Horror movies are often considered to be a form of superficial entertainment, but that’s not a very fair judgment, especially if we are talking about classical films of the past century.

Some filled with picturesque landscapes and references to gothic novels, others barely hinting at something that is – or isn’t? – supernatural, they all play tricks with your mind without being in-your-face about it.

Here are some representatives of such almost-gone attitudes to this genre: they may not make you jump in your seat, but will nevertheless lure you into the world of mysteries and wonders.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963)

Often considered the first giallo movie (giallo being a subgenre that mixes elements of horror, thriller, and exploitation), Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much is a noir-ish black-and-white story about a girl who witnesses a crime in the center of Rome. However, no one believes her account, and the crimes continue, now revolving around the only witness. It’s a beautifully thrilling film where you won’t see any blood, but silhouettes, shadows, and whispers will still make you shiver. 

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

German expressionist films of the 1920s overall are a great start if you feel like exploring the world of spooky visual art without being especially traumatized. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, one of the most influential ones, is considered to be among the very first movies to exploit the protagonist’s point of view to display the reality the way they perceive it, not the way it really is (which is the essence of the expressionist method). This, plus an untrivial plot, fantastic decorations, and Conrad Veidt’s iconic performance, makes the story of Dr. Caligari and his somnambulist one of the era-defining movies that remains impressive to this day.

Blood and Roses (1960)

Blood and Roses is based on the novel Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu and tells the tragic story of a female vampire. The movie, however, ventures even further from whatever might pop into your head when you hear “a vampire story.” There will be no pale men turning into bats and no grinning mouths with bloody fangs. Barely anything that can make you certain that it really is about a vampire takes place. Instead, the score is melancholic rather than spooky, and there is a sensation that something is off, but neither the characters nor the viewers are certain what is. 

We hope this list will inspire you to give old-school horrors with their many angles a chance. Alternatively, check out our other movie-related articles, such as From Screen to Life: A Movie Guide to St. Petersburg and Russia on Film: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.