Friday, March 30, 2007

Ten Great Horror Pictures from the Beginnings of Cinema Through World War II

The Black Cat (1934, Edgar G. Ulmer)
The Body Snatcher (1945, Robert Wise)
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920, Robert Wiene)
Faust (1926, F.W. Murnau)
Freaks (1932, Tod Browning)
Nosferatu (1922, F.W. Murnau)
The Old Dark House (1932, James Whale)
The Seventh Victim (1943, Mark Robson)
Vampyr (1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer)

I have limited myself to two Val Lewton pictures (The Body Snatcher and The Seventh Victim), although all nine of his RKO horror films would be clear candidates for inclusion. Universal's monster pictures come immediately to mind for American audiences when thinking of horror films of this period, and I confess a personal weakness for these productions. I have included three Univeral films, although only Bride of Frankenstein falls into the classic monster movie mode. Three silent movies are represented, including two by the great F.W. Murnau, and Carl Theodor Dreyer's first sound picture, Vampyr, is practically a silent as well. Finally, Tod Browning's Freaks, with its unabashed embrace of grotesquerie, may be the greatest of them all.

A second ten:
The Black Room (1935, Roy William Neill)
Cat People (1942, Jacques Tourneur)
The Devil-Doll (1936, Tod Browning)
The Golem (1920, Paul Wegener, Karl Boese)
I Walked with a Zombie (1943, Jacques Tourneur)
Mad Love (1935, Karl Freund)
The Man Who Laughs (1928, Paul Leni)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925, Rupert Julian)
White Zombie (1932, Victor Halperin)
The Wolf Man (1941, George Waggner)

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