Many people argue that modern horror movies pale in comparison to their predecessors so we set out to test this theory. Beginning with the 1970s, we looked at the 15 highest grossing horror movies of each decade (USA box office adjusted for inflation) and how each movie was rated on Rotten Tomatoes (a popular movie review aggregator).

This data is presented in the table below.

Movie critc ratings of popular horror movies 1970 to present

Movies from the 1970s and 1980s appear to score much higher than movies from later decades. For example, just one movie from the 2010s (The Conjuring) and two from the 2000s (Paranormal Activity and The Others) have a higher Rotten Tomatoes rating than 80% while 10 movies from the 1970s and 5 from the 1980s achieved this feat.

Horror Movie Ratings 1970 - Present

The graph above shows the average Rotten Tomatoes ratings of the 15 highest grossing movies of each decade. From the graph, it is clear to see that the average rating of popular horror movies has been declining steadily from an average of 75% in the 1970s to just 47% for the current decade.