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The 10 Best Classic Horror Movies

The best classic horror movies aren't just about cheap thrills, but what they did for the genre when they were released. New ideas, groundbreaking special effects, and change of audience perception are just a few of the ways these movies changed how we view horror films today.

You may not completely agree with this list, but each of these movies have made a lasting impact on how we view horror films.


This movie was the first high concept film and the first ever wide release. It was nominated for four Academy Awards and is seen as one of the best films of all-time. Even though the shark is often laughed at today, back then it was one of the scariest films to ever hit theaters. Even though the visual effects haven't aged desirably, it still creeps out beach goers. To this day, people shy away from the water in fear of Jaws.

Jaws Quotes


Psycho movie

One of the first movies to ever give nightmares, me included. When I was little, I awoke and walked into the living room with this film playing. Guess which scene I saw? Yep, the shower scene. After that, whenever I took a shower I would peak out to make sure no one was there.

Psycho brought in a new generation of gore, cinematic art, and willingness to shoot in black-and-white. It is one of the highest grossing black-and-white films of all-time and broke many box-office records around the world.

Psycho Quotes

The Shining

This is one of Stephen King's first novels to be archived on film, yet it is also seen as his greatest work. A creepy kid, a creepy Jack Nicholson, and a weirdo hotel. All of this and a few great lines thrown in: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." and "RedRum!, RedRum!" said in a creepy voice.

The Shining showed audiences just how great psychology can play a role in horror films.

The Shining Quotes


Seen as *the* classic vampire film which people still love to this day. The point that it is in silent and still watchable to a large portion of the population is simply amazing, especially since many can't go 15 seconds without doing something el...... What? Sorry, I went to watch MythBusters.

Nosferatu single-handedly started the thought of vampires being harmed by sunlight and is seen as one of the best depictions of Dracula of all-time.

Nosferatu Quotes

Black Christmas

Black Christmas movie

Some may argue The Texas Chain Saw Massacre started the slash and hack style horrors throughout the 80s, but I disagree. Black Christmas includes everything a classic slasher film must have: beautiful women, pointless killings, and a low budget. They of course came out the same year, but in were created in different countries. I guess you could argue they both deserve credit, but I will hold onto this one.

Black Christmas Quotes


This science fiction film was a breakthrough for visual effects. Even today the movie doesn't look too outdated (if at all). The story line is great. It's not only viewed as one of the best classic horror movies of all time, but also one of the greatest science fiction films. This film started a series with three sequels and two prequels.

Alien Quotes

King Kong

This was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Who wouldn't love a giant ape? People who saw the film when it originally came out, that's who. Even though this film is laughed at today, it changed the way special effects were looked at around the world and was light-years ahead of everything else the west could come up with. Even though the character has been re-done time and time again, the original is still the best and most watched.

King Kong Quotes

Let the Right One In

Although some would argue this as a bit of a reach, I have to disagree. When looking at vampire horrors throughout history, they are usually two of the three: artistic, scary, or good. This film does not only include all three, but it is one of the best recent films when not only looking at vampire films, but films in general.

Let the Right One In Quotes

The Exorcist

The Exorcist is still one of the most profitable horror films of all time, and rightfully so. It was nominated for *ten* Academy Awards, including Best Picture and winning two. The filming locations, though, were seen as haunted. Not only was there a fire which destroyed the set and a priest being brought in several times to bless the studio, but one actor, Jack MacGowran, lost his life during filming (caused by the London Flu). Many argue this film as being the scariest of all-time.

The Exorcist Quotes

The Ring

The Ring movie

This film not only started the Asian invasion for horror films, but also a string of digital horrors such as One Missed Call, White Noise, and Pulse. It brought to America creepy black haired women, a new style of horror, and a new love for foreign remakes. After a long string of cheap thrills and gore, The Ring showed the US could be horrified by images and circumstances and not just people being chopped up.

Even though this film is never on the top of horror lists, it is definitely a movie which changed the way we thought of horror films throughout the 2000s.

The Ring Quotes