Bloodcurdling Budgets: The Top 25 Most Expensive Horror Movies of All Time


The release of World War Z this past weekend has prompted many horror fans to debate the merits of big budgets and whether or not they can add anything to the genre. Let’s face it, horror movies generally benefit from being dirt cheap; the crappier they look, the more effective and disturbing they can be. With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the expensive horror movies that have been made to date. Currently World War Z would easily top this list with its estimated $190 million budget, and yet you may be surprised to see some of the other movies that are on here. But are any of them actually any good? You tell me.

1. The Wolfman (2010) – $150 mil.
2. I Am Legend (2007) – $150 mil.
3. Prometheus (2012) – $130 mil.
4. What Lies Beneath (2000) – $90 mil.
5. Hollow Man (2000) – $90 mil.
6. Hannibal (2001) – $87 mil.
7. Shutter Island (2010) – $80 mil.
8. The Haunting (1999) – $80 mil.
9. The Invasion (2007) – $80 mil.
10. The Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) – $78 mil.
11. Virus (1999) – $75 mil.
12. Sphere (1998) – $73 mil.
13. Signs (2002) – $70 mil.
14. AvP: Alien vs. Predator (2004) – $70 mil.
15. Sleepy Hollow (1999) – $70 mil.
16. Doom (2005) – $70 mil.
17. Dreamcatcher (2003) – $68 mil.
18. The Happening (2008) – $60 mil.
19. Dark Water (2005) – $60 mil.
20. Alien: Resurrection (1997) – $60 mil.
21. The Relic (1997) – $60 mil.
22. Event Horizon (1997) – $60 mil.
23. Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) – $57.5 mil.
24. Alien 3 (1992) – $55 mil.
25. Grindhouse (2007) — $53 mil.

Clearly most of the titles on this list are not pure horror movies and many of them could also be considered science-fiction (which makes sense because sci-fi usually requires more elaborate effects). My general rule of thumb was that if the goal of the movie was to scare you at least part of the time, it is eligible for inclusion. This means that I mostly skipped over action movies with horror elements, including The Mummy series, Underworld series, The Twilight Saga, and also Van Helsing, all of which would otherwise have made the list.

I should also note that this is by no means an exhaustive list. It is almost entirely based off a master list of the biggest movie budgets from The Numbers, which is not adjusted for inflation. If we were adjusting for inflation, movies like The Exorcist and The Shining might have just barely made the cut.

Either way, I think we can all agree that there are a lot of bad movies on the list, but is this proof that big budgets and horror do not mix? What do you think? Are there any other good or bad examples of big budget horror movies out there?

  • Film Junk Fan 15

    The Wolfman is #1 that is very interesting. Did not even make its money back

  • Owozifa

    If you leave out Van Helsing, the inclusion of The Wolf Man begins to be suspect as well. As for that list as a whole, it seems equal parts awesome and terrible, so I’d have to go with the budget doesn’t always make the movie. It’s just the thing a movie needs.

  • Sean

    When in doubt, consult IMDb.

    Van Helsing is categorized under Action / Adventure / Fantasy.

    The Wolfman is Drama / Horror / Thriller.

    I rest my case. ;)

  • Owozifa

    True, but perhaps The Wolf Man failed so hard because those parts were so terrible that I don’t remember them.

  • piggystardust

    Wow you do not see that money on screen at all with the Wolfman.

  • Film Junk Fan 15

    i completely agree. Wolfman sucked

  • Owozifa

    $50 mil just for the crappy CG bear, turns out.

  • PlanBFromOuterSpace

    How much of the budget ends up being for star salaries? That wasn’t mentioned at all, and I’d bet that plays even more into things than the cost of effects. Also, some of those films had very troubled productions, re-shoots, and other factors that affect the cost. For instance, “Exorcist: The Beginning” was made TWICE.

  • Sean

    I’d say What Lies Beneath is definitely up there is because of Harrison Ford’s salary.

    And yeah, troubled productions are a factor in some cases. The Wolfman and The Invasion probably qualify as well.

  • emma

    World war Z was a hge waste of time and money! Luckily i expected it to be shite so while it was heartbreaking to see so much ptential thrown out like that i wasn’t surprised …

  • Dan

    It’s not great, but it got good reviews and made a LOT of money. Now they are making a sequel so I don’t think they would consider it a waste at all.

  • Allister Cooper

    What?? It cost ninety mil for What? Lies? Beneath? Wha.

  • Iggy

    Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zemeckis, CGI, elaborate camera rigs

  • Marcus2012


  • RockyJohan

    Kevin Bacon needed more Bacon

  • stpetersburg

    too much sci fi in the list.

  • surf2die4

    emma meant to write shite, not shit, obviously. :rolleyes:

  • Bobeee

    Just look at the real great horror movies made by Hammer, Romero, Fulci , Hooper, etc. as it says it all. As long as you have good writers, actors and a decent director who has plenty of imagination and originality then you should be laughing all the way to the bank! Remember that great sci fi hit The Terminator was a low budgeter, same as the Evil Dead and Halloween – the list is endless. I’ve seen WW Z and found it too overdone with long stretches of boredom. Brad Pitt was great in Snatch but my opinion is that he is no horror actor! Remember a budget hungry director is capable of great feats but a massive budget has the opposite effect and can make that director lazy !!

  • eduardoisafuckingmoron

    Except Kevin Bacon wasn’t in that fucking movie…

  • Rob

    I can only see five decent films and only one of which has any scares.

  • Sam Howard

    i’ve seen better movies done on budgets that are 110 X cheaper than any of these budgets.

  • Sam Tec

    How come Dark Water was so expensive? Not much of special effects there…