While modern contemporaries, like clever and Midsommar, did their best to terrify audiences in glorious technicolor, there’s still something to be said for the era of black-and-white movies. Many feature films from early cinema are still as scary today as they were then. There’s a reason many call them classics.
Although audiences and cinematic techniques have changed over the decades, the desire for stunning cinema has not diminished in the least. Thanks to the abundance of streaming services available on all devices, horror fans and movie buffs have their pick of vintage horror and slow-motion scares anytime.
The Lighthouse (2019) Stream on Amazon Prime
Not every black and white movie has to come before the color movie era, sometimes it can be as recent as 2019. Robert Eggers’ Lighthouse was intentionally shot in a very vivid monochrome to establish a sort of stark, contrasting style for its visuals to match its dark storyline.
In a mix of psychological and eldritch horror, the film delivers a twisted and isolated experience that leaves audiences wondering what is real and what isn’t. The stellar performances of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are also worth watching as this mind-blowing and murderous plot unfolds.
White Zombie (1932) Stream on Tubi and Pluto
Believe it or not, there was a time when zombies weren’t just bags of toxic flash and slime, as seen in AMC. Walking Dead. Considered by many to be the first zombie motion picture, this bizarre and over-the-top production starring Bela Lugosi helped establish zombie horror as a genre.
In the film, Bella Lugosi plays a sinister voodoo master who turns his victims into his zombie minions. Although the plot is a bit haphazard at times, Lugosi and his zombies are the reason to watch this film, especially if the viewer is looking for a taste of horror history in the process.
The Tingler (1959) Stream on Tubi and Pluto
Any horror movie starring Vincent Price is bound to be good, and that’s certainly true of The Tingler. In the film, Vincent Price plays a pathologist who discovers a parasitic creature that lives at the base of the human spine where it feeds on fear. It is only when its host is able to scream that it is kept at a distance. Throw in a murder plot and a classic William Castle gimmick and it’s a classic example of campy horror.
While the film is certainly more absurd than scary, fans of Vincent Price and kitschy, clichéd horror films will have plenty to admire. Simply put, it’s one of those movies that’s just plain pleasantly ridiculous.
The Dark Old House (1932) Stream On Tubi
By modern standards, The dark old house follows many standard horror tropes, but that’s only because it was one of the first to establish them. A group of travelers are caught in a terrible storm and are forced to spend the night in a spooky old mansion with a cast of shady characters. it’s practically a tale as old as time.
The film is perhaps most notable for giving Boris Karloff one of his first iconic horror roles as Morgan, the creepy old butler. At its core, the film is a dark comedy with a heavy emphasis on tone and atmosphere. It’s perfect for late night viewing on a dark and stormy evening.
Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922) Aired on HBO Max
Although some may disagree, silent era movies can also be scary. Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, as the title might suggest, is a silent film about demons, occult rituals and other related stuff. It doesn’t have a plot so much as it’s a collection of vignettes and scenes. However, the images and effects used in the film are nothing short of nightmarish.
Scenes of witch trials, human sacrifice and dealings with the devil all live up to this nightmarish fuel display. It’s certainly impressive for the era in which it was created.
Black Sunday (1960) Stream on Tubi
Vampires, witches, torture and demonic magic are what shape the plot of Black Sunday. It’s a movie worthy of a Hammer Horror production, and it’s a gothic tale that any fan of the genre would absolutely devour. For something released in 1960, it’s loaded with graphic and disturbing themes.
The film opens with the brutal execution of a witch and her accomplice and follows a traditional, almost Dracula-like the plot from there. It’s a good movie for those looking for something as dark as it is traditional.
The Phantom of the Opera (1925) Stream On Tubi, Pluto, & Crackle
the original The Phantom of the Opera was one of the most iconic horror villains to ever grace the silver screen, and Lon Chaney’s performance and makeup were both enough to scare some audience members out of the theater. It’s an important piece of horror history, and it can be viewed for free.
While more fans may be familiar with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, it was Chaney who set the bar. It was a movie that helped define the genre and it’s as weird as it is tragic. It’s no wonder so many people consider it the definitive version of the Gaston Leroux story.
Godzilla (1954) Stream on Amazon Prime
The kaiju genre, as fans know it today, wouldn’t even exist without the King of the Monsters himself, Godzilla. The original film set the bar for just about every kaiju movie that followed, and served as the starting point for one of cinema’s longest-running monster series.
In the ’50s, Godzilla rose from the depths and devastated Shinagawa in the original Japanese classic, delivering a classic formula that followed him through the first series. Monster movie fans won’t want to miss this groundbreaking film.
House On Haunted Hill (1959) Stream on Pluto, Tubi and Amazon Prime
House on the haunted hill has everything a viewer would expect from a vintage horror movie – ghosts, mystery, a quirky cast of characters, and even a Vincent Price performance to tie it all together. As campy as it is creepy, it’s arguably the face of the vintage horror genre.
An eccentric millionaire, a cast of seven guests, and a house full of ghastly gadgets and dark secrets are all the movie needs to deliver a memorable horror experience. Easily one of Price’s most memorable films, it’s a cult horror masterpiece available on a variety of platforms.
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