44 Classic Horror Movies Every Film Lover Should Watch

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An older horror movie or a black and white horror movie doesn’t mean they’re any less scary than more modern-day ones. And these classic horror movies prove it.

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Well before Jigsaw and The Babadook, there was Dracula, the Wolf Man, Norman Bates, and even some killer birds.

44 Classic Horror Movies

We’ve seen some altering views on what deems a movie to be a “classic.” For this list, we’re only including movies that are at least 25 years old (1998 or earlier).

1. House on Haunted Hill (1959)

House on Haunted Hill is a classic rich person has too much money and then people die movie. When a millionaire offers five people $10,000 to agree to be locked in a large, spooky house overnight with him and his wife, things don’t really go well.

2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Zombie movies vary drastically, but this George Romero one is a classic. A group of people barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to hide and fight off the flesh-eating mobs.

3. The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist is the one that started it all for the demonic possession horror sub-genre. The film is based on the “true” story of a kid named Ronald Hunkeler and follows a teenage girl who is possessed and her mother seeks the help of two priests to try to save her.

4. The Shining (1980)

While it’s not nearly as good as the book, The Shining is absolutely an amazing movie on its own and probably the best one to come out of the 80s. It follows writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), his family, and his descent into madness as they stay alone as a hotel’s winter caretaker.

It’s a psychological mindf*ck.

5. Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu is the first surviving film to introduce a vampire to the big screen and is the one to thank for the “I vant to suck your blood.”

6. Psycho (1960)

When you think about classic horror, it’s hard to not imagine Hitchcock’s Psycho. You certainly never shower the same after that shower scene.

7. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary’s Baby is Roman Polanski’s film about a woman who gives birth to the literal spawn of Satan. It’s eerie as hell and may have you rethinking motherhood.

8. The Birds (1963)

Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds follows a woman in a bayside town where regular birds turn on the whole town and get a taste for human flesh. It’ll have you looking at that flock of birds more closely next time.

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9. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one that has had a lot of sequels and reboots and its easily one of the best horror moves ever.

A group of five friends head to rural Texas to visit the grave of a grandfather when they stumble upon a seemingly deserted house. But it’s not empty. Surprise!

10. The Omen (1976)

There are a lot of mysterious deaths surrounding an American ambassador and he’s now left to to figure out if his son is the actual Antichrist.

11. Alien (1979)

Ridley Scott’s Alien set the bar for all space horror films. All with a female badass lead (Sigourney Weaver) and pretty great special effects.

12. Jaws (1975)

Widely regarded as the birth of the “summer blockbuster,” Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is one of the best horror movies out there.

When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community off Cape Cod, it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.

13. Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist is a cult classic about a family and their home that is haunted by a host of demonic ghosts.

14. Halloween (1978)

A shoestring budget, a William Shatner mask, and John Carpenter turned Halloween into one of the best horror movie franchises.

15. Scream (1996)

One of the oldest movies on our classic list is Scream. It’s meta POV became an instant classic.

16. The Haunting (1963)

The Haunting is based on Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House and one of the original haunted house stories.

Hill House has stood for about 90 years and appears haunted: its inhabitants have always met strange, tragic ends. Now Dr. John Markway has assembled a team of people who he thinks will prove whether or not the house is haunted.

17. Dead of Night (1945)

The guests invited to weekend in the country share their supernatural stories, beginning with Walter Craig , who senses impending doom as his half-remembered recurring dream turns into reality.

18. The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter’s The Thing takes place in the horrifying remote setting of Antarctica. If that’s not scary enough, there’s also a shapeshifting alien to worry about.

19. The Wolf Man (1941)

The Wolf Man proved werewolves were a ticket to blockbuster status.

Larry Talbot returns to his father’s castle in Wales and meets a beautiful woman. One fateful night, Talbot escorts her to a local carnival where they meet a mysterious gypsy fortune teller.

20. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

A small-town doctor learns that the population of his community is being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates.

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This classic sci-fi will make you paranoid that all your friends and family have ben replaced by aliens.

21. Frankenstein (1931)

Dr. Frankenstein dares to tamper with life and death by creating a human monster out of lifeless body parts. Almost everyone knows this classic.

But did you know, the story actually got its film start a century earlier in 1831 when director James Whale adapted Mary Shelley’s novel for the screen?

22. Black Christmas (1974)

It is not the most wonderful time of the year for the sorority girls in Black Christmas who are terrorized by a stranger.

23. Dracula (1931)

Transylvanian vampire Count Dracula bends a naive real estate agent to his will, then takes up residence at a London estate where he sleeps in his coffin by day and searches for potential victims by night.

24. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.

25. Carrie (1976)

Carrie was Stephen King‘s first published novel and it’s a classic for a reason. It highlights the real-life horrors of adolescence, puberty, and high school in a supernatural way.

26. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the horror movies that actually freaked me out as a kid. It follows a supernatural serial killer that has knives for fingers. Freddy Krueger comes for you in your dreams.

It’s a true nightmare.

27. Hour of the Wolf (1968)

While vacationing on a remote German island with his younger pregnant wife, an artist has an emotional breakdown while confronting his repressed desires.

28. The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead is where the group of young people at a remote cabin in the woods trope started. This one follows a group of friends where they awaken flesh-eating monsters. From shoestring budget to cult-classic.

29. Scanners (1981)

A scientist trains a man with an advanced telepathic ability called “scanning”, to stop a dangerous Scanner with extraordinary psychic powers from waging war against non scanners.

30. Misery (1990)

After a famous author (James Caan) is rescued from a car crash by a fan (Kathy Bates) of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse.

31. The Amityville Horror (1979)

Newlyweds and their three children move into a large house where a mass murder was committed. They start to experience strange, inexplicable manifestations which have strong effects on everyone living in or visiting the house.

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The Amityville Horror is reportedly based on the real-life Lutz family. Regardless of its true or not, its definitely frightening.

32. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs is the perfect psychological horror film focusing on cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) and FBI profiler Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster).

33. Child’s Play (1988)

A single mother gives her son a much sought-after doll for his birthday, only to discover that it is possessed by the soul of a serial killer.

34. Friday the 13th (1980)

Friday the 13th follows a group of camp counselors trying to reopen a summer camp called Crystal Lake. The camp has a grim past and the counselors soon find themselves stalked by a mysterious killer.

35. Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

A strange prehistoric beast lurks in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. A group of scientists try to capture the animal and bring it back to civilization for study.

36. The Mummy (1932)

An Egyptian mummy searches Cairo for the girl he thinks is his long-lost princess. Sounds romantic!

37. The Invisible Man (1933)

A scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane.

38. The Uninvited (1944)

A composer and his sister discover that the reason they are able to purchase a beautiful gothic seacoast mansion very cheaply is the house’s unsavory past.

39. Peeping Tom (1960)

A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror.

40. The Wicker Man (1973)

A puritan Police Sergeant arrives in a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl, who the Pagan locals claim never existed.

41. The Fly (1986)

A brilliant but eccentric scientist (Jeff Goldblum) begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong.

42. Candyman (1992)

The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster’s myth.

43. It (1990)

In 1960, seven pre-teen outcasts fight an evil demon who poses as a child-killing clown. Thirty years later, they reunite to stop the demon once and for all when it returns to their hometown.

44. Suspiria (1977)

An American newcomer to a prestigious German ballet academy comes to realize that the school is a front for something sinister amid a series of grisly murders.

Ashley Hubbard is a writer, photographer, and blogger based in Nashville, Tennessee. When she's not searching out the strange and unusual things in life, she's searching out vegan food and is passionate about sustainability, animal rights, and social justice.

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