Ditch the neighborhood Halloween party and pick up these classic horror movies for a night of screams, thrills, and horrific insanity, all in the comfort of your living room couch.
Classic Horror Movies For A Spooky Halloween
1. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Stanley Kubrick’s genius shines through in A Clockwork Orange, and it’s one of the most classic horror movies to see this Halloween. While it’s not exactly marketed as a “horror” film per se, it’s definitely terrifying. In the movie, we follow Alex, a man thrust into a dystopian Britain. Hooked on “milk” and with a penchant for “ultra-violence,” the story follows Alex’s descent into madness. Watch him as he has his fill of lots of sex, wanton violence, gets reformed, and spirals back down again. Kubrick’s cinematic touches add a horror flair to the whole film, probably making it one of the scariest horror movies available right now.
2. Halloween (1978)
The granddaddy of slasher films, Halloween is the classic Halloween horror movie. This film defined what would become a very popular genre for years to come. It follows the story of Michael Myers, a deranged murderer who manages to break out of a mental facility. Once he’s out, he dons a mechanic’s uniform and goes on a killing spree that shocked audiences worldwide. Halloween is a thriller of a movie. You always find yourself gripping the edge of your seats hoping that the characters make it out. The movie has spawned a franchise that produced several sequels, as well as a video game. If that’s not a testament to how good of a classic Halloween is, we don’t know what is. If you want a truly authentic Halloween experience, fish out your old VHS copy of the film and plug it into your old CRT TV!
3. Repulsion (1965)
Is there anything more eerie than a black-and-white horror film? We don’t think so, and that’s where Repulsion by Roman Polanski takes the cake. We follow a female serial killer, Carol, on a descent into madness. But why does she do it? Is it because she just cannot stand men and their sexual advances? Why is she sleepwalking? What is her real relationship with her sister? Why do we have all these questions? You can answer them for us by picking up a copy and watching it this Halloween. If you’ve ever wanted to see a good horror movie from the 60s, start here. Although, we do not recommend watching this with the kids.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Everyone sleeps – that’s a fact. Sleep is an essential part of human life. But what if sleep is also what kills you? This is the whole premise A Nightmare on Elm Street works around, and it executes it perfectly. There’s a reason why Freddy Kruger is such a household name in the horror industry. The classic story of four teenagers who stumbled upon what they weren’t supposed to, and subsequently find themselves in mortal peril, was perfected by this movie. It carries on the tropes found in earlier works such as Halloween and improves upon them. More than a slasher film, it’s also a narrative about teenage promiscuity and a struggle to differentiate dreams from reality. Perceptions are played with, and makes the movie all the more better for it.
But that’s a bit of a stretch, really. At its core, Elm Street is a balls-to-the-wall thriller that should be watched by everyone. It’s just a really good, classic horror movie that you should definitely add to your Halloween movie marathon.
5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
If we’re talking about slasher films, we can’t leave The Texas Chainsaw Massacre out of the mix. A hyperviolent thriller that redefined the term “slasher” with a chainsaw, this movie is a true example of gratuitous film violence done right. It’s the story of Leatherface, a cannibal, who follows a group of friends as he brutally chainsaws each of them for meat. Chainsaw is a tale as old as time, made even better by… well, chainsaws.
It started off with a $700,000 budget, relatively unknown actors, and long shoot days. Miraculously, it grossed over $30 million in the box office. Critics and fans have dubbed it as one of the best and most influential horror films in cinema history. Chainsaw was the first film to ever feature a power tool as a murder weapon. Since the film, a lot of other movies followed suit and started using the trope. Chainsaw is such a classic that it has spawned a franchise of Chainsaw films, and the world thanks Tobe Hooper for it. Definitely a must-watch this Halloween season.
6. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
The 1920 silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari should be considered as the grandfather of all horror films, and one of the best horror movies of all time. It’s the story of a hypnotist gone mad who uses a sleepwalker to conduct killings for him. This classic horror movie is made even eerier because it’s a silent film from the 1920s—full black and white, with only the soundtrack to set the tone. It’s a creepy psychological thriller that truly leaves everything up to your imagination. If you’re up for it, mix a few drinks and kick back to enjoy this wonderful piece of cinematic history. But don’t get us wrong, it’s still very, very disturbing.
7. Psycho (1960)
Another blast from the past, Psycho is one of those films that really just makes you think. After a secretary steals money from her employer, she ends up in a motel to hide out. Everything starts feeling like a total acid trip, getting creepier and creepier by the minute. It’s often dubbed as the “first psychoanalytical thriller” thanks to its approach on sex, violence, and psychosis. It’s mostly known for its incredibly disturbing shower scene, which many of its critics are divided on. However, don’t let that stop you from giving it a try this Halloween!
8. The Shining (1980)
This movie had us screaming bloody “redrum” before, and it always will. Based off another Stephen King novel of the same name, The Shining is another Kubrickian masterpiece. It follows the story of a family stuck in an alpine hotel. The father, who is supposed to be writing a book, starts going mad for reasons we won’t spoil here. He goes on a homicidal rampage and puts his family in danger. This film’s behind-the-scenes are as juicy as its story, which makes it even creepier. The amount of work that went into producing one of the best, classic horror movies ever is unreal. Give it a watch, and drop by its Wikipedia page for some creepy nighttime reading.
9. The Exorcist (1973)
If we’re talking about classic horror movies, few can forget the true classic: The Exorcist. What was previously seen as weird religious hocus-pocus became very real in this film. It talks about an old exorcism case in 1949, when a 12-year old girl was possessed by demons. The priests worked to exorcise the demon from the child. In the movie, everything takes a weird, dark turn. This movie literally kept millions of people around the world awake at night, wondering if any of it was real. It’s the perfect Halloween flick to watch. Just make sure you’re not squeamish.
Here’s 10 more of the best classic horror movies from WatchMojo.com:
The scariest horror movies are always really fun to watch during Halloween. If parties and trick-or-treat chaperoning aren’t your thing, it’s nice to spend this spooky night with a drink in your hand and a bowl of popcorn. Make sure you turn the lights off, close all the blinds, and turn up the sound. It’s not a legit Halloween experience if you’re not soaked in your own fear-juice after watching.
What are your favorite horror movies of all time? Let us know in the comments section.