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The Best Old Horror Movies 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated March 10, 2020 33.6k votes 3.7k voters 300.9k views 115 items

List Rules Only classic horror movies released BEFORE 1960.

The best old horror movies include classic scary films designed to terrify. Early horror movies tapped into our deepest fears of the unknown, combining compelling, unique stories with outstanding character acting. Whether it's zombies, ghosts, vampires or other supernatural creatures, this list of old horror movies includes some of the greatest frightening films ever made. Be sure to vote for your favorites, and add any older horror movies that are missing.

Modern horror movies are great, but they have nothing on the classics. In fact, many of the modern-era scary films are remakes of the famous movies listed here. Some of the common sources for these classic old horror movies include novels and folktales about frightening monsters (Dracula and Frankenstein are good examples). Some of the horror movies listed here are silent films, but that doesn't mean they aren't as scary - not at all. Both Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari are extremely creepy movies, even without sound.

What makes for a truly outstanding horror movie? Bottom line, it scares the living daylights out of us by tapping into some dark, primal fear we have. The best older horror movies manage to chill, thrill and terrify by exposing us to monsters -- both real and imagined. If you're looking to delve into classic horror movies, this is a great place to start. The films here are innovative, popular and downright horrifying.

For more spooky fun, check out these lists of the best horror books and 13 horror movies and the 'true stories' they're based on and of course, the greatest horror films ever made!

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1
Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Boris Karloff, John Boles, Colin Clive

Released: 1931

Directed by: James Whale

Frankenstein is a 1931 horror monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling, which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by ...more

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2
Dracula is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning, Carla Laemmle

Released: 1931

Directed by: Tod Browning, Karl Freund

Dracula is a 1931 vampire-horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. The film was produced by Universal and is based on the 1924 stage play Dracula by ...more

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#108 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books #73 of 847 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #14 of 85 The Best Movies Based on Plays

3
Nosferatu is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Max Schreck, John Gottowt, Alexander Granach

Released: 1922

Directed by: F. W. Murnau

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens is a 1922 German Expressionist horror film, directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. The film, shot in 1921 and released ...more

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#679 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #76 of 847 The Best Horror Movies Of All Timelisted on List of Silent Movies

4
The Wolf Man is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Bela Lugosi, Claude Rains, Lon Chaney

Released: 1941

Directed by: George Waggner

The Wolf Man is a 1941 American drama horror film written by Curt Siodmak and produced and directed by George Waggner. The film stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as a werewolf named "The Wolf Man" ...more

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5
Bride of Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Boris Karloff, Walter Brennan, Billy Barty

Released: 1935

Directed by: James Whale

Bride of Frankenstein is a 1935 American horror film, the first sequel to Frankenstein. Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and stars Boris Karloff as The Monster, Elsa Lanchester ...more

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6
Creature from the Black ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Richard Carlson, Richard Denning, Julie Adams

Released: 1954

Directed by: Jack Arnold

Creature from the Black Lagoon is a 1954 monster horror 3-D film in black-and-white, directed by Jack Arnold and starring Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno and Whit ...more

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7
The Mummy is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Boris Karloff, Edward Van Sloan, Noble Johnson

Released: 1932

Directed by: Karl Freund

The Mummy is a 1932 horror film from Universal Studios directed by Karl Freund and stars Boris Karloff as a revived ancient Egyptian priest. The movie also features Zita Johann, David Manners ...more

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8
House of Wax is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Carolyn Jones

Released: 1953

Directed by: André de Toth

House of Wax is a 1953 American 3-D horror film about a disfigured sculptor who repopulates his destroyed wax museum by luring people and using their wax-coated corpses as displays. It stars ...more

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9
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Fay Wray, Merian C. Cooper, Bruce Cabot

Released: 1933

Directed by: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack

King Kong is a 1933 American fantasy monster/adventure film directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose was from an ...more

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10
The Invisible Man is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, Una O'Connor

Released: 1933

Directed by: James Whale

The Invisible Man is a 1933 science fiction film based on H. G. Wells' science fiction novel The Invisible Man, published in 1897, as adapted by R. C. Sherriff, Philip Wylie and Preston Sturges, ...more

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11
House on Haunted Hill is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Vincent Price, Richard Long, Elisha Cook

Released: 1959

Directed by: William Castle

House on Haunted Hill is a 1959 American horror film. It was directed by William Castle, written by Robb White and stars Vincent Price as eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren. He and his fourth ...more

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#103 of 847 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #21 of 114 The Best Intelligent Horror Movies #8 of 20 20 Of The Most Entertaining Haunted House Movies Ever Made

12
The Phantom of the Opera... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Lon Chaney, Norman Kerry, Mary Philbin

Released: 1925

Directed by: Lon Chaney, Edward Sedgwick, Rupert Julian, Ernst Laemmle

The Phantom of the Opera is a 1925 American silent horror film adaptation of Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, directed by Rupert Julian and starring Lon Chaney, Sr. ...more

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13
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Fredric March, Wallace Beery, Miriam Hopkins

Released: 1931

Directed by: Rouben Mamoulian

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1931 American Pre-Code horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, ...more

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14
Invasion of the Body Sna... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Dana Wynter, Sam Peckinpah, Carolyn Jones

Released: 1956

Directed by: Don Siegel

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1956 American black-and-white science fiction film produced by Walter Wanger, directed by Don Siegel, and starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. The film ...more

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15
Freaks is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Wallace Ford, Edward Brophy, Roscoe Ates

Released: 1932

Directed by: Tod Browning

Freaks is a 1932 American horror film in which the eponymous characters were played by people who worked as carnival sideshow performers and had real deformities. The original version was ...more

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16
The Blob is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Lee Payton

Released: 1958

Directed by: Irvin Yeaworth

The Blob is an independently made 1958 American horror/science fiction film directed by Irvin Yeaworth. In the style of American International Pictures, Paramount Pictures released the film as a ...more

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17
The Curse of Frankenstei... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Hazel Court

Released: 1957

Directed by: Terence Fisher

The Curse of Frankenstein is a 1957 British horror film by Hammer Film Productions, loosely based on the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It was Hammer's first colour horror film, and the ...more
18
The Thing from Another W... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
James Arness, Paul Frees, George Fenneman

Released: 1951

Directed by: Howard Hawks, Christian Nyby

The Thing from Another World is a 1951 American black-and-white science fiction/horror film produced by Howard Hawks' Winchester Pictures Corporation, released by RKO Pictures, and directed by ...more

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19
The Cabinet of Dr. Calig... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Conrad Veidt, Lil Dagover, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski

Released: 1920

Directed by: Robert Wiene

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 German silent horror film, directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist ...more

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20
Horror of Dracula is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling

Released: 1958

Directed by: Terence Fisher

Dracula is a 1958 British horror film directed by Terence Fisher, based on Bram Stoker's Dracula. In 1885, Jonathan Harker is a vampire hunter who seeks to destroy Count Dracula by infiltrating ...more
21
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
jonathan-guerra added Vincent Price, David Hedison, Herbert Marshall

Released: 1958

Directed by: Kurt Neumann

The Fly is a 1958 American science fiction-horror film produced and directed by Kurt Neumann. The screenplay was written by James Clavell, from the short story of the same name by George ...more

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22
The Hunchback of Notre D... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Lon Chaney, Ernest Torrence, Raymond Hatton

Released: 1923

Directed by: Wallace Worsley

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1923 American film starring Lon Chaney, directed by Wallace Worsley, and produced by Carl Laemmle and Irving Thalberg. The supporting cast includes Patsy Ruth ...more

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23
The Pit and the Pendulum... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Tommie Thomas added Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, Charles Victor

Released: 1961

Directed by: Roger Corman

The Pit and the Pendulum is a 1961 horror film directed by Roger Corman, starring Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, John Kerr, and Luana Anders. The screenplay by Richard Matheson was based on ...more

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24
The Hound of the Baskerv... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, John Le Mesurier

Released: 1959

Directed by: Terence Fisher

The Hound of the Baskervilles is a 1959 British gothic horror and mystery film, directed by Terence Fisher and produced by Hammer Film Productions. It is based on the novel of the same name by ...more
25
White Zombie is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Old Horror Movies
Bela Lugosi, Clarence Muse, Madge Bellamy

Released: 1932

Directed by: Victor Hugo Halperin

White Zombie is a 1932 American independent Pre-Code horror film directed and produced by brothers Victor Halperin and Edward Halperin. The screenplay by Garnett Weston, based on The Magic ...more

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