Only certain types of horror movies are appropriate for Halloween. For example, Jaws is a great horror movie, but for the summer, it's not for the fall with its squashes and rigid trees. Once again, we look at streaming services and face hours of creepy terror to offer you a definitive watch list, 13 titles from the beginning of cinema until 1995.
Check back next week to see our selection of modern essentials.
Hxan – Witchcraft Through the Ages
Directed by Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen, this bizarre and silent film begins as a documentary about witches, but turns into a real and honest horror movie with scary images of demons, possessions, evil spells and more. Hxan (1922) is perhaps one of the first attempts to break the rules, mixing facts, fiction and opinion, and concluding with a condemnation of witch hysteria.
In a bizarre finishing touch, Christensen considered himself the Devil. Criterion Channel offers the silent 105-minute version with music from the Czech Film Orchestra, as well as a 1968 version called Witchcraft Through the Ages, only 76 minutes long, with music by Jean-Luc Ponty and narration by William S. Burroughs. Both are highly recommended.
The Sinister House
English director James Whale made some of Universal's best monster films in the 1930s, including Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and Frankenstein's BrideBut this great movie is not so well known. The Sinister House (1932) finds several travelers trapped during a torrential storm in a creepy house, full of strange behavior and strange secrets. Whale perfectly blends many strangely funny moments with moments of atmospheric chills, and he wraps the whole package in his own slightly slightly eccentric but genuine personality.
Boris Karloff presents an astonishing performance as a mute and brutal servant named Morgan. Charles Laughton chews the scene as the jovial Sir William Porterhouse, and Gloria Stuart – an Oscar nominee 65 years later. Titanic Plays the worried Margaret Waverton.
The Stima Victim
In the 1940s, producer Val Lewton made an incredible series of nine "B" horror films for RKO, each grumpy and literate and based on the idea that terror could be suggested, and not shown. All nine are highly recommended and available on the Criterion Channel. Cat people (1942) probably the most famous, and I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and The Stima Victim (1943) are undoubtedly the best.
She starred Kim Hunter (A Streetcar Named Desire) in her movie debut as Mary, a naive girl who comes to New York to find her missing older sister. Your first clue is an empty room with a single chair placed directly under a loop! It all leads to a secret and sinister cult. Jean Brooks has co-starred as sister witch Jacqueline with Bettie Page bangs and Hugh Beaumont (Leave It to Beaver TV series) plays a man with his own connection with Jacqueline. Mark Robson drives with intense dark stillness.
In the solid of the night
In the solid of the night (1945) was not the first horror anthology movie, but routinely cited as the best and has not lost its power to terrorize. Mervyn Johns plays a man who decides to spend a weekend in the country after being plagued by a nightmare. There he is shocked to meet several people he had already seen in his dream. Everyone starts telling stories, from a silly about two golfers to two extremely scary about a haunted mirror and a ventrloquo doll. Another happens at the children's Christmas party.
There are five stories in total, plus the surrounding and a jaw-dropping end. Directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Robert Hamer and Basil Dearden, this English film has had a troubled past, with segments cut to various releases and falling out of catalog, but has recently been restored to its full glory with beautiful image and sound.
The Black Cat (Kuroneko)
In this great widescreen black-and-white film by Japanese director Kaneto Shindo, a woman, Yone (Nobuko Otowa) and her daughter-in-law, Shige (Kiwako Taichi) are killed by a band of samurai soldiers. Later, their ghosts take revenge by luring the traveling samurai into a beautiful, ghostly house, punching them and killing them. But when a young warrior (Kichiemon Nakamura) sent to stop the ghosts, he finds something surprising. Kuroneko (1968) – The title translates to “black cat” – wears its wide frame with incredible precision, from the rooms of the ghost house to the bamboo forest, where ghost women find their victims; nothing seems out of place or unnecessary. Although the movie isn't exactly terrifying, it has its share of unexpected moments to make you gasp.
See also director Shindo's equally good horror movie, Onibaba (1964), about a haunting mask, and Masaki Kobayashi's essential and scary anthology movie, Kwaidan (1964), both also available on the Criterion Channel.
It is hard to believe that Ingmar Bergman, that Swedish master filmmaker of winter and tormented classics, directed a horror movie, but here it is. AND Wolf Hour (1968) is also quite scary. Max Von Sydow plays Johan Borg, a secluded artist who retires with his wife Alma (Liv Ullmann) to a remote island to work. Scary “neighbors” start bothering you, but are they real? And if they are ghosts of your mind, why can Alma see them too? Some images, like a boy staring at von Sydow while fishing, will haunt him long after.
The movie told in flashback, from Alma's point of view; she speaks directly to the camera and the "film crew" noises can be heard during the opening credits, reminding her from the beginning that only one movie. Bergman is said to have been inspired by some of his own nightmares.
The Night of the Walking Dead
Due to an error, The Night of the Living Dead by George A. Romero (1968) was never legally copyrighted and is now freely available in many places, but the Criterion Channel offers a beautifully restored edition created for its 50th birthday, and Kanopy and Shudder offer clearer, clearer transfers. . One of the best films ever made, it established the thriving zombie genre, including slow zombie crowds (much scarier than the fast ones).
On another level, it provided a microcosm of social unrest prevalent in the country at the time, with an African-American character (Duane Jones) taking charge of the survivors trapped indoors. Among them are Barbara (Judith O'Dea), who becomes almost catatonic with fear, and angry and ineffective Harry Cooper (Karl Hardman). Even after all this time, the film masterfully balances the shrewd development of the characters between humans inside and a threatening and invading horror out there.
Mario Bava was the main master of Italian horror, creating a series of low-budget and humorous shockers, including a newer horror movie, Blood and Black Lace, and inspiring many followers, such as Dario Argento. But he outdid himself with Blood bath (1971), sometimes shown under its alternate title, Twitch of the Death Nerve, with the most intense incorporation of blood and nudity.
Movies like Friday 13 were directly influenced by this. A group of young kids come to a lake to have some fun, only to begin dying one by one in the hands of a cruel and mysterious killer. The normal use of Bava's bold colors effectively combined with a more naturalistic appearance, the innovative gore effects are still quite shocking (a particularly legendary impalement), and the surprisingly intelligent rabbit look.
After two college films, David Cronenberg made his real debut with this low-budget classic, already showing his mastery of the medium and his obsession with everything that relates to the body. Chills (1975) occurs in a modern skyscraper, where residents have everything they need and never need to leave. Cronenberg makes the building itself look strangely futuristic and oppressive.
A medical experiment goes awry, and frightening creatures enter the bodies of humans, causing them to behave like animals, acting on erotic and murderous impulses. An appropriate alternative title was They Came from Within. The horror legend Barbara Steele (Black Sunday) appears in a small role, and Lynn Lowry (The crazies) plays a nurse. Many of Cronenberg's later films are more refined, but few are as powerful or entertaining as this one.
Halloween – The Night of Terror
Not John Carpenter's groundbreaking Halloween without Halloween (1978), or at least without an explosion of the legendary synthesizer score he composed himself (in apparently three days). The ominous widescreen carpenter's cinematography takes advantage of the straight-cut suburban landscape, using tall bushes or poles as mistakes, and his concept of a pure and simple evil killer – known as The shape, like Michael Myers – still plays a dark chord.
Jamie Lee Curtis the iconic ultimate girl Laurie Strode; Donald Pleasence Dr. Loomis, full of omens; and P.J. Soles the glamor Lynda. Film is essential for viewing, and while its many sequences are not so essential, they still offer a bit of fun. Shudder subscribers can broadcast a triple feature of the original, plus Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) and Halloween 5: Michael Myers's Revenge (1989).
Phantasm (1979) by Don Coscarelli may have little budget, but a lot of imagination. Mike Pearson, 13, lives with his older brother, Jody (Bill Thornbury), after the death of his parents, and fears that Jody will leave and leave him behind. He begins to visit a cemetery where he sees strange things, such as a Tall Man (played by the wonderful name of Angus Scrimm) raising boxes alone; little hooded creatures like demonic Jawas; a silver ball that flies through the air clings to people's faces and spreads blood everywhere; and a portal to another planet.
Reggie Bannister plays “Reg”, the ice cream that offers a hand friend, plus some comic relief. It's easy to see how early viewers weren't able to decide what to do with all this, but it became a cult classic in the years to come. In 2016, it received a much needed restoration and relaunch and now has a home in Shudder.
Gone Mad on the Monsters
The same year he made a huge salary for writing Lethal Weapon, Shane Black also co-wrote this comical combination of a kind children's adventure Goonies and a tribute to the monsters of Universal. Directed by Fred Dekker, Gone Mad on the Monsters (1987) ridiculous, but resonates with viewers of a certain age; and can attract younger fans from Stranger things.
Apparently, one day in every century, an amulet of pure good becomes vulnerable, and Count Drcula (Duncan Regehr) intends to destroy it and create chaos, with the help of Mummy (Michael MacKay), Gillman (Tom Woodruff Jr) and the Wolfman (Carl Thibault). Frankenstein's monster (Tom Noonan) ends up helping the kids, who have formed their own monster club, and are the only ones who can save the day.
Horror writer Clive Barker made big waves in the 1980s with the release of his seminal collection of three short stories, The Blood Books, and it wasn't long before films based on his work followed. While the movies Hellraiser are the most remarkable, Candyman (1992) also held very well, thanks to his sophisticated cinema and thoughtful cast, and especially his high-class Philip Glass score.
Virginia Madsen plays Helen Lyle, a sociology student researching urban legends. She goes to a housing estate filled with graffiti to investigate Candyman's legend; It is said that if you say his name five times while looking in the mirror, he will appear and kill you. Of course, some really try. Kasi Lemmons, who became director, plays Helen's skeptical friend Bernadette, and Tony Todd has become a horror icon for his gentle acting as the title character.