Horror Movies

A Horror Movie Breakdown by Sub-Genres

Though I used to hate Halloween due to my insecurities and hatred of everything, ever since I decided to write about movies, it became the most anticipated month of the year. It is fun to watch horror movies every night and write about them. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to write dozens of articles and lists. Yet!  

So what is better than speaking a little bit about everything? Here’s my breakdown of the top films of different horror sub-genres, each with three honorable mentions. For this list, I concentrated on movies from the twentieth century. Here’s the list of modern horror films. Follow us on each social media linked in our About page.

So, dress as your favorite character, and let’s watch some good old scary flicks. 

Classic Horror

All the films in this list are considered classics. However, let’s call classic to those films that preceded all the following modern sub-genres. It’s any film released until the 1960s that scared people during the golden age of the film industry.

Häxan (1922)

Director: Benjamin Christensen

When I think about classic movies, I think about laying the groundwork for everything else done ever since. No other film fits that description than 1922’s Swedish horror essay film, Häxan. This documentary-style film recounts all the superstitions surrounding witchcraft from the Middle Ages to the early last century. 

As if it were a written essay, director Benjamin Christensen composed this dissertation in different parts. Each scene visualizes his thoughts in an eerie and graphic manner. Several countries banned it for depicting nudity, perversion, and (God forbid, even today) anti-clericalism. 

You can watch this masterpiece on the Criterion Channel.

Honorable Mentions:

  1. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Director: James Whale
  2. Vampyr (1932), Director: James Whale
  3. House On Haunted Hill (1959), Director: William Castle


Following the golden, let’s talk about the supernatural. The movies either won’t let you sleep at night or will cause you to fight the demons and entities you watched in your dreams. 

The Exorcist (1973)

Director: William Friedkin

There is no other supernatural-themed movie as influential as 1973’s The Exorcist. The film Your Religious Leader Warned You About follows the mother (Ellen Burstyn) of a possessed girl (Linda Blair) seeking help from two Catholic priests. Even today, it’s as disgusting, scary, and unsettling as when it was released 50 years ago. 

The Exorcist is still one of the most horrifying movies ever made, but there’s more to it than that. This movie is also about motherhood and faith. A cast of amazing actors portray characters that tell themes through their astonishing performances. 

Honorable Mentions:

  1. The Shining (1980), Director: Stanley Kubrick
  2. Suspiria (1977), Director: Dario Argento
  3. Poltergeist (1982), Director: Tobe Hooper


There are some classic movies for indulging in grotesque-looking flesh-eaters we all love to watch. Inspired by the Haitian voodoo zombie myth, as chronicled in films like White Zombie and I Walked With a Zombie, the modern zombie movie focuses on undead humans eating and infecting each other. 

Thankfully, what started as films rooted in colonialism and slavery morphed into all sorts of social commentary. And it all started with our pick. 

The Living Dead Trilogy

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Dawn of the Living Dead (1978)

Day of the Living Dead (1985)

Director: George A. Romero

Yes, you can call it cheating. We are including all three original George A. Romero films as our for the best Zombie movie. Night of the Living is not only where the modern zombie started. It is also the first movie to have a black man in a leading role, regardless of race. (A fact often argued since Sidney Poitier previously played nonspecific characters in The Bedford Incident and Duel at Diablo) Duane Jones’s performance elevated the film to a racial commentary towards the film’s ending. A closing scene that’s still chilling due to the racism issues in our society.  

Often considered the best of the trilogy, Dawn of the Dead is a metaphor for consumerism by taking place in a mall. Inside the consumerist haven plagued by zombies, we see racism, religious morality, and even anti-natalism in one of the most hard-watching scenes in any zombie flick. 

Day of the Dead might not be as popular as the previous two, but it is as relevant. Romero continues to make social commentary with a movie about an underground military installation where scientists work on a cure for the zombie plague. The final installment bears the question of how much power the military has. Philosophical themes in the movie are civility, hubris, and humanity. The zombie subjected to the testing is one of the most compelling characters in the subgenre. 

To watch the entire trilogy, you must view them in sequence, and you can do so on Apple TV.

Honorable Mentions: 

  1. Zombie (1979), Director: Lucio Fulci
  2. Re-Animator (1984), Director: Start Gordon
  3. The Return of the Living Dead (1985), Director: Dan O’Bannon

Next Page: Slashers, J-Horror, and Giallo


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