Classic horror movies will never die

Molly Gallegos

Ghastly creatures, ingenious special effects and spiraling plots might entertain audiences of scary films, but the trick to creating a truly frightening horror film lies in the director’s ability to project a sense of reality. In fact, many, if not all, of the most horrifying movies are based on actual events or they revolve around eerily realistic plots. With Halloween just a few days away, The Villanovan concocted a list of the best horror films ever made, based not only on their abilities to instill fear inside viewers, but also on their realistic natures. Please keep in mind, a realistic plot can easily provide a perfect backdrop for expressionistic style and it does not undermine the director’s creative, artistic, or fantastical inventions. Without further ado, we present the top horror films of all time, in no particular order:

“Psycho” (1960) We must first give credit to the master, the director who took the horror genre to an entirely new level: Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock’s “Psycho” demonstrates film in its most artistic form, meshing intricate camera work with hair-raising scenery and a frightening musical score. Based on a novel by Robert Bloch, “Psycho” involves the larcenous Marion Crane and her fatal stay at the mysterious and creepy Bates Motel. The film is most accredited for Hitchcock’s sharp direction and innovative cinematography, which comes to an ultimate crescendo in the infamous shower scene, a 45-second shot that took seven days to complete and 70 camera positions.

“The Exorcist” (1973) Dubbed “the scariest movie of all time,” this William Friedkin masterpiece continues to generate nightmares in old and young alike even 30 years after its release. The idea for the film stemmed from William Peter Blatty’s novel about demonic possession, which he began writing after hearing of an actual exorcism in Washington, D.C. Friedkin’s film version, starring Ellyn Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb and Jack MacGowran, involves inventive special effects and costuming. In fact, the transformation of the young Blair into a horrific demon was quite an undertaking, according to the film’s website ( From the supernatural effects to the powerfully terrifying voice, Blair endured great pains in effectively portraying the plight of a 12-year-old child possessed by the devil.

“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) The sophomore effort of director Roman Polanski, this film adapted Ira Levin’s best-selling novel of the same name to the silver screen. Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon comprise much of the film’s cast and chillingly execute an expressionistic work of art. “Rosemary’s Baby” follows Rosemary, a wealthy newlywed who encounters an abundance of unusual events and later discovers she is the focus of a vicious cult of devil worshippers. Imagery and color serve as Polanski’s major tools of artistry.

“The Shining” (1980) Famous for its incredible acting and complex plot, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” employs gruesome images as a result of artistic direction and camera work. Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd, the film focuses on Jack Torrance, a friendly man who takes an unfortunate job offer as caretaker of the isolated Overlook Hotel in the mountains of Colorado. After a snowstorm traps Torrance, his wife and adolescent son inside the hotel, a force called “the shining” begins to torment the family. Strange hallucinations and eerie occurrences eventually drive Torrance insane. Only a script based on a Stephen King novel and a film directed by Stanley Kubrick could create such a rich and realistic depiction of insanity.

“Dracula” (1992) Though its plot is rather unrealistic, Francis Ford Coppola’s close adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name is nothing short of a classic. A strong cast boasting such names as Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder, Richard Grant and Gary Oldman implements powerful acting alongside Ford Coppola’s creative direction. Although the story of “Dracula” is overly familiar and somewhat overused in today’s society, Ford Coppola manages to capture the audience’s attention and relay the story of a young lawyer’s rendezvous with a vampire in an entirely new light.