The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1919 (German)
Genre: German Expressionist
Known for:The twist ending.
It ended and started a decade. Dr. Caligari is one of the best known and best reviewed early horror films. While researching this film some places said 1919 others said 1920 but I do know that I haven’t seen many films pre 1920 so Its best that I use this great film to start off this post. The first time I heard of Dr. Caligai was via a horror documentary. I heard about it more recently through my father who is a great lover of silent films. This film is said to have introduced the twist ending something that’s common in horror and suspense films.
Nosferatu 1922 (German)
Genre: German Expressionist Horror.
Known for: Nosferatu is an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stokers Dracula. The studio could not obtain the rights to the film.
Starring: Max Schreck as Count Orloc
After Stokers heirs sued a court ruling ordered that all copies of this film be destroyed. One copy survived however and Nosferatu has gone on to be one of the most influential and highly regarded horror films of all time.
When I was a little girl I stumbled upon this film by accident. I walked it to the living room while my dad was off talking on the phone. Nosferatu was on the television and I came in on the most popular scene. Count Orloc rises from his coffin and ascends the stairs. I remember running out of the room terrified. The rest is history.
Freaks 1932 (American)
Known for: Freaks had a cast of real circus performers.
Tod Browning began his career in the circus and this film is inspired by some of his experiences. Two “normal” looking people scheme to steal the inheritance of one the “Freaks”.
After watching this film for the first time I feel like a part of me had changed. It’s a film that really makes you think. Looks don’t make a person a freak or a monster it is there personalities that make them monsters.
Cat People 1942 (American)
Genre: Atmospheric, Suspense.
Known for: Cat People popularized the Lewton Bus effect.
Cat People was a Val Lewton picture that raised far beyond the limitations of most b pictures. Irena is a woman who believes she descends from a race of people that turn into cats when they become sexually aroused.
I had heard of this film thinks to my father and several horror documentaries. A few years ago I watched Cat People for the first time and was very pleased with the whole film most notably the atmosphere.
Them! 1954 (American)
Genre: Science Fiction
Known for: Being the first big bug film. It was among the nuclear monster films popular in the 1950’s.
Them starts off as a suspense film. Police investigate suspicious deaths. The giant ants are not seen until a third of the film has passed. They are heard before being seen adding to the suspense.
I had the pleasure of seeing this film for the first time on a big screen while at school. I wasn’t very interested in these types of films prior.
Peeping Tom 1960 (British)
Genre: Voyeurism, Early Slasher, Thiller
Known for: Highly regarded as the first slasher Peeping Tom ruined the career of its director Michael Powell.
Peeping Tom is the story of a serial killer who stalks and records his victims so he can keep their expressions of terror. Peeping Top now enjoys a cult following.
I saw this film for the first time in the past year or two thinks to TCM.
Halloween 1978 (American)
Known for: Popularizing the American slasher film.
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode Halloween is a independent horror film Directed, Written and composed by John Carpenter. Some have criticized this film by saying that encourages Sadism and Misogyny.
Halloween ranks in my top five. I saw this film for the first time when I was around ten years old. I immediately fell in love with the genre.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 (American)
Genre: Slasher, Supernatural
Known for: Freddy Kruger
A severally burnt man haunts the dreams of teenagers. He kills them while they sleep. Nancy fights back after loosing her friends to the monster inside her dreams. She learns secrets about Elm Street.
After I was done watching this film my mom entered my room and scared me as payback for all the times I scared her.
The People Under the Stairs 1991 (American)
Genre: Comedy Horror
Known for: Having an African American kid as it’s protagonist.
A young boy goes to rob the slum lords of his apartment when he comes across the disturbing life’s they lead. There are people under the stairs that have resulted to cannibalism to live. Fool meets the crazy couples daughter and roach a boy who lives in the walls. They help protect him.
I heard of this film several times before giving it a proper chance. I am glad I did.
The House of the Devil 2009 (American)
Genre: Haunted house and slasher elements. Satanic panic.
Known for: Set during the early 1980’s
The House of the Devil makes it easy to forget you are watching a modern film. A college sophomore strapped for cash takes a babysitting job at an old house in the middle of nowhere. While there she begins to suspect that the residents didn’t tell her the truth.
I was recently introduced to this film. It has quickly became a favorite of the genre.
Current recent favorite.
We Are What We Are 2013 (American)
Known for: An American Remake of a Mexican film of the same name.
After the matriarch of a family of cannibals die her young daughters must take up where she leaves off. They are saddled with a domineering father whose health is failing.
I knew I wanted to see this film I just didn’t know why. I was attracted to this films interesting mystique so I gave it a shot via Netflix and I am glad that I did.