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Read if you dare: Classic horror brings serious chills.

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.


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5 Classic Pre-Code Horror Movies to Put On Your Watch List

These early 1930s horror movies are sure to spook you.

10 Alligator and Crocodile Horror Movies to Activate Your Water Phobia

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The United States of Terror: 16 Iconic Americana Horror Movies 

Sometimes the American Dream can be a real nightmare...

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Lovecraft?

David Nickle discusses Lovecraft Country, H.P. Lovecraft's troubling legacy—and the bright and frightening future of the Lovecraftian mythos.

11+ Horror Movies You Need to See, According to Jordan Peele

The Oscar-winning creator of Get Out and Us recommends the best of the freaky best.