This list is similar to The Best PG-13 Rated Horror Movies, but not quite; the difference lies in the fact that these flicks actually feel like R-Rated offerings. It comes courtesy of our friends at WatchMojo, and I’m certain many of the entries will surprise you. While films like Wish Upon and Happy Death Day are obviously PG-13 caliber horror movies, these films deliver powerful frights and envelope-pushing gore FX. I guess the MPAA was feeling generous in these cases!
Give it a watch and let us know what you think in the Comments section. Which of these films are you most surprised to learn isn’t PG-13? Are there other high-caliber horror movies that aren’t Rated-R that deserve a shout-out? Let’s discuss.
If you can’t stream, the 10 films, along with trailers & synopses, are listed below the video. Enjoy!
Official Synopsis: Horror movies often rely on violence, blood and gore to get their points across, so how is it these ones managed to escape without an R-Rating? WatchMojo presents the top 10 Movies You’ll Be Shocked Aren’t Rated R! But what will take the top spot on our list? The Ring, The Grudge, or The Sixth Sense? Watch to find out!
Jaws (1975, Directed by Steven Spielberg)
Official Synopsis: When a young woman is killed by a shark while skinny-dipping near the New England tourist town of Amity Island, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches, but mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) overrules him, fearing that the loss of tourist revenue will cripple the town. Ichthyologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled ship captain Quint (Robert Shaw) offer to help Brody capture the killer beast, and the trio engage in an epic battle of man vs. nature.
Jaws deserves an R-Rating for the scene where the shark devours Quint alone. What makes the fact that Jaws isn’t R-Rated more noteworthy is that the film was released before PG-13 was even in use. That’s right: Jaws is Rated-PG!
Mama (2013, Directed by Andres Muschietti)
Official Synopsis: On the day that their parents die, sisters Lilly and Victoria vanish in the woods, prompting a frantic search by their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain). Five years later, miraculously, the girls are found alive in a decaying cabin, and Lucas and Annabel welcome them into their home. But as Annabel tries to reintroduce the children to a normal life, she finds that someone — or something — still wants to tuck them in at night.
Mama deserves an R-Rating for the themes of child abandonment alone. Add heart-stopping jump scares and the eventual death of a pre-teen make this one a powerful PG-13 experience.
Killer Klown from Outer Space (1988, Directed by Stephen Chiodo)
Official Synopsis: When teenagers Mike (Grant Cramer) and Debbie (Suzanne Snyder) see a comet crash outside their sleepy small town, they investigate and discover a pack of murderous aliens who look very much like circus clowns. They try to warn the local authorities, but everyone assumes their story is a prank. Meanwhile, the clowns set about harvesting and eating as many people as they can. It’s not until they kidnap Debbie that Mike decides it’s up to him to stop the clowns’ bloody rampage.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space deserves an R-Rating for the cotton-candy cocoons alone, but it also sports decapitations and a Klown using a dead cop as a ventriloquist’s dummy. Yikes!
Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016, Directed by Mike Flanagan)
Official Synopsis: In 1967 Los Angeles, widowed mother Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) unwittingly invites authentic evil into her home by adding a new stunt to bolster her séance scam business. When the merciless spirit overtakes her youngest daughter Doris (Lulu Wilson), the small family must confront unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.
The possessed girl in Ouija: Origin of Evil should warrant and R-Rating by herself, but we’ve also got murders committed by said youngster and some of the creepiest atmosphere since 1973’s The Exorcist. Really.
Fire in the Sky (2003, Directed by Robert Lieberman)
Official Synopsis: In 1975, a group of five men are driving home after working in a forest when they see a mysterious light. Intrigued, Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney) leaves the truck — only to be sucked up by a flying saucer. The other four men report the strange event, but they are skeptically interrogated by Lt. Frank Watters (James Garner), who suspects that murder is behind Walton’s disappearance. When Walton reappears five days later, his story of alien abduction is met with disbelief.
The implication of an anal probe should have been an automatic R-Rating for Fire in the Sky, but the needle in the eye-socket was hardcore gore.
Drag Me to Hell (2009, Directed by Sam Raimi)
Official Synopsis: Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) has a loving boyfriend (Justin Long) and a great job at a Los Angeles bank. But her heavenly life becomes hellish when, in an effort to impress her boss, she denies an old woman’s request for an extension on her home loan. In retaliation, the crone places a curse on Christine, threatening her soul with eternal damnation. Christine seeks a psychic’s help to break the curse, but the price to save her soul may be more than she can pay.
When vomit, insects, and corpse fluids drip into the main character’s mouth, we’re thinking she resides in an R-Rated shocker. Not so in Drag Me to Hell, which also features adult caliber scares and body horror.
Insidious (2011, Directed by Kames Wan)
Official Synopsis: Parents (Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne) take drastic measures when it seems their new home is haunted and their comatose son (Ty Simpkins) is possessed by a malevolent entity.
The Lipstick-Faced Demon jump-scare alone should have earned Insidious an R-Rating.
The Grudge (2004, Directed by Takashi Shimizu)
Official Synopsis: Matthew Williams (William Mapother), his wife, Jennifer (Clea DuVall), and mother, Emma (Grace Zabriskie), are Americans making a new life in Tokyo. Together they move into a house that has been the site of supernatural occurrences in the past, and it isn’t long before their new home begins terrorizing the Williams family as well. The house, as it turns out, is the site of a curse that lingers in a specific place and claims the lives of anyone that comes near.
The white faces, crawling ghosts in The Grudge delivered R-Rated scares, and the explorations of domestic violence and suicide are especially mature for a PG-13 affair.
The Ring (2002, Directed by Gore Verbinski)
Official Synopsis: It sounds like just another urban legend — a videotape filled with nightmarish images leads to a phone call foretelling the viewer’s death in exactly seven days. Newspaper reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) is skeptical of the story until four teenagers all die mysteriously exactly one week after watching just such a tape. Allowing her investigative curiosity to get the better of her, Rachel tracks down the video and watches it. Now she has just seven days to unravel the mystery.
The scene where the horse jumps off the ferry was brutal, but the real R-Rated material in The Ring comes from the cursed video within the film. I’m talking about disembowelments and torn fingernails, people!
The Sixth Sense (1999, Directed by M. Night Shyamalan)
Official Synopsis: Young Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) is haunted by a dark secret: he is visited by ghosts. Cole is frightened by visitations from those with unresolved problems who appear from the shadows. He is too afraid to tell anyone about his anguish, except child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis). As Dr. Crowe tries to uncover the truth about Cole’s supernatural abilities, the consequences for client and therapist are a jolt that awakens them both to something unexplainable.
Two words: Puking ghost. It still gives me nightmares.
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