It seems everytime a pg-13 movie comes out, there is plenty of people saying “it’s PG-13, I’m not seeing it.” Yes its true, there are some bad PG-13 horror films but to be fair there are just as many bad R rated horror films as well.
Sure, a PG-13 horror is not going to be a gore filled slasher but that doesnt mean it cant good or even scary. Certain elements are what makes a film R, but fear has no rating. So with that, I give you my Top Ten Non-R Rated Horror Films.
10.) White Noise (2005) PG-13
I’m gotta start this list off with White Noise, a film I personally think gets overlooked as a good mainstream horror film. I found the film’s premise to be very interesting, using static frequency’s of radios and tv’s for communication with the dead. The film moved at a great pace from beginning to end and provided several moments that really creeped me out. The ending is a bit of a letdown, but overall White Noise is a very interesting film that provides some good frights for a mainstream horror film.
9) Children Shouldnt Play With Dead Things (1972) PG
Bob Clark’s zombie film is oft-overlooked because people pick on it’s lesser qualities(like slow pacing), but there is plenty of entertainment in this one. The creepy fog-filled settings help the film keep an eerie vibe and the zombies are actually fairly impressive for a low budget affair. While the film is PG, the zombie attack scenes had enough intensity to keep you on edge without having to supply much of the red stuff. It may have it’s flaws, but they arent enough to keep me from enjoying this PG rated zombie romp!
8) Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) PG-13
How can a film like Killer Klowns not be on this list? The PG-13 cult-classic has more than enough to satisfy even the casual horror fan. Not super scary, nothing real gruesome, but fun all the way to the end. From turning human victims into cotton candy, to carnivorous popcorn guns, and even human counter-attacks in an ice cream truck, this campy film has creative fun stamped all over it. Time to crack out some popcorn and sit back and enjoy a low budget, B horror film that doesn’t need gore or nudity to entertain.
7) Gremlins (1984) PG
Here is a horror movie you can bring the whole family to that everyone will enjoy. You go from the cute and lovable Mogwai that the kids can enjoy, to the freakish green Gremlins the parents can enjoy. The film has a simple premise that is every bit dark & chaotic as it is lightheartedly funny. It has some interesting characters and the Gremlins themselves were really ghoulish looking considering they are puppets. There is no doubt those little creatures pack a mean punch. Gremlins is very entertaining while being spooky and silly, just dont expect it to scare you silly.
6) The Others (2001) PG-13
Nicole Kidman’s ghost film may be a little bit subtle at times, but is a great chilling throwback style ghost movies. The mansion the story takes place is very creepy and the atmosphere is very dark, but what do you expect when two of the characters are allergic to sunlight? The music also helps set the eerie tone and give this that old-fashioned ghost story feel. The acting is wonderful as Kidman was nominated for a Golden Globe and the two kids are also great. This intelligent and stylish film proves that a small budget($17 mil) and PG-13 rating can be overcome to provide a frightening, atmospheric horror film.
5) Tremors (1990) PG-13
Everyone loves a good horror comedy, so how about one with originality, great acting, and good FX thats a throwback to monster films of the 50’s? Tremors has all this and much more without being filled with gratuitous R-rated violence. Driven by Fred Ward, Kevin Bacon, and Michael Gross this film about a bunch of unexplained, underground killer-worms is both thrilling and funny. The terror the worms create is scarier than the actual worms, but there are some pretty decent kills for a PG-13 film.
4) The Ring (2002) PG-13
What may be the best of all the Asian horror remakes, it also provides some unnerving scares. The film succeeds in providing goosebumps with its tense moments and imagery. The story moves at a good pace and everything fits together nicely. Tension is built throughout and provides plenty of uneasiness and it does so without relying on cheap gore tactics or special effects. Its a horror film that makes the viewer think without being confusing. This is what makes it a cerebral and horrifying experience.
3) Poltergeist (1982) PG
Here’s a film that almost didnt make this list, not for any bad reasons but because it was originally stamped with an R. The rating was appealed and ended up being changed to PG because there was no middle ground (PG-13 was not created until 1984). Poltergeist explored the supernatural world and how it effects the people around it using both elements of horror and real-life home drama. The special FX are some of the best in horror and helped build scares rather than be “in your face” to be scary. The FX and tension of the story build enough horror that there is no need blood, violence, nudity, or deaths to be scared.
2) The Sixth Sense (1999) PG-13
One of the most celebrated films of 1999 didnt just scare the pants off of Haley Joel Osmet’s character Cole. The Sixth Sense frightened many people but there was far more to this film than just trying to scare its audience. It was smart and filled with many emotions, and had characters that you could really get invested in. It used very human emotions and added in some supernatural elements to keep the tension building all the way to one the twist ending that had people buzzing. While PG-13 because it relies on it’s dark tension, there were also some disturbing images with the dead people young Cole saw.
1) Jaws (1975) PG
Jaws became one of the highest grossing films of all time and built up suspense like never before(and possibly never again). Part of the terror Jaws built was the fact that you never actually saw the shark most the time, but you knew he was there. The dread of what may happen combined with a haunting musical score is what makes this film so intense. There is some blood but it is never grotesque and thankfully is used only when necessary. The film has some humor thrown in with all the emotions and I think this really makes the film have a life-like element to it. Packed with action, suspense, emotions, and straight-forward scares, no other non-R Rated film will ever accomplish what Jaws did.
Honorable Mentions: Salems Lot, 1408, Secret Window, Red Eye, The Grudge, Disturbia, What Lies Beneath, Count Yorga: Vampire, Orca:Killer Whale, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes