Suggested Horror Films

"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1919)
Often heralded as one of the best examples of the silent era, the film is second only to "Metropolis" (1928) as one of the best examples of German Expressionism. Director Robert Wiene, was forced by studio executives to tack on a beginning and ending to his film that contradicted its central anti-government message, oddly enough it makes the movie even scarier!
"The Golem" (1920)
The most accurate and famous of the Golem films. The plot is deceptively simple, Rabbi Loew has created a giant Golem from clay in order to save the Jews of 16th century Prague from persecution by Rudolf II. But the best laid plans of mice and Rabbi's do not always work. The Rabbi's assistant thwarts all of his god intentions by taking control of the Golem and ordering it to perform criminal acts. An astounding piece of cinema the film features some of the best special effects and cinematography captured on film during the silent era.
"Nosferatu" (1922)
F. W. Murnau's mesmerizing depiction of the vampire myth is as beautiful as it is horrifying. This is the first, and in many ways the best, film version of Bram Stoker's novel. Max Schreck, the vampire in the film, features some genuinely scary rat-like fangs and some of the creepier claws ever features on screen. When combined with Murnau's use of low-angle shots they make Schreck loom up on the screen like a 25-foot-tall nightmare. This guy could scare anyone! Murnau's grim, spare depiction of the period produces some genuinely haunting images, (watch for the sequence which depicts an endless series of crosses chalked onto an endless row of plague houses). This silent film makes brilliant use of Freudian psychology and its subject matter lends itself to the German Expressionist method of depiction.
"The Phantom of the Opera" (1925)
Featuring the redoubtable Lon Chaney this is a great rent for contemporary Phantom fans as well as for people with an appreciation of special makeup effects. By now the story is fairly familiar, for years there had been rumors of a mysterious phantom lurking in the dungeons of the famous Paris Opera House. The phantom remains nothing more than a rumor until he falls in love with and eventually abducts a young singer Christine. He subsequently becomes her instructor, providing Christine with the gift of song with the hopes of winning her love. But will she love the disfigured monster? Chaney is wonderful here perfectly capturing the moods of the film's tortured title character.
"Dracula" (1931)
Bela Lugosi reprises his theatrical role for Universal Studios in this classic early talkie. Lugosi is wonderful as Dracula from his depraved glare to his slicked back black hair, this Hungarian was born to play Dracula. Lugosi was so identified with this role that when he died in 1956, he was buried with his Dracula cape. The film's pacing is undeniably slower than contemporary horror films but it remains visually stunning and historically significant.
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1931)
Director Rouben Mamoulian's Oscar wining film features Fredric March as the films title character(s). Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's story which focused on the duality of human nature via it's examination of the life of Dr. Henry Jekyll. Jeckyll, who believes that there are two distinct sides to men - a good and an evil side seeks to isolate them through the use of drugs. He succeeds in his quest ultimately only to fail as the diabolically evil Mr. Hyde goes on a criminal rampage of diabolical proportions. March is wonderful as both Jekyll and Hyde and ultimately won the Oscar for best actor for his performance in this film.
"Frankenstein" (1931)
James Whale's classic retelling of Mary Shelley's novel. In many respects this is the best version of the classic novel, it is certainly one of the most powerful. Audiences of the time were shocked and horrified by the films theme and special effects. A must see for any one who loves horror films and classic monster movies. For a good double feature combine a showing of this with Mel Brooks affectionate retelling of the story "Young Frankenstein" (Brooks was inspired by both of James Whales Frankenstein films).
"Bride of Frankenstein" (1935)
Director James Whale's macabre fantasy is even better than its predecessor the previously mentioned "Frankenstein". This film was truly more visually stunning than the original, featuring some genuinely nifty sets and some nice humorous touches. Boris Karloff is superb as the monster and Elsa Lanchester is great fun as his some what less than enthusiastic mate. This is worth watching if only to marvel at Lanchester's amazing hairdo (which director Whale personally designed for her. Hey it may not have made AFI's list of the 100 best films but it did make TV Guide's list of the 50 Greatest Movies on TV and Video.
"The Wolf Man" (1941)
The Wolf Man, Dracula and Frankenstein are considered some of the most notable horror classics ever produced. In this version Lon Chaney Jr. plays the wolf man in a role that was originally slated for Boris Karloff. Luckily for Chaney, Karloff was unavailable and this role provided a boost to Chaney's career. Although the wolf man has frequently appeared in Hollywood films, including "The Howling" and "An American Werewolf in London", it was this 1941 classic that started it all.
"Cat People" (1942)
When Irena, a beautiful and mysterious Serbian fashion artist falls in love with and marries Oliver Reed you would think that they were destined for happiness - wrong - this is after all a horror movie. No sooner are they married than she reveals her belief that she suffers from an ancient curse. It seems that whenever she is emotionally aroused, she thinks that she will turn into a panther and kill. Needless to say their marriage suffers. Her husband thinks that is ridiculous and sends her to a psychiatrist Dr. Judd to cure her. And if you think that this is going to work, well all we can say is, you don't watch too many horror movies do you?
"I Walked With A Zombie" (1943)
A young nurse comes to the West Indies to care for the wife of a plantation manager who seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever. When the nurse falls in love with the husband she is determined to cure the wife even if she must resort to a voodoo ceremony in order to give her love what she thinks he wants. Just how bad is this film? Watch for the disclaimer at the beginning in small letters at the bottom of the screen which reads, "The characters and events depicted in this photoplay are fictional. Any similarity to any persons, living, dead, OR POSSESSED, is entirely coincidental.
"The House of Wax" (1953)
Vincent Price, stars as the co-owner and operator of a wax museum filled with exquisite historic figures. When his partner announces his plan to burn the place for insurance Price is enraged and refuses. In spite of this his partner succeeds in setting off a blaze which destroys the museum and horribly disfigures Price who is reduced to nothing less than a crazed monster. In an attempt to return to his former occupation Price then roams the city looking for victims to complete his new museum. Price's performance is excellent! The first feature produced in 3-D by a major studio this movie is definitely worth watching in a theater with your friends. That way you have an opportunity to make fun of them cowering from objects projected from the screen.
"The Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954)
Half man and half fish this amphibious creature from the black lagoon was one of the inspirations for Steven Speilberg's "Jaws". Director Jack Arnold was a master when it came to creating a brooding, menacing atmosphere on a low budget and he is at his best here. If at all possible see this film in its 3-D version as opposed to the standard black and white version available in video stores. The creature was played under the water by Ricou Browning who had to hold his breath for five minutes at a time during filming (the tight fitting costume did not have enough room for an aqualung).
"The Curse of "Frankenstein" (1956)
Notable because it marks a shift away from the popularity of science fiction and towards the increasing popularity of horror films, this movie is also notable for its changing depiction of the monster. A radical departure from James Whale's classic depiction of the monster in his 1931 film this features a new look for the monster (the copyright for Jack Pierce's monster make up for the previous film was owned by Universal so the studio enlisted the services of Phil Leaky to design a new look). This wasn't the only difference - not only is this film in color it also focuses on the monsters creator rather than on the creature itself. The film stars Hammer studios masters of the macabre Peter Cushing (Baron Victor Frankenstein) and Christopher Lee (The Creature).
"Dracula" (1958)
Director Terence Fisher's "Dracula" is more faithful to the original novel than any of the previous incarnations of the blood sucking wonder. Hammer studios is at its Gothic best in this film, which is replete with all the gore and sensuality that lies at the core of the vampire myth. One of the most financially successful films ever produced in England (it cost only 900,000 to produce), it reportedly has the highest profit to cost ratio of any film ever produced in Great Britain. This is the film that launched Peter Cushing (Van Helsing), Christopher Lee (Count Dracula) and director Terence Fisher's careers as master's of the cinematic macabre.
"The Mummy" (1959)
You know the drill, when three British archeologists discover the grave of an Egyptian priestess they open it only to have a curse fall on them for having disturbed the temple's guard. Director Terence Fisher brings youthful enthusiasm to this remake of the Boris Karloff classic. Christopher Lee is the resurrected guardian out to wrack revenge on archaeologist Peter Cushing.
"The Fall of the House of Usher" (1960)
Vincent Price is at his best in this Edgar Allen Poe adaptation from director Roger Corman.
"The Birds" (1963)
Hitchcock's environmental thriller pits massive flocks of birds against a town full of horrified human's who can not understand why man kinds feathered friends are so unhappy with them. Guess they never heard of DNA. This marks the debut of Tippi Hedren (Melanie Griffith's mom). After watching this film you will never look at a flock of birds in the same way again.
"Rosemary's Baby" (1968)
Mia Farrow stars in this harrowing story of a woman who definitely moved into the wrong apartment. During the course of the film she will discover that other people have strong ideas about her child's future. Roman Polanski 's genuinely horrifying film undoubtedly served as the inspiration for film's such as "The Exorcist".
"The Exorcist" (1973)
Arguably the scariest film ever made, "The Exorcist" is, at its heart, the ultimate showdown between good and evil. Director William Friedkin's depiction of the demonic possession of a young girl (Linda Blair) is as shocking as it is mesmerizing. Jason Miller is wonderful as the soul searching priest who comes to the child's rescue. The film received 9 Academy Award nominations and won for best screenplay and sound effects. WARNING: This film is NOT for the faint of heart and as the saying goes "Small children and pregnant women should definitely think twice before seeing this film.
"The Omen" (1976)
"It's all for you Damien" this film owes much to "The Exorcist" and even more to its stars believable performances particularly Gregory Peck's portrayal of a father who can not believe that his son could be the Anti-Christ. Directed by Richard Donner.
"Halloween" (1978)
The original semi-mainstream slasher film launched the career of Jamie Lee Curtis and made a household name out of the film's knife wielding antagonist Michael Myers. A low budget film, it cost only $325,000 to film, it has grossed over $47million. Not bad for a film that had only one major star Donald Pleasence and a relatively unknown (at the time) director, John Carpenter.
"Friday the 13th" (1980)
The film that made a Halloween costume out of hockey masks also made a household word out of Jason. This film takes a page from all of it's low budget predecessors liberally stealing plot points and cinematic techniques from virtually all of them. Frequent horror film goers will appreciate the eerie music, foolish young people and wonderfully gory effects (by schlock master Tom Savini).
"Poltergeist" (1982)
"They're here. " If E.T. represented Steven Speilberg's dreams then "Poltergeist" is definitely representative of his nightmares. You will never go to sleep with the television on again after watching this film!
"The Evil Dead" (1982)
Bruce Campbell stars in this cult classic that pays tongue in cheek homage to the science fiction and horror films of yesteryear. Directed by Sam Raimi the film's plot is fairly simple when five friends go to a cabin in the woods they encounter an unspeakable evil. It may not be Shakespeare but when you consider that the budget for this film was only $50,000 this is a well made film! Rumor has it that Investors were initially unhappy with the film's comedic overtones. They have undoubtedly changed their minds, by 1988, they had achieved a 150% return.
"A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984)
Freddie' s back and there is going to be trouble! This film plays like a combination of every nightmare you ever had and every nightmare anyone ever told you about. Wes Craven, the master of the low budget film, turns in a horror film with a sense of humor, if your tastes run to this sort of thing. On a lighter note the film that the movie's hero watches to stay awake is the cult classic The Evil Dead. This film also marks the debut of Johnny Depp.
"Silence of the Lambs" (1991)
It is unusual when a horror or science fiction film gets nominated for an Academy Award. It is even more unusual when it wins! This one did. "Silence of the Lambs" not only won best picture it also brought home the best actor and actress awards for its two stars Anthony Hopkins and Jodi Foster. When youthful FBI agent Clarice Starling is assigned to locate a woman who has been kidnapped by a psychopathic serial killer who skins his victims she solicits the help of psychopath Hannibal Lecter, who was at one time a respected psychiatrist.
"Wes Craven's New Nightmare" (1994)
Before there was "Scream" there was "Wes Craven's New Nightmare." The film, which also features a cameo performance by director Craven, has the original cast from "A Nightmare on Elm Street" reunited to make another Freddie movie when something goes horribly wrong. In many respects this is a better movie than "Scream." Certainly the film's premise, which has Craven turning his nightmares into a screenplay only to see them come true, is novel. The fact that you also get to see the director on screen along with the original survivors is also a bonus.
"Scream" (1997)
Wes Craven got it right when he cleverly and craftily mocked the horror film genre with this groundbreaking and entertaining film. Of course the value of this films lies in its ability to mock itself and, indeed, the entire genre. Take this film for what it's worth and enjoy the formatted performances of the likes of Neve Campbell and Courntey Cox. This movie is a rip-off version of every horror flick in history, it knows it, and it flaunts it shamelessly. Enjoy! (Reviewed by Amy Brown)

"The Mummy" (1999)
Director Stephen Sommers and the crew at Industrial Light and Magic serve up an Indiana Jones style version of Universal Studio's 1932 horror classic. This one stars Brendan Fraser as Rick O'Connell, a French Foreign Legion soldier who inadvertantly discovers the legendary city of Hamunaptra - a place only the dead can love, and one he can hardly wait to escape from. He later returns to the city at the behest of Evelyn, an aspiring archeologist (Rachel Weisz), where upon she awakens Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) and things go from bad to worse. Dazzeling special effects from ILM and lots of good old fasioned scares make this film scarey but suitable for anyone over the age of 13.