If you are a fan of gore, violence, horror, animation, and action in a single package, horror anime movies should be your go-to resort. The blood splatter, action-packed battles, and chronicles of war between good and evil form the backbone of most of these movies. However, these are certainly not the limitations. Horror anime movies go way beyond this. The psychedelic animations, psychological thrills, and troubling chills that the movie enunciates function as compelling props through which these movies narrate a much deeper tale.
Zombie outbreak, mutations, nuclear war, impending apocalypse, alien attacks are common tropes in horror anime that use the science-fiction genre. Besides sci-fi horror anime, fantasy movies with fearsome elements is yet another popular variant. Fantasy movies often use dream sequences to unfold the events. Nightmarish imaginations often creep into reality, and it does not take long enough to become real.
The differentiation between imagination and reality, facts and fiction become a blur. Horror-themed anime builds upon these tropes to build a horrifying, unsettling tale, but exhilarating all the same. The graphic illustrations and animation of mutant monsters, demons, and devils can haunt your imaginations. Tentacled creatures with large-ogling eyes, several creepy-crawling legs, and sharp-fanged teeth are gruesome enough to give you the chills.
The appearance of the monsters alone is terrifying, and horror anime movies do a wonderful job is plaguing your imagination with such elements. However, the narrative runs deep to make a social commentary about a disaster that resonates with real life. This article brings you a list of the best horror anime movies of all time. While it incorporates some of these tropes, it also deviates from developing unique elements.
A psychological thriller, Perfect Blue, which saw its release in 1997, is one of the most intense anime horror stories. Blood, gore, rape, and graphic violence are not the only element that makes it a terrifying watch. Satoshi Kon’s thriller induces a real-life setting depicting the life of a J-Pop idol, Mima, who is on a quest for a career change. However, as she witnesses the rise and fall of her career, she faces harassment, both mental and physical, due to which she loses track of reality.
An obsessed fan stalks Mima as certain past reflections continue to haunt her. Facts and fiction become intertwined cleverly, which provides an exceptionally immersive plotline to the movie. The movie provides a strong critique of how the actors need to battle circumstances that dehumanize their identity and reality. The colors, environment, animation, and graphics facilitate the audience’s understanding of the movie.
Paprika is a 2006 anime classic directed and co-written by Satoshi Kon. It combines science fiction elements with psychological thriller, which presents a phantasmagoria of images that intermixes dream with reality. While the plot is a bit difficult to follow, the theme of dreaming gives it a distinctly unique style. It seeks to dive down into the deepest realms of human subconsciousness. The movie is profound, and the plot tries to unfold the abyss of dreams. It explores the collision of technology with the human mind. Atsuki Chiba, a psychologist, uses an invention named D.C. mini to enter another person’s dream; her alter-ego Paprika enters her client’s subconsciousness.
However, as someone steals this invention, it is now used for creating a nightmare. The film follows the terror induced by the dream terrorist, and in doing so, brings about the manifestations of the subconscious mind. The dreaming mind thinks of things that may be terrifying or shameful to give it fully conscious acknowledgment. Paprika is a mind-bending movie and falls under the must-watch horror movie list.
Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s 2000 horror fantasy, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, is a classic. It has always been a favorite among horror anime aficionados. The anime is action-packed and consists of supernatural elements, which has revolutionized the concerning genre. The movie follows the plot of a futuristic warrior, a human-vampire hybrid and battles against the dark forces of vampires in the year 12,090.
Vampire Meier Link kidnaps the daughter of a wealthy man, and Vampire Hunter D is assigned to bring back the girl for a lavish sum. The movie is a sequel to the 1985 movie Vampire Hunter D, and the plot is adapted from the third book from Hideyuki Kikuchi’s novel series of the same name. The animations are exhilarating, and the movie possesses visual poetry, which makes it a refreshing watch.
The 1993 action-adventure movie Ninja Scroll is yet another captivating watch. It is another masterpiece by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, which is a part of most anime enthusiast’s collections. Jubie is a ninja and has no master, but he has exceptional skills, which allows him to make his living in feudal Japan. When he kills his fellow swordsmen, he is hailed as an assassin who is pulled into a life full of danger, intrigues, and deceptions.
Jubie needs to battle against demonic ninjas, who plan to take the power of the government of Japan. Jubie needs to give his best to stop the devils from annihilating lives and society. The vagabond mercenary ninja is pulled in a tale of blood, gore, and more as he wanders around to keep himself alive.
Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 movie Princess Mononoke is a fantasy adventure set in the 14th century. The animations in the movie are vibrant and consist of many potentially scary elements. The spirits that plague around is creepy and terrifying. The movie contains visually disturbing moments which can truly haunt your imaginations. The movie has an epochal story with breathtaking visuals. It involves a clash between forest princess and that of the onslaught of mechanization.
Mass murder, demon forces, and powerful curses render the movie a terrifying watch. Humans ravage the earth, which brings a conflict between humans and nature, and the film has a strong message for the viewers of the present generation. The movie is compelling and is the goriest movie in Miyazaki’s list of films. Environmentalism is the central theme, and there is a lingering fear of the unknown in the movie.
Yuzo Sato’s 1995 anime Bio Hunter is based on a manga by FujihikoHosono. Horror and history are brought together in this film, and it narrates the story about an enemy that exists within a man who needs to protect himself from yielding to it. A demon virus is plaguing the land of Japan, and as two scientists attempt to distribute the cure, one of them gets infected. He needs to get over his demonic side while saving the lives of people around him from the virus. Bio Hunter has impressive visuals, well thought out plot, and evil demons that embarks into the horror anime genre.
Lily C.A.T., which HisayukiToriumi directs, is a 1987 sci-fi horror movie. It has a unique plot and builds upon the existing tropes to deliver an impact in this genre. Some visuals are genuinely frightening, and the movie has a gradually developing plot that keeps you hooked from beginning to end. The plot revolves around a crew of 14 members who decide to venture into the space to yield profits for their establishment. Although they hibernate to cope with the time taken to travel to a distant planet, it will take them nearly 20 years to cover the distance.
However, an alien bacteria invades the ventilation system while the crew members are asleep. The bacteria can corrupt the ship, infecting, killing, and assembling the victims into giant-tentacled creatures. It is a struggle for the ones who survive to save their lives and make it out safely. The animation is captivating, and there are fascinating grotesques visuals in the movie.
An amalgamation of science fiction with horror is a common trope for anime horror movies. However, Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s 1987 movie, Wicked City, has a much intense plot that builds a deeper resonation with reality. The gory incidents, mutant demons, and spectacular visuals in the movie add to the horror. It is a neo-noir animation that takes its plot from a novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi. The demons in the movie inhabit a parallel dimension called ‘the Black World.’
A peace treaty is signed to create harmony between the two worlds. The assassins from various dimensions endeavor to establish peace, an impossible endeavor. However, a group of demons breaches the threat, which initiates the action and horror in the movie. Violence, action, gore, and creepy aliens make the plot rich and intense. The movie is a visceral horror fantasy and has the potential to grip the attention of viewers thoroughly.
Hiroyuki Kitakubo, in his 2001 action/horror anime movie, establishes a bloody action romp which makes the film violent, intense, and suspenseful. The stylized vampire hunting, horrifying gore level, and a twist to the generic anime horror and goth tale speak for the movie. The movie has a short runtime of only 48 minutes. The protagonist yields katana, Saya’s upcoming mission is to use the katana or samurai sword for slaying vampires in 1960s Japan. She is a vampire-human who hunts down vampires.
She works for ‘The Council’ and seeks vengeance against Onigen, who had killed her father, she poses as a student in Kanto High School to track and kill the vampires who have infiltrated the area. Packed with action, this movie has a strong and daring plotline.
TakanoriTsujimoto’s biopunk horror-action movie, Resident Evil: Vendetta, has a fast-paced plot, which features a classic, creepy, and suspenseful horror feature. It was released in 2017, and this movie brings about a sense of nostalgia for the Resident Evil games and movies. The sci-fi horror tropes find its way into the movie, and it is a sequel to the movie Resident Evil: Damnation, released in 2012. The story is about Glenn Arias, who is a black market dealer.
Zombies with a novel virus strain have infected a mansion associated with a B.O.W. smuggling operation. A Mexican army team under the supervision of the BSAA chief seek to investigate this mansion. A strange turn of events brings Arias and BSAA together to fight against the virus-infested in the mansion. The movie has a compelling and immersive plotline which makes it a rich watch.
Shuhei Morita’s 2005 horror anime movie, Kakurenbo, has captivating visuals, making it a visually stunning film. The viewer is directed pulled into the story as seven children get together to play the game of hide-and-seek before the gates of the Demon City. However, the children who play the game never return. In an attempt to know about the children who have disappeared, these children try to outrun the demons through twisty, neon streets.
Hikora, the protagonist in this group of children, plays this game to get the knowabouts of his sister, Sorcha. This game of hide-and-seek is deadly and twisted, which makes it a terrific watch. The city takes its inspiration from Kowloon and is in a state of dilapidation. The children carry out the game in this obscure abandoned city. The city is forbidden, the game is mysterious, and the movie provides thorough entertainment while keeping you at the edge of your seats.
Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, Seoul Station is a horror anime that deals with a zombie outbreak. In downtown Seoul, the zombie pandemic is quickly claiming the lives of people. The compelling filmography gives a novel outlook to this apocalypse genre. The movie is a prequel to Train to Busan and throws light on various sensitive issues, such as misogyny, class issues, and military-related casualties.
It is a competent zombie movie, and with its fresh take on this genre, it is a promising addition to the horror anime genre. It reveals how quickly the virus can spread and infect the population. The Seoul citizen needs to come to terms with the carnage and proactively approach towards combatting the outbreak. The movie has an eerie atmosphere, realistic characterization, and a fast-moving plotline.
RyoutarouMakihara’s 2015 movie, The Empire of Corpses, combines goth with history, making its plotline interesting. Set in the 19th century setting of London, it follows the reanimation of corpses for use in manual labor. Technology revives the corpses, but humanity is likely at stake. However, this novel technology can only revive the body of the corpses, but not their soul.
The famous Dr. Victor Frankenstein revolutionary work was successful in reviving the only corpse possessing a soul. John Watson, a young scientist, gains access to Frankenstein’s writings, give him various insights into the technology used for corpse revival. However, he also learns about the price he needs to pay for advancing with the research. The gothic chills that the plot resurrects should not be missed.
Studio Ghibli’s production, Spirited Away, moves away from a ‘traditional scary’ movie to reignite its distinct horror elements. The scary sequences with an occasional dash of blood and gore give a fearsome undertone to the movie. However, magical realism also gives a charismatic touch to it. Chihiro, the child protagonist with her parents, finds herself in a park that is nonetheless abandoned. Chihiro becomes all alone when her parents transform into giant pigs.
She meets Haku in this park, who informs her that the park imbibes supernatural power. And if she wants to free her parents and move out, she needs to start working here. Supernatural creatures who live in this world are those who are spending time away from the human realm. While the film has terrifying scenes, it also gives peace of mind, making it one of a kind watch.
Yoshimichi Furukawa’s 1994 movie Darkside Blues has a lingering mystery immersed in its plotline. Mysticism, horror, and suspense are combined to weave a tale about a battle for the dominion of the earth. A land-hungry, massive, and powerful corporation seeks to rule the earth. Kabuki-Cho is one of those places which is still free from encroachment by this corporation. A rebelling group and stranger who has a brooding mystery about him join forces to give the earth the respite from this organization. Graphic nudity, guns and battles, violence, gore, and supernatural elements fill the plot of this movie.
Makoto Kamiya’s 2008 movie, Resident Evil: Degeneration, has balanced action with horror without tipping off. The animated features are spectacular, and this violent movie has more to its share than intense, fast-paced action. A virus outbreak contaminates Harvardville Airport. Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield need to bring down the virus contamination by defeating the rogue warrior who is behind all of this. Killings and mutations are rampant in the movie.
The characters are terrifying, and horror forms the backbone of the movie. This movie is a must-watch for Resident Evil enthusiasts. Despite its inventive concepts, it stays loyal to the highly acclaimed franchise. The biopunk action-horror anime gives you occasional chills and thrills, and it can act as a standalone movie. It features hidden laboratories, revengeful cops, rivalry amongst siblings, and the evil mastermind who is not ready to die. There is a fair share of explosions and survival horror which keep the anime alive and happening.
Takayuki Hirao’s 2012 horror anime movie, Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack, features a gruesome story adapted from Junji Ito’s manga. Japan is under threat from mutants of fish emerging from the sea. As carnage is rampage, the protagonist Kaori is on a quest to rescue her lost boyfriend. The giant’s sharks have insect legs to walk on the land, and the image is nothing less than haunting. The movie is quite unsettling, and Gyo’s iconography is nothing less than bizarre.
The complication that arises from sea creatures having terrestrial qualities gives the movie a horrific and disgusting touch. Ito’s Gyo horror manga is quite surreal and haunting. The graphics in the movie are thrilling, and the movie has depth with its portrayal of the strong ecodisaster threat. The horrifying menace emerging from the water on its way to control and haunt the land has a stench that reeks of death. The crisis has just started before these mutant fish begin their following waves of attack on the town of Tokyo.
Tokyo is a battleground for several apocalyptic forces. Yet again, in 1999, supernatural powers and magical activities creeping up the land, making it an obscure place to live. Humanity is on the verge of destruction, and as the central figure, Kamui takes control of things, he can play either side with the evil to bring about destruction or act as the hero to redeem everyone from the dark forces. Manga studio CLAMP’s apocalyptic sci-fi book series X depicts a grueling cosmic battle to save humanity.
It draws from the ornate style, which is an element of the shōjo manga. The plot of the movie is a bit complicated, involving several characters and magical duels. Kamui has to choose between good and evil, and his dilemma renders his future ambiguous. The psychic warriors fight a violent battle, which works toward either saving or destroying civilization. Directed by Rintaro, X: The Movie was released in 1996 and dwelled upon the lingering question of the fate of humanity amidst the turmoil. Kamui Shiro’s ultimate challenge is to decide the fate of the world.
Eiichi Yamamoto’s 1973 fantasy anime Belladonna of Sadness has an intrinsic power to shock and scare. It is a fascinating masterpiece, and the graphics are compelling yet disturbing. It weaves together a tale that is seductive, psychedelic, and horrific. It is a notorious movie that has the potential to trigger nightmarish imaginations. The third part in the Animerama trilogy, Belladonna of Sadness, develops a revenge plot centered around a peasant woman raped by a baron on the night of her marriage.
Jean, her husband, asks Jeanne to forget the past and move forward in her life. However, the horror of the past is too much to be repressed and retreated into silence. Jeanne makes a pact with the devil, who appears as a phallic spirit. Each time she interacts with the spirit, there is a sexual awakening in her. Jeanne is caught between the whirlpool of madness and desire. The enduring trauma, violence, and lurking horror make the movie a fearsome witch.
Violence is represented in different magnitude; sometimes, it is shockingly violent; it is quite soothing. The movie has an intricate layer of depth as it seeks to resonate with sexual assault survivors in an unusual yet reassuring manner. The narrative is seductive, is a great masterpiece in Japanese animation.
A French black and white horror anime, Fear (s) of the Dark, was originally released in 2007. The movie features a compelling opening sequence and has visually magnificent graphics. Several narratives are immersed in the movie, and it has the potential to captivate your attention throughout. The first story is about a Victorian-era man who releases his violent dogs on passerby’s and revels in the ensuing horror as he amuses himself with the dog tearing them down.
The first part is a pencil sketch. The second story is about a boy who spends his summer in the marshlands. As people disappear around this region, the villagers reckon that a beast is behind all of this. The third story is about a young boy fascinated by insects, but this yields a horrifying turn of events. The different animated segments are presented in varied styles, appealing to the viewer’s Fear of the Dark.
There is often a duality between the good and the evil that permeates into most of these movies. The absurd levels of horror at the mental, physical, and emotional levels explored in these horror anime movies. These movies build their unique temperament and are torn between simple and exaggerated artistic vision and graphics, leaving the audience at least shaken. Some of these monsters are humanity-transformed; others are corpses revived.
The demonic forces nonetheless explore the dark side of humanity. The monsters and mutants are shapeshifters. It is oddly impressive how the horror anime illustrates the dark forces that are manifestations of prevalent forces and lurks amongst humanity. Hence, while these tales are superficial, it still has a bond with the real.
If you are a fan of horror anime, this list of movies will work for you. The eerie elements, the skeptical atmosphere, and the fearsome plotline will keep you intact at the edge of your seats with occasional instincts to throw yourself off when the horror brings a chill down your spine. The graphics are compelling, and the plots are spooky and horrifying enough. Grab your blankets and kickstart your horror animation.