10 Nun Horror Movies That Paved the Way for Scream Queen Sydney Sweeney

The Nun - Image: Warner Bros.
The Nun - Image: Warner Bros.
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It’s not quite a full-on Nunsploitation revival, but between Immaculate and The First Omen, horror nuns are having a bit of a moment. Continue the religious experience with these 10 earlier films featuring nuns (supernaturally pregnant, demonic, and otherwise) and invariably creepy convents.

A note: we picked only titles that are (legally) available for streaming, so you’ll have to track down certain less-accessible titles in this genre—including Alucarda (1977) and School of the Holy Beast (1974)—through other avenues.

The Devil’s Doorway (2018)

This Irishfound-footage tale follows a pair of 1960s priests sent to a Magdalene Asylum—scarier than a convent, since aside from all the nuns, most aren’t there by choice—to investigate a Virgin Mary statue said to be weeping blood. What they find is... well, let’s just say it’s far from miraculous. (Streaming free with ads on Tubi)

Consecration (2023)

Jena Malone visits a remote convent populated by unfriendly nuns after her brother, a priest, dies there under mysterious circumstances. She’s skeptical from the start, but what she finds on her gothic-horror detective quest makes her question not just what she believes about religion—but about herself, too. (Streaming on Hulu)

The Nun (2018) and The Nun II (2023)

After 2016's The Conjuring 2, there was no question its standout baddie, played by horror icon Bonnie Aarons, would be getting her own spin-off series. Who cares what else happens in these movies, as long as they contain multiple scenes of Valak menacingly emerging from the darkness? (Rent or buy The Nun on Prime Video; The Nun II streaming on Max)

St. Agatha (2018)

Saw series veteran Darren Lynn Bousman directed this tale of a pregnant young woman who chooses “have my baby in a spooky convent” over trying to survive on the streets. She swiftly come to regret her decision when she realizes these nuns do not have her best interests in mind. (Streaming free with ads on Tubi)

Dark Waters (1993)

Nope, not the Mark Ruffalo-starring legal thriller Dark Waters, nor the Jennifer Connolly-starring J-horror remake Dark Water. Despite its generic title, this Ukraine-shot chiller is stuffed full of standout elements. After her father dies, a woman returns to the island where she was raised to visit the convent he’s been donating to for years... and yes, it’s a sinister convent, full of sinister nuns concealing a sinister secret. (Streaming free with ads on Tubi)

The Other Hell (1981)

Legendary schlock duo Bruno Mattei (Hell of the Living Dead) and Claudio Fragosso (Troll 2) co-directed this shining example of the Nunsploitation genre at its peak, which means it leans heavily into trashy violence while weaving a Carrie-esque story of a powerful young psychic who brings even more outrageous chaos into a convent that’s already teetering on the edge of madness. (Streaming on Night Flight+)

To the Devil a Daughter (1976)

This Hammer Films production is about an excommunicated priest (Christopher Lee) who turns away from the Catholic Church, but not religion! Richard Widmark plays an occult expert charged with de-programming a young woman (Nastassja Kinski) who’s just left the priest’s strange convent—though as the title suggests, Satan soon gets all mixed up in everyone’s business. (Streaming on Peacock; also streaming free with ads on Pluto TV)

Killer Nun (1979)

Here’s more Nunspoitation for you insatiable maniacs, this time starring Anita Ekberg as a you-know-what whose post-op recovery from brain surgery spirals into drug addiction and much, much, much worse. Not for nothing did this Italian release—which purports to be inspired by “actual events”—make Britain’s infamous “video nasty” list of censored films. (Streaming free with ads on Tubi, Plex, and Pluto TV)

The Devils

io9 once called The Devils “one of horror’s most controversial and elusive films,” though the latter is now less true since Ken Russell’s 1971 cult classic—starring Oliver Reed as a witchcraft-accused priest and Vanessa Redgrave as an unhinged, hunchbacked nun—is now more frequently available for streaming. It’s still shocking as ever, though fortunately films seem less likely than books to be banned these days. (Streaming on the Criterion Channel)

Ms. 45 (1981)

Granted, no actual nuns star in Abel Ferrara’s proudly sleazy rape-revenge thriller, a key release early in the American indie film movement. But one of the movie’s most memorable sequences sees the heroine, played by Zoë Tamerlis, dress up as a nun to attend a Halloween party where she plans to dole out some serious payback. The costume’s cult-classic status was further affirmed when it got a nod in a 2020 Euphoria episode. (Streaming on Peacock; also streaming free with ads on Freevee)

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