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5 Horror Movies That Were Surprisingly Hits!!!

The passing of time provides us with context and perspective. And, when it comes to film, while box office is the most immediate gauge of a film’s impact – it’s not the best. Time and context are the best gauges. When you watch Slither or The Thing now do you think of their underwhelming box office? Probably not. You think about how you’ve seen them a million times and still love them (unless you read my article in October), which is how it should be. Box office is temporal and ultimately irrelevant to your enjoyment

But when you reverse this approach by taking films that you rarely even think about anymore and look up their grosses, you get some surprising results. IE – “That made HOW much?!” The same goes for movies that you love but assume – due to them actually being daring and good – that they must have been flops. With that in mind, I’ve decided to share the results of a recent foray into the past. Note that some of these films might not be “hits” when viewed through the lens of the return on their production budget (and these amounts don’t include foreign takes or ancillary revenue streams like DVD and VOD). No, these are just movies that shocked me when I saw certain numbers beside their title.

Head inside for 5 Horror Movies That Were Surprisingly Hits.

THE STRANGERS – Domestic Gross: $52,597,610

I really like The Strangers. It’s a bold, harsh and surprisingly mean movie as far as quasi-mainstream efforts go. So much so that I’m always surprised it did so well.

THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (2005) – Domestic Gross: $65,233,369

When I think of the crop of modern remakes (post 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) – which is often – for some reason I NEVER even remember that this movie existed. But it does! And it did quite nicely apparently.

HALLOWEEN: H20 – Domestic Gross: $55,041,738

Considering how Scream 4 failed to crack $40M this is a surprisingly healthy take for an even more underwhelming entry in its respective franchise. And the Halloween films didn’t traditionally match the typical Scream entry in terms of their haul. Funnily enough, I’d peg this film’s success on the Scream/I Know What You Did Last Summer phenomenon of the late 90’s. Nubile teens on a poster glowering like the legitimacy of their generation depended on it? Ka-ching!

ANACONDA – Domestic Gross: $65,885,767

The success of Anaconda is a testament to the booming economy of the 90’s. People had enough money to wake up, roll out of bed and say, “f*ck it. I guess I’ll go see Anaconda.”

THE GRUDGE – Domestic Gross: $110,359,362

I mean, I kind of get it…? J-Horror was most certainly “a thing” in the first half of the aughts. The Ring was a fairly massive hit and I remember The Grudge doing well enough… but 110 Million? That’s almost as big as The Ring and The Grudge was made for just a little over 1/5th of that film’s budget, technically making it even more profitable.



  • divisionbell

    While being a 90s horror flick…Halloween: H20 was the best sequel since the 2nd.

    • The-Hitchhiking-Ghost

      No way. I would take 4, 5 and even 6 (yes, 6) over this one. H20’s entire production is frozen in the post-Scream wave. It gets lamer with each viewing.

      • divisionbell

        Seriously? MAYBE the 4th but the 5th and 6th are just pure garbage. The post-scream world is better than those films any day of the weak.

        • statik107

          I agree divisionbell. I thought they did a really good job at trying to bring the series back on track. The Scream wave to me was just an updated version of the 80’s slasher teen movies so I’m not sure about the hate towards it. I wish they would’ve kept it going with Resurrection though because that one dropped the ball again…

        • Baphomitt

          H20 = F13th5. Suck it.

          • divisionbell

            Technically Halloween 3 would equal F13th5

    • K-Dogg

      I absolutely agree div.bell, love H2O, loved the fitting ending when she yells out MICHAEL, and they have the awesome showdown where she beheads him. Should have ended the series right there. Then came along Resurrection, and they pretend Michael changed clothes with a paramedic, how stupid…..

  • mav07

    lol, I remember when I used to have money because I saw all of those in the theater, all on opening night. Fucking economy…

  • DesignDeath

    The Grudge is slaying as always.

  • KorovaMilkbar

    definitely a big fan of the strangers….love that “because you were home” line. classic!

    • 18811881

      yeah me too, loved ”the strangers” .


      there will gonna be the strangers II in 2013? , is that true?

      • pretzelcuatl

        (sigh), it keeps getting pushed ever since Relativity acquired Rogue…

  • Jasonicus

    The Strangers was great. H20 was decent. It was a fun sequel when it came out. The other movies on this list are a waste of time.

  • The-Hitchhiking-Ghost

    I re-watched The Amityville Horror redux this October for the first time since theaters. It’s really bad. Reynolds is surprisingly decent as George Lutz, but everything else is lacking–especially the scares. A real missed opportunity because while I have love for the original, I always thought it could be improved upon. This wasn’t it.

  • doomas10

    Anacoda is the ultimate b-movie/guilty pleasure! Grudge was actually pretty scary!

  • Zombie-Killa

    I actually like Rob ZOmbie’s 2007 remake, but H20 has to be the best modern-day Halloween film, right?

    And I love, love, love, LOVE The Strangers. I still can’t believe so many critics dismissed it as another “lame and predictable slasher movie.” I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and the tension was just unreal. Also, Liv Tyler is excellent.

    I liked Anaconda as kid, but I can’t stand to watch it now, I just can’t.

    The Amityville Horror remake was solid, because let’s be honest, the original isn’t something to brag about.

    But I won’t defend The Grudge. Fuck that film, Fuck it hard with a batch of rusty nails dipped in hot tar. A total shit-fest from beginning to end, and I haven’t seen Sarah Michelle Gellar in anything else since then. Is it just me, or did she disappear after The Grudge films? Because I can’t remember seeing her in anything else.

    • Well she did have a TV show last year on the CW called Ringer. But it got cancelled after the season finale. She also guest starred on an American Dad episode last year. Idk. IMDB her.

      • Zombie-Killa

        Thanks! Didn’t think about IMBD at first, I’ll have to try that!

  • egaltt23

    Great article!

  • ThunderDragoon

    I love The Strangers, Halloween: H20, and The Grudge. I really can’t wait until we get more Grudge films and of course The Strangers sequel that will probably never happen. And I really need that Halloween movie that goes back to Michael’s roots.

  • Milk

    Favorite movie out of the bunch is Anaconda. I mean, it’s terrible but terrible in a great way. My anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got buns hon!

    Strangers is prob my actual fav on the list but shh.

  • Baphomitt

    The Strangers was terrible. They rushed into production with a terrible script to capitalize on the home invasion wave. Creepy mask home invader standing silently behind liv tyler in the trailer? Boom, instant money. I officially never want to mention the movie ever again. …By the way, after you barricade yourself in a bedroom with a shotgun aimed at the door and your bestfriend is calling out for you, remember to shoot him in the face before he gets a chance to step into view. Also, if you’re in a shed full of dangerous weapons while being chased by a masked stalker, don’t grab anything to defend yourself with just make sure you trip and fall while you’re running out of there.

  • TwistedCritic

    Agree with The Strangers and Anaconda but not much else. H2O brought back Jamie Lee Curtis after a 17-yr absence (which was a pretty big deal at the time) so of course it did moderately well. Amityville Horror has largely been forgotten but it was still a remake of a popular horror title, plus Ryan Reynolds was a pretty bankable star by then. And The Grudge was similar-looking enough to The Ring that it easily piggybacked on the former’s success.

  • Dreaddy

    Strangers was absolutely creepy! Torment, not knowing when or where one will show up when you know something is going to happen freaks me out! Plus, it wasn’t over acted, adding to the eerie feeling of the film. Fingers crossed pt 2 is made.

    H20, Jamie Lee Curtis returns, definitely made me pay to see it.

    The others films on the list…. meh..

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