U.S. Horror Movie Death Count: How Safe is Your State?
Find out if your state is considered the deadliest according to horror movies (sucks to be you, Pennsylvania).
It’s time to inject more frightening fun into our #Bloodstream series! We’ve discussed Doomsday in the USA and the best horror movies to stream on services like Shudder. And we even suggested meal-and-movie pairings with The Best Takeout Meals for Cannibal Movie Night.
Horror has also been having a great year in 2023 with Scream VI, M3GAN, and Talk to Me performing well with critics and at the box office. As we head into spooky season, demonic entities are being unleashed in It Lives Inside, an Agatha Christie mystery is adding horror in A Haunting in Venice, Jigsaw returns in Saw X, and Blumhouse releases not one but two new movies: The Exorcist: Believer and Five Nights at Freddy’s.
With all this horror being unleashed into the world, you’re probably wondering how safe your state is. Don’t worry—we’re ranking the deadliest states according to their horror-movie death tolls.
So which states give off spooky serial killer vibes, which are zombie apocalypse zones, and which road trip routes might end up in murderous regret?
First, we narrowed down Rotten Tomatoes’ 200 Best Horror Movies of All Time to include only movies with a US location. Then, we found the number of deaths in each film using Bodycounters.com and Fandom’s list of deaths.
With 63 films containing over 1,300 frightening fates, we totaled how many cinematic slaughters stack up in each state. (And if you’re in one of the 26 states not included, you should be safe … for now.)
Beware: If you haven’t seen some of the movies mentioned, you might get spooked by spoilers.
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The deadliest states according to horror movies
|Ranking||State / Territory||Number of deaths||Number of movies|
Pennsylvania is prone to piling up bodies after the people-eaters break loose: The Land of the Dead (2005), Dawn of the Dead (1978), and Night of the Living Dead (1968) collectively claimed 594 corpses in the Quaker State. Pennsylvania also has the highest ratio of kills per movie at a whopping 102.5 kills per movie. (What is that 0.5 kill? Good question! Maybe a zombie heading.)
- Now, it’s only fitting that Pennsylvania is the deadliest because they have the iconic Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville that is known for its horror programming and is actually part of movie history. In 1958, The Blob was filmed in Pennsylvania and The Colonial Theatre is the setting for the absorption (yep) of 30 movie patrons by the blob. What other movie theaters can claim that fact?
In New York, the majority of murders (176) came from the mind-melting House of Wax (1953) with 161 human deaths plus 15 animals. But the Big Apple also faced big problems with King Kong (1933), where the angry ape’s rampage made 52 New Yorkers meet their maker.
California captured our attention as the most killer-capable state with 17 horror movies on the list. Famous flicks like A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), Scream (1996), and The Lost Boys (1987) all cast a dark shadow over the Golden State. However, Creep (2014) features the highest death toll (38 people) for a California-based horror. We won’t spoil much more about this freaky first-person film, but it’s worth adding to your collection.
Other high horror kill counts come from South Carolina–based Slither (2006) with 36 deaths, Maine-based The Mist (2007) with 33 deaths, and Nevada-based Tremors (1990) with 34 total deaths.
At least no animals were harmed in the making of these horror films, right?
The previous counts primarily include people-on-people murder, but as far as on-screen deaths go, it’s not always humans experiencing the horror:
- California: The Birds (1963) features 17 aviary assassinations.
- Rhode Island: The Conjuring (2013) kills off one dog and six birds.
- Nevada: Tremors (1990) takes out 20 sheep, one horse, and four Graboids.
The count also includes human-adjacent characters like Freddy Kreuger or Evil Dead 2’s flying demon.
What horror movie has the largest kill count?
You might think that horror movies take the cake for the most kills, but you’d, surprisingly, be wrong! We looked into the numbers and movies like Kingdom of Heaven and 300 each recorded over 600 kills—making Brightburn’s 274 look quaint in comparison!
Of course, the action movies with the most kills focus a lot on armies while the horror movies here are focusing on serial killers and mass murder. So let’s tally up those killers and where they killed the most, so you can stay away.
- Brightburn (2019) has 274 kills and is set in Kansas.
- Dawn of the Dead (2004) has 140 kills and is set in Milwaukee
- The First Purge (2018) has 130 kills and is set in New York (Staten Island).
- From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) has 120 kills and is set in Texas and Mexico.
- The Purge: Election Year (2016) has 110 kills and set in Washington D.C.
- The Invisible Man (1933) has 105 kills. It does not rank on our list because it is set in England.
- Meanwhile, the 2020 remake set in San Francisco only recorded 5 deaths.
- Slither (2006) has 100 kills and is set in South Carolina.
- The Belko Experiment (2016) has 84 kills. While the film follows a group of Americans, it is not part of our ranking because it is set in Bogotá, Colombia.
- Carrie (1976) has 70+ kills and is set in Chamberlain, Maine.
- Meanwhile the 2013 remake has 22 counted kills.
- Us (2019) has 66 kills and is set in California.
- 30 Days Of Night (2007) has 60 kills and is set in Utqiaġvik, Alaska (formerly known as Barrow, Alaska).
- The Cabin in the Woods (2011) has 56 kills and is set somewhere in the woods in America…
- Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988) has 40 kills and is set in Crescent Cove, California.
- The Mist (2007) has 30 kills and is set in Bridgton, Maine.
- Halloween Kills (2021) has 30 kills and is set in North Carolina.
What is the #1 horror movie?
The Exorcist (1973), set in Washington D.C. with five kills, is considered by many to be the best horror movie of all time. Blumhouse is releasing a sequel called The Exorcist: Believer in October 2023.
But if we look at the highest-grossing horror movie, we get a different answer: It (2017). Set in Maine, this horror movie featured Pennywise the Dancing Clown.
Finally, in terms of kill count, Brightburn (2019) in Kansas has the most kills out of any horror movie on our list with 274.
Which classic horror movie character has the most kills?
There are many classic horror movie characters, killers, and villians, but which one has killed the most people? We looked into the numbers to find out.
- Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th takes first place in America with 163 people killed.
- The Friday the 13th movies were filmed in New Jersey.
- Michael Myers killed 160 people in the Halloween movies, not bad for second place.
- The first film is set in Illinois.
- Jigsaw, the mastermind behind the Saw films, killed 86 people.
- The traps in Saw are based in New Jersey.
- Chucky (Child’s Play) has reached 67 kills.
- Set in Chicago
- Victor Crowley (Hatchet) killed 64 people for coming into his swamp—a lot less friendly than Shrek!
- The movies are set in New Orleans.
- Freddy Kruger killed 63 people in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.
- The first film in the franchise is set in Ohio.
- Angela Baker killed 55 people at her Sleepaway Camp.
- The movie was filmed in New York.
- The Leprechaun from the Leprechaun series killed 50 people.
- The movies are set in North Dakota.
- Pennywise the Dancing Clown from IT killed 44 humans in the most recent movies, but a Reddit user estimates Pennywise actually killed between 12,117 and 18,011 people, based on the book.
- The books and film series are set in Maine.
- Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies killed 31 people.
- The movies are set in Texas.
Where should you go if you’re part of the horror show?
Roaming your region is safest if we start in the South or Midwest. In the West, you’re about twice as likely to die in a horror film. And folks in the Northeast are anywhere up to ten times more likely to get murdered in the movies.
Horror movie deaths by region
- Northeast: 954 deaths
- West: 225 deaths
- Midwest: 108 deaths
- South: 93 deaths
You could always plan on coasting through the killing, though. Apparently living near the coastline helps balance out your odds: The twenty non-coastal states accounted for nearly 59% of the horror movie deaths while the thirty coastal states accounted for just over 41% of the total kills.
The final cut
Zombies proved to be problematic for Pennsylvania, and other states in the Northeastern US aren’t likely to fare much better. But if over half of the US has horror-movie killers, it’s hard to say exactly where you’re safe from on-screen slaughter.
We took our stab at selecting the deadliest states based on their movie death tolls, but we’d like you to help keep the #bloodstream conversation going on social media by telling us about your favorite fright-inducing flicks (especially films from your home state).
Our initial list came from Rotten Tomatoes’ 200 Best Horror Movies of All Time, and we excluded any movie that wasn’t based in the United States. We also excluded films where the number of deaths was not readily available from Bodycounters.com or Fandom’s List of Deaths Wiki.
Death totals include some non-human characters, and we did not include any deaths that weren’t shown on screen.
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