Horror films are a dime a dozen, but not many can claim their spots as the best horror movies of all time. Here are the top cult classic horrors you should know about.
#5: The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The film that gave rise to a whole new genre is still just as terrifying today as it was when it was released in 1999. The Blair Witch Project was the first movie to use the ‘found footage’ method of filming, and before its release, it was promoted as being true found footage. This only made it creepier – so much so that thousands of cinema-goers passed out or had to leave the show halfway through!
The story of the film details a group of 3 youngsters who have gone hunting in search of evidence of the legendary Blair Witch. They start to find strange and unsettling artefacts after a while, growing more and more lost as they tear through the forest trying to find the path back home. Ultimately, all the students left behind was their video footage of the horrors they endured, which was made even more authentic through shaky filming, realistic reactions, and tangible fear. This is a classic horror that every fan of the genre should see, but be sure not to let any kids into the room when you do!
#4: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven’s cult classic horror film starring Robert Englund and Johnny Depp is another film that has stood the test of time. Freddy Krueger is a killer that seriously stands out from the rest thanks to his unrecognisably burnt face, his unsettling metal claws, and his ability to taunt his victims both while they were awake and asleep.
The more his victims run, the faster he finds them; this dynamic makes for an excellent but spooky watch. The young characters in the film are highly relatable, and Freddy’s performance is filled with tension and skill as he ticks the teens off his hit list like he’s playing a game of bingo Australia. It’s no wonder that he is one of the most recognisable horror film characters of all time…
#3: The Shining (1980)
The Shining is definitely one of Stephen King’s most popular novels, and Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation paid it the respect it deserved. The film details Jack Torrance’s haunting descent into madness at the isolated Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Mountains. It combines supernatural aspects (‘the Shining’, or a link between consciousnesses of certain characters) with the very real fear generated by Jack Nicholson’s unhinged performance.
As the movie wears on, viewers discover the dark history behind the hotel and the many spirits that haunt it. Were they behind Jack’s breakdown, or was it simply the isolation? Critics are still debating the deeper meaning of this iconic film today.
#2: The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist is legendary in its own right, and is often references in memes, pop culture and comics to this day. The film follows a young girl, Regan, who is possessed by a demon, and the priest who is tasked with exorcising it and reassessing his faith at the same time.
Its special effects might be outdated, but the movie still invokes terror through its storyline that demands that the demon be believed in before it can be defeated. Expect gruesome visuals, uncharacteristically foul language for the time, and a surprise ending that has stuck with viewers for decades.
#1: Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Jodie Foster’s character Clarice Starling is tasked with catching a serial killer with the aid of a cannibal in this cult classic horror-thriller. Anthony Hopkins plays Hannibal Lecter, a highly intelligent and charming but extremely manipulative murderer with a taste for people and fine wine.
Lecter assists Starling in capturing Buffalo Bill – but not without extracting his pound of flesh first. The movie combines psychological tactics with crime-solving, complex emotion and a gritty depiction of mental illness to keep the characters authentic, believable, and utterly gripping.