We have listed some of the best old horror films that left their mark on the history of cinema and have become indispensable for fans of the genre. The following selection included films that were innovative in aesthetic features, in narrative formats, in mixed genres, and which somehow stood out and increased horror.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
Directed by: William Friedkin
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran
Probably one of the most famous supernatural horror films in history, this film follows the exorcism of the young Regan MacNeil, only 12 years old. Regan shows behavioral changes such as swearing and outbursts of anger. She has a seizure and seems to be hovering over the bed. After all possible scientific explanations have been exhausted, one of the doctors recommends an exorcism.
Based on the exorcism of a 14-year-old boy documented in 1949, the film featured some of the genre’s most memorable scenes. The work became one of the most profitable horror films of all time and to this day remains a reference among horror productions.
2. The Shining (1980)
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers
Another production that could not be missing in this list of the best old horror films. The film adapts the acclaimed work of Stephen King and follows aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance. After accepting a job at the remote Overlook Hotel, Jack travels there with his wife Wendy and son Danny. But soon the family begins to have strange experiences with a seemingly supernatural force.
The only one who knows what is really going on is little Danny, who has psychic abilities and can see everything that happened in the past of the hotel. When Jack is controlled by supernatural forces, he becomes the main threat to his wife and Danny. The film received the sequel Doctor Sleep 39 years after its release, which tells the story of Danny as an adult. To this day, the illuminated is considered an icon of pop culture and horror and is referenced in various works.
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Cast: Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Allen Danziger, William Vail
What was just an independent production has become a cult classic, one of the great representatives of the horror and horror genre and one of the most influential film works of the 20th century. In other words, it must be on this list of old horror films. It is also worth noting that the film was banned in several countries due to the violence in its scenes. However, the praise he receives from the fans emphasizes the unpredictability of the killer and the way the script is built.
The plot begins with the revelation that the Texas police closed the case of the terrible massacre of 33 people in 1973. However, the officers were accused of capturing and killing the wrong man. The only survivor of the massacre continues to reveal in detail how a man with a macabre mask of human skin began to kill everyone on a highway in Texas.
4. Possession (1981)
Directed by: Andrzej
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill
When Marc returns from his trip, he finds his wife Anna’s behavior strange and she soon files for divorce. Suspecting her of cheating on him, Marc becomes obsessed with “saving” the marriage, and even threatens Anna to take custody of her son. Anna is becoming more and more frail and seems to succumb to something much more macabre than her surroundings, and Marc begins to believe that there may be a supernatural explanation.
The Franco-German film pleased the audience and critics, who highlighted the mixture of supernatural horror with a disturbing interpretation of a relationship and a breakup. The film was also considered a milestone of aesthetic horror, with different shooting techniques, with strong influences from director Luca Guadagnino’s work on Suspiria .
5. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn
Also from the 1990s, the Silence of the Lambs launched one of the most memorable franchises with the legendary Hannibal Lecter. The plot of this first film follows the young FBI agent Clarice Starling, who, not knowing why, is chosen to negotiate information with the dangerous criminal Hannibal Lecter.
Lecter, a former psychiatrist, serial killer and cannibal, was sentenced to life imprisonment for nine murders. The FBI wants Clarice to enlist Lecter’s help in creating the psychological profile of a new serial killer who kidnapped the daughter of a senator. Without explaining the reasons, Hannibal only agrees to help the agent if she tells him personal information about her life, such as traumas from her own childhood.
The Silence of the Lambs was the first horror film to win the Academy Award for Best Film, and the third production in film history to win the award in the five main categories: Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay . There is no way to leave it out of the list of the best old horror films.
6. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Directed by: George Romero
Cast: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger
The Awakening of the Dead continues the franchise, which to this day serves as a reference for other zombie works, and is the second film in Romero’s Living Dead series. Although it acts as a sequel to the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, the plot of this second film shows other characters in the midst of the same undead apocalypse. You are trying to survive the zombies by taking refuge in a shopping mall and defending yourself with the goods.
Known for its graphic violence and annoying scenes, this vintage horror film was a box office success and a critical success. Both the Night of the Living Dead and the Dawn of the Dead were selected to appear on Empire Magazine’s list of the 500 best movies of all time.
7. The Predator (1987)
Director: John McTiernan
The plot of this classic follows an elite special forces team on a mission in Central America, where they must rescue government officials and a foreign minister who have been taken hostage by guerrillas. However, what looked like another action movie – especially with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the leader of the group – changes completely when the team realizes that there is a much greater threat in the local forest.
To this day, the predator stands out in the history of cinema by the fact that he managed to combine the genres of action and horror so well. The film spawned a permanent franchise that included the sequels Predator 2 (1990) and Predators (2010), two Alien vs. Predator (2004) and Alien vs. Predator 2 (2007), as well as the reboot The Predator (2018).
8. Child’s Play (1988)
Directed by Tom Holland
Cast: Catherine Hicks, Dinah Manoff, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif
Although the children’s game franchise took a path more towards the trash genre and bizarre horror, the original film marked an era and frightened many generations. No wonder the franchise has an incredible longevity. With four sequels, a remake, a spinoff series and a comic book series, Child’s Play has achieved cult film status.
The plot follows little Andy, a six-year-old boy who receives a birthday doll from his mother, the widow Karen Barclay. What she did not suspect was that the doll contained the ghost of serial killer Charles Lee Ray. After the criminal is chased by the police and shot, he takes refuge in a toy store.
Realizing that he is going to die and swearing revenge, he performs a Haitian spell that binds his mind to the toy. When the Chucky doll begins to carry out various murders and threaten Andy, suspicion of the crime falls on the boy.
9. Evil Dead II (1987)
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks
Known in Brazil as Una Noite Hallucinante II, this film is a parody and continuation of the first film of the franchise that focuses on a horror comedy. The plot even begins by recreating some moments from the first film, when Ash and his girlfriend Linda travel to a hut in the forest, and she eventually becomes obsessed. He kills her, but the demonic power remains in place.
It is from there that the new story really begins. Ash eventually becomes possessed by the supernatural power, but comes to his senses in the light of dawn. Paranoid and unable to leave the region, he has to find a way to stop being obsessed. The film was critically acclaimed and received a 97% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Praise goes to the mixture of comedy, horror, blood and a sense of surrealism. And the work was also highlighted as one of the sequels, which is better than the original.
10. Blair Witch (1999)
Directed by: Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez
Cast: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard
Although it still divides opinions to this day, this film left its mark on the history of cinema and the horror genre, bringing back and popularizing the pseudo-documentary format. The film follows three film students who travel to a city to make a documentary about the fable of the Blair Witch. The three are missing, but years later the camera with the footage is found.
Even with mixed reviews, the film relied to a large extent on the realistic sensations caused by the first-person camera. This resource was used more often in such works as Cloverfield Monster, Paranormal Activity, REC, among others.