With the creepy CGI and gory special effects used by today’s film makers, it’s hard for the horror movies of yesteryear to still deliver the chills. But these silver screen nightmares from the golden age of Hollywood are just as scary now as when they first disturbed moviegoers over 50 years ago.
From deadly preachers to unholy demons, relieve the terror with these classic horror movies.
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Charles Laughton only ever directed one film, but critics and moviegoers consider it one of the greatest films ever. It opens with Harry Powell–a reverend turned crazed serial killer–fleeing the scene of his latest murder. When he learns of $10,000 hidden in a widow’s house, he woos her and tirelessly searches for the money after they get married. Powell is able to charm her and the townsfolk, earning their trust and respect, but only the widow’s young son, John, senses Powell’s true evil.
There have been numerous adaptations of Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein, but this film stands as the gold standard. In an isolated European village Dr. Henry Frankenstein believes he has accomplished his greatest achievement: creating life.
But his assistant Fritz makes the mistake of acquiring a criminal brain and their creation gets loose, murdering a small girl and sending terror through the village as they try to find it before it kills again.
Without a doubt the only horror character that rivals Frankenstein’s popularity is Dracula, Bram Stoker’s diabolical vampire. When Renfield, a solicitor traveling through Transylvania on business, approaches Dracula’s castle, he is hypnotized and Dracula brings him to London, leaving a trail of victims in their wake. The beautiful Mina falls under his spell as well until the heroic Van Helsing appears and he fights to save her from Dracula’s clutches.
Curse of the Demon (1957)
Dr. John Holden arrives in England to attend a conference where Professor Harrington intends to expose his rival’s, Dr. Julian Karswell, Satanic cult. But when he is informed that Harrington died under mysterious circumstances, he sets out to find out what happened. A skeptic, Holden refuses to belief that supernatural forces could be behind Harrington’s death, but as he follows the trail of clues and his own life is at risk, he’s forced to accept the evil that’s on his tail.
The Wolf Man (1941)
Legends of werewolves have existed for centuries, but Lon Chaney Jr.’s role as Larry Talbot, The Wolf Man, would serve as the inspiration for many future depictions. After the death of his brother, Talbot returns to his boyhood home in Wales in hopes of reconciling with his father. One night when he rescues a girl from an attack, what turns out to be a werewolf bites him. Changing into a werewolf each night, he stalks the townspeople and during the day he desperately tries to overcome his condition before it’s too late.
Alfred Hitchcock’s controversial masterpiece is often considered one of the greatest films of all time, and for good reason. Hitchcock was so set on keeping the ending a secret that he went as far to buy all the copies of the original novel that he could. Marion Crane flees to a secluded motel she falls victim to it’s psychotic owner–the iconic Norman Bates. By the end of the film, Bates’ disturbing past is revealed and no one is safe from his terrifying need to kill.
Still from "Dracula" via Universal Pictures; Still from "Night of the Hunter" via MGM; Still from "Frankenstein" via Universal Pictures; Still from "Dracula" via Universal Pictures; Still from "Curse of the Demon" via Columbia; Still from "The Wolf Man" via Universal Pictures; Still from "Psycho" via Shamley Productions