Occult Horror

What is Occult Horror?

Occult Horror often involves a supernatural element. The supernatural element has to be based on a real religious belief system or folklore and the evil aspects that they fight against. Examples would be: Voodoo, Witchcraft, and mythological creatures like the Onryo, the Incubus, and the Wendigo. Demonic possessions and exorcisms are common in these stories. Cults, rituals, and sacrifices are staples of this subgenre. Black magic is also a prominent theme found in some of these books. The Judeo-Christian devil (or demon/demons in general) is usually an antagonist in some of these works. These entities or malicious creatures are often summoned by a group or person.


Characteristics of Occult Horror

Level of Characterization
Moderate. The progressive decline of the characters' mental health is often examined.

Level of Plot Complexity
Moderate. The books contain their share of twists and turns.

Level of Supernatural
High level. Supernatural elements are almost synonymous with Occult Horror. You are likely to find Witches, demons, and other kinds of entities in this subgenre.

Level of Scary
Moderate-High. This genre is loaded with scary stuff: ghosts, demons, possessions, mind-control, sacrifices and much more.

Level of Violence 
Moderate-High. Doesn't rely heavily on the violence to carry the story.

Typical Setting
Dark, rugged, and remote areas.

Related Fantasy Sub-Genres

Supernatural creatures are a staple in these books.


English Gothic novels are similar to Occult Horror in terms of setting and tone.


Creepy Kid Horror is related because creepy kids in horror novels are often connected with the occult or the supernatural.


Mind-Control is also something that can be found in this subgenre.

Occult Horror Isn’t For You If You Dislike

Cults, Black Magic, Witches, Sacrifices, etc.


    1. The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty. A girl gets her soul jacked by a demon named Pazuzu.

    2. Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill. An ageing rock star buys a ghost from the internet.

    3. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde. A young aristocrat sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty.

    4. The Omen, David Seltzer. The antichrist comes to Earth in the form of a young boy.

    5. Rosemary's Baby, Ira Levin. Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse settle into a New York City apartment, unaware that the elderly neighbors and their bizarre group of friends have taken a disturbing interest in them.

    6. The Hellbound Heart, Clive Barker. A hedonist opens a puzzle box said to hold carnal pleasures but finds hellish creatures instead.

    7. The Wolves Of Midwinter, Anne Rice. For Reuben Golding, now infused with the wolf gift and under the loving tutelage of the Morphenkinder, he soon becomes aware that the Morphenkinder, steeped in their own rituals, are also celebrating the Midwinter Yuletide festival deep within Nideck forest.

    8. The Dead, Mark E. Rogers. A zombie Catholic apocalypse mixed with wolves, demonic zombies, and the devil himself.

    9. Geek Love, Katherine Dunn. Arty, is the leader of a horrific cult that encourages its followers to amputate parts of their body.

    10. The Damnation Game, Clive Barker. A millionaire makes a deal with the devil.

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