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A blast from the past.
If you’re looking for classic movies on Hulu, you might need to lower your expectations. Hulu doesn’t have as many old movies as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or even YouTube, but the ones it does offer are pretty great. Here are the best classic movies on Hulu when you need a blast from the past.
The best classic movies on Hulu
1) The Exorcist
No film encapsulates the hopelessness and terror within a parent when an unknown ailment plagues their child quite like William Friedkin’s demonic classic. Looking back, it’s easy to forget how long The Exorcist takes before it becomes evident the devil is involved. When all hell finally breaks lose, the profane monstrosity within young Regan is brought to life by a terrifying, once-in-a lifetime performance by Linda Blair. You’ll never look at your child’s imaginary friend the same way again. —John-Michael Bond
Heathers is a comedy about school shootings, and while that may be a hard sell, it’s still a great movie. You would think that growing sensitivity and cultural turmoil would’ve made it unwatchable in the years since it came out, but on the contrary, this black comedy works because of its take on today’s hot-button issue. Watching Heathers in the context of our national conversation about bullying actually makes it an even more interesting experience.
3) Raging Bull (with SHOWTIME add-on)
Raging Bull is one of those movies that’s almost intimidating to approach, because it’s so revered. And to be sure, Martin Scorsese’s 1980 masterpiece wows from the first few seconds, when Jake LaMotta ducks and weaves like a dancer in slow-motion. This is of course saying nothing of Robert De Niro’s Oscar-winning take the boxer, an unstoppable, almost animalistic performance that more than lives up to the movie’s name. Yes, Raging Bull may not be a casual watch, but it does demand to be reckoned with.
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4) Carrie (with STARZ add-on)
Brian De Palma went on to make plenty of other iconic films (Scarface, The Untouchables), but 1976’s Carrie may still be his best. For one thing, De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s debut novel has more interesting female characters than pretty much any movie he’s ever made. All of De Palma’s usual hyper-stylization is still here, from split-screen to slow-motion, but Carrie doesn’t let any of that style get in the way of the characters. Sissy Spacek’s performance as Carrie White is an iconic portrait of pent-up teenage sexuality gone awry, and Piper Laurie remains one of the horror genre’s scariest, non-supernatural monsters. Skip the 2013 remake. If you’ve never seen the original Carrie, do yourself a favor and watch this masterpiece about the horrors of high school today.
5) Blue Velvet
David Lynch’s 1986 film is, like so many of his films, a dream committed to screen, and it’s easy to see why it shocked audiences back then. Kyle MacLachlan stars as Jeffrey, a fresh-faced college student who (pre-Twin Peaks) starts doing some detective work after finding a severed ear while back in his hometown. This leads him to a singer named Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) who welcomes him into her unhinged world—one filled with deviants, violence, and Dennis Hopper huffing gas. —Audra Schroeder
6) RoboCop (with Cinemax add-on)
Some satires apply only to the time in which they were made while others become more prescient every year. Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop, from 1987, is set in a futuristic Detroit where the city has nearly collapsed (too real), everything is owned by massive corporations (too real), and controlled by a militarized police force (way too real). Peter Weller plays an injured officer that police force brings back from the brink of death to protect the city as a weaponized cyborg. RoboCop has a lot of cheesy effects and some seriously campy moments, but its mix of Frankenstein-like philosophy and politically charged themes ensure it holds up, debatably even better than the 2014 remake.
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7) The Pink Panther Strikes Again (with STARZ add-on)
The Pink Panther Strikes Again is the third film in Blake Edwards’ famous comedy franchise, and while it’s definitely not the best in the series, it’s definitely not the worst either (looking at you, Steve Martin remake). This installment finds Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau facing off against the villainous Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) after he escapes from a mental institution. Sellers is obviously the main draw here, though Henry Mancini and Don Black’s original song “Come to Me” was nominated for an Oscar.
8) The Furies
As a general rule, classic film lovers should be willing to watch anything with Barbara Stanwyck in it. In this Western from 1950, she plays a fiery heiress who clashes with her difficult cattle-rancher father. When another woman enters his life, their relationship takes a turn for the worse. Director Anthony Mann may be known to subscribers of the Criterion Collection, which this film is currently included in.
9) The Tall Stranger
Some of the post-Civil War tropes at the heart of The Tall Stranger don’t hold up in 2018. That said, there’s still a lot that works about this 1957 Western following a Northern officer trying to help a group of former Confederate soldiers. Chiefly, there’s the great chemistry between leads Joel McCrea and Virginia Mayo, whom classic movie lovers will likely recognize from titles such as Sullivan’s Travels and Foreign Correspondent, and The Best Years of Our Lives and White Heat, respectively.
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10) A Man Alone
Most people probably remember Ray Millard from films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, and Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend. What many don’t know is that he was also a director who made several films in the ‘50s and ‘60s including this Western. His first movie behind the camera, A Man Alone also stars Millard as a gunfighter forced to go into hiding when he is accused of taking down a stagecoach.
11) The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (with STARZ add-on)
The spaghetti western to end all spaghetti westerns. The third and final film in director Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood’s Dollars Trilogy follows three lawless gunslingers in their own personal gold rush during the American Civil War. Between the tense duels and dramatic long shots, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has everything you’re looking for, including another iconic score from Ennio Morricone. —Austin Powell
The best noir film not made in black in white, there isn’t much new one can say about Chinatown at this point. The formidable performances from Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston. The haunting score from Jerry Goldsmith. The twist-filled story and iconic dialog from Robert Towne. Still trying to find a better noir from the last 50 years? Forget it, everybody, it’s Chinatown.
13) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Marilyn will never get the credit she deserved as an actress. Because of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, she will forever own “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friends.” Yet Jane Russell’s witty performance is debatably just as good in this 1953 Howard Hawks comedy. The craziest thing? It’s not even the best film from any of the 3 of them.
Still not sure what to watch on Hulu? Here are the best movies on Hulu, what’s new, the best shows on Hulu, the sexiest movies you can stream on the service, Hulu documentaries, anime, and the must-see Hulu originals.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Chris Osterndorf is an entertainment reporter and movie critic based in Los Angeles. He holds a degree in cinema from Chicago’s DePaul University. His work has appeared on the Daily Dot, Mic, the Script Lab, Salon, the Week, xoJane, and more.