Occult Horror

Contributed by Angela Sylvaine

Occult horror is a genre that explores supernatural beliefs and practices that fall outside of mainstream religion and science. This can include mysticism, spirituality, astrology, magic, and psychic phenomena. Occult horror may deal with witchcraft, paganism, alchemy, spiritualism, satanism, and the arcane. While these beliefs are not necessarily dark in reality, in the horror realm traditions may be twisted or exaggerated to become black magic, sinister cults, evil supernatural forces, and the pursuit of secret knowledge or power. 

Many famous and infamous figures have been associated with the occult, including Plato, Isaac Newton, Arthur Conan Doyle, Hitler, Rasputin, Marie Laveau, and Jim Morrison. Examples of popular occult movies include Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Hereditary (2018), Amityville Horror (1979), The Witch (2015), and The Evil Dead (1981). Many occult horror novels and novellas have achieved popularity among readers, including The Exorcist by William Peter BlattyThe Hunger by Alma KatsuThe Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle, and The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson.