For a field filled to the brim with masked murderers, monsters, and madmen, the horror genre can also be a source of moral guidance. As strange as it might sound, many great monster movies and selections of slasher cinema offer a few morals and lessons thrown in with the Friday the 13th-esque gory blood and guts.

At first glance, casual viewers might not read too deeply into the themes and motifs behind the monsters. But seasoned film buffs will recognize that many entries in the genre contain an element of truth, logic, and even empathy. Horror is a cathartic method in which filmmakers express intense emotions, but they can also leave lasting life lessons.

10 Grief Is A Process (The Babadook)

There are perhaps few better representations of grief, mourning, and loss than the infamous Mr. Babadook. Where first-time viewers might see it as a horrible demonic entity that turns the lives of a mother and child upside down, a deeper reflection reveals a much more raw and emotional element at work.

Coping with death and depression can often feel like a lingering malignant entity, and that’s exactly how Mr. Babadook functions. People can try to bury their grief, hide it away, shove other things in its place, but the best way to get it under control is to confront it, acknowledge it, and find a healthy way to manage it.

9 People Over Profit (Jaws)

“You yell ‘Shark,’ we’ve got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.” These are the words that seal the fate of everyone on the beaches of Amity Island when a vicious predator lurks in the water. But the real villain at the heart of Steven Speilberg’s summer blockbuster isn’t the shark, it’s the mayor.

Jaws is much more than a shark-themed horror movie – it’s a cautionary tale. Logic dictates that a beach deserves to be closed as long as there’s danger in the water, but dollar signs can often blind people to the bigger picture, especially Mayor Vaughn during tourist season.


8 There’s Someone Out There For Everyone (The Bride Of Frankenstein)

There’s never a bad time to make friends, but Dr. Frankenstien took that a little too literally. Puns aside, the sequel to Universal’s Frankenstein actually hits a few poignant notes that will definitely strike a chord with more empathetic viewers.

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The monster himself really isn’t the villain, as he’s simply lonely and lacking the social skills to properly cultivate connections. All the guy really wants is love and companionship, something viewers can all certainly relate to, and his struggle to find even the basics of any kind of relationship is positively tragic.

7 Love Never Dies (The Mummy)

Imhotep might not be the most ethical character on the list, but to say that his motives weren’t entirely pure would be untrue. He only meddled in black magic and the forces of life and death to be reunited with the woman he loved, that’s some serious commitment.

His love with princess Anck-Su-Namun might have been forbidden by the laws of the pharaoh, but there’s little indication that it wasn’t mutual or consensual. When the ancient spells are taken out of the equation, this is simply a man mourning the loss of his lover. And, as Vision once said, “what is grief if not love persevering?”

6 The Difference Between Love And Obsession (The Phantom Of The Opera)

The difference between Imhotep and the Phantom of the Opera is that where one persues his obsession out of love, the other merely loves his obsession. In his defense, the Phantom really isn’t all that equipped to know what a healthy relationship is like. But that still doesn’t excuse his death traps and body count.

The Phantom might say that he’s deeply in love with Christine Daae, but his behavior demonstrates more of an unhealthy obsession rather than genuine love and affection. At the end of the day, the tortured artist defense will only get him so far. Fortunately for the masked musician, Christine has the compassion of a saint.

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5 Be Good To Your Pets, They’ll Be Good To You (Gremlins)

Stay away from sunlight, don’t get him wet, and never ever feed him after midnight. Those are some pretty specific yet simple instructions for proper Mogwai care, yet they are still blatantly ignored to create a host of (temporarily) cute little hellions. The entire conflict of the film could have been easily avoided had Billy been more careful with little Gizmo.

It might feel like a bit of a speedbump in the plot, but following basic instructions is essential for proper pet care. While real pet-owners might only have to contend with stains on the carpet rather than little green monsters, the similarities are certainly remarkable.

4 Addiction Hurts Everyone (The Shining)

To be fair, a great number of protagonists in Stephen King’s work are people struggling with drugs and/or alcohol, but The Shining is arguably the finest and most famous film adaptation of this King theme. Jack’s alcoholism isn’t just an internal struggle for his character, but a chilling theme reflected in the environment of the Overlook Hotel.

Blame it on the evil spirits of the hotel or an artistic interpretation of a real problem, but there’s no denying the symbolism in the motif. It starts out small, his writer’s block, but snowballs into a full-on psychosis until he finally breaks and goes full ax-murderer, reflecting how the side-effects of substance abuse can hurt loved ones who get in the way.

3 Do Unto Others (The Final)

It isn’t too often that horror movies feature villains viewers actually 100% side with, but after seeing the abuse the Outcasts endure at the hands of their high school tormentors, it’s difficult to call them pure evil. The teenage misfits are all bullied on a physical, mental, and verbal level and a person can only take so much.

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By no exaggeration, the bullies were definitely asking for it and only show remorse after being given a taste of their own medicine. What goes around comes around, as the saying goes.

2 Hurt People Hurt People (Carrie)

The Final and Carrie are two movies that could go hand in hand, as they both deal with bullied victims who finally get vigilante justice against their attackers. That being said, the latter film demonstrates how Carrie’s life outside of school also contributed to her pent-up hostile aggressions.

Carrie isn’t just abused at school, she’s also forced to deal with her violently religious fanatic mother at home. Carrie didn’t have it easy by any means, and it all culminated to create a psychic-powered atom bomb.

1 Various (Trick R’ Treat)

A running theme of Michael Dougherty’s Halloween anthology is the importance of following and honoring the traditions of the holiday, but that’s only part of the story. Throughout the various plots in the film, its cast of lead characters earn their comeuppance through Sam’s twisted lessons.

“Don’t blow out a jack-o-lantern” means don’t destroy property. “Hand out treats” means participate and be considerate. “Respect the dead” obviously means let them rest in peace. If it’s a numbers game, Trick r’ Treat definitely has some moral high ground over the competition.

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