Aug 262012


I have a confession to make….I am a wimp, a chicken, a big old scaredy-cat. Since I was about 14 I have avoided horror films like the plague. As my love of film grew and my knowledge deepened, one genre remained unseen, ignored like an ugly child….

It has come time for me to face this fear and try to fill this gaping hole in my film knowledge and appreciation. I’m not sure I’m going to enjoy this, but I feel it is essential. But friends, I need your help! My goal is to watch 10 must-see classic horror films during September and October. The films must be pre-1980s (I had to draw a line somewhere), and have to be films you consider essential viewing.

These films I’ve already seen: The Shining, The Exorcist, Suspiria, Psycho, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday 13th,  I’ve also seen most of the 90s teen slasher films like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

To prepare me for my horror journey, I started out by watching Dario Agento’s Suspiria. Talk about throwing myself in the deep end! I think I soiled my pants in the first 15 minutes. What a suspenseful and visually stunning film. I’m glad I watched it (Thanks Andrew for forcing me too), but I can’t say I exactly enjoyed it.

I would be extremely grateful if you could post  your must-see classic horror films in the comments. I’ll be compiling a list over the next week, and will pick my 10 films from your suggestions. Think – you get the opportunity to suggest something that will scare me…..Thanks for your help (I think…)!

  18 Responses to “What Are The Must-See Classic Horror Films?”

  1. The omen
    Rosemarys baby
    Cannibal apocolypse
    Death warmed up
    The devils rain
    The dawn of the dead
    The puppet masters
    The thing

  2. OK, if you’re more or less new to horror, then you should probably start with these, which are (mostly) much less aggressive than Suspiria.

    1. Dracula (1931)
    2. Frankenstein (1931)
    3. The Wolf Man (1941)
    4. Cat People (1942)
    5. I Walked With a Zombie (1943)
    6. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
    7. The Horror of Dracula (1958)
    8. Black Sunday (1960)
    9. Blood and Black Lace (1964)
    10. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

    1-3: Universal horror. Dracula actually isn’t much good, but it’s historic. Frankenstein = awesome. (You will probably also want to see Bride of Frankenstein, the sequel which many consider superior. I’m in the minority in disagreeing.). And The Wolf Man gives us Lon Chaney Jr and invents werewolf folklore as we know it, pretty much.

    4-5: Two of Val Lewton’s productions (these two directed by Jacques Tourneur) for RKO. The 40s were a crap period for the genre, but Lewton’s films are considered a high point (particularly these two).

    6-7: Hammer. In full colour and markedly more explicit violence. To be sure, they’re pretty mild now, but at the time people were shocked, disgusted, etc. Hammer’s Dracula is even further removed from Stoker’s novel than the 1931 film was, but it’s vastly superior.

    8-9: Two by Mario Bava, the Italian maestro. If there was a Gothic film in the way that there was the Gothic novel, Black Sunday would be it. And though there are various contenders for the title of “first slasher film”, Blood and Black Lace is probably the best one.

    10: Although Herschell Gordon Lewis actually beat George Romero by some years in the OTT gore stakes (see Blood Feast from 1963), and filmed in colour where Romero used B/W, Lewis’ film was a bit of a fluke with little real influence at the time. Romero definitely won that battle. After this, things are never quite the same in the horror genre again…

  3. You should give Night of the Living Dead, The Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, The Haunting, Reanimator and The Descent just to name a few.

  4. Pre-1980s horror that scared the hell out of me…

    – The Omen
    – Rosemary’s Baby
    – Nosferatu
    – Night of the Living Dead & Dawn of the Dead (do it in one sitting)
    – Willard
    – The Wicker Man
    – It’s Alive!
    – Piranha
    – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
    – The Brood
    – Phantasm
    – When a Stranger Calls (1979)

  5. You’ve definitely seen some good ones so far. My favorite scary horror film is the orignal Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But the scariest movie I’ve ever seen is Deliverance. Shakes me up everytime.

    • I’ve seen bits of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (by bits, I mean I covered my eyes for most of it and missed large chunks). If Deliverance is scarier than that, I’m not sure I’m game enough.

  6. The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist!

    If you can believe it my mother actually used to let us watch these films when we were kids, as well as Nightmare on Elm Street, however, I was never allowed to watch Pretty Woman or Dirty Dancing and she used to fast forward the bit in Grease when Rizzo and Kenicky were making out in the car! go figure!!!

    • Haha that is really funny. I never thought GREASE was racy enough to be censored. You must be pretty immune to scares if you watched those films as a kid.

  7. I caught ‘Carnival of Souls’ by accident one night on some obscure channel when I was meant to be studying. Hilarious! But spooky aswell. Black n white with awesome cars and hairdos.

  8. yes, unfortunately I am, which make it really difficult to actually see a film i find “scary”! i might see some of your followers suggestions and see how i go….

  9. Jack and Jill by Adam Sandler.

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