lead role.
18. 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (1992)
Yeah, this horror-comedy lacks the dark brilliance of the TV adaptation that followed, but the original movie, for all its "Valley Girl"-with-vampires silliness, is actually not that bad. That climactic prom night vampire attack certainly hints at where Joss Whedon would go with the series.
17. 'Last House on the Left' (1972)
This early Wes Craven film is adapted from no less arty a source than Ingmar Bergman's "The Virgin Spring." Two teenage girls are tortured, raped, and murdered by a Manson-like gang, but their parents capture the killers and wreak bloody vengeance. Craven later remade the movie when he could command a real budget, but the original, in all its cheap, exploitative glory, is the one to watch.
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16. 'Prom Night' (1980)
Long before "I Know What You Did Last Summer" came this cult-fave entry in the group-secretly-responsible-for-manslaughter-stalked-by-vengeful-killer genre. Jamie Lee Curtis cemented her early scream-queen reputation as the dead girl's sister, whose prom night is ruined by the relentless slasher.
15. 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' (1997)
The kids-stalked-by-hook-handed-killer plot is no more original than the urban legend that spawned it. Still, as with other Kevin Williamson horror movies, this one benefits a lot from the casting, which includes Jennifer Love Hewitt (in her first ghoulish role), "Scream" alumna Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze, Jr., and Ryan Phillippe.
14. 'The Blob' (1958)
Steve McQueen's first feature film lead came as the teen hero in this tale of a small town whose populace is rapidly being consumed by a mass of alien Jell-O. The film's clever centerpiece involved the blob attacking an theater full of teens watching a horror movie. (Meta!) The 1988 remake with Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith isn't bad, either.
13. 'The Craft' (1996)
A coven of teen witches uses magic to obtain the usual teen-girl wants: boyfriends, clear skin, etc. Of course, they go too far (especially freaky Fairuza Balk), and a cosmic comeuppance is in order. Known more for its style than its scares, this one was still frightfully influential.
12. 'Fright Night' (1985)
This fondly-remembered horror comedy about a teenage boy who discovers that his suave neighbor, played by Chris Sarandon ("The Princess Bride"), is a vampire but can't convince anyone except for a cheeseball TV horror-movie host (Roddy McDowall). Pick this over the Colin Farrell remake.
11. 'Final Destination' (2000)
A nightmare vision keeps a group of teens from boarding what turns out to be a doomed plane, but Death will not be cheated. It soon picks off the survivors one by one, by staging a series of elaborate, lethal accidents. As the franchise continued, the killings became increasingly complex -- and far-fetched. Still, there's much to be said for a horror villain that can't be defeated, only put off for a while.
10. 'Ginger Snaps' (2000)
This Canadian cult-classic launched a franchise and brought something fresh to the werewolf genre. Here, the afflicted heroine's monstrous changes are linked to her beginning menstruation and burgeoning sexuality. The result is both scary and a smart critique of the horrors of puberty for girls in our society.
9. 'The Lost Boys' (1987)
This horror comedy earned a lot of derision for giving us the Coreys (Haim and Feldman), but it works on many levels -- gothic teen romance (between bitten Jason Patric and Jami Gertz), teen peer pressure cautionary tale (if a gang of teen vampires tries to recruit you, just say no -- especially if creepy Kiefer Sutherland is the gang leader) -- comic-book parody, and seedy frightfest.
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8. 'Friday the 13th' (1980)
You never forget your first visit to Camp Crystal Lake, especially if you're a promiscuous teen. Before Jason became an unstoppable, hockey-masked killer in the later entries, it was his mom who did the slashing, back when the premise was still fresh.
7. 'It Follows' (2014)
This bare-bones teen horror thriller centers on a young teen and her friends plagued by some sort of curse (its origins and specifics are intentionally, terrifyingly, vague) that spreads like an STD. That aspect makes the film even more relevant and clever as it slow-burns toward one hell of an unsettling climax.
6. 'IT' (2017)
Stephen King scored his most successful (commercially) adaptation with this record-breaking hit, that pit the teens of Derry against the murder-fueled clown Pennywise. The rest is box office history.
5. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984)
If other slasher films implicitly punished teens for bad behavior, this one went after them merely for thinking bad thoughts. Not even your subconscious is safe from Freddy Krueger. Yeah, this franchise-launcher has a lot of lame imitators to answer for. On the other hand, it also gave us Johnny Depp. So there's that.
4. 'The Cabin in the Woods' (2011)
Joss Whedon co-wrote with director Drew Goddard one of the best modern horror films, full of meta references to many movies on this list. In doing so, they successfully pay homage to -- and subvert -- the genre. Ever wonder why so many teens meet stab-happy deaths at the titular location? "Cabin" answers that question with an intricate (and terrifying) "upstairs, downstairs" mythology that involves zombie pain worshipers, werewolves and, of course, a mer-man.
3. 'Carrie' (1976)
The first Stephen King novel to be translated to the screen, "Carrie" remains a well-executed film of bullying and horrific revenge. It's a cautionary tale about religious extremism, an allegory about the terrors of puberty and female adolescence, a hear-wrenching showcase for Sissy Spacek in the title role, a source of iconic moments (Worst. Prom. Ever.), and a brutally effective Brian De Palma scare machine, right down to that shocking final shot.
2. 'Halloween' (1978)
John Carpenter's classic pretty much wrote the rules for teen slasher films as we know them. Michael Myers is, of course, one of the scariest horror villains ever, and Jamie Lee Curtis is one of the great scream-queens of all time. The rest of the franchise may have come to seem rote, but the original is still plenty terrifying.
1. 'Scream' (1996)
Before the franchise descended into (deliberate?) self-parody, Wes Craven's slasher saga managed to spoof a tired genre while revitalizing it for a new generation. It works as both a parody and a damn scary movie on its own terms.