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Best Classic Horror Movies for 2022

CableTV.com’s horror experts recommend 73 classic horror movies every spook-show fanatic needs to see—and tell you where to stream them.

Welcome, blood fans, to the first iteration of CableTV.com’s guide to the best classic horror films. Our experts combed through their collections and picked out 73 essential silver-screen spookies for you to watch this Halloween and tell you where to stream them (in some cases, for free).

Watch this space for more content—‘cause if there’s one thing horror fans love, it’s a sequel (tee-hee). Don’t worry; we won’t lay the equivalent of another A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge on ya.

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Check out our guide to the Best Streaming Services for Horror Fans to learn where to find the best new and classic horror movies for the best price.

28 Days Later (2002)

Rotten Tomatoes critic score Rotten Tomatoes viewer score
87% 85%

It’s not the first movie to feature running zombies, but Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later was the first to make them rabid, raging runners that never get pooped. That gave horror nerds a nice, chewy controversy: are infected, speedy, shrieking zoms like these the same as the shuffling, moaning gut-gobblers from conventional zombie movies?

Answer: They’re not—but 20 years later, the debate rages on.

Stream 28 Days Later free with ads on HBO Max™ or rent it from Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, or VUDU.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Rotten Tomatoes critic score Rotten Tomatoes viewer score
95% 84%

Where were you when you first heard “One, two, Freddy’s comin for you . . .”? I was home alone, in the dark, trying to prove I was a big boy and didn’t need a babysitter. And the last line of the rhyme—“Nine, ten, never sleep again”—messed me up. For a while, anyway.

Soon, like many people, I was cuckoo for Freddy Krueger’s killer claws and snarky one-liners. Six sequels, two documentaries, a TV series, and a remake later, Freddy’s a household name.

Stream A Nightmare on Elm Street (and all of its sequels) free with ads on HBO Max or rent it from Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+.

Alien (1979)

Rotten Tomatoes critic score Rotten Tomatoes viewer score
98% 94%

The isolation of deep space is scary enough. Then something jumps on a guy’s head, eats through his helmet, and fertilizes his face, leading to the unhappiest birth ever.

You can’t forget the first time you see facehuggers and chestbursters do their freaky thing. And you certainly don’t forget seeing your first full-grown, slobbering xenomorph. Especially if you recall Alien’s legendary tagline: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

Stream Alien free with ads on Freevee, Plex, or Tubi. Or rent it from Amazon Prime Video.

American Psycho (2000)

Rotten Tomatoes critic score Rotten Tomatoes viewer score
68% 85%

What’s scarier than a sociopathic ‘80s yuppie with a fire axe who gives an extemporaneous critical analysis of Huey Lewis and the News while chopping up another yup?

Okay, the scene is more funny than scary, mainly since Patrick Bateman’s (Christian Bale) butchery is over business-card envy.

But American Psycho’s dark humor is what makes the film chilling. The ‘80s ushered in an ongoing epidemic of greed and mental illness in this country, and many of us treat it as a joke. We might as well be laying down plastic sheets and sharpening the axe.

Stream American Psycho on HBO Max. rent it from Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, or VUDU.

Pro tip: Skip American Psycho II: All-American Girl. It sucks.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Rotten Tomatoes critic score Rotten Tomatoes viewer score
89% 85%

In the 40+ years since its release, no one has made a better werewolf movie than John Landis’s horror comedy.

It’s a simple story: A werewolf attacks two wisecracking American college kids trekking through the English countryside. One dies and must walk the Earth in limbo unless he can convince the other—who’s cursed to survive as a hairy, hangry monster—to kill himself before the next full moon.

So what makes American Werewolf the alpha werewolf flick? It’s as funny as it is scary—and it’s pretty effin’ freaky. Plus, even if you haven’t seen the film, you may already know about its groundbreaking practical effects, like the fantastic transformation scene.

An American Werewolf in London is also full of surprises, like cameos (Muppet man Frank Oz and The Young Ones’ Rik Mayall), a tender love story, and excellent performances.

Stream An American Werewolf in London on Amazon Prime Video, Philo, or the Roku Channel. You can also rent the film on Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Rotten Tomatoes critic score Rotten Tomatoes viewer score
86% 56%

The Blair Witch Project is hot garbage with a dirty diaper and bad breath. But when it came out in 1999, it was a phenomenon. It sold tons of tickets and seriously scared many people. It also, for better or worse, kickstarted the found-footage genre.

But 1999 is the Dark Ages compared to now. In the ensuing 23 years, a bazillion copycat movies and paranormal reality shows beat found footage to death. Or we figured out that if only one of these unearthed ghost stories were true, it would’ve dominated the news and caused panic in the streets.

Still, what The Blair Witch Project accomplished was impressive for its time (the Dark Ages). But in 2022, it sucks. It’s annoying, gives us motion sickness, and is only marginally more frightening than The Worst Witch.

Many people still like it, though (there’s no accounting for taste).

Stream The Blair Witch Project on Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, or Peacock. Or rent it from Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+.

Pro tip: Good found footage movies exist. Try Creep (2014) for laughs and, uh, creeps. If you have a strong stomach, scope out the extra-gory Cannibal Holocaust. And, if you have something to prove, try Guinea Pig 2: Flower of Flesh and Blood.

Blood Feast (1963)

Rotten Tomatoes critic score Rotten Tomatoes viewer score
38% 44%

The blood at this feast looks like foamy red paint, and the severed limbs look rubbery—but Herschell Gordon Lewis (aka the Godfather of Gore) paved the way for practical effects wizards like Rick Baker, Tom Savini, and KNB EFX.

Also, it was 1963. Film studios weren’t exactly throwing money at movies like Blood Feast, where an Egyptian caterer serves human flesh to appease a goddess.

But a good horror fan suspends disbelief in the face of questionable practical effects. That is unless the blood and guts are awesomely bad—in which case, they’re actually good. (That’s some quantum film theory for ya.)

Stream Blood Feast on the Arrow Player and Xumo, or rent it from Amazon Prime Video or VUDU.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Rotten Tomatoes critic score Rotten Tomatoes viewer score
96% 89%

German Expressionist silent films of the 1920s—including this film, Nosferatu, The Golem, and others—established the angular, contrasty, distorted visual style you see in many modern horror movies. Caligari was an incredibly creative example of these elements, which used lighting and fantastical set pieces to create imagery that could’ve influenced Dr. Seuss. And the story—written after the first World War and therefore brimming with anxieties about absolute power and unstable leadership—is relevant today.

Stream The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari on AMC+, Shudder, or Tubi and many other free services. Or rent it from Amazon Prime Video.

Pro tip: AMC+ includes Shudder, so don’t sign up for both. The only drawback is that you’ll have to use the AMC+ app, which isn’t as fun or intuitive as the Shudder app.

Candyman (1992)

Rotten Tomatoes critic score Rotten Tomatoes viewer score
79% 62%

Bernard Rose’s adaption of Clive Barker’s short story makes you doubly uncomfortable. The film deals with racism and white privilege—discomforting but essential topics—while the vengeful ghost of a lynched enslaved man eviscerates anyone who summons him. But the two-pronged discomfort is as compelling as it is disturbing.

Tony Todd is positively captivating as Candyman. He combines the seduction of Count Dracula (dig that booming, petrifying voice) with the brutality of Michael Myers as he uses his hook to split his victims “from groin to gullet.”

And actually, Candyman’s tragic backstory introduces a third prong of discomfort. Despite his victims’ innocence, you’re kind of rooting for him. And a tiny part of you wants to look in the mirror and say his name five times—which, of course, could spell your doom.

Stream Candyman on AMC+, Peacock, or Philo. Or rent it from Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+.

Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Rotten Tomatoes critic score Rotten Tomatoes viewer score
65% 61%

If you see only one 1980s Italian cannibal movie, this is the most classic and notorious.

Be warned, though: Cannibal films aren’t for every horror fan. Certain scenes will hurt your heart if you’re an animal lover or a vegan. And then there’s the whole cannibalism thing, which will make your tummy shimmy.

Watch for the classic shot where you can see a tribal woman who’s been made into a corndog (batter-less, though, cause the tribe observed a strict keto diet).

Stream Cannibal Holocaust AMC+, Fandor, Screambox, or Shudder. Or rent it from VUDU.

Pro tip: If you’re tired of cooking, or you’re just not sure what to serve for dinner on cannibal movie night, we’re here to help with our guide, the Best Takeout Meals for Cannibal Movie Night.

More classic horror movies to stream

Best classic horror movies FAQ

What are the best streaming services for classic horror movies?

Shudder has the most classic horror movies, so we recommend it as the best horror streaming service. But Arrow Player and Full Moon Features also have a great selection of classic horror movies.

Where can I watch classic horror movies for free?

Tubi has an incredible library of classic horror movies, including many from the VHS era, all streaming free with ads.

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