The Best Horror Movies to Watch on Halloween
With Halloween just around the corner, everybody’s feeling those spooky vibes. Halloween is a time where we get to be less afraid by acknowledging the things that are frightening. By shining a big, orange and black light on the “things that go bump in the night” we’re able to show how silly they are, and live more full and courageous lives because of it.
…Or we just like to be scared. But let’s be honest, being scared is kind of fun. It’s why even bad horror movies usually break box office expectations.
You may remember that two weeks ago, we published a list of 2017 Trick or Treat / Beggars Night Hours and Safety Tips for Lexington and the surrounding area. If your idea of Halloween fun is more suited toward a quiet night in with some tasty provisions and bone-chilling media, we’ve got just the list for you.
In this list, we want to look at the three scariest films released in every decade going back over 100 years. After all, silent horror films from the 1920s aren’t that frightening now, but at the time they would probably had all of it scrambling under our davenports (which is what they called couches back then).
We’ve helped make choosing which movie(s) to watch easier with our patented Lexington Toyota Scare-O-Meter Ranking. The number of skulls by the film indicates how much it still scares us – from 💀 (not that scary) to 💀💀💀 (we’re jumping in our 2018 Toyota 4Runner and heading for the hills).
Older, public domain films are linked to their Internet Archive page where they can be watched or downloaded.
Without further ado, here are the scariest movies from the last 100 years!
Best Horror Films of the 1910s
Movies in the 1910s were the early arrivals. They were short, lacked audio (often an orchestra would score them live) and could adopt stories from classic literature without there being a precedent for their quality or consistency to source material.
Here are the three best:
Best Horror Films of the 1920s
Although the first “talkie” was released in 1927, this technology wouldn’t hit ubiquity until the 1930s, meaning that all of the films on our list are also silent films. Enjoy!
Best Horror Films of the 1930s
Wide-spread use of synchronized audio became popular in the 1930s, making them even scarier. After all, a sudden door-slamming, jolt of thunder or a loud scream could help draw viewers into the story even further. We know you’ll love these three for this reason!
Best Horror Films of the 1940s
With even greater refinement for audio/visual technology, and more people headed to cinema for World War II news video updates, the 1940s are generally-regarded as the Golden Age of horror. These three movies debuted here!
- The Wolf Man (1941) 💀💀💀
- The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) 💀💀
- Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1949) 💀
Best Horror Films of the 1950s
The robust American economy meant more people could become invested in film, whether that meant opening a studio in Burbank themselves or simply going to see more movies in Norwood. Production juggernauts like Universal Studios enjoyed a heyday in the post-war 1950s. Here are three great horror films from the 1950s!
- The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) 💀💀
- Night of the Hunter (1955) 💀💀💀
- House on Haunted Hill (1959) 💀💀💀
Best Horror Films of the 1960s
If the 1940s were the Golden Age of film, the 1960s are the Silver Age. Advancements in technology, and the ubiquity of television sets in American households, meant more and more people were interested and invested in good storytelling. Names that would become synonymous with horror, like Alfred Hitchcock and George A. Romero, got their start during this era.
It’s hard to find only three films from the 1960s, but the following three do a great job to sum up the decade:
- Psycho (1960) 💀💀
- Rosemary’s Baby (1968) 💀💀💀
- Night of the Living Dead (1968) 💀💀💀
Best Horror Films of the 1970s
Color film introduced an entirely new dynamic for moviegoers in the 1970s. Red light could be used to highlight evil situations/places. The space-race which culminated in the 1969 moon walk also lead to a more somber and dreadful take on science fiction (which had been pretty goofy until we sent somebody to outer space).
From the 1970s on, the content which directors were willing to show also changed. We’re going to attach the MPAA rating to each of these films for your consideration. Also, we can safely assume that all films from here on out are three-skull scary!
- The Exorcist (1973) – Rated R
- Jaws (1975) – Rated PG
- Alien (1979) – Rated R
Best Horror Films of the 1980s
As perhaps the final step from classic cinema to modern cinema, the 1980s provided a high emphasis on special effects. Many horror films from this decade still enjoy pretty amazing cult followings. Here are the best three:
- The Shining (1980) – Rated R
- Poltergeist – Rated PG
- Gremlins (1984) – Rated PG
Best Horror Films of the 1990s
As one of the last decades before wide-spread use of the internet, most of us would tune into Siskel and Ebert before spending $4.50 to go see one in theaters (for reference, the average price of a medium popcorn is now twice that).
Here’s the three best:
- Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Rated R
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – Rated R
- the Blair Witch Project (1999) – Rated R
Best Horror Films of the 2000s
It seems like only a few years ago that we celebrated the arrival of the new millennium, but it’s actually been almost 20! The 2000s brought major special-effects updates through refined CGI, and brought viewers into the production-planning process with the advent of accessible fan communities on the internet.
Here are the best movies that grew from the early 2000s:
- Final Destination (2000) – Rated R
- The Ring (2002) – Rated PG-13
- Paranormal Activity (2007) – Rated R
Best Horror Films of the 2010s (so far)
And here we are, one-hundred years after The Golem ruined a dinner party in 1918. The 2010s will likely be remembered for the heavy crowd-sourced film critiques found on sites like Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic, as well as the availability of movie-making technology that has opened the door for independent films to become high-grossing blockbusters.
Closing out our list of 100 Years of Horror, here are the best three horror movies from 2010 through the present:
- Insidious (2000) – Rated PG-13
- The Babadook (2014) – Rated R
- Get Out! (2017) – Rated R
So there we are, 100 years later and we’re still trying to scare ourselves with movies that tap into the darkest corners of our imagination. While movies these days may be 4K HD with 200.1 surround sound and stories informed by comments on internet forums, the fact that we still flock to the cinema year round to experience fear means horror isn’t likely to go anywhere any time soon!
From all of us at Lexington Toyota, we hope you and your family have a great Halloween season. We’re open our usual business hours on October 31st, so if outdated safety equipment, or poor ride-quality is making your car feel like a horror movie, contact our sales team today!