Research reveals most iconic horror movies

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In time for Halloween, Freddy Krueger has been named the “most iconic” horror film antagonist in a new survey. The poll of 2,000 Americans with streaming subscriptions found the nightmare-jumping maniac was favored by 54%, followed by other icons like Chucky (39%), Ghostface (34%) and Jack Torrance (31%). Despite stealing people’s hearts and dreams, A Nightmare on Elm Street was not named the most iconic horror movie. That title belongs to Friday the 13th (41%); followed by Carrie (35%) and An American Werewolf in London (33%). And for less scary and more “spooky,” the most iconic family-friendly films were named Coraline (40%), Casper (37%) and Ghostbusters (37%). The survey also pinpointed specific eras of horror: any horror films pre-1988 are considered “classics,” while anything from 1995 onwards can be considered “modern.” Commissioned by global streaming platform Plex and conducted by OnePoll, the study also revealed people’s preferences for “spooky” or “scary” content and how it affects other aspects of their lives. Six in 10 said they like spooky movies, not designed with the goal of scaring, but are eerie and sinister. By contrast, only 27% prefer truly scary movies designed to frighten people. Spooky content lovers were also found to be more likely to create a new friendship over a shared interest in the genre (57%), compared to scary content lovers (39%). While over half of Americans (51%) are fans of true crime, both spooky and scary content enthusiasts overwhelmingly agree that fictional horror films and shows are scarier than true crime content (78% and 76%, respectively). And for those in relationships (60%), 63% of couples said they prefer watching spooky content together over scary content (53%). “Regardless if someone prefers spooky over scary or vice versa, there’s a clear, universal appreciation for the world of Halloween-esque content,” said Jason Williams, Product Director at Plex. “We’re drawn to storylines that give us a ‘rush,’ even when that comes at the cost of heart-pounding fright.” For many, loving horror is a generational tradition. For over half (59%) of respondents who said they were parents, 68% of them have had their kid ask to watch a scary movie. The rite of passage seemed to follow the popularity trends, as the movies kids ask to watch the most often are Friday the 13th (51%), Halloween (51%), An American Werewolf in London (46%), A Nightmare on Elm Street (36%) and Insidious (34%). Two in three parents said they were fine with their kids watching scary movies, as long as they are present. Spooky movie lovers were more likely to let their kids watch the genre than their scary movie counterparts (71%, compared to 59%). Seventy-five percent of Americans were age 13 or under when they watched their first horror film. A majority (53%) also remember watching their first horror movie without getting their parent’s permission beforehand. Nearly half (48%) said they still have adverse, visceral reactions to their first horror movie. Almost as many (47%) now believe they were probably too young to be watching horror movies at the time. “It’s clear that the horror genre has become more of a family tradition and a rite of passage from parent to child,” said Williams. “From family-friendly spooky fun to the truly terrifying, we hope to see film lovers and families bond over classic to new Halloween movies this year.” TOP 7 ICONIC FAMILY-FRIENDLY HALLOWEEN FILMS Coraline - 40% Casper - 37% Ghostbusters - 37% Corpse Bride - 35% Beetlejuice - 28% Halloweentown - 16% It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - 10% TOP 7 ICONIC HORROR FILMS Friday the 13th - 41% Carrie - 35% An American Werewolf in London - 33% Halloween - 33% A Nightmare on Elm Street - 27% Night of the Living Dead - 23% The Exorcist - 9% Survey methodology: This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans who subscribe to a streaming service was commissioned by Plex between August 16 and August 18, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).