Entertainment

The Best Movies About Nightmares  

Ranker Film
193 votes 19 voters 31 items

List Rules Nightmares must play an important role in the plot of the film.

When thinking about the best nightmare movies, the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise certainly comes to mind but this list proves there are other great movies that feature bad dreams. Famous nightmares in movies can make even the most cynical film viewer forget they’re watching a movie and jolt them out of their seat. Nightmares are the mind’s way of disturbing itself when it’s at its most vulnerable; which makes them perfect fodder for film. They have fueled top horror films long before Freddy Kruger donned the glove and have given filmmakers a chance to fully explore beyond the ordinary confines of everyday life.

Nightmares can drive the characters’ motives, actions, and relationships for better or worse within the plot like Dreamscape and The Cell where most of the movie takes place in dreams. An artistic tool to be sure; nightmares in cinema are a blank canvas that can tell you a lot about the psyche of the characters, and even more about yourself!

Is this list of best films about nightmares the stuff dreams are made of? Feel free to vote up the nightmare movies that make it difficult to sleep at night! You can always remind yourself, it was all just a dream.

 

list ordered by
1
A Nightmare on Elm Street is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Johnny Depp, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp
A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 American supernatural slasher horror film written and directed by Wes Craven, and the first film of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The film stars ...more
2
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: D... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne, Zsa Zsa Gábor
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is a 1987 American slasher fantasy film and the third film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The film was directed by Chuck Russell, written by ...more
3
It is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Tim Curry, Seth Green, John Ritter
It is a 1990 psychological horror/drama miniseries based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. The story revolves around an inter-dimensional predatory life-form, which has the ability to ...more
4
The Nightmare Before Christmas is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Paul Reubens, Catherine O'Hara, Danny Elfman
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D is a 2006 3D version of the 1993 film of the same title directed by Henry Selick and written by Caroline Thompson.
5
Wes Craven's New Nightmare is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Wes Craven, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp
Wes Craven's New Nightmare is a 1994 American slasher metafilm written and directed by original Nightmare on Elm Street creator Wes Craven. Although it is the seventh film in the franchise, it ...more
6
Freddy vs. Jason is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Evangeline Lilly, Kelly Rowland, Monica Keena
Freddy vs. Jason is a 2003 American slasher action fantasy film directed by Ronny Yu. The film is a crossover between the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises. It is the ...more
7
Halloween 4: The Return of Mic... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Danielle Harris, Donald Pleasence, Kathleen Kinmont
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is a 1988 horror film directed by Dwight H. Little and written by Alan B. McElroy. It is the fourth installment of the Halloween film series and focuses ...more
8
Pet Sematary is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Stephen King, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby
Pet Sematary is a 1989 American horror film adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name. Directed by Mary Lambert and written by King. Andrew Hubatsek was cast for Zelda's role. Author ...more
9
The Shining is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers
The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, ...more
10
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: F... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Robert Englund, Hope Lange, Clu Gulager
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge is a 1985 American slasher horror film and the second film in the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. The film was directed by Jack Sholder and ...more
11
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: T... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Brooke Bundy
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is a 1988 American slasher fantasy film and the fourth film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. The film was directed by Renny Harlin, stars ...more
12
Prince of Darkness is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Alice Cooper, Donald Pleasence, Peter Jason
Prince of Darkness is a 1987 American supernatural horror film directed, written and scored by John Carpenter. The film is the second installment in what Carpenter calls his "Apocalypse ...more
13
Shutter Island is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo
Shutter Island is a 2010 American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese. The film is based on Dennis Lehane's 2003 novel of the same name. Production started in March 2008. ...more
14
The Babadook is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall, Adam Morgan
The Babadook is a 2014 Australian psychological horror film, written and directed by Jennifer Kent, in which a woman and her son are tormented by a "boogie-man" type monster. The film ...more
15
Phantasm is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Angus Scrimm, A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister
Phantasm is a 1979 American horror film directed, written, photographed, co-produced, and edited by Don Coscarelli. It introduces the Tall Man. He is opposed by a young boy, Mike, who tries to ...more
16
The Cabin in the Woods is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Chris Hemsworth, Sigourney Weaver, Amy Acker
The Cabin in the Woods is a 2012 American horror comedy film directed by Drew Goddard in his directorial debut, produced by Joss Whedon, and written by Whedon and Goddard. The film stars Kristen ...more
17
The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair
The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book, inspired by the 1949 ...more
18
Spellbound is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Alfred Hitchcock
Spellbound is a 1945 American psychological mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It tells the story of the new head of a mental asylum who turns out not to be what he claims. The ...more
19
Wild Strawberries is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Max von Sydow, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin
Wild Strawberries is a 1957 Swedish film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman about an old man recalling his past. The original Swedish title is Smultronstället, which literally means ...more
20
Hereditary is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff
Hereditary is a 2018 American horror film directed by Ari Aster. As an overwhelming terror takes over their household, the Graham family's peaceful existence is ripped apart, forcing their ...more
21
Insidious is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Patrick Wilson
Insidious is a 2011 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan, written by Leigh Whannell, and starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey. It is the first installment ...more
22
Midsommar is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter
Midsommar (Swedish for "Midsummer") is a 2019 American horror film written and directed by Ari Aster. A couple travels to Sweden to visit their friend's rural hometown for its fabled ...more
23
The Amityville Horror is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger
The Amityville Horror is a 1979 American supernatural horror film, directed by Stuart Rosenberg, based on Jay Anson's bestselling 1977 novel of the same name. It is the first film in the ...more
24
Mulholland Drive is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melissa George
Mulholland Drive is a 2001 American neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch and starring Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, and Justin Theroux. It tells the story of an aspiring ...more
25
The Haunting of Sharon Tate is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
Hilary Duff, Jonathan Bennett, Lydia Hearst
The Haunting of Sharon Tate is a 2019 American horror thriller film written and directed by Daniel Farrands. 26-year-old Hollywood actress, Sharon Tate (Hillary Duff) is pregnant with Roman ...more