It’s Halloween and what better way to celebrate it then with horror flicks of the supernatural sort. Why supernatural and not just straight slashers? Well, cause I believe Halloween is about the supernatural anyway, plus I like those better, so there’s that. We’ll be looking at the top 10 biggest supernatural horror openings of all time in North America, unadjusted for inflation.
As you’d expect, with Halloween in October, this would be the perfect window to open a supernatural anything. So then most of the titles on this top 10 must have been released in October, right? Not quite, only four were and actually three of them are part of the same franchise, one that has historically chosen October to start tormenting viewers. Which franchise I’m talking about? If you haven’t guessed already (it involves some not really normal activities) you can find out below.
10. Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) $29 million ($53.9 M) – Spoilers, I was talking about Paranormal Activity, this veritable cash-cow of the horror genre. Unfortunately I’m not the right guy to talk in-depth about this series because frankly, it lost me right after the first one, meaning I’ve never gotten around to seeing Paranormal Activity 2 or any of the ones that followed. A little bird told me I ain’t missing much but then again, this bird has been known to lie from time to time. Now while Paranormal Activity 4 is in fact by far the least successful of the series, it made more then enough to justify a few more entries. So why is there no Paranormal Activity this year? Well the parties involved decided to give the franchise a well deserved break and return in 2014 with not one but TWO Paranormal Activities. Spin-off Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones opens in January 2014 while main series entry Paranormal Activity 5 debuts 9 months later, October 2014.
9. What Lies Beneath (2000) $29.7 million ($155.4 M) – What exactly lies beneath this Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) expensive project? It’s actually a rather run-of-the-mill murder mystery with ghosts and other supernatural ingredients. Under normal circumstances there’s nothing new here but when you add Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) into a story penned by Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), normal goes out the window. It won’t blow your mind but if you haven’t already, definitely watch What Lies Beneath.
8. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) $30 million ($75 M) – I have not seen this one either but judging its numbers, might have to rectify that. I’ll leave it to the five of you that haven’t already skipped to the end of this post and actually saw The Exorcism of Emily Rose to tell me if it’s a yay or nay.
7. The Haunting (1999) $33.4 million ($91.4 M) – Was 12 when this came around and remember the overabundance of previews on TV, hyping The Haunting like it was supposed to be the second coming of horror. As it turns out it really wasn’t and while I really dug this mess way back then, I’m trying not to let nostalgia cloud my judgement. The Haunting really isn’t a good movie.
6. The Ring Two (2005) $35 million ($76.2 M) – Based on the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu, The Ring was the rare remake that managed to live up to its source. The Ring Two unfortunately is something that should not have happened, period.
5. The Grudge (2004) $39.1 million ($110.3 M) – Unlike The Ring, this is not a good remake of a Japanese horror, at least in my opinion. Maybe it’s just me but this convoluted and derivative flick really has no business ranking so high. As expected with a movie this popular, Sony released a sequel two years later. The Grudge 2 opened with $20.8 million and finished its entire North American box office run with about as much as the original did in a single weekend ($39.1 million, I am not kidding).
4. Insidious Chapter 2 (2013) $40.2 million ($82.1 million and still going) – Director James Wan (Saw) has had a great year so far with two movies opening above $40 million (both found in this top 10). Now I have seen and very much enjoyed Insidious and looking at how it ended, a sequel was a no-brainer. Obviously it helps that it also made $54 million in North America after debuting with a less then stellar $13.2 million. As we’ve seen with The Grudge, horror franchises can be very hit or miss but looking at how much Insidious Chapter 2 made so far, I’d say this one qualifies as a hit. Unfortunately I have not seen it yet.
3. Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) $40.6 million ($84.7 M) – Paranormal Activity was a truly scary movie, at least the first time you saw it. A great idea executed with skill by writer/director Oren Peli on a micro-budget, turned huge hit with over $100 million at the box office just from North America. A year later came this sequel and as good as an idea can be the first time around, it can start to turn stale once the novelty wares off. As mentioned before, I have not seen this one so I can’t comment on how good it is compared to the first.
2. The Conjuring (2013) $41.8 million ($137.3 M) – If it wasn’t made clear after Saw, then The Conjuring seals the deal, James Wan is an incredible director. Now many people compare The Conjuring with The Exorcist, in my opinion to the diservice of both. The Exorcist brought to the table something people had never seen before on the big screen, it was that novelty which made it so incredibly popular, so much so that it still is, to this date the 2nd highest grossing supernatural horror of all time, that’s without even adjusting for no less then 40 years of inflation. Adjusted The Exorcist would have over $890 million today. The Conjuring on the other hand could never reach those heights, not when we’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to horror. What actually made The Conjuring so great is James Wan’s flawless direction which turned what would otherwise be an average exorcism flick into easily one of the most tense and genuinely frightening experiences of the last few years. He showed us that you can still make quality horror despite using pretty much the same blueprint we’ve had for the last 40 years. Yes, The Conjuring is a fantastic addition to the genre and a movie no supernatural fan should miss.
1. Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) $52.5 million ($104 M) – While The Conjuring made more money overall (in this top 10), Paranormal Activity 3 takes the biggest supernatural horror opening of all time crown. I’m thinking they must have done something right with this one based on the bump in gross. Yet the original Paranormal Activity still made the most benjamins ($107.9 million) out of all the other movies in the series.
The only supernatural horror flick released this year in October has disappointingly been Carrie, a remake of the 1976 original by Brian de Palma (Scarface), which in turn was based on the very first published novel by now acclaimed writer Stephen King. Now Carrie didn’t blow anyone away. Opening with a disappointing $16.1 million and totaling $26.6 million so far, Carrie will most likely barely match the $33.8 million gross of the 1976 version.
But forget the Carrie remake, lets talk good supernatural horror that didn’t make the cut in this top 10. The Exorcist I’ve already mentioned and it is without a doubt the grandfather of the genre. Another great is The Sixth Sense which debuted with $26.6 million but went on to gross a whooping $293.5 million in North America.
Now which supernatural horror movie would qualify as your favorite?