Top Ten Classic Horror Films

A collection of 20th century horror films to give you the heebie-jeebies this Halloween

By: Kaelen Pelaia, Staff Writer


With Halloween creeping around the corner, and a tingling chill in the air, it’s the perfect time of year to lay down and spook yourself silly with some skin-crawling horror movies. While the past months have been kind to the genre, notably,  the remake of It shattering box office records, there’s something about the old-school scary flicks of the 20th century that can’t be beat. Here’s a list of my personal favorites to give you nightmares this Halloween season:

  1. Frankenstein (1931)

A classic in every sense of the word, this film helped to pave the way for modern horrors and thrillers as we know it. Try not to get too caught up in the technical limitations of the 1930s and enjoy this film for what it is: a timeless tale of terror.


  1. Carrie (1976)

With It making such a big splash this year, the time is right to appreciate some of the older adaptations of Stephen King’s horrifically horrifying novels. Carrie will not disappoint. This was one of the first scary movies I watched and perhaps it’s just 8-year-old-me talking, but this film is bone-rattling and caused me many a sleepless night.


  1. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Endlessly parodied and referenced in pop culture, this film is another genre-defining classic that is essential to the horror movie enthusiast. It says it all in the title: try not to lose your head!


  1. Psycho (1960)

A quintessential Hitchcock masterpiece that can only be appreciated through an earnest viewing. Arguably the first modern thriller/horror, Psycho is Hitchcock at his finest and a source of inspiration to all other horror films succeeding it.


  1. The Exorcist (1973)

One of the most profitable horror films ever made (and for good reason), the Exorcist has sparked a plethora of films under the premise of a possessed child and a terrifying haunting spirit. Though exhausted by modern horror, watch The Exorcist to see this trope at its best.


  1. Ring (1998)

Another target of endless parody and homage in the same vein of Body Snatchers, Ring is another film that simply has been referenced too often to not watch it in order to set the record straight. A personal favourite of mine, this film has been hounded by comedians for one reason: it’s just too good to ignore.


  1. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The quintessential slasher flick and the one that put blood and gore on the proverbial map. Nightmare on Elm Street just has too much good press to be passed up, and I cannot recommend it enough. Seriously, go watch it.



  1. The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick strikes again in this nerve-wracking psychotic thriller, complete with sadistic smiles and quotable lines from the mouth of a madman. Seriously, how have you not seen this? It’s not only a good horror movie, but a fantastic piece of cinema in general. Kubrick is a legend for a reason, folks. What are you waiting for?


  1. The Thing (1982)

Now, this film messed with me for a long, long time. I still have a hard time watching it without some pretty weird dreams afterward. And that’s exactly why I love this movie; it’s everything that horror should be. The creeping uncertainty, the suspense, the sheer, primal sense of unnerving madness — that’s the good stuff. The remake is perfectly good, but the original is still just so much better.


  1. Nosferatu (1922)

Now, I bet you didn’t see that coming! And quite frankly, neither did anyone else — Nosferatu is the first and true scary movie ever made. That alone cements it as one of the greats, but the fact that it can still convey the sense of fear that we’re so accustomed to, despite an absence of sound or colour makes it truly essential to horror cinema and film in general. Not only that, but due to lawsuits from the estate of Dracula author Bram Stoker, the film was ordered to be destroyed, yet survived thanks to a dedicated following, which continued into modern times, making it the first (literally) cult film. It paved the way for Frankenstein, Psycho, and every other film on this list simply because it was the first — and for a long time, it was the best too.