The horror genre is home to many bizarre concepts and boundary-pushing ideas. From straightforward slashers to subversive, social commentary-packed allegories, horror writers and filmmakers have delivered countless memorable films. Join us in counting down 10 of the best horror movie scripts you can download that are great to read for fans of the genre and prospective screenwriters alike.

Best horror movie scripts

10. The Fly (1986)

Quotes from The Fly  •  The best horror movie scripts

David Cronenberg’s The Fly is considered by many to be one of the crowning achievements of the entire body horror subgenre. The script, which Cronenberg co-wrote alongside Charles Edward Pogue, is a loose retelling of the 1958 film of the same name.

The two tellings utilize the same premise of a scientist accidentally fusing himself with a common house fly and mutating as a result. But the 1986 version ups the ante on every level possible. The Fly is an extremely gory film but it is also intelligent and is heartfelt and even somewhat profound in the right moments. All of which stems from the excellent screenplay.

David Cronenberg made it onto our list of the best directors of all time, find out who else made the cut.

Best horror screenwriters

Conclusion

With sharp dialogue, heady themes, and more grotesque transformation details than you can shake a stick at, The Fly makes for a top-notch horror screenplay.

Horror movie scripts

9. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary’s Baby  •  Read the entire script

Rosemary’s Baby became something of a phenomenon when it was released in 1968. It was a landmark horror film and could be considered an important film in the new-Hollywood shift the film industry was experiencing.

Roman Polanski directed the film and also wrote the screenplay as an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ira Levin. The novel was a bestseller in its own right, and a film was quickly rushed into production, with the book and film releasing just one year apart.

It might seem a little tame in terms of what we actually see on screen, but that’s because Rosemary’s Baby is all about what we don’t see; the creeping fear of the unknown.

Best horror scripts

Conclusion

It’s quite a long screenplay at 167 pages, but Polanski’s script works well as an adaptation without losing too much of the source material.

Best horror movie scripts

8. Get Out (2017)

Get Out instantly became one of the best horror movie scripts  •  Download PDF

Get Out is a perfect example of a ‘social horror film,’ meaning a horror film with a strong social-commentary message coursing through its veins. Horror has long been an effective method for conveying effective social commentary themes. As you can see from the opening scene of the script included above, Get Out changed quite a lot between pre-production and production.

Though many details between the opening of the script and the opening of the film are different, they both carry the same sense of atmosphere and tension and both succeed in setting up the themes of the film to follow. For more on this topic, check out our rundown of the best opening scenes of movies.

Horror movie scripts

Conclusion

For more, check out our Get Out storyboard breakdown. And, for more on Jordan Peele, check out our Us explained post exploring the powerful themes and motifs.

Best horror scripts

7. Halloween (1978)

Free horror scripts to read  •  Download Halloween Script

As far as horror scripts go, 1978’s Halloween is rather simple. But, it’s precisely in that simplicity that the film excels. Halloween is a perfect example of writing within your means and setting yourself up for success with a low budget.

Director John Carpenter co-wrote the script alongside Debra Hill, who also produced the film. What they crafted, simple though it may be, became one of the defining slasher films. It also inspired dozens of copycat movies, a litany of sequels, and multiple remakes with their own sequels as well.

Best horror scripts

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of the film, be sure to take a look at our deep dive into the Halloween screenplay. And, for fans of the director, check out our ranking of the best John Carpenter films.

Best horror movie scripts

6. Scream (1996)

The best horror movie scripts  •  Download Scream PDF

After a deluge of slasher films from the late '70s through the '80s, the subgenre had begun to wear out its welcome by the '90s. This particular type of slasher film was beginning to feel stale, and it seemed like all the joy and originality had been sucked from the genre… until Scream came along in 1996.

Originally titled Scary Movie, which is where the parody film took its name, Scream was written by Kevin Williamson. And the resulting film was directed by Wes Craven whose very own A Nightmare on Elm Street is referenced right in the opening scene.

Scream made the slasher genre feel fresh again by skewering horror tropes with razor sharp satire alongside the effective plot and suspense.

Horror movie writers

Conclusion

Craven both helped propel the slasher subgenre to its peak and helped resurrect it after it had begun to lose its luster.

Horror movie screenplay structure

5. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Shaun of the Dead  •  Read the entire script

Directed by Edgar Wright and co-written with its star Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead is a zombie comedy of the highest order. Told with Wright’s signature directorial flair, this screenplay is hilarious from start to finish.

It's packed with memorable callbacks, clever twists on genre tropes, and fun references to the great zombies films of the past, including the title which is a cheeky play on George A. Romero’s seminal Dawn of the Dead.

Find out where Shaun of the Dead ranks amidst Edgar Wright’s filmography.

Horror film dialogue

Conclusion

There are quite a few great zombie comedies out there, but Shaun of the Dead is the absolute best of the best.

Best horror screenwriters

4. Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary  •  Read Ari Aster's script

Ari Aster immediately established himself as one of the most interesting voices in modern horror with the one-two punch of Hereditary and Midsommar released in 2018 and 2019 respectively. As a feature-film debut, Hereditary could hardly be any more impressive.

The script delivers major surprises at multiple points throughout the narrative and succeeds in crafting a haunting atmosphere and memorably horrific set pieces. The Hereditary screenplay stands out from similar horror scripts by delving into heavier familiar drama and crafting more complex characters than many horror films are apt to do. The end result is something truly special.

Horror movie writers

Conclusion

For fans of Ari Aster’s work, be sure to check out our exploration of Midsommar and our breakdown of the Midsommar screenplay.

Horror film dialogue

3. It Follows (2014)

Free horror scripts to read  •  Download the It Follows script

It Follows was the big surprise horror hit of the year when it released. The film crafted a new horror creature that operated by its own rules and was uniquely terrifying. Writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s screenplay takes the brilliant premise of a horror creature that transmits like an STI and gets the most mileage possible out of its clever concept.

Feeling like an '80s horror throwback while simultaneously feeling distinct and fresh, It Follows pulls off an impressive balancing act.

Horror movie writers

Conclusion

It Follows made it onto our list of the greatest horror films ever made. Find out what else made the cut.

Horror movie screenplay structure

2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living Dead  •  Download the script

While it might not technically be the first zombie film, the larger zombie genre as we know it today was born with Night of the Living Dead in 1968. The script— co-written by director George A. Romero and John A. Russo — did more than just tell a compelling and frightening story.

It also essentially created a new breed of horror creature that permeated throughout the larger horror genre for decades to come. Due to mistakenly excluding the copyright notice in the film print, Night of the Living Dead was never properly copyrighted, meaning the film wound up in the public domain.

Romero and Russo only earned a fraction of what they would have otherwise received from this global sensation of a film. For other freely available films, check out our rundown of the best movies in the public domain.

Best horror scripts

Conclusion

For fans of the subgenre, be sure to take a look at our rundown of the best zombie films ever made and our list of the best recent and upcoming zombie films.

Best horror scripts

1. The Exorcist (1973)

Download The Exorcist screenplay  •  Free horror scripts to read

William Friedkin’s The Exorcist is often afforded the highly-lauded title of ‘the most terrifying film ever made,’ and that sense of terror was first born in the writing. The screenplay for 1973’s The Exorcist was written by William Peter Blatty, who adapted the script from his own novel published in 1971. 

Similar to the film, Blatty’s novel is frequently granted the title of ‘the most terrifying novel ever written.’ In the script, we can see how William Peter Blatty handled writing dialogue for the multiple voices and personalities that come out of the possessed 12-year-old Reagan.

Never before had "the Devil" been given such a grounded and explicit presentation. Apparently, the novel and film inspired a significant increase in church attendance and it's easy to see why.

Best horror movie scripts

Conclusion

With such strong source material to pull from, The Exorcist was sure to terrify audiences when it hit the big screen. 

UP NEXT

The Best Horror Movies Ever Made

Those were 10 of the best horror movie scripts worth reading for anyone interested in writing and/or the horror genre writ large. For all you horror fanatics looking for something new to watch, check out our rundown of the best horror films ever made, coming up next.

Up Next: Best Horror Movies Ever →
Solution Icon - Screenplay and Documents

Write and produce your scripts all in one place.

Write and collaborate on your scripts FREE. Create script breakdowns, sides, schedules, storyboards, call sheets and more.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

3 Shares
Copy link