I like scary movies. But I have a special fondness for movies that I can actually watch with my 13-year-old. This means I can relish the creepy while also corrupting her brain with good horror fare.
Because of this internal drive towards the creepy, I have amassed a library of actually scary, creepy and suspenseful movies that are relatively appropriate for anyone over the age of 13. And, in addition, most of these are incredibly disturbing and scary.
90 Scary Movies That Aren’t Rated R
1. Tommyknockers (1993)
In this miniseries adaptation of the Stephen King novel, a buried UFO begins to give a local town strange powers of creation.
The Dirty Down-Low: At 181 minutes, it’s a movie you want to watch over a couple of days. The alien scenes might be a tad intense for younger viewers. No real drugs, sex, nudity or language. It was the 80’s, for heaven’s sake!
2. Watcher in the Woods (1980)
When a family moves to a new town, they find their house is haunted by the presence of a missing girl. With the aid of a local old woman, the family’s daughter tries to put the girl’s soul to rest by recreating the arcane ritual that banished her.
The Dirty Down-Low: This is a pretty scary movie, especially for young kids. It’s Disney, so it is totally clean. It’ll still scare the pants off of you and is very intense in some parts.
3. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
This is a completely messed-up psychological thriller that is often overlooked by modern audiences. Yes, it is in black and white. Yes, it stars Betty Davis and Joan Crawford. Yes, it is one of the most disturbing movies you’ll ever see.
The Low-Down Dirty: Exceptionally clean, although there might be some light 1960’s swearing. No blood, no gore. Just good old-fashioned animal killings and pushing people in front of cars.
4. Cat’s Eye (1985)
In another wonderful 1980’s representation of Stephen King’s stories, these three tales will curdle your blood. From a disturbing smoking-cessation program to an evil elf under the bed, these are a great way to celebrate the scary holiday.
The Dirty Down-Low: There is a little language, blood and gore in these ones. Mainly, you’re talking about a severed head, a chopped up sprite and bloodless torture. Pretty tame, really.
5. Flowers in the Attic (1987)
Although some might not consider this a horror film, I surely do. And, full disclosure, I haven’t seen the reboot. But the original is whackadoo (and the book is even worse).
This extremely disturbing story is about a girl whose mother must hide her and her siblings from their wrathful grandmother in order for her mother to get back in good social standing. Awful things happen.
The Dirty Down-Low: Some pretty adult themes makes this one to watch when the kids go to bed. Some language and implied nudity.
6. Rear Window (1954)
Another great suspense film that some might not consider horror. Jimmy Stewart plays a man that can’t move a muscle and spends his time spying on his neighbors. When he suspects one of them to be a murdered, all heck breaks loose.
The Dirty Down-Low: Totally clean and Hitchcock approved. There is some kissing, but basically nothing to sweat. Although it starts a little slow, this is a classic suspense tale that should be seen in the dark.
7. The Haunting (1963)
This is the predecessor to the Catherine Zeta-Jones remake, and it’s TOTALLY worth watching. A woman is invited to spend the night in a strange psychology experiment. Things get creepy when she realizes that she feels at home in a very dangerous way.
The Dirty Down-Low: Totally harmless but has a good scare factor. Without the cheesy special effects of the remake, this is a darn scary story about what it means to be crazy and to belong somewhere.
8. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
If you haven’t seen this, you should be ashamed of yourself. George A. Romero’s quintessential zombie film is a perfect Halloween movie and is virtually squeaky by today’s standards.
The Dirty Down-Low: Since this one is unrated, it technically fits on this list. Plus, I promise you won’t hate yourself for watching it. There is some zombie intestine-eating and a naked butt. Other than that, all you have to worry about is seeing people shooting zombies in the head and a black guy who totally saves the day. Classic.
9. The Birds (1963)
Can you tell that I like Hitchcock? Welcome to northern California, where there is a strange problem with birds attacking and killing innocent bystanders. There are some pretty creepy scenes in this one, although it won’t give you bad dreams at night. Oh yeah. And also, this movie literally drove Tippie Hedron insane. Bad Hitchcock. Bad.
The Dirty Down-Low: Don’t worry. Basically everyone can watch this movie. There is a little blood (and some feathers), but generally the scariest thing is that this kind of bird infestation could actually really happen. In theory, that is.
10. Two On a Guillotine (1965)
Cassie Duquesne comes back to her dead father’s estate, hoping to receive a large inheritance. What she finds is that she can only claim it if she stays in a creepy old house for seven nights in a row – alone.
The Dirty Down-Low: A good, clean scare. Another black and white masterpiece, you don’t have to worry about blood, language or nudity and you still get a creepy twist at the end.
11. House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Vincent Price is amazing in the original version of this haunted house story. An eccentric haunted house owner invites guests to spend the night in his old house. What they don’t realize is that weapons will be involved and at least one of them will end up dead.
The Dirty Down-Low: A great, creepy story with old-school special effects. Vincent Price is always amazing and you’ll love the twist at the end – much different than the 1999 version.
12. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
Bradbury is a master storyteller, and this interpretation of his book by the same name is sufficiently creepy. When a young boy finds the existence of an unusual night circus, he also notes that townspeople are being infected by a strange magical evil.
The Dirty Low-Down: This is another Disney before they stopped being cool. It is truly scary, maybe too much so for little ones. A time-lapsed aging scene, the dead rising and creepy carnies are just a few of the dangers in this one. Still a fun Halloween movie treat!
13. Arachnophobia (1990)
Jeff Daniels, when he wasn’t being a nerd! This is the story of a town that gets overrun by an invasive strand of incredibly deadly spiders.
The Dirty Low-Down: This is one of the best movies on this list for a few reasons: A) Totally family friendly and even funny in some parts. B) Little language, no nudity, no gore and no real violence happens at all. C) The good guys win. The only downside is if you have people in the fam with spider fears. Nightmare city.
14. The Ring (2002)
A young journalist investigates a series of mysterious deaths related to a haunted video tape. At the same time, she must keep her son and boyfriend from watching it, while she discovers a strange murder that is related.
The Dirty Low-Down: As one of the newer movies on this list, it is not as family-friendly as the others. There is a considerable amount of violence and blood in this one, especially in the first 20 minutes. Also, language may be offensive to some.
15. Poltergeist (1982)
This is another classic horror film that is surprisingly family-friendly. When a developer moves into one of the homes in his development project, he is shocked to hear his family telling stories of haunting. Unfortunately, getting rid of the ghosts ends up being a very difficult procedure.
The Dirty Low-Down: Except for a few bad words and some drug use, this one is pretty tame. There are some very intense scenes, though, and it is not intended for young audiences.
16. The Grudge (2004)
An American nurse living and working in Tokyo is exposed to a mysterious supernatural curse, one that locks a person in a powerful rage before claiming their life and spreading to another victim.
17. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Haley Joel Osment stars as the super-creepy kid who can talk to dead people. When therapist Bruce Willis tries to take the child under his wing, he is disturbed by the child’s susceptibility to seeing dangerous spirits and being affected by them.
The Dirty Low-Down: I know you’ve already seen this, but not all your kids have. It is a good one, but there are some very scary scenes – kids locked in small spaces, kids with holes in their heads, etc. Beware showing this one to little people. It will scare them.
18. The Woman in Black (2012)
Harry Potter in a scary movie?! Yes! Daniel Radcliffe plays a young lawyer at the turn of the century who must take care of an estate of a recently deceased man. What the townspeople won’t tell him is that the house is haunted by a malevolent ghost who loves to kill children.
The Dirty Low-Down: This movie was designed to scare moms and dads. It doesn’t have sex, drugs or language. On the other hand, a lot of kids die. So there’s that.
19. The Village (2004)
A rustic community of isolationists holds a tenuous truce with creatures that live in the woods beyond their valley. When one villager dares to break the truce, death and destruction force a blind girl to learn the terrible secrets that the woods hide.
The Dirty Low-Down: This is honestly one of my favorite movies of all time. It is a great, scary movie, but it also manages to be an incredible story about bravery, love and change. May be too intense for viewers under the age of 10.
20. The Uninvited (2009)
Anna Rydell returns home to her sister (and best friend) Alex after a stint in a mental hospital. Unfortunately, her recovery is jeopardized thanks to her cruel stepmother, aloof father, and the presence of a ghost in their home.
The Dirty Low-Down: Some sexual innuendo, blood and gore. Also, beware of possible language. This a scary one, and it’s probably good for parents to watch before sharing with teenager children.
50 More Movies That I Didn’t Have the Time to Write About:
21. The Messengers
22. The Others
23. The Skeleton Key
24. I Am Legend
25. White Noise
32. Dark Water
40. Body Snatchers
43. The Baby
44. The Black Cat
47. The Cave
49. Creepy Crawlers
51. Fire In The Sky
52. Darkness Falls
54. Evil Behind You
55. First Born
56. The Fog
57. Ring 2
61. Horror 101
64. Lady in White
66. The Messengers
67. Monster Squad
69. The Off Season
70. One Missed Call
73. Presence of Mind
76. The Return
77. Salem’s Lot
78. Stay Alive
81. Van Helsing
85. Drag me to Hell
87. Red Eye
90. The Forgotten
Willow Dawn Becker is an author, voice personality, marketing maven, and entrepreneur. She co-founded Weird Little Worlds Press in 2020 despite a raging pandemic and huge personal losses. Her work can be found at Black Fox Literary Magazine and Space and Time Magazine. She lives in Utah with her family and pug-huahua, Indiana Bones.