Ranking the Best Classic Horror Movies


Emily Book

I audibly gasped as Carrie abruptly started murdering everyone at the prom. Am I horrified? Am I fascinated by the screenplay and the special effects from this decade? My mind stayed hungry for more. Carrie is a classic horror movie among many. But, which one is truly the most horrifying?


Halloween (1978)

Lingering Fear: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Unlike other horror movies, the events in Halloween can actually happen; serial killers are real. This is one of those movies where you’ll leave all the lights on in your house and check behind every door after watching.

Violence/Gore: ★★★★★ (5/5) 

There are several brutal murders in this movie which amounts to lots of graphic images and blood.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Halloween is very much a cult classic. The movie follows teenage girl Laurie Strode who is babysitting on Halloween when all of a sudden a serial killer (Michael Myers) goes on a giant killing spree and starts incessantly trying to murder her throughout the night. This movie was loved so much that it led to multiple, many unnecessary, sequels. So many that the new movie Halloween Ends (2022), the supposed finale of the franchise, just came out on October 14. Halloween was one of the first ever slasher movies, making it all the more horrifying to viewers in 1978 and viewers still today. Each killing in this movie was executed very smoothly for the time, with great special effects and realistic looking moments of death. This movie paved the way for slasher films and still leaves a lingering, disturbing effect on our world today.


Scream (1996)

Lingering Fear: ★★★★✩ (4/5)

This movie is more entertaining than scary, but it does still include many jump scares and much suspense. The fear after this movie is definitely real. It leaves viewers aware of their surroundings and fearful to receive phone calls for a little while.

Violence/Gore: ★★★★★ (5/5)

The gore in this movie is extreme whenever anybody gets murdered. Bodies cut in half, guts hanging out of the body, blood everywhere, and more.

Overall Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Scream is quite a terrifying movie. It starts out with a classic scene that most are familiar with: A strange phone call between a girl (Drew Barrymore) and an unknown killer that ends with a horribly gory and sad murder scene. After this, we eventually meet main protagonist Sidney Prescott, who’s mother passed away just a year before. Sidney and her friends start receiving some very strange phone calls from a man that always starts out with the question, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” but the end of the phone call usually ends the same way, with a surprise and very gory murder. Sidney does everything she can to find out who this mystery killer is. This movie is pretty scary, but the most scary part is the last part of the movie where it is revealed who the killer is. (SPOILER ALERT) The killers end up being two of Sidney’s peers, which is terrifying and unexpected.


Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Lingering Fear: ★★★✩✩ (3/5)

As the event that a demon could haunt your nightmare and kill you in the dream could not really happen, it leaves less of a lingering fear. But, this movie still freaks viewers out because it would be horrifying if that could actually happen.

Violence/Gore: ★★★★★ (5/5)

From blood spurting out of a bed and covering an entire room in blood, to Freddy Krueger’s knife fingers slashing through skin, this movie is very violent and gory.

Overall Rating: ★★★★✩ (4/5)

Nightmare on Elm Street is quite the movie. This movie is about a murderer of children, Freddy Krueger. Freddy was burned alive by a group of parents after he got released from prison. He somehow transforms into a demon of nightmares, and kills his victims while they’re dreaming. In this movie, Freddy targets a specific group of friends and kills them off one by one. Meanwhile, main protagonist Nancy Thompson does everything she can to stop Freddy from killing her too. The plot in this movie is very original and entertaining, but it does have some plot holes. For example, (SPOILER ALERT) when Nancy’s mom is killed by Freddy at the end, Nancy and her dad watch her get murdered. They seem so unphased by it to the point where all they do is hug lightly, they don’t even cry. If I saw my mom get murdered right in front of me, it would be the most traumatic moment of my life. The special effects in this movie definitely aren’t top notch, but I’ll cut it some slack because this came out in 1984. Nonetheless, this movie is pretty scary.


Carrie (1976)

Lingering Fear: ★★★★★ (5/5)

The horrifying events in this movie all happen towards the end, and they are all extremely disturbing. This sudden horror for sure leaves the disturbed thought of, “What just happened?”

Violence/Gore: ★★★★★ (5/5)

If I could give this a 10/5, I would. The amount of blood in this movie is just insane. 

Overall Rating: ★★★✩✩ (3/5)

This movie is just a mystery to me. This movie starts out showing Carrie getting her first period in the shower after gym class. Carrie didn’t know what a period was so she thought she was dying, meanwhile all the other girls in the class throw pads and tampons at her and yell at her to “plug it up.” Over the course of the movie, Carrie slowly starts to realize that she has telekinetic powers, and all her powers and anger build up until the prom, where a couple is planning to pour pig blood all over Carrie when she wins prom queen. Then, everything just happens at once. Carrie murders all of her classmates, teachers, and her mother. At the very end, Carrie’s house collapses and burns down with Carrie inside of it. I’m not very fond of the end of this movie, because I think that after everything she went through in her life, Carrie deserved better. Nonetheless, this movie definitely left me in shock.


The Shining (1980)

Lingering Fear: ★★★★★ (5/5)

The music and incredible acting in this movie left a super eerie feeling throughout, every moment left a suspenseful fright. This movie left a greater lingering fear than other movies because the hotel in this movie is an actual hotel you can go visit, that’s scary.

Violence/Gore: ★★★✩✩ (3/5)

The biggest violence/gore scenes in this movie are played in the flashbacks or flash forwards, which are brief. But, there still is a good share of violence, especially from Jack in this movie.

Overall Rating: ★★★★✩ (4/5)

This movie is honestly terrifying. Though, I didn’t give it a full 5/5 just because of how long it was. Multiple scenes were dragged out for way longer than they needed to be. But, I guess it was worth it because they scared me more the longer they went on for. This movie follows Jack Torrance who moves into an isolated hotel with his wife and son for the winter to take care of it while it’s closed. Over the course of time, a sinister presence takes over Jack and forces him into violence while the son (Danny) sees extremely disturbing forebodings from the past and future. The whole concept of this movie is terrifying, especially knowing that the hotel in the movie is real, and you can go visit it. One of the biggest scary factors of this movie was the music; It was loud, high pitched, constantly built up, and played in scenes where scary moments didn’t even happen, making it all the more suspenseful. This movie had such an eerie feeling throughout, and I always felt very creeped out.