50+ Best High School Horror Movies

High school is one big horror movie.

High school is not a safe space from holiday themed slasher killers in Thanksgiving (2023).

Is anything scarier than high school? Dealing with homework, grades, puberty, parents and (scariest of all) adolescent peers, high school is one big horror movie. It is actually so scary that dreaming about being back in high school is one of the most common nightmares in adults, even decades after they’ve graduated.

An example of what a nightmare high school is: there was so much behind the scenes drama involving the school that had given Wes Craven the go-ahead to film Scream (1996) at that Craven “thanked” them in the credits with the line “No thanks whatsoever to the Santa Rosa City School District Governing Board”.

It’s no wonder that high school is a common setting for horror movies. It is an environment almost everyone is familiar with, there are plenty of reasons for the film’s characters to interact and it’s an excuse for producers to hire young actors to please the palate of a youth-obsessed culture. This list catalogs the best high school horror movies: films where high school plays a prominent role or at least one memorable scene takes place inside a school.

Table of Contents

High School Horror Movies

I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957)

Director Gene Fowler Jr. also directed films such as I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958) and The Oregon Trail (1959).

A sci-fi horror movie about a troubled teenage boy, Tony (Michael Landon). When he seeks help from a hypnotherapist, Tony finds himself the subject of a twisted medical experiment. He is fed a serum that transforms him into a werewolf, which totally ruins his personal life. Despite being shot on a $150,000 budget, this film grossed over $2 million, not bad by 1950s standards.

Carrie (1976)

Stephen King’s novel was adapted into this Brian De Palma horror film.

Carrie is a classic high school horror movie from the opening locker room scene to the characters’ obsession with the upcoming senior prom. Sissy Spacek stars as the title character, a shy and bullied girl with budding telekinetic powers. When she is the target of a cruel prank at prom, her rage fuels her powers and she literally burns her high school to the ground.

Halloween (1978)

Twenty years after filming this scene where her character sees Michael Myers outside her classroom window, Jamie Lee Curtis filmed a similar scene for Halloween H20 (1998) where she played the teacher and Michelle Williams played the student who sees Michael Myers outside.

While most of the action in the iconic slasher movie Halloween takes place in various homes the characters are babysitting at, there’s at least one scary scene set in a high school (see the image above). Fifteen years after inexplicably murdering his sister at age six, Michael Myers escapes from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium and returns to Haddonfield. He then stalks Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends on Halloween night.

Prom Night (1980)

Jamie Lee Curtis starred in this thrilling Canadian slasher two years after Halloween (1978).

This slasher movie also stars Jamie Lee Curtis as a high school student. As she and her friends prepare for prom, a killer in a ski mask stalks them. The killer’s identity probably has something to do with a cruel prank the gang pulled in middle school that resulted in a classmate’s death.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

A dream sequence in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) takes place at Nancy’s High School.

This supernatural slasher movie sees a group of high school students being tormented by Freddy Krueger, a man with knives for fingers that they see in their dreams. After learning that dying in your dreams means dying in real life, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) uses caffeine to stay awake, urging her boyfriend Glenn (Johnny Depp) not to fall asleep either. One memorable scene in Nightmare takes place at the local high school where Freddy briefly takes the form of a hall monitor.

Phenomena (1985)

This is the film that caused Daria Nicolodi to say she would no longer work with her husband, Dario Argento, because she did not approve of how his film portrayed a disabled character.

This Dario Argento film follows an American girl, Jennifer (Jennifer Connelly) as she enters a Swiss boarding school. At the school, she hears of a serial killer on the loose and also discovers she has a psychic connection to insects. Jennifer tries to use her special powers to track down the killer before he dispatches with any more of her classmates.

Slaughter High (1986)

A group of bullies show up to their high school reunion and a masked killer begins offing them.

A slasher movie that sees eight former students show up for their high school reunion at their (now) abandoned high school. Years earlier the group played a prank on a socially isolated student that resulted in his disfigurement. Could this be the reason only eight people were invited the reunion? It sure seems like it when the attendees start dropping dead.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992)

Buffy (Kristy Swanson) isn’t overly excited about being the Chosen One.

A comedy vampire movie about a valley girl cheerleader, Buffy (Kristy Swanson), who is told she is the “Chosen One”, a powerful slayer meant to hunt vampires. At first Buffy rejects her role, but eventually comes to embrace it. At her high school dance, it’s vampires vs the entire senior class. Hilary Swank, David Arquette and Ben Affleck (blink and you’ll miss it) make appearances.

Scream (1996)

One of the most realistic aspects of Scream is that if two high school boys were going on a murder spree, they would definitely off their principal in the most savage way possible (like gutting him and hanging him from the goalpost on the football field).

A slasher movie about a killer wearing a Ghostface mask who torments and kills high school students in small town Woodsboro, California. After the first few murders, school is officially cancelled until further notice (cue the excellent use of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” in the score). The teens do what any other teens would do with school cancelled and throw a rager at an isolated home in the country.

The Craft (1996)

A weirdly memorable moment from The Craft (1996).

This teen horror movie follows Sarah (Robin Tunney) as she starts at a new Los Angeles high school. She meets a group of three misfit girls and the foursome bond over their interest in witchcraft, which Sarah has a special aptitude for. Forming a coven, the girls’ power grows while their friendship splinters.

Halloween: H20 (1998)

90s teen icons Michelle Williams and Josh Hartnett were high school students in Halloween: H20.

This slasher movie takes place at a private boarding school in California where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has started a new life as principal Keri Tate. Keri’s son John (Josh Hartnett) and his friends stay back from a field trip in order to take advantage of the empty campus. However, they are shocked when Michael Myers shows up in search of Laurie.

The Faculty (1998)

Nothing says “high school” like Zeke’s Pontiac GTO.

This sci-fi horror movie might be the quintessential high school horror movie. All the films on this list are about high school students, but The Faculty also takes place mostly at a high school. An eclectic group of students discover alien parasites are taking over their town and attempt to stop the invasion before it’s too late.

See also: ‘The Faculty’ (1998): 24 Facts And Trivia About The Teen Horror Cult Classic

The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)

Emily Bergl as Rachel in The Rage: Carrie 2.

This is a direct sequel to Carrie (1976), a movie that never needed a sequel. Rachel (Emily Bergl) is a high school student who is living with foster parents. Unbeknownst to her, she is secretly Carrie White’s half-sister. Rachel has telekinetic powers of her own, which she tries to repress as she deals with her emotions over the sudden death of her best friend (Mena Suvari) and the rapist (sic) football players at her school. Make no mistake, Carrie 2 is a bad movie. However, if you’re in the mood for a late 90s/early 00s formulaic horror movie, it can be a pretty fun watch. The high school students are so toxic the over-the-top death scenes at the end feel very satisfying.

Battle Royale (2000)

Batoru rowaiaru is the original title for this Japanese action-adventure horror film.

Battle Royale is the original version of the dystopian action thriller subgenre that utilizes a “battle royale” plot, later popularized in the U.S. by The Hunger Games franchise. In totalitarian Japan, a group of high school students are forced by the government to compete in a deadly game where only one of them will survive. Pandemonium ensues and some students show they are more willing than others to get ahead by murdering classmates.

Cherry Falls (2000)

This is a very high school reaction to a serial killer being on the loose.

This is a salacious slasher movie that finds the teenagers of Cherry Falls High School stalked by a serial killer who targets virgins. This, of course, causes a mad rush among the students to lose their virginity, and a giant sex party is held expressly for this purpose. Brittany Murphy stars as Jody, a teen who isn’t sure avoiding death is worth sleeping with her high school boyfriend over.

See also: The Real Reason There’s So Much Sex In Slasher Movies

Ginger Snaps (2000)

Ginger Snaps is one of the best high school horror movies.

This horror movie stars Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins as two morbid sisters, Ginger and Brigitte. On the night of Ginger’s first period, she is bitten by a werewolf. While Brigitte helps Ginger hide a body, she also works on getting a cure so she can get her old sister back.

Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)

Disgraced filmmaker Victor Salva wrote and directed this horror film, which was executive produced by his frequent collaborator Francis Ford Coppola.

A supernatural horror movie sequel that centers on a busload of high school athletes and cheerleaders who get stranded in the territory of The Creeper. Set only three days after the events of Jeepers Creepers (2001) where we first met The Creeper, a supernatural beast that appears every 23rd spring for 23 days in order to feed on human flesh. Without spoiling anything, the end of the film shows preparations for the Creeper’s next return in 2024.

Cry Wolf (2005)

Boarding school students create their own fate in Cry Wolf.

A slasher movie set at an elite high school where students play a Mafia-style parlor game called “Cry Wolf”. Playing on a recent local murder, the group expands the game by including the whole school in an email making up an urban legend about a serial killer who targets high school students. After the email is sent, it starts to become reality when a serial killer really does start stalking students and the group members receive threatening notes.

The Woods (2006)

Perhaps inspired by Suspiria, this movie sees a student at a new school wondering whether it is run by witches.

A supernatural horror movie set in 1965 at an all girls boarding school. Rebellious new girl Heather (Agnes Bruckner) has ghastly visions and hears voices coming from the surrounding woods. She comes to believe witches lead the school and that all the students are in danger.

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Amanda Seyfried and Megan Fox star in this feminist high school horror movie.

A comedy horror movie about high school best friends Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Needy (Amanda Seyfried) whose friendship is tested when a botched virgin sacrifice results in Jennifer transforming into a succubus. Jennifer easily adjusts to her new life of eating high school boys while Needy believes she needs to be stopped. At a school dance, the two have an epic showdown.

Detention (2011)

Josh Hutcherson stars in this black comedy slasher.

A slasher comedy about a group of misfits who are given detention on the night of prom because the principal thinks one of them is a serial killer. The students discover a way to time travel back to 1992 and learn secrets about their community. But will they be able to stop the serial killer? This is a high concept sci-fi movie that veers into goofy territory.

The Moth Diaries (2011)

Mary Harron previously directed American Psycho (2000).

A gothic horror movie set at an all girls boarding school. 16-year-old Rebecca loves the school and being away from home with her best friend Lucy (Sarah Gadon). However, the arrival of a secretive new student, Ernessa (Lily Cole), upends Rebecca’s dream of the perfect year.

Freaky (2020)

A serial killer swaps bodies with a high school girl in Freaky.

A comedy slasher movie that’s a bit like Freaky Friday. High school student Millie (Kathryn Newton) accidentally swaps bodies with a local serial killer, the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn). Millie has to track down the serial killer with her body and swap back, or be stuck as a middle-aged creep forever.

Thanksgiving (2023)

Roth made a trailer for Thanksgiving in 2007 and then spent years getting the script right before the film went into production.

Eli Roth’s campy slasher movie follows a group of high school students in Plymouth, Massachusetts during two consecutive Thanksgiving weeks. In the first year, a Black Friday riot at a superstore results in the death of several shoppers. The next year, the group finds themselves targeted by a mysterious masked killer who is intent on getting revenge on the students for their role in the Black Friday deaths.

Lisa Frankenstein (2024)

Kathryn Newton as a high school student in 1989.

Set in 1989, Kathryn Newton stars as Lisa Swallows, a girl starting at a new high school after moving in with her stepmother following her mother’s murder. Lisa is an outcast who can’t seem to find her place. When lightning reanimates the corpse of a Victorian man, Lisa uses her sewing skills to help him replace his body parts and the two form an unlikely bond.

More high school horror movies

  • Fear In The Night (1972) — A 22-year-old woman marries and moves to the countryside where she is stalked by a mysterious man.
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) — Peter Weir directed this ethereal and weird mystery film about a group of high school girls who disappear on a school field trip.
  • Massacre At Central High (1976) — A thriller/exploitation movie about a high school where the students keep getting murdered.
  • Graduation Day (1981) — Members of a high school track team are picked off in the days leading up to graduation.
  • Happy Birthday to Me (1981) — A slasher movie about a popular student who plans a birthday party and invites her friends, the “top ten” clique at her school.
  • Student Bodies (1981) — A parody slasher movie where teachers, students and serial killers collide under hilarious circumstances.
  • Return to Horror High (1987) — A film crew sets up in a high school with a dark history and dropping dead.
  • Cutting Class (1989) — A black comedy slasher that is probably most notable because it features Brad Pitt in one of his first roles.
  • Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1990) — A beautiful prom queen who was burned to death by her boyfriend escapes hell and begins lurking the hallways for an apprentice to help her find bloody revenge.
  • Disturbing Behavior (1998) — High school outcasts notice that something strange is going on with their classmates.
  • Final Destination (2000) — While none of this supernatural horror movie is set at a high school, it does revolve around a doomed senior trip.
  • Scary Movie (2000) — Features a funny parody of the high school hallway scene in Scream (1996).
  • All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) — A beautiful high school student (Amber Heard) is surrounded by murder.
  • When A Stranger Calls (2006) — A high school freshman, Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) is stalked by a stranger while babysitting at an isolated country home.
  • Teeth (2007) — A high school girl’s body develops a violent defense mechanism to ward off unwanted advances.
  • Death Bell (2008) — At an esteemed high school in Seoul, advanced students are tortured by a killer.
  • Dance Of The Dead (2008) — On the night of a high school dance, dateless outcasts join forces to fight flesh-eating zombies.
  • The Loved Ones (2009) — A deranged high school student decides that if she can’t have her dream prom date, no one will.
  • Carrie (2013) — This remake updates the story of Carrie White by making her the victim of cyberbullying.
  • All Cheerleaders Die (2013) — Dead cheerleaders are brought back to life and hunger for human flesh.
  • The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015) — A demonic force affects two students (Emma Roberts and Kiernan Shipka) at their religious boarding school.
  • Verónica (2017) — A few Catholic school girls slip away from their religious school to take part in a ouija board séance on a total solar eclipse.
  • Hereditary (2018) — High school student Peter (Alex Wolff) messes his life up beyond all possible repair when he takes his younger sister along with him to a party.
  • Ma (2019) — High school students are befriended by a local nurse who supplies them with booze and a place to party — with a catch.
  • Seance (2021) — Girls at a boarding school perform seances for fun, until things start getting too real.

Further reading:

Meet The Author

Chrissy is the co-founder of Creepy Catalog. She has over 10 years of experience writing about horror, a degree in philosophy and Reiki level II certification.

Chrissy Stockton