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The Best Movies About Nightmares

Updated July 26, 2019 451 votes 28 voters 1.4k views31 items

List RulesNightmares 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.

 

  • 1
    The Nightmare Before Christmas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    21
    2

    The Nightmare Before Christmas

    Paul Reubens, Catherine O'Hara

    Released1993

    Directed byHenry Selick

    Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D is a 2006 3D version of the 1993 film of the... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    A Nightmare on Elm Street is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    21
    5

    A Nightmare on Elm Street

    Johnny Depp, Robert Englund

    Released1984

    Directed byWes Craven

    A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 American supernatural slasher horror film written and... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    Halloween 4: The Return of Mic is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    19
    4

    Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

    Danielle Harris, Donald Pleasence

    Released1988

    Directed byDwight H. Little

    Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is a 1988 horror film directed by Dwight H. Little... more on Wikipedia
  • 4
    It is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    15
    4

    It

    Tim Curry, Seth Green

    Released1990

    Directed byTommy Lee Wallace

    It is a 1990 psychological horror/drama miniseries based on Stephen King's novel of the same... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: D is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    15
    8

    A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

    Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne

    Released1987

    Directed byChuck Russell

    A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is a 1987 American slasher fantasy film and the... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    Freddy vs. Jason is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    13
    5

    Freddy vs. Jason

    Evangeline Lilly, Kelly Rowland

    Released2003

    Directed byRonny Yu

    Freddy vs. Jason is a 2003 American slasher action fantasy film directed by Ronny Yu. The film... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    Shutter Island is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    10
    2

    Shutter Island

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Michelle Williams

    Released2010

    Directed byMartin Scorsese

    Shutter Island is a 2010 American psychological thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese. The... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    Wes Craven's New Nightmare is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    14
    8

    Wes Craven's New Nightmare

    Wes Craven, Robert Englund

    Released1994

    Directed byWes Craven

    Wes Craven's New Nightmare is a 1994 American slasher metafilm written and directed by... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    10
    5

    The Exorcist

    Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn

    Released1973

    Directed byWilliam Friedkin

    The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    The Cabin in the Woods is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    10
    5

    The Cabin in the Woods

    Chris Hemsworth, Sigourney Weaver

    Released2012

    Directed byDrew Goddard

    The Cabin in the Woods is a 2012 American horror comedy film directed by Drew Goddard in his... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Pet Sematary is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    9
    4

    Pet Sematary

    Stephen King, Fred Gwynne

    Released1989

    Directed byMary Lambert

    Pet Sematary is a 1989 American horror film adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    The Shining is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    9
    4

    The Shining

    Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall

    Released1980

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    The Amityville Horror is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    8
    5

    The Amityville Horror

    James Brolin, Margot Kidder

    Released1979

    Directed byStuart Rosenberg

    The Amityville Horror is a 1979 American supernatural horror film, directed by Stuart... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: F is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares

    Released1985

    Directed byJack Sholder

    A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge is a 1985 American slasher horror film and the... more on Wikipedia
  • 15
    Phantasm is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    8
    0

    Phantasm

    Angus Scrimm, A. Michael Baldwin

    Released1979

    Directed byDon Coscarelli

    Phantasm is a 1979 American horror film directed, written, photographed, co-produced, and... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Prince of Darkness is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    6
    5

    Prince of Darkness

    Alice Cooper, Donald Pleasence

    Released1987

    Directed byJohn Carpenter

    Prince of Darkness is a 1987 American supernatural horror film directed, written and scored by... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: T is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares

    Released1988

    Directed byRenny Harlin

    A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is a 1988 American slasher fantasy film and the... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    The Babadook is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    8
    1

    The Babadook

    Essie Davis, Daniel Henshall

    Released2014

    Directed byJennifer Kent

    The Babadook is a 2014 Australian psychological horror film, written and directed by Jennifer... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Hereditary is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    5
    2

    Hereditary

    Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne

    Released2018

    Directed byAri Aster

    Hereditary is a 2018 American horror film directed by Ari Aster. As an overwhelming terror... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Mulholland Drive is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    4
    2

    Mulholland Drive

    Naomi Watts, Billy Ray Cyrus

    Released2001

    Directed byDavid Lynch

    Mulholland Drive is a 2001 American neo-noir mystery film written and directed by David Lynch... more on Wikipedia
  • 21
    Insidious is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    2
    2

    Insidious

    Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey

    Released2010

    Directed byJames Wan

    Insidious is a 2011 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan, written by Leigh... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    Midsommar is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    0
    2

    Midsommar

    Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor

    Released2019

    Directed byAri Aster

    Midsommar (Swedish for "Midsummer") is a 2019 American horror film written and directed by Ari... more on Wikipedia
  • 23
    Spellbound is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    4
    8

    Spellbound

    Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck

    Released1945

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Spellbound is a 1945 American psychological mystery thriller film directed by Alfred... more on Wikipedia
  • 24
    Wild Strawberries is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    4
    8

    Wild Strawberries

    Max von Sydow, Bibi Andersson

    Released1957

    Directed byIngmar Bergman

    Wild Strawberries is a 1957 Swedish film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman about an old... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    The Haunting of Sharon Tate is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies About Nightmares
    0
    5

    The Haunting of Sharon Tate

    Hilary Duff, Jonathan Bennett

    Released2019

    Directed byDaniel Farrands

    The Haunting of Sharon Tate is a 2019 American horror thriller film written and directed by... more on Wikipedia
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