10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (2024)

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10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (1)

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10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (2)

“Do you like scary movies?” No matter the answer, there’s no denying the popularity of horror since the dawn of film. Although the genre may not get the same notoriety during awards season the way drama or historical films do, horror has still rightfully earned its place when it comes to cinematic influence. In fact, a lot of what makes horror great comes from dialogue that best sums up the genre.

While iconic quotes like “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” from Jaws (1975) or “They’re here…” from Poltergeist (1982) are said in moments of impending doom, there are others that more so define what the horror is. They have either greatly influenced other films or even demonstrated the standout qualities of the genre. No matter how subtle or even on the nose, the following quotes are the ones that truly capture the spirit of horror.

10 “It’s alive! It’s alive!”

Frankenstein (1931)

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (3)

With the 1931 hit Dracula as the first film of the famed Universal Monsters series, the following installment Frankenstein also became an instant classic. Released the same year, written by Garrett Fort and Francis Edward Faragoh, and directed by James Whale, Frankenstein delivered one of the most quoted lines in pop culture. In the famous scene where The Monster (Boris Karloff) finally comes to life through the power of a lightning storm, his creator, Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is beyond overjoyed, exclaiming “It’s alive! It’s alive!”

The reason why this quote has become so famous is mainly because of its simplicity. Based on the scene from the original novel by Mary Shelley, it's a moment of pure elation for Dr. Frankenstein as Clive delivers the line with such excitement and conviction. However, it precedes what’s yet to come for The Monster, which is deadly as well as saddening results. So, while being alive is something to celebrate, this quote is essentially about the horror of hubris.

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (4)
Frankenstein (1931)

Passed

Sci-Fi

Drama

Horror

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

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Release Date
November 21, 1931

Director
James Whale

Cast
Colin Clive , Mae Clarke , Boris Karloff , John Boles , Edward Van Sloan , Frederick Kerr , Dwight Frye , Lionel Belmore

Runtime
70 Minutes

Main Genre
Sci-Fi

Writers
John L. Balderston , Mary Shelley , Peggy Webling , Garrett Fort , Francis Edward Faragoh , Richard Schayer

9 “Was that the Boogeyman?” “As a matter of fact, it was.”

Halloween (1978)

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A two-part quote, this exchange between Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) happens in the finale of Halloween (1978), right after they believe they have defeated serial killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle). Throughout the entire film, Loomis spends Halloween warning the residents of Haddonfield, Illinois about the impending danger of Myers, all while high school student Strode keeps reassuring the kids she babysits that “there is no Boogeyman”. She would end up being wrong about this after narrowly escaping Myers.

The low-budget classic directed by John Carpenter and co-written by Carpenter and Debra Hill spawned one of the most iconic franchises in horror history. While the first film helped popularize many of the common slasher tropes we know today, the ending when Loomis confirms Strode’s fears is often overlooked. Strode, in her most frightened and vulnerable state, has realized that not everything is as it seems, which is common in horror stories.

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (9)
Halloween (1978)

R

Horror

Thriller

Release Date
October 27, 1978
Director
John Carpenter
Cast
Donald Pleasence , Jamie Lee Curtis , Tony Moran , Nancy Kyes , P.J. Soles

Runtime
91 minutes
Main Genre
Horror
Writers
John Carpenter , Debra Hill

8 "What an excellent day for an exorcism."

The Exorcist (1973)

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The Exorcist is considered to be one of the scariest films of all-time, to the point where audiences were running and screaming out of theaters. Released in 1973, it was written by William Peter Blatty (based on his novel of the same name) and directed by William Friedkin. The film still haunts moviegoers to this day, mainly due to the realistic-looking portrayal of youngster Regan McNeil (played by Linda Blair) who's under the possession of a demon (voiced by Mercedes McCambridge). Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) is called up to cast the demon out of Regan. Through all the vomit, curse words, and insults comes one of the film’s more famous lines: “What an excellent day for an exorcism”.

The line is not said with any real conviction by the demon possessing Regan—known only as Pazuzu. It instead taunts Father Damien and delights in it. And since 1973, the concepts of exorcism and the supernatural have become staples of the horror genre. They are synonymous with pure terror and even makes one question what is or is not possible. The day is not excellent, but the exorcism is terrifying.

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (17)
The Exorcist

R

Horror

Supernatural

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Release Date
December 26, 1973
Director
William Friedkin
Cast
Ellen Burstyn , Max Von Sydow , Linda Blair , Lee J. Cobb

Runtime
122 minutes

Main Genre
Horror

Production Company
Hoya Productions

7 “Okay, I’m drawing a line in the f***ing sand here. Do not read the Latin.”

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (24)

It’s almost impossible to talk about The Cabin in the Woods without revealing what the film is really about. Directed by Drew Goddard with a script co-written by Joss Whedon, the film is a true celebration of the horror genre as it takes the simple premise of a group of friends staying in a cabin…in the woods…but nothing is all as it seems. In one scene, the friends discover a book in the basem*nt with a part of it written in Latin. From there, the stoner friend of the group, Marty (Fran Kranz) has to warn everybody to not read the Latin, because it could bring something horrifying.

Marty is the unsung hero of The Cabin in the Woods. Despite his being high for the majority of the film, he’s clearly aware of horror tropes and trademarks as he and his friends constantly find themselves in creepy situations; he could easily be an Evil Dead fan. His line is one of the funniest in the film, because venturing into dangerous territory—like reading Latin and accidentally summoning a deadly entity—is something that many horror characters find themselves doing, especially when it’s easily avoidable.

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (25)
The Cabin in the Woods

R

Horror

Comedy

Mystery

Thriller

Release Date
April 13, 2012

Director
Drew Goddard
Cast
Kristen Connolly , Chris Hemsworth , Anna Hutchison , Fran Kranz , Jesse Williams , Richard Jenkins

Runtime
95 minutes

Main Genre
Horror

Writers
Joss Whedon , Drew Goddard

Tagline
Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen.

6 “Movies don't create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative!”

Scream (1996)

Speaking of great horror satires, the Scream series has become one of the most celebrated franchises in the genre's history. With its brilliant deconstruction of horror comes such memorable lines of dialogue, mainly from the mind of screenwriter Kevin Williamson in the early films. Scream (1996) was directed by horror legend Wes Craven and centers around a horror-loving masked killer who targets a group of teenagers in the town of Woodsboro, with Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) at the center. One line in particular practically helps cement the motivation behind the killings.

In the third act, when Sidney tells the killers Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) that they have watched too many movies, Billy assures them that they inspired them instead. While that does not make their motivation any better, this line is essentially the thesis of the Scream franchise. Unfortunately, horror can be influential in the wrong ways. Whether the motivation is for revenge, jealousy, or even purely for sport, Scream demonstrates how a “psycho” like a teenage horror fan can be creative. It’s to be mindful of, while also being entertaining and insightful about the genre.

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (26)
Scream

R

Horror

Mystery

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

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Release Date
December 20, 1996
Director
Wes Craven
Cast
Drew Barrymore , Neve Campbell , Skeet Ulrich , Matthew Lillard , Jamie Kennedy , Rose McGowan

Runtime
111 minutes
Main Genre
Horror

Writers
Kevin Williamson

Tagline
Don't answer the phone. Don't open the door. Don't try to escape.

5 "I'm your number-one fan."

Misery (1990)

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (33)

Obsession can be a scary thing, and no other horror villain best exemplifies it like Annie Wilkes does in Misery. Played by Kathy Bates in an Oscar-winning role, Wilkes is a troubled nurse who holds her favorite author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) hostage in her home after a car accident and forces him to write a new book in her favorite series. Adapted from the Stephen King novel by William Goldman and directed by Rob Reiner, Misery takes the concept of an obsessive fan seriously as it veers into life-threatening consequences, all because one person is another’s “number-one fan.”

What makes this line so memorable is that it could easily be seen as a complimentary thing to say at first. Annie loves Paul and loves having him in her home as he recovers from his injuries, but his worst fears are realized when he sees that she won’t hesitate to hurt him even if he slips up once. Anybody would be flattered to have a fan, but anybody would be frightened to have a fan with no boundaries. And with horror, boundaries and limits are always being tested.

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (34)
Misery

R

Drama

Thriller

Horror

Where to Watch

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Not available

Release Date
November 30, 1990
Director
Rob Reiner
Cast
James Caan , Kathy Bates , Richard Farnsworth , Frances Sternhagen , Lauren Bacall , Graham Jarvis

Runtime
107 minutes

Main Genre
Drama
Writers
Stephen King , William Goldman

Studio
Castle Rock Entertainment

Tagline
Paul Sheldon used to write for a living. Now, he's writing to stay alive.

4 "To a new world of gods and monsters!"

Bride of Frankenstein (1931)

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (37)

Coming back to the early Frankenstein films, this quote delivered by Doctor Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) helped further solidify the Universal Monsters’ place in horror history. The follow-up to the 1931 film centers around Dr. Frankenstein—with Colin Clive reprising his role— reluctantly constructing a “bride” creation (Elsa Lancaster) for his original Monster, played again by Boris Karloff. With returning characters and new characters in the fold as well as James Whale directing again, this sequel is more than just a sequel. Ithelps the expansion of a new world…of gods and monsters.

Before the days of the MCU, the first shared cinematic universe was the Universal Monsters series as characters like Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolf Man, and the Invisible Man were being introduced over time. Thanks to the Bride of Frankenstein, with the script penned by William Hurlbut, the influence of Universal Monsters lives on. The quote even inspired the title for the James Whale biopic of the same name, as well as used in the 2017 reboot of The Mummy. With Doctor Pretorius toasting the soon-to-be creation of the bride of Frankenstein, he foresaw a bigger world filled with​​​​​​ ​creatures and beings that would go on to be the iconic characters known today.

3 "What's your favorite scary movie?"

Scream (1996)

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (38)

Another one from Scream, but still a classic. This question was first asked by Ghostface-- whose voice was provided by Roger L. Jackson--in the opening scene of Scream (1996) moments before claiming the first victim of the series, Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore). Since then, the line has been said more often in the following Scream sequels, usually when foreshadowing the death of a character and said over the phone, in a haunting manner.

What’s usually considered to be a simple question to ask casually in any conversation became a line that not only gets constantly quoted, but also has defined the personality of the Scream films. It can even be seen as a celebration of the horror genre. No other horror franchise has become self-referential as Scream has and that's why it's allowed to have a line like this. Now, asking what your favorite scary movie is—and in a menacing tone like Ghostface’s—has almost become something of a rite of passage for horror movie fans.

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (39)
Scream

R

Horror

Mystery

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

  • stream
  • rent
  • buy

Release Date
December 20, 1996
Director
Wes Craven
Cast
Drew Barrymore , Neve Campbell , Skeet Ulrich , Matthew Lillard , Jamie Kennedy , Rose McGowan

Runtime
111 minutes
Main Genre
Horror

Writers
Kevin Williamson

Tagline
Don't answer the phone. Don't open the door. Don't try to escape.

2 "We all go a little mad sometimes."

Psycho (1960)

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Considered to be the first slasher, Psycho is often regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made as well as the signature film of legendary director Alfred Hitchco*ck. Like The Cabin in the Woods, it almost feels impossible to discuss the plot without giving anything away, but Psycho’s legacy is strongly embedded into pop culture that it feels impossible not to discuss it. The script, penned by Joseph Stefano and based on the book by Robert Bloch, centers around Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a troubled man who runs a motel and takes an interest in a beautiful guest named Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), but unbeknownst to her, there’s something mad about Norman.

In what starts as a harmless dinner shared with Marion, Norman ends up diving deep into his personal troubles with his mother; he discusses their relationship and how he feels controlled by her. This makes Marion both intrigued and frightened by him, which she wouldn’t expect given Norman’s initial friendly and harmless demeanor. But as Norman eventually puts it, “we all go a little mad sometimes.” People often think something or someone seems harmless at first, but there’s always a dark side ready to be unleashed. It’s just a matter of when, and therein lies the horror behind it.

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Psycho

R

Horror

Thriller

Psychological

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

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Not available

Release Date
June 22, 1960
Director
Alfred Hitchco*ck

Cast
Anthony Perkins , Vera Miles , John Gavin , Martin Balsam , John McIntire , Simon Oakland

Runtime
109 minutes

Main Genre
Horror

Writers
Joseph Stefano , Robert Bloch

Studio
Paramount Pictures

Tagline
A new- and altogether different- screen excitement!!!

1 "You know, it's Halloween. I guess everyone's entitled to one good scare."

Halloween (1978)

There’s a scene in Halloween (1978) where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) walks home from school with her friend Annie Brackett (Nancy Kyes) and keeps spotting a mysterious Shape (Nick Castle) in the distance. She thinks she sees him behind a hedge and slowly walks over to it. Instead, Laurie is accidentally startled by Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers), the town sheriff and Annie’s father. He apologizes to Strode, while adding that because it happens to be Halloween, “everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”

What makes this line stand out is that it’s not particularly scary like other famous horror quotes. It’s a reminder to audiences that Halloween—and the horror genre—can actually be fun. In a way, it can be considered self-referential to both the film Halloween and the holiday of Halloween. With horror movies generally being watched during Spooky Season, everybody ends up getting scared by something or someone at some point. It especially helps when it’s in a communal setting, hence how everyone can be scared, as long as it’s for fun. That’s why this quote from one of the greatest horror films ever made best sums up the genre.

10 Movie Quotes That Sum Up the Horror Genre (52)
Halloween (1978)

R

Horror

Thriller

Where to Watch

*Availability in US

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Release Date
October 27, 1978
Director
John Carpenter
Cast
Donald Pleasence , Jamie Lee Curtis , Tony Moran , Nancy Kyes , P.J. Soles

Runtime
91 minutes
Main Genre
Horror
Writers
John Carpenter , Debra Hill
  • Movie
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