There’s no denying that scary movies have changed over the decades. Just look back at classic horror movies like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Fly. While these films certainly hold a place in the evolution of terrifying cinema, it’s easy to see that a significant paradigm shift has occurred since the release of the first horror film, The Haunted Castle, in 1896.
Of course, “different” doesn’t necessarily mean “inferior.” In fact, the following streaming classic horror movies still get significant airtime in the modern world. If you haven’t had a chance to enjoy these legendary flicks, now is your chance to change that. After all, we should all know how our favorite genre skyrocketed to the mainstream.
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
If you’ve been keeping up with the horror movies on Tubi added every month, you may have stumbled across House on Haunted Hill. there’s a good chance you quickly scrolled by upon realizing it wasn’t the 1999 version featuring Famke Janssen (Dark Phoenix), Geoffrey Rush and Taye Diggs.
If that’s the case, you missed out on one of the best classic horror movies in existence. Not only does its IMDb rating dominate that of the remake (6.9 vs 5.7), but it also tells a similar story of people staying in a haunted building overnight for a cash prize. This means you’re getting a story similar to the remake – just much, much better.
You can watch House on Haunted Hill free on Tubi. And for those who need a little more motivation, the Rifftrax version with the MST3K guys is also on the platform.
The Vampire Classic Horror Movie: Nosferatu (1922)
When it comes to classic horror movies, it doesn’t get much more classic than Nosferatu. The film was one of the earliest to feature vampires as supernatural beings. Additionally, it’s credited with creating the vampiric weakness of being destroyed by sunlight. This was obviously altered a bit in Twilight, but we can ignore that and just see what Pattinson does with Batman.
The fact that Nosferatu is even available to stream is a blessing considering its history. Due to its likely infringement of the copyright of Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel, all reels of the film were ordered to be destroyed. In 1994, it was finally restored by using the five remaining copies that manage to survive the destruction.
This classic horror movie is currently in the public domain, so you can easily find it available for free on YouTube, Tubi and a variety of other online streaming services.
The Old Dark House (1932)
Many of the best horror movies on Shudder are modern classics and new releases. If you dive into the Shudder Essentials or Foundations of Horror sections, though, you’ll find a 1932 release titled The Old Dark House. You’ll also find it in the Queer Horror section. This is thanks to the openly gay director and a few other elements that are obvious throughout the film.
Seriously, check out the synopsis:
“Driving through a brutal thunderstorm in Wales, three travelers take refuge in an eerie house owned by the Femm family. Reluctantly admitted by Horace Femm, the three sit down to a strange dinner. Horace is neurotic; mute butler Morgan is an alcoholic; and Horace’s sister, Rebecca, raves about chastity. When the storm brings in an industrialist and chorus girl Gladys DuCane Perkins, Morgan’s lust and Rebecca’s ire are ignited.”
Come on – their last name is Femm. You can imagine how many rules of the 1930s were broken by this film even existing. To add to this awesomeness, you’ll also find the legendary actor Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Body Snatcher) in the lineup. Head on over to Shudder to enjoy this classic horror movie!
I Walked With A Zombie (1943)
If your knowledge of classic zombie movies only extends back to Night of the Living Dead, you’re missing a significant portion of the subgenre’s foundations. Prior to the modern zombies that we know and love, the genre originally centered around living individuals who lose control over themselves because of voodoo magic.
This film follows that same template, but we’re thinking the crossroads guard might actually be dead. Of course, this is never confirmed in the movie. Either way, this classic horror movie has a stellar 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Unfortunately, we haven’t found any reputable free streaming services that offer it.
As of right now, you can rent the film on Amazon, Vudu (no relation) and Apple TV for around two bucks. Trust me, this foundational movie is worth it.
Spider Baby (1968)
As of this writing, the one-year anniversary of Sid Haig’s death is only days away. That’s why we couldn’t let this list of classic horror movies finish without mentioning Spider Baby. As you might guess from the youthful babyface that Sid is sporting in the movie, he was still in his 20s when the film was released in 1968.
It’s important to note that this movie didn’t make the list simply out of reverence of a great lost actor. It has a rating of 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and is one of the last films with horror icon Lon Chaney Jr. You might know as the only actor to play Count Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man.
This classic horror movie is another free streaming horror film you can find on Tubi. If you have Amazon Prime, though, you can enjoy it without commercials.
Classic Horror Movie Bonus: The Haunted Castle
This list is over, but did you think we’d leave you hanging on the first horror film ever? No way! The Haunted Castle is in the public domain, so it’s always streaming on YouTube. And at just three minutes long, you can get your historic horror fix in no time. Enjoy!
Let Us Know What Classic Horror Movies We Missed!
Each of these films holds a special place in horror history, and their appeal has managed to survive over time. While there are countless other classic horror movies out there, these are the most significant that are currently streaming. As a fandom with expansive tastes, though, there’s no doubt our readers might disagree.
With that in mind, tell us in the comments about your favorite classic horror films and where they can be streamed!