Classic Horror Movies

Interested in classic horror movies?

The first ever horror movie was an 1896 silent short film called "Le Manoir du Diable" and it was, of course, about a vampire. This was followed by other successful silent movies like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), and perhaps the first great horror movie The Phantom of The Opera (1925) with Lon Chaney.

The first horror movie with sound came out in 1931; it was Universal Studio's "Dracula", starring Bela Lugosi. While this was perhaps not the greatest vampire movie ever (it is based on a stage play, and lacks flair) it ushered in the golden age of gothic-steeped movies from Universal Studios that so many fans of classic horror movies (myself included) still love today - including Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and The Mummy.

After the golden age of the 1930s-40s, horror movies declined in popularity for a while, until Hammer Studios in England revived them in the 1950s, bringing in blood and sex, and introducing great stars like Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

Before long horror was everywhere again. The 1960s-70s saw the emergence of new genres such as slasher movies, zombie apocalypse, occult movies, and body horror.

Here on this page we recommend our favourite old scary movies from the golden age, and from the early days of the 1950s-60s revival when the movies were still being made in black and white. A lot of people think that most black and white horror movies would struggle to frighten a modern seven-year-old, and while that might be true for a lot of classic horror movies, be warned - one or two of the movies on the list below are most definitely not for children!

Boris Karloff stars as the misunderstood monster in the definitive film version of Mary Shelley's classic gothic novel. 

The Invisible Man 
The story of a brilliant scientist who defied the laws of physics, and also defied several other laws about not killing people. An adaptation of H.G.Wells's novel. 

Cat People 
What is it that separates us from the animals?
Well usually, it's a cage.

Not in this movie though. 

Night of the Living Dead 
An intelligent, thoughtful, and in places, quite nasty film. Michael Jackson and Simon Pegg have done their best over the years to make zombies seem ridiculous, but despite their efforts, Night of the Living Dead is still a terrifying and thoroughly convincing horror masterpiece.

Janet Leigh embezzles money from her employer, and goes on the run.  She stops at the Bates Motel, run by a young man and his domineering  mother - and mother isn't happy about it!

Les Diaboliques
The story of Les and his unfortunate surname.

Not really.  It's a horror/thriller from "The French Hitchcock" about two women who plot against a sadistic headmaster.  

King Kong 
The classic girl-meets-ape, ape-goes-beserk-in-New-York story. This  classic monster movie is still great fun, and surprisingly touching. 

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari
An homage to Expressionism from the silent era.  Perhaps the first full-length horror movie, and still effective today. 

Dead of Night 
A group of strangers swap ghost stories in an old farmhouse, but one of the guests believes there really is something supernatural afoot. The stories include tales of a haunted mirror and an evil ventriloquist's dummy. 

Night of the Demon 
This little British movie about an investigator who has a hex placed on him by an occultist is very popular with critics despite having special effects that would have made Ed Wood cringe.

It was released in the States as Curse of the Demon.

The Scariest Movie Ever
Do you want to know which movie terrified audiences more than any other? You'll never guess what it is.

Have we missed one of your favourites?

Is there a black and white movie of this genre that you love, and we have not included it? You can tell us about it here - you can also write a review, tell us some trivia, and even add in a trailer. You can use this form to build a page of your own and we will add it to the site.

Recommendations from other readers

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Phantom of the Opera (1925) 
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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Not rated yet
The Robert Louis Stevenson story "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" has been adapted many times for the big screen. There were two silent versions, a 1947 Spencer …

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