Jack Nicholson has appeared in just about every genre, and here’s a guide to every horror movie he made, including The Shining and Wolf.
Here’s every horror movie starring Jack Nicholson, ranked worst to best. In the early years of his acting career, Nicholson often appeared in low-budget Westerns or genre pieces, with his debut being 1958’s The Cry Baby Killer. This was produced by legendary b-movie producer and director Roger Corman, and it kicked off a fruitful collaboration between the pair. The actor also wrote many screenplays during this time, including 1963 thriller Thunder Island and the Corman helmed The Trip.
Nicholson’s breakthrough came with his scene-stealing performance in 1969’s Easy Rider. He then went on a run of classic movies throughout the ’70s such as Chinatownand in the decades that followed, delivered more acclaimed work in everything from About Schmidt to playing The Joker in Batman. Nicholson retired following 2010 rom-com How Do You Know.
Nicholson has appeared in just about every genre during his decades-long career and given his beginnings in exploitation, it’s little wonder he made some horror projects too.
Every Jack Nicholson Horror Movie
6. The Terror (1963)
The Terror was a Corman production that was made during the producer’s famous Edgar Allen Poe cycle. The turned out to be one of Corman’s messiest productions, as he shot two days’ worth of scenes with horror icon Boris Karloff with no clear story in mind. The rest of The Terror was then filmed in pieces in the following months by directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Monte Hellman and even Nicholson himself, who plays the lead role. That’s why the end product is a slow, confusing and not very terrifying slog of a movie.
5. The Little Shop Of Horrors (1960)
Technically Jack Nicholson’s first horror movie is The Little Shop Of Horrors (which is getting a Chris Evans remake). This was another Corman project, where all the interior scenes were famously shot in only two days to make use of sets that were being torn down. The story follows a florist’s assistant named Seymour who feeds customers to his blood-drinking plant Audrey. The Little Shop Of Horrors is a true cult classic that inspired both a musical and a cult 1986 remake, but despite its retro charms, the movie has aged poorly, with the horror-comedy often failing on both counts – though Nicholson is fun as a masochistic dental patient.
Wolf was a modern update on the Wolfman concept, casting Nicholson as a man who gets demoted at work, learns his wife is having an affair with his rival and – worst of all – he gets bitten by a wolf. This bite sees him gradually turn into a werewolf, but while Nicholson (who died MANY times in Tim Burton movies) gives his all to the scenes where he’s transformed, the movie is more interested in his mid-life crisis and relationships than being a horror movie. Wolf is an entertaining Wolfman story with a great cast – including Michelle Pfeiffer and James Spader – but there’s a reason it’s largely forgotten.
3. The Raven (1963)
The last Corman/Nicholson horror entry on this ranking is The Raven, a horror comedy based on another Poe story. Instead of playing it straight, The Raven is a tongue-in-cheek romp with a cast that includes Vincent Price and Boris Karloff, with Nicholson having a supporting role. The movie has a strange mix of tones but while its attempts at humor don’t always land, there’s a manic energy to it – courtesy of a very game ensemble – that makes The Raven a breezy good time from a bygone era.
2. The Witches Of Eastwick (1987)
The Witches Of Eastwick marked Mad Max helmer George Miller’s move to studio filmmaking, which cast Nicholson as – basically – The Devil and Michelle Pfeiffer, Cher and Susan Sarandon as the title characters. The Witches Of Eastwick is a very entertaining fantasy horror that blends many genres, while also exploring some complex sexual politics. Like The Joker, Nicholson was born to play this movie’s take on Satan, but he’s matched by Miller’s energy while Cher, Pfeiffer and Sarandon each bring strength to their witchy roles.
1. The Shining (1980)
The Shining is not only the best Jack Nicholson horror movie but one of the best horror movies ever, period. Stanley Kubrick took Stephen King’s novel and made a chilling, mesmerizing tale of madness and isolation. King famously hated the movie and Nicholson in the role as he felt the actor was clearly villainous from the start, but the character’s mania and the intensity Nicholson brought to The Shining resulted in one of the genre’s most iconic performances.
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