Top 10 Great Horror Movies With Bad Rotten Tomatoes Scores

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Critics... What do they know? Not enough clearly, as these horror movies deserve a lot higher scores than they currently have on Rotten Tomatoes. In this list, we're looking at Great Horror Movies with Bad Rotten Tomatoes Scores. Stuff like Final Destination, Event Horizon, Scream 4, Saw, House of 1000 Corpses – you know, really good horror movies – but bad Rotten Tomatoes scores. Which one is your fav?
Horror is arguably the most divisive movie genre. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Great Horror Movies with Bad Rotten Tomatoes Scores.

For this list, we’ll be looking at horror movies that were critically panned but well-received by general audiences. Note that the Rotten Tomatoes scores were verified as accurate as of May 2019.

#10: “Event Horizon” (1997)

“Event Horizon” is certainly an odd beast. It follows the crew of the Lewis and Clark as they investigate the Event Horizon, a spaceship that has reappeared near Neptune after mysteriously leaving our universe. And what they find is… not pretty, to say the least. The movie was a total failure when it was first released – it was a box office bomb, it earned a D+ CinemaScore, and it currently has a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the movie has gained quite the devout fanbase over the years who praise its relentlessly foreboding atmosphere, disturbing imagery, and Lovecraftian elements. It’s not perfect, but it serves as a good representation of the criminally underutilized “space horror” subgenre.

#9: “Final Destination” (2000)

Some people may call “Final Destination” a classic. After all, it spawned a franchise that has spanned four follow-ups and over $665 million in box office takings. Would it surprise you to know that only 34% of critics gave the movie a positive review? Yep, they really didn’t like this one. That said, general audiences seem to love it. The death scenes are creative and fun (as weird as that is to say), and the exploding plane sequence still comes to mind whenever we board an aircraft. It also popularized the concept of a vengeful Death, which you can probably see in the comment section of every “close calls” YouTube video. It’s still relevant and still very much enjoyed.

#8: “Scream 4” (2011)

A lot of people questioned the existence of “Scream 4.” Not only did it have to justify itself after the fitting conclusion to “Scream 3,” it had to bridge an eleven-year gap between movies AND prove that the slasher genre was still relevant. Unfortunately, it didn’t do enough for critics, only 59% of whom gave the movie a passing score. They didn’t call the movie terrible, but they did criticize its predictability and general pointlessness. Despite the middling reviews, it helped reinvigorate interest in the series, and many people argue that it’s the second-best movie of the franchise. It doesn’t reach the heights of the first “Scream,” but it’s still a fun and scary way to pass ninety-odd minutes.

#7: “Pet Sematary” (1989)

Stephen King is one of the all-time horror masters, but his film adaptations carry a spotty record. Unfortunately, “Pet Sematary” is not on the same pedestal as “Carrie” and “The Shining,” despite the source novel being one of King’s best and scariest. The movie holds a divisive 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is often criticized for its bland acting and cheap, uninspired production. That said, some aspects certainly shine. It thankfully retains the dark and unforgiving atmosphere of the novel, Fred Gwynne is fantastic as Jud, and that Zelda scene still gives us nightmares. Seriously, it messed us up good. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s a faithful adaptation of one of the scariest books ever written.

#6: “House of 1000 Corpses” (2003)

“House of 1000 Corpses” was Rob Zombie’s directorial debut, and it was absolutely crapped on. It holds a hideous 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics calling it little more than a derivative and trashy exploitation flick. In their opinion, it successfully paid homage to cheap gore movies, but wasn’t smart enough to elevate from the schlock. Regardless, the movie was a hit with gorehounds, and it spawned a sequel AND an attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood. It still has a following, much the same way schlocky B-movies from the 70s have theirs. But despite the appreciation, Rob Zombie has dismissed the movie, calling it “a calamitous mess.”

#5: “The Amityville Horror” (1979)

Yeah, mostly everyone agrees that George and Kathy Lutz were full of it. But that doesn’t make the story less entertaining. Despite the hoopla surrounding the story at the time, “The Amityville Horror” was met with derision by many critics, and it currently holds a 27% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s certainly a little hokey and bland by today’s standards, especially when you compare it to more modern and more expensive movies like “The Conjuring.” But it’s still an effective haunted house movie, and it helped set the bar for later films of its kind (especially the whole Indian burial ground trope). At any rate, it’s way better than that crappy Ryan Reynolds remake.

#4: “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” (1982)

“Halloween III” is now rightfully regarded as a solid standalone horror movie, despite its 40% Rotten Tomatoes score. Whenever the topic of underrated or underappreciated horror movies comes up, someone always mentions the gloriously macabre and nihilistic “Halloween III.” But to understand the movie’s poor reputation, you need to mentally travel back to 1982. A cheap movie called “Halloween” effectively changed the horror landscape, and its sequel set the bar for bloodier, gorier sequels. The slasher genre had been invented, and Michael Myers was its founder. And then “Halloween III” came along, said, “Nah, forget that crap,” and pushed Michael aside for an anti-capitalist story about witchcraft. Everyone wanted more Michael Myers, not androids and pumpkin masks imbued with magical fragments of Stonehenge.

#3: “Freddy vs. Jason” (2003)

While “Halloween” spawned the slasher subgenre, movies like “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” helped solidify its place in the mainstream. “Freddy vs. Jason” answered 20 years’ worth of fan demand by pitting the two horror icons against each other, and the results were just as bloody and outrageous as we all expected. Of course, only 41% of critics liked the movie, but then again, that’s not exactly surprising. It’s not like these franchises were critical darlings. But “Freddy vs. Jason” gave fans exactly what they wanted – lots of blood and gore, drugs, sex, and a killer showdown between two of cinema’s greatest… uh, killers. What more could you want?

#2: “Saw” (2004)

Is it wrong of us to say that “Saw” revolutionized the horror genre? It launched one of the most successful franchises of the decade, introduced “torture porn” to the mainstream, and helped popularize low-budget, independent horror. Say what you will about the progressively-stupid sequels, but the OG “Saw” is a classic. If only critics saw it that way. Just 49% of critics gave the movie a positive review, with many calling it too sick and twisted for its own good. Some also attacked the movie’s boring detective story, cheap effects, and questionable acting (looking mostly at you, Leigh Whannell). They saw it as amateur filmmakers indulging their own sick imaginations and nothing more.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“The Relic” (1997)


“Wolf Creek” (2005)


“My Bloody Valentine” (1981)


“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003)


“Orphan” (2009)


#1: “The Strangers” (2008)

“The Strangers” is a tense and taut horror movie that preys on our fears of humanity. While ghosts and elaborate trap-making serial killers are fun, they take place outside of our everyday existence. “The Strangers” is a realistic movie about two everyday people being tormented for no reason whatsoever. It was also inspired by real events, including the Manson murders, lending it an even scarier degree of credibility. The movie reminds us that darkness and depravity does exist, sometimes literally in our own backyards. But critics hated its adherence to clichés and the one-dimensional characters, and it currently sits at just 48% on Rotten Tomatoes. That is far too low for what some perceive as a modern-day classic.
I Know What You Did Last Summer was a good horror movie and it received 43% on Rotten Tomatoes!