Classic horror films to watch this Halloween

5 minutes



From jump scares to macabre costumes and eerie soundtracks, horror films are perfect for the Halloween season. This is the reason why audiences are eagerly on the lookout for good horror films when October comes around. Here, we’ll discuss some of the top retro horror films that you can watch with friends and family members this season.

Before diving in, we should define “retro horror” and, more specifically, what we understand by retro horror films. “Retro” is typically known as being the styles and fashions of those in the past. The terms is often associated with nostalgia. In other words, retro films are films that have a nostalgic quality to them and seem somewhat old-fashioned.

They may use and play with old Hollywood cinematic techniques, reference and imitate past films, and/or base themselves on more traditional storylines. If they are not trying to imitate or recreate a past film and style, then the film can also be called a ‘classic’ in the sense that it established the foundations of a particular cinematic style.

In this article, we will mostly be referring to classic horror films that were the first of their kind and paved the way for other films to follow. We will be referring to these films as retro classics. Most retro classic horror films were released in the mid-late 1900s. This was a period during which many directors and producers began to experiment with the horror genre to find new ways to surprise and scare audiences.

Some made films with jump scares and visually shocking images while others played with the psychological effects of horror and created, as you may have guessed, psychological horror films. Horror is a very interesting genre because not all audiences share the same fears and phobias. Some may respond more to jump scares than others for example.

Some horror films were successful because they played with a cultural or geographical fear shared by a whole community. However, those same films may not be successful in countries and cultures where individuals do not experience those fears. Regardless, some horror films manage to overcome these cultural obstacles and to become universally popular. We shall now present some examples of the best retro horror films.

Psycho (1960)

Directed by the iconic Alfred Hitchcock, this film is a must-see for any film aficionado. It is one of the most important films in the history of cinema and is often regarded as one of the best cinematic works of all times.

The film is set for the most part in a remote motel where strange murders take place. Most people will already know the ‘shower scene’ which is one of the most recognisable scenes in the history of cinema. This film was also selected by the American Library of Congress for preservation in the US’s National Film Registry.

Most famous quote: “Well, a boy’s best friend is his mother”.

Jaws (1975)

This cult retro horror film, directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg, is worth a watch. It was so significant in the history of cinema that it was selected by the American Library of Congress for preservation in the US’s National Film Registry as a piece that was “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

The film’s success had a huge impact on the film industry and encouraged Hollywood to pursue the blockbuster business model further. The film’s premise is quite simple: a huge great white shark begins to attack swimmers in a US beach town.  Most people will already know the film’s cult music theme which has entered popular culture and is regularly referenced in other works.

Most famous quote: “We’re going to need a bigger boat”.

The Shining (1980)

The Shining, based on Stephen King’s eponymous novel, was directed by Stanley Kubrick, one of the most respected directors in the history of cinema.

Just as with the other two films, it was selected by the American Library of Congress for preservation in the US’s National Film Registry. It stars Jack Nicholson who plays Jack, an aspiring writer and an off-season hotel caretaker. Jack moves into the hotel with his family to spend the winter season. Soon enough, strange things begin to happen.

Most famous quote:Here’s Johnny!”

Retro horror films not only shaped and impacted the film industry, but they also influenced other sectors. The success of these films prompted many industries to offer products that reference these classic horror films.

For example, there are many games, including pokies games, that are centred around horror film themes. For example, there is an online pokies game that is Dracula-themed and references not only Bram Stoker’s literary work but also Coppola’s film. Many online pokies providers offer retro horror film themed games and players can also take advantage of the no deposit free spins that most pokies providers offer to trial out these spooky games. There are also horror-themed board games such as: “A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Game”, “Dracula: The Game”, “The Shining: The Game”.

The success of retro horror films is also present in TV series. Producers are looking to make more series that are horror-based. For example, the TV series “Stranger Things” is a good example of that growing trend. The series is imbued with 80s nostalgia and references many retro classic horror films from the 20th century. The success of the series is encouraging more producers to produce similar content.

In this article, we’ve discussed and presented three of the most famous retro horror films. There are plenty of other iconic horror films which could not be covered in this article. We hope you enjoy these films and that they help you get into the Halloween spirit.

Founded in 2010, CineVue’s team of passionate cinéastes are working to bring you reviews of the latest cinema releases, as well as features, interviews and international film festival coverage.


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