10 Classic Horror Movies With A Hidden Message Most People Miss

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Undoubtedly, in the film industry, one of the most popular genres of all time is horror. Over the years, these films have left us unforgettable classics and pop culture references, setting the tone for new stories. Being so emblematic, they stay forever in our collective memory, marking a before and after in our personal history. Sometimes, these references have even changed the way we see the world.

The moments experienced in the cinema are so terrifying that in those moments, we often do not realize that we are witnessing deeper messages than what we see at first glance. We are not talking about subliminal messages or anything like that. We are rather talking about social criticism and introspective messages presented in these movies that, at a first glance, were easily overlooked.

Behind all the horror elements, the blood, the scary characters, and all those extremely frightening plots, these classics are deep in social criticism and offer an interesting analysis of humanity. Did you get it?

Dir. Ridley Scott

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Premiered in 1979, this film is more than just the story of a terrifying alien. It is a critic of the economic system that governs much of the world today, and that has been in place for decades, capitalism. In Alien, the biggest threat is not the being from another planet, but the company that captures it, willing to sacrifice all the people hired for this mission so that the alien survives. A fact that endangers all employees who, as the film progresses, put their lives at risk doing all the hard work, while the company in charge only uses them as pawns to complete its mission without getting their hands dirty.

American Psycho
Dir. Mary Harron

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Starring Christian Bale, Patrick Bateman, the psychotic main character, is immersed in the corporate industry, completely alienated; he’s in a way a victim of his circumstances. Some tend to call this film a thriller, while others claim it is a drama. However, this is a horror film, which makes us think a lot about how the nature of the corporate world its dangers. Dealing with issues like corporate greed, obsession, and the dehumanization of the employees, this movie exposes how the system can turn victims into victimizers.

Dir. Nia DaCosta

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The arrival of the new version of this movie, which is a sequel to the original 1992 film, brought us back to the problems addressed in this classic horror film. One clear thing is that not much has changed in the world. Candyman tells the story of a murderer in Chicago. However, the message is deeper and smarter than that. It exposes the systematic violence, racism, and sexist society of the United States.

The Cabin in the Woods
Dir. Drew Goddard

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As it happens with American Psycho, many people put this film outside the horror genre mainly because it has a comic flair. However, it is thanks to its usage of elements that are not ordinary in horror films that we can notice how wisely it addresses subjects that we do not often see in the genre. By the end, we learn that all the terrible events that the characters have faced were manipulated by a group of scientists. This ending leaves us thinking for hours about the reaches of science and how, more than often, it crosses ethical lines in the name of ambition.

Day of the Dead
Dir. George A. Romero

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With an apocalypse as the setting of the story, this film makes us rethink our behavior as a human race. Forgetting everything and everyone, the protagonists of the film fight each other to save themselves and ensure their survival. Civilians, scientists, and soldiers give life to one of the most disturbing but fascinating stories in cinema, which makes us wonder: “what would we do if we were in that situation?” Undoubtedly, it is a film that presents diverse conflicts in a very smart way, and that leaves us with a very valuable lesson for our lives. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
Dir. Jack Sholder

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You might have never noticed, but this movie has a huge homoerotic tint with a lot of subtexts that clash with the morals of its time. The movie came out in 1985 and is now considered a Queer film in every sense of the word. In the documentary Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street, Mark Patton talked about how the film was received, as it addressed issues that were hardly touched on the big screen and more so in horror movies. It is also known that Mark Patton and Robert England played their roles with this in mind, even though the director does not agree with how it was portrayed and on several occasions has expressed his displeasure.

Dir. James Wan

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Before reaching popularity and becoming a synonym of guts, blood, and gore in its maximum splendor, Saw had deep and innovative messages in its first three installments. With a very witty script, this franchise made us doubt and put our morals at stake, presenting us with quite uncomfortable scenarios that put the characters and the audience in front of great moral dilemmas.

Dir. Wes Craven

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After it was parodied by the comedy series Scary Movie, Scream kind of lost some of its seriousness before the audience’s eyes. However, Scream is a masterpiece of horror that changed the genre forever with a mystery in the plot that we had never been seen before. Although some quality was indeed lost in the sequels, Scream kept its intelligent and well-crafted message about Slasher movies.

Shaun of the Dead
Dir. Edgar Wright

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After the rise of zombie movies, in the 2000s came this intelligent film that would bring to the table a new variation in the genre. With time, the film has positioned itself as one of the best zombie films in history. Despite being mostly comedy, the film raises the question of how people would live if zombies existed. The innovative aspect of the movie is that it presents us with the idea that if zombies really existed, people would have to learn to live with them, thus discovering and changing forever the classic lifestyle we lead.

The Shining
Dir. Stanley Kubrick

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The iconic adaptation of Stephen King’s book is one of the most acclaimed movies of the genre. Although King was not that happy with the result because Kubrick changed certain things about the plot, the genius way in which the movie explores the decline in the protagonist’s mental health is out of this world. With Kubrick’s masterful direction, we can see how Jack Torrance’s condition evolves as we get more and more immersed in the narrative of this terrifying hotel.

Now you have a list of movies you could watch over the weekend and really analyze the messages they’re giving to us. But beware, they could change your view of the world forever.  

Cover photo from Entertainment Weekly