Overview of Horror Subgenras – excerpt from Splatterpunk: Philosophy of a Horror Junkie

© Sitarra “LullaDIEs” Sefton

There are no definitive subgenras to horror, although many people have tried to categorize the various types. After reading article upon article on the topic, I’ve come to the conclusion that their definitions are broad and obscure at best.

An example of this would be the well heard of categorization, Supernatural Horror. This clunks together everything from alien invasions, to haunted houses, to fantastic monsters. Most authors tossed into this category don’t even agree with it, feeling the title is misleading. Those individuals tend to prefer titles such as “Dark Fantasy“, “Paranormal” or “Supernatural Thriller” I agree that mixing these all together is unfair, and that better subgenras can be achieved.

So, here is my version of the subcategories. This will probably help you understand what I’m talking about later on in this book as well, as it is the terminology I use.


Creepy Kids Horror –

Includes evil children.

Examples: Bloody Birthday / Children of the Corn / The Good Son / The Omen / Orphan

Psycho Horror –

Usually has a fixed viewpoint through a tormented psychopathic killer. It can also be done with the viewpoint of an individual trying to decide if something is really after them, or if they’re just going insane.

Examples: Joshua / Last House on the Left / Psycho / Saw / Silence of the Lambs

Slasher Horror –

Classic killer killing people. Focuses more on the violence and murders rather than the characters themselves. Gore is key here. Very popular in the ’70s and ’80s.

AKA: Gorror

Examples: A Nightmare on Elm St. / Chucky / Friday the 13th / Halloween / Hellraiser

—– Hardcore Horror –

Subcategory of Slasher Horror. In your face gore that doesn’t stop. Often believed to “cross the line”. Not recommended for the faint of heart or those with a weak stomach.

AKA: Splatterpunk / Viceral Horror

Examples: 7 Days / Carver / The Devils Rejects / Grotesque / Hostel

Soft Horror –

This category is preferred by those who aren’t usually among the horror audience, as the horror concepts are provided in a comfortable way.

AKA: Quiet Horror

Examples: 9 (animated) / The Addams Family / Coraline (animated) / Corpse Bride (animated) / The Munsters

Teen Horror –

Revolves around one teen or a group of teens. Often stimulated by generic teen issues such as dating and schoolwork.

Examples: Final Destination / The Hole / House of Wax / Prom Night / Scream


Dark Fantasy –

Usually doesn’t include an actual antagonist, but focuses on the evil within everyone. Includes fantasy aspects, sometimes as subtle as vivid dreams, a mental breakdown that causes reality to crack, or hallucinations.

Examples: The Butterfly Effect / Donnie Darko / Pans Labyrinth / The Skeleton Key / Shrooms

Monster Horror –

Horrific creatures serve as the villain. The monster’s usually slain by some hero or heroin who saves the day.

NOTE: This is also a science fiction based category, depending on story line.

Examples: Dracula / Frankenstein / Godzilla / Gremlins / Ginger Snaps

Paranormal –

Includes Ghosts, Hauntings, Demonic topics, and other paranormal occurrences.

Examples: 13 Ghosts / The Exorcist / Haunting in Connecticut / Mirrors / The Ring

—– Demonic Horror –

Debatable subcategory of Paranormal. The main focus is on dark religious aspects. Often regards demonic possession, deals with the devil, and satanic worshippers.

AKA: Satanic Horror

Examples: The Evil Dead / The Exorcist / Insidious / Legion / The Order


Disaster Horror –

Focuses on natural disasters such as floods, volcanic eruptions, massive climate change, etc. Depicts the crumbling of society and conveys a sense of hopelessness.

Examples: Absolute Zero / The Core / The Day After Tomorrow / Perfect Storm / Twister

Invasion Horror –

Typically depicted as an alien invasion, but has also been approached as extinct creatures suddenly reappearing.

Examples: Aliens / Cloverfield / The Day the Earth Stood Still / The Faculty / Phantoms

Mind Control Horror –

General theme is something else controlling peoples actions or thoughts. This is often depicted as a parasite, or through hypnosis.

Note: This is also a fantasy based category, depending on story line.

AKA: Host Horror

Examples: Empire of the Ants / The Faculty / The Signal / The Tingler / Village of the Damned

Rampant Horror –

Takes on one of two basic concepts. Either animals turned crazed and attacking people, or human technology going too far and attacking people.

Examples: Birds / Christine / Cujo / Deadly Friend / Jaws

Viral Horror –

Describing an apocalyptic event via a virus that wipes out humanity. Most commonly depicted as Zombies.

Examples: 28 Days Later / The Crazies / Night of the Living Dead / Pulse / Resident Evil


Comedy Horror –

The goal is still to scare the audience, but also provides frequent comical relief. This allows the audience to laugh at their fears.

Examples: Beetlejuice / Eight Legged Freaks / The Mummy / Tremors / Zombieland

—–Black Comedy Horror –

A subcategory of comedy horror that pushes humor to a darker place.

Examples: Feast / Idol Hands / Jack Frost / The Lost Boys / Sweeney Todd

Thriller Horror –

Often very realistic, and includes action aspects. Usually the villain remains unknown as a hidden individual, but the threat is continuously growing.

AKA: Suspenseful Horror

Examples: Brick / Cry Wolf / Disturbia / Number 23 / Secret Window

Erotica Horror –

Many sexual scenes included. Often includes a stalker or kidnapper. Common themes are rape and snuff style torture, but can include an “alluring” individual who kills during or after sex.

AKA: Snuff (only when taken to extremes. Also, true Snuff is illegal in most countries.)

Examples: Antichrist / Dead Doll / Devil in the Flesh / They Came From Within / Vampyros Lesbos

Gothic Horror –

Early horror, usually includes strong influences in Romanticism. Often coupled with poetry. Limited to literature, as that’s where horror began.

AKA: Classic Horror / Dark Poetry

Examples: Ann Radcliffe / Bram Stoker / Edgar Allen Poe / Oscar Wilde / William Shakespeare

I feel like I’m leaving something out somewhere. If you can pinpoint what, please tell me.


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