The classic horror genre has ancient origins. As long as there have been stories, there have been tales that bring out our greatest fears and anxieties. The roots of horror are derived from folklore and religious beliefs, exploring themes of death, evil, and the afterlife. Many works take on the manifestation of evil in the form of beings like demons, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. These gruesome and fantastical elements have been the base layer for storytelling and influence the horror genre we know and fear today.
Classic horror novels like Frankenstein and Dracula warn of the dangers of obsession and blur the lines between good and evil. Classic horror movies reflect the evil themes of their literature. Likewise, Stanley Kubrick's iconic adaptation of The Shining combines supernatural and psychological elements to show a man’s descent into madness.
All classic horror works are considered classics for a reason. The authors and directors of the subgenre are revolutionists of modern horror. From early Victorian literature to contemporary classics, these films and stories have redefined what horror means, opened the doors to new possibilities, and swayed other creators to do the same. Classic horror will remain a hallmark of horror for its original stories that leave us in anticipation and trembling fear.
If you’re a fan of this captivating sub-genre, here are some horrifyingly good stories to start with:
And once you’ve put those down, venture into the stories below to explore the best the classic horror world has in store.
Movies that linger in our minds like eerie phantoms…
Poe's gothic tales were brought to life with chilling imagination.
By Orrin Grey
Explore a legendary director’s thrilling legacy.
The literary impact of these beloved monsters isn’t dead—even though most are undead…
These early 1930s horror movies are sure to spook you.
These horror films are animal lover approved.
By Dino Parenti
Killer crocodiles and alligators are lurking beneath these swampy waters.
By Eli Ryder
Get your fix of absurdity.
By Jena Brown
Sometimes the American Dream can be a real nightmare...
By Jena Brown
Not sure where to start with classic horror? We've got you covered.
Don't get left out in the snow.
David Nickle discusses Lovecraft Country, H.P. Lovecraft's troubling legacy—and the bright and frightening future of the Lovecraftian mythos.
By David Nickle
The Oscar-winning creator of Get Out and Us recommends the best of the freaky best.
By Orrin Grey
Fearsome frights, free of charge.
Watch the tale of terror and humanity come to life.
Catch up with the grandmasters of horror—for free.
Ancient spirits, possession, and revenge… This chilling tale will stick with you.