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HORROR movies you SHOULD SEE at least once

There are horror movies that every self-respecting moviegoer needs to see at least once in a lifetime.

Michalina Peruga

2 June 2023

HORROR movies you SHOULD SEE at least once

I list a number of horror classics from various subgenres of horror, pointing to the more iconic productions, as well as those less known, which are also certainly worth watching. Here are six horror movies you must watch at least once.

At least one silent horror: Nosferatu (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens), 1922

nosferatu max schreck

Filmmakers from various countries in the era of silent cinema eagerly reached for horror films. Such excellent films as the Swedish The Phantom Carriage (1921), the Swedish-Danish Witches (1922), the American Phantom of the Opera (1925) and the Japanese A Page of Madness (1926) were made at that time. Horror owes much to the achievements of German expressionism – it was in the 1920s that many iconic productions were created that defined the genre: Golem (1920), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) or Nosferatu (1922). The latter, the work of Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, is certainly one of those horror films that you have to watch at least once. Although with changed nomenclature, as well as the names of the characters, the film is an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s famous novel Dracula. Expressionist set design, play of light and shadow, excellent acting by Max Schreck and pioneering portrayal of a vampire – disgusting, emaciated, with long claws – make Nosferatu a horror must-see.

At least one sci-fi horror: Alien (1979)

alien chestburster

Horror and science fiction have been a successful marriage for a long time, resulting in horror films about outer space that threatens man, about space inhabitants who come to Earth, failed scientific experiments or mysterious viruses and diseases decimating humanity. A monster movie, or movie about monsters, is a big part of science fiction horror. Its origins are associated with the cult character of the Frankenstein monster created by the writer Mary Shelley in the famous novel, successfully transferred to the screen many times since the days of silent films. It is also such films as The Mummy (1932), King Kong (1933) or The Invisible Man (1933). In the post-war years, when fear of nuclear war was widespread, cinema in the 1950s and 1960s saw a flood of films about monsters resulting from failed nuclear experiments, including the American One! (1954) or the famous Japanese series about Godzilla or Mothra. But cinema didn’t create its most terrifying monster until the late 1970s. Taking inspiration from several science fiction monster movies from the 1950s and 1960s, Dan O’Bannon wrote the screenplay that Ridley Scott turned into one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. The figure of the Alien, a bloodthirsty Xenomorph combining the features of a human, reptile and insect, who kills all the passengers of the Nostromo spaceship one by one, will certainly be the scariest creature that cinema has created for many years to come.

At least one found footage horror: Blair Witch Project (1999)

Blair Witch Project

Found footage – a way of shooting a film so that it seems that it is an authentic, amateur handheld recording – is a technique that has worked exceptionally well in horror cinema. It was first used in the 1980 Italian cannibalistic horror film Cannibal Holocaust from 1980. The found footage technique combined with drastic scenes of violence and murders made many viewers believe that it was a snuff film, i.e. one that depicts real scenes of murder or rape. In horror, the found footage technique returned almost 20 years later, in the cult horror Blair Witch Project about a group of students who venture into the woods to shoot a graduation film about a witch from local legend. After the huge success of the film, many more or less successful found footage horror films were created: Paranormal Activity (2007), [REC] (2007) or Creep(2014).

At least one occult or satanic horror: Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Rosemary's Baby

Satan, witches, devilish possessions, exorcisms, mysterious rituals, summoning ghosts, orgies, black magic, spells, symbols, supernatural phenomena – all this makes horror films dealing with occult or satanic themes one of the most interesting, able to draw handfuls from the entire repertoire of phenomena and themes. Over the years, several types of films from this subgenre have emerged – about the rebirth of the Antichrist (Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, Prince of Darkness), about sects worshiping Satan (Rosemary’s Baby, The Devil’s Bride or The Devil’s Eye with Sharon Tate), about witches and their powers (The Witches from 1922, The Mask of Satan by Mario Bava, Suspiria by Dario Argento or The Witch: A New England Folk Tale by Robert Eggers) or folk horror movies (British Wicker Man from 1973, Midsommar). Of these titles, Roman Polański’s Rosemary’s Baby is worth watching at least once, because it’s not only an excellent horror film, but also a great psychological film about a young woman who, after moving to a new apartment and becoming pregnant, senses that her neighbors have impure intentions and gradually becoming paranoid.

At least one Polish horror: Medium (1985)

medium zelnik

Little is said about Polish horror, and if it is, it is in a tone of contempt. Meanwhile, apart from mouse-cracking productions like I like bats (1985) by Grzegorz Warchoł, much better horror films have been made in the country on the Vistula River. In addition to contemporary attempts to face horror, such as Demon (2015) or Tower. A Bright Day (2017), one of the most interesting examples of Polish horror, apart from the popular The Wolf (1982), is Medium (1985) by Jacek Koprowicz. It is a horror film with an excellent cast – Jerzy Stuhr, Grażyna Szapołowska, Władysław Kowalski, Michał Bajor, Jerzy Zelnik and Ewa Dałkowska play in it. Medium is an occult horror story about strange events that happen to several different people at the same time.

At least one Asian horror: Kwaidan (1964)


Asian horror is a brand in itself. The popularity of The Ring (1998) made the Americans sense the potential and quickly started creating numerous remakes of Japanese horrors, making them famous all over the world. The most popular movies are: The Ring (2002), The Grudge (2004), Dark Water (2002) and its remake Dark Water – Doom (2004) or Shutter (2004), and every horror fan should watch each of them them at least once. However, it is worth remembering that Asian countries have a long history of horror films, which were made long before the success of The Ring. The Ghost Story of Yotsui (1959), The Devil Woman (1964), The Black Cat (1968) – these are just some of the many great horror films from years ago. However, every horror fan should see Kwaidan at least once, a Japanese gem directed by Masaki Kobayashi. The Japanese word kwaidan means a traditional tale of ghosts and supernatural phenomena. In a surreal, fairy-tale setting, Kobayashi brought four horror stories from Japanese folklore to the screen.

Michalina Peruga

Michalina Peruga

Film scholar, art historian and lover of contemporary horror cinema and classic Hollywood cinema, especially film noir and the work of Alfred Hitchcock. In cinema, she loves mixing genres, breaking patterns and looking closely at characters.

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