10 Old Horror Movies That Are Truly Terrifying, According To Reddit
Although new horror movies like black phone and X are known for pushing the envelope, horror fans can’t help but remember the classics that still give them chills. While most older horror movies are considered dated and unscary, some stand the test of time and can still be quite gruesome.
Silent classics like Nosferatus to surreal gems like eraser head, there are plenty of older horror films that haven’t lost their ability to give viewers nightmares. Even though there are plenty of old fright festivals to choose from, Reddit users have taken to the site to mention the films that terrified them the most.
House on the Haunted Hill (1959)
Although it featured the movie gadgets that made director William Castle famous, House on the haunted hill always packed a scary punch. Ziptata praised the classic cooler, saying, “The original House on the haunted hill…gave me real frights”.
Older horror movies don’t usually feature a lot of jump scares, and that’s what made the movie’s most shocking moments even better. Even for a 50s movie, it does a great job of creating an eerie vibe that slowly builds as the story progresses. House on the haunted hill is playful, but there’s still a dangerous energy that keeps the audience on their toes throughout the duration.
Eraser Head (1977)
Generally considered one of David Lynch’s finest films, eraser head was the film that introduced the world to the master of surrealism. Theblindowl3 had a unique reaction to the film, commenting, “I couldn’t finish eraser headit gave me such bad anxiety.”
The film is now best known for its surreal themes, but upon its initial release it played well with horror audiences. Unlike most entries of the genre, eraser head doesn’t go for easy scares, and instead sets a surreal tone that makes audiences feel uneasy. Nothing particularly awful happens, but the fact that it’s a dark mirror for real-life issues has many viewers squirming in their seats.
Mockumentaries aren’t usually where horror hounds go scared, but silent film haxan is a rare exception. A deleted user was surprised by the old movie saying “haxan Swedish silent film from 1922. I found it quite creepy. I think really old documentaries are inherently scary.”
Supposedly capturing the history of witchcraft in Europe, the film’s eerie tone meets even stranger visuals. The filmmaker’s renditions of demons and other occult figures are presented in a nightmarish way, and the silent nature of the film makes it all the scarier. Several scenes in the documentary are replete with imagery that pushed the boundaries in the 1920s.
Faceless Eyes (1960)
Ranked among the best French horror films of all time, faceless eyes has lost none of the poise it had in the 60s. Mindthebearz was succinct in his thoughts on the film, stating “faceless eyes really awful!”
Even in a year of movies like psychology who helped launch a new generation of horror, faceless eyes is always alone in his goosebumps. The subtle emptiness of Christiane’s mask is a precursor to future slasher villains, and the entire film has a hypnotic quality to it. The horror of the story is played out entirely off-screen, and yet it’s scarier than today’s bloodiest movies. faceless eyes proves that what you don’t see is often scarier than what is.
The Innocents (1961)
The classic horror novel screw turn has seen its fair share of adaptations over the years, and Innocents is the one who still has the power to shock. User monsteroftheweek13 didn’t mince words when commenting “I think Innocents (1961) is the oldest movie I’ve seen that really scared me.”
Ghost stories are as old as time, and Innocents give it a unique twist by including youth corruption. The book the movie was based on was edgy for its time, and in many ways the movie is too. Visually, the film uses deep focus to show audiences the emptiness of the mansion, and there’s a claustrophobic fatality to the terrible things that happen.
The Wicker Man (1973)
Even though the remake was absolutely laughable, the original version of The wicker man was one of the best examples of the folk horror genre. Cambot took it personally when they wrote about the film “The wicker man (1973)… This film hits home with some of my darkest fears.”
Juxtaposing its beautiful landscapes with gruesome events, the film grows darker and darker until the audience feels as trapped as the main character. The unreasoning nature of the cults adds to the horror, and there’s a nightmarish illogicality to the climax that’s just as shocking today as it was in the 1970s.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
The German Expressionist period of silent films is often hailed as a highlight of early cinema, and one of its best films is The Office of Dr. Caligari. Bondsthatmakeusfree tapped into the nightmarish nature of the film, saying “The first time I watched The Office of Dr. Caligari, I constantly felt like something was terribly wrong, all the time…extremely off-putting.”
The whole movie plays out like a nightmare, and there’s nothing recognizable for audiences to cling to. Shadows are painted on the sets and the world has a tilted quality that feels unreal as a lie. On top of that, the creepy ghoul that roams the streets is a precursor to some of cinema’s best monsters, even without the horror of modern movies.
The Birds (1963)
Man vs. Nature is one of the oldest story types, and it took the master of suspense to breathe new life into the killer animal genre. Nagayuki discussed which old movie scared them the most, writing, “Personally, I have to say The birds…Today, I still see it as quite weird.”
Most of Alfred Hitchcock’s best films are known for their complicated storylines, but The birds was a rare example of his simple storytelling genius. The unprovoked nature of the attacks makes it all the more terrifying, and the fact that the film had a profound effect on viewers is a testament to its power. Similar to the effect that Jaws had on sharks, The birds still has viewers thinking twice about the feathered creatures of the world.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Few films represent such a profound shift in horror as the late ’60s zombie classic. night of the living dead. SadButterscotch2 referenced a specific moment in the movie when they said “The basement scene…never fails to shut me up in discomfort…Most movies get less scary as you get older …but I think that movie got scarier over time.”
Before night of the living dead, zombies were a tired trope conjured up by voodoo wizards, but George Romero stepped in to completely revolutionize the medium. With its retcon came untold horror in the form of horrific flesh-eaters that caused audiences to flee theaters in droves. Even today, the gritty cinematography and gruesome story implications are enough to make the blood run cold.
Modern audiences have seen dozens of Dracula adjustments, but Nosferatus was one of the first as well as the best. Tondrias succumbed to the strange power of the film, saying “Nosferatus: to this day, the imagery in this film gives me the right kind of chills.”
The looming presence of Max Schreck as Count Orlock has yet to be overcome in any vampire film, and the overall atmosphere is almost indescribably horrifying. Technically speaking, the film pushed the envelope despite being made in the era of silence. There is a hypnotic quality to the film that draws the viewer in until they are trapped under its spell.
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