As we revel in the spirit of Halloween, our appetite for indulging in classic horror films only grows. Here, we’ve handpicked the cult-classics we return to time and time again for their enduring characters and an original scare-factor unlike any other – historic horrors that shaped the industry for decades to come.
Alfred Hitchcock, 1960
Perhaps one of the most legendary horror films of all time, Alfred Hitchcock created a chilling masterpiece that went on to win Academy Awards. When Phoenix-based secretary Marion Crane stops at the Bates Motel after stealing $40,000 from her employer, she meets its suspicious and ever-so-slightly creepy owner, Norman Bates. After Crane is murdered by a shadowy figure in the shower scene that made history, the story unravels into the perfect nightmare. Psycho has been declared countless times as a work of art, and we’re not inclined to disagree. The close-ups and camera angles evoke a sense of vulnerability, paired with a score that is nothing short of unsettling, before closing with a scene that will be engrained in your memory forever; one which we will revisit repeatedly with as much enthusiasm and dread as the first time.
Wes Craven, 1996
While young Drew Barrymore will always have our attention, the real hook in Scream is the satirical underbelly of the otherwise violent slasher film. Credited with revitalising the horror industry, the twisted and dark humored plot follows high-school student Sidney Prescott (and a mysterious masked killer) as she navigates her peer group to escape, and ultimately uncover, the serial murderer in her midst. Wes Craven’s modern take on a horror classic will have you cautiously laughing the way through.
Brian De Palma, 1976
In the legendary rendition of Stephen King’s Carrie, Brian De Palma creates a morbid and vicarious cinematic masterpiece centred on the shy and awkward Carrie White and the discovery of her first period, alongside newfound Telekinesis powers. Grappling with vicious high-school bullying and a psychotic mother, White’s powers spiral out of control when her emotions get the best of her after a particularly humiliating night at the prom, resulting in unforgettable carnage. Loaded with King’s subtext on female and sexual power, Carrie is a must-watch in horror history.
Silence Of The Lambs
Jonathan Demme, 1991
Will we ever think of Chianti the same again? An enduring classic – young FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) enlists an incarcerated, psychopathic genius cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to help her find a missing girl and catch a serial killer. Lecter is both disarmingly magnetic and terrifyingly animalistic in character, lending to the twisted and eerie nature of the plot so well that his character has often been deemed the most memorable maniac to grace screens since Norman Bates.
Tobe Hooper, 1982
Albeit a bit cheesy with its dated special effects, Poltergeist remains a haunted house classic as it follows the narrative of a perfect nuclear family being tormented by paranormal chaos. For those uninterested in murderous thrillers and lean towards the lighter side of horror, Poltergeist remains compelling and suspenseful without the gore of its cult counterparts – offering up an ending of respite amidst the sinister mayhem that occurs.
Nightmare on Elm St
Wes Craven, 1981
A plot that preys on our deepest fears, Nightmare on Elm St concerns four teenagers living on the same street who are tormented in their dreams and in reality by a disfigured man with a blade fixed work glove by the name of Freddy Krueger. Director Wes Cravens mid-80’s spine-chilling and disturbing adaptation of what was based on a true story still ensures at least one sleepless night and an enduring horror icon that has gone on to see a dedicated franchise of sequels.