Horror movies have always been given a bad reputation for their cliche characters and monotonous storytelling. Over the years, there have been many horror movies that try to innovate the genre. Some movies tried to push the limit and failed miserably, while others stood out and became some of the most legendary horror movies of all time.
Classic horror movies are known to break records in both storytelling and characterization. These classic films push the limits and subvert audience expectations. This is why horror movies have always been superior at the art of filmmaking.
With so many horror films to choose from, it can be difficult to look for the best classic horror movies. Needless to say, here are some of the best classic horror films that are still relevant and riveting to this very day.
Halloween is a classic American horror film starring Jamie Lee Curtis and directed by the legendary John Carpenter. The story revolves around Curtis’ character as she tries to survive Halloween night after being stalked by an escaped mental patient named Michael Myers.
The movie was deemed as one of the first slasher horror movies and became one of the most profitable horror movies of all time. The success of the movie earned several more sequels and reboots to the franchise. The eleventh installment of the franchise served as the direct sequel to the first film, which retconned all the succeeding films from the original.
Halloween is most notable for its use of a strong heroine, and the movie also sparked the discussion of mental health – specifically with Michael Myers’ backstory as a mentally ill child who murdered his teenage sister on Halloween night. One of the many highlights of the movie is its soundtrack. The Halloween theme has become one of the most well-known themes within the horror genre and in pop culture.
After its release in 1979, the movie was nominated for several awards, including the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film. The film was selected in 2006 to be preserved in the US National Film Registry. Many of its accolades include dominating the lists of the best horror movie and best horror movie villain of all time.
The Exorcist is a classic American horror film that catapulted the young Linda Blair to stardom. Based on the best-selling book, the 1973 horror film is held as the most horrifying movie ever made. It follows two priests as they face a demon who has possessed a 12-year old girl.
The film garnered an R-rating at the time, but it did not stop the movie from garnering both critical and financial success. The controversy surrounding the film catapulted the movie to be the first-ever horror movie to be nominated at the Oscar Awards.
Despite its rating, it was still the greatest horror film of all time and became the highest-grossing R-rated horror film for several decades. It was also selected as one of The 500 Greatest Movies Ever Made by Empire and is a mainstay in many lists of horror movies up to this day.
Psycho is a 1960 horror film starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh. It is worth noting that horror runs in the family, as Janey Leigh is the mother of Jamie Lee Curtis who starred in the popular Halloween franchise. The movie also made Alfred Hitchcock a household name.
Psycho is based on the novel of the same name written by Robert Bloch. The movie focuses on Leigh’s character, who is on the run after embezzling money as she takes shelter at an old motel where she meets Perkin’s character named Norman Bates.
Highly regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, Psycho is widely lauded for its iconic performance from both leads. One will always remember the shot of Leigh’s character in the shower or the final reveal of Norman Bates being the killer dressed up as his mother.
The film tackled a lot of psychosocial issues, which led many to believe that the film leans more towards being a psychoanalytic thriller than a horror film. It also tackled the human psyche and its titular antagonist’s mental issues. The film was heavily influenced by the notorious serial killer Ed Gein, who had kept his mother’s remains within his home as he continued his murder spree.
Scream is a teen slasher horror film written by Kevin Williamson and directed by the horror genre staple Wes Craven. The movie stars Neve Campbell as the titular Sydney Prescott as she is terrorized by a masked killer known as Ghostface after the murder of a schoolmate. The movie was heavily inspired by horror genre cliches brought upon by different horror movies.
Scream is considered a classic horror movie, as it revitalized the slasher subgenre of horror. Beforehand, the horror genre was filled with plotless horror slasher flicks that served only to gratify violent scenes alongside many direct-to-video titles. The movie was also a testament to the writing skills of Kevin Williamson, which made the movie a masterclass of plot subversion.
The movie was a love letter to the fans of slasher horror. It also featured one of the most intense and horrifying first acts, as people were led to believe that the famous Drew Barrymore was the star of the movie. It was later discovered that she was the first victim, which led the audience to expect the unexpected with the movie’s plot.
The movie earned raving reviews as well as $173 million worldwide, which made it a financial success. This catapulted the careers of Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, and many of the stars in the movie. The movie later on spawned three more sequels with another one on the way.
Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead is a 1968 American horror film that was written and directed by legendary filmmaker George A. Romero. The movie is still considered as one of the most genre-defining movies of all time, as it introduced the concept of the dead coming back to life. The movie follows seven strangers trapped in a local farmhouse as the world around them crumbles when the dead start to come back to life.
Highly regarded as one of the best horror films of the century, Night of the Living Dead paved the way for the zombie sub-genre in horror. The film became a cult classic, which led to the likes of The Walking Dead and many other movies and shows featuring the undead.
The movie was controversial during its release as it attracted viewers ranging from young adults to pre-teens and even young children who were able to purchase tickets. The horror movie was criticized for its gore and violent depictions, although it has rather become tame by today’s standards.
Despite this controversy, there is no denying that George A. Romero’s masterpiece became one of the best horror movies of all time. The movie depicted the horrors of humanity and tackled many social issues. It even featured one of the first few Black lead actors at the time.
Classic horror movies push the boundaries of filmmaking with their genuine scares and subversive storytelling. No one would have ever guessed who the killer was in Psycho until the very last minute or how Laurie and Sydney always find a way to escape their killer in many of their movies.
The genre itself has remained relevant up to this day and continues to produce high-quality horror films that will surely become classics in their own right.