Horror Subgenres: 33 Scary Subgenres for Fiction Writers

Posted on Aug 17, 2023

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Written by P.J McNulty

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The horror fiction genre is full of scary and scintillating subgenres, each offering its own unique flavor of terror and suspense. 

From the eerie atmosphere of gothic horror to the intense, cerebral tension of psychological horror, there are subgenres that cater to a wide range of tastes and interests. 

By taking the time to explore these horror subgenres, you can not only find a great fit for your particular interests and writing style but also tap into a model of horror story that already has a proven and enthusiastic readership.

Here is a list of horror subgenres for you to explore and evaluate:

  1. Psychological Horror: Psychological horror focuses on the mental, emotional, and psychological states to frighten, disturb, or unsettle readers.
  2. Slasher Horror: Slasher horror is characterized by a violent psychopath hunting and killing a sequence of victims in a terrifying manner.
  3. Gothic Horror: Gothic horror stories are designed to inspire fear through a romanticized view of the past, combining elements of both horror and romance.
  4. Paranormal Horror: This subgenre involves supernatural elements, such as ghosts, vampires, witches, or demons.
  5. Lovecraftian Horror: Inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft, this subgenre often involves cosmic horror of the unknown and the unknowable more than gore or other elements of shock.
  6. Zombie Horror: These tales involve zombies, undead creatures, usually in an apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic world.
  7. Body Horror: This subgenre focuses on the graphic destruction or degeneration of the body.
  8. Splatterpunk: A movement within horror literature that aims to emphasize the gory, visceral, and often extreme nature of horror.
  9. Supernatural Horror: This subgenre includes stories that have elements beyond scientific understanding, often involving gods, demons, or ghosts.
  10. Sci-Fi Horror: This subgenre combines elements of horror with the settings and technology typically found in science fiction.
  11. Occult Horror: This subgenre deals with the occult, involving witches, satanism, and demonic possession.
  12. Vampire Horror: This subgenre centers around the myth and lore of vampires.
  13. Ghost Horror: These stories involve spirits or ghosts causing terrifying events.
  14. Werewolf Horror: This subgenre focuses on stories revolving around the lore of werewolves.
  15. Survival Horror: These stories often involve protagonists trying to survive in hostile environments.
  16. Haunted House: This subgenre involves stories of haunted houses or other locations where the setting itself is tied to the horror.
  17. Monster Horror: These stories often revolve around monsters, creating fear through their appearance or actions.
  18. Eco-Horror: This subgenre involves stories where the horror is derived from nature or the environment.
  19. Erotic Horror: This subgenre blends elements of horror and erotica, using sexual themes to elicit fear and dread.
  20. Techno Horror: This subgenre uses elements of technology to create fear, often involving computers, robots, or other forms of advanced technology.
  21. Comedy Horror: This subgenre often combines horror themes with comedic elements, using humor to lighten the horror.
  22. Cthulhu Mythos: A shared fictional universe, based on the work of American writer H. P. Lovecraft.
  23. Witch Horror: This subgenre includes stories that involve witches or witchcraft.
  24. Quiet Horror: This subgenre focuses on creating a sense of dread and the uncanny through subtle and often psychological means, rather than relying on graphic violence.
  25. Weird Fiction: A subgenre that focuses on the weird, blending elements of horror, fantasy, and speculative fiction.
  26. Crime Horror: This subgenre combines elements of horror and crime fiction, often involving serial killers or violent criminals.
  27. Extreme Horror: This subgenre is characterized by the depiction of extreme acts, such as gratuitous violence, gore, and taboo subjects.
  28. Dark Fantasy: This subgenre combines elements of fantasy with horror, creating a dark and often gloomy supernatural world.
  29. Post-Apocalyptic Horror: This subgenre deals with stories set in a world devastated by an apocalyptic event.
  30. Historical Horror: This subgenre uses historical settings or elements to heighten the horror.
  31. Pulp Horror: This subgenre emulates the style of classic pulp fiction, often involving fast-paced plots and lurid themes.
  32. Teen Horror: This subgenre focuses on horror stories aimed at a teenage audience.
  33. Southern Gothic: This subgenre employs the use of macabre, ironic events to examine the values of the American South.

Five ways to find your favorite horror subgenre

If you’re a writer looking to find your ideal horror subgenre, here are five practical ways to do so:

1. Read Widely: Experiment by reading a variety of horror subgenres to identify which styles and themes resonate with you the most.

2. Analyze Popular Works: Study successful works in different horror subgenres to understand their appeal and learn what makes them effective.

3. Join Online Communities: Join online horror forums, writing groups, and book clubs to discuss and discover new subgenres with fellow enthusiasts.

4. Attend Horror Fiction Events: Participate in horror fiction conventions, workshops, and author events to immerse yourself in the subgenres and meet industry professionals.

5. Experiment with Writing: Try your hand at writing short stories in different horror subgenres to discover which style suits your writing voice and interests the best.

How to choose a horror subgenre writing project

While it’s both important and enjoyable to spend time exploring the many unique twists on the classic horror formula that are out there, it’s important to eventually commit to a project that will give you hands-on experience 

Let’s take a look at three potential avenues for you to put your horror subgenre skills to the test.

Short Story

Writing a short story is a great way to dip your toe into a new horror subgenre. 

The shorter format allows you to experiment with the subgenre’s conventions without committing to a long project. 

Short stories can also be a valuable opportunity to test your ideas, refine your writing voice, and build an audience for your work in a specific subgenre.


A novella provides a middle ground between a short story and a novel. 

It’s long enough to develop a more intricate plot and characters but short enough to be less intimidating than a full-length novel. 

Writing a novella can be a good choice if you’re interested in exploring a horror subgenre more deeply but don’t want to commit to the demands of a novel.


Writing a novel in a new horror subgenre is a significant commitment and a challenging undertaking.

It requires careful planning, a deeper understanding of the subgenre’s conventions, and the ability to create a compelling, multi-layered narrative. 

This option is best suited if you’re a  writer who is already confident in your writing skills with a clear vision for your horror story in the chosen subgenre.

Are you ready to get hands-on with a horror subgenre?

Choosing the right horror subgenre is crucial for your writing journey. 

Your choice can greatly influence your enjoyment of the writing process and the success of your work. 

Once you’ve identified a horror subgenre that resonates with your interests and writing style, commit to a specific writing project, whether it’s a short story, novella, or novel, and put your newfound knowledge into practice. 

Remember, the more you write, the better you’ll become, so overcome your fear of failure and explore the rich, diverse world of horror fiction subgenres.

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