In honor of Halloween, a Baylor University horror film expert and Hollywood film historian, associate professor James Kendrick, has developed a list of 10 horror classics everyone should see.
Kendrick’s list includes:
- Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922) —F.W. Murnau’s unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Centered on Max Schreck’s frightening, rat-like vampire and featuring a mix of expressionistic visual techniques with evocative location work, Nosferatu is one of the first feature-length films that can be described as genuinely dreadful.
- The Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935) —As the movie after Whale’s Frankenstein (1931), Bride took the original’s expressionistic visual sensibility and pushed it to the limit with particularly outlandish set design, lighting and canted angles and upped the ante with a coating of self-aware black humor that still feels subversive today.
- Cat People (Jacques Tourneur, 1942) —Lean, efficient and undeniably unsettling and suspenseful, Cat People trades heavily in the horrors of repressed sexuality while keeping its monster almost entirely off-screen.
- Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) — Featuring one of the greatest bait-and-switch narratives in movie history, Psycho completely upended audience expectations and altered the genre forever by fully establishing the modern notion that monsters aren’t relics of a sordid past that reside in gothic castles atop remote mountains or in dark dungeons, but rather are deviant products of the nuclear family who live in the house (or motel) next door.
- Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968) — Romero’s black-and-white, independently produced thriller about dead bodies mysteriously coming back to life caught the country by storm in the late 1960s with its intense, claustrophobic horror, graphic violence and documentary-like aesthetic, and, in the process, created the modern zombie film (although “the z-word” is never used).
- The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973) — A great, stunning contradiction of a movie that is at once an honest, disturbing exploration of religion and the supernatural and an unabashed horror movie, a drive-in splatter flick with an Oscar-winning director and expensive production values.
- Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977) — An aggressive, highly stylized mix of supernatural horror and the aesthetic conventions of the giallo, the uniquely Italian take on crime thrillers, Argento’s twisted masterpiece is an utterly unique horror film that sets you on edge right from the very beginning.
- Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978) — Carpenter’s stripped-down, primal thriller about an escaped killer who returns to his hometown to slaughter the local teenagers. The most economically successful independent movie at the time,
- The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) —Kubrick’s endlessly fascinating adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about a haunted hotel in the Colorado mountains is an intellectually rigorous exploration of the endless cycle of human violence hinged on Jack Nicholson’s deranged performance as a paterfamilias gone terribly, horribly wrong.
- The Babadook (Jennifer Kent, 2014) —Set primarily in a drab brownstone occupied by a widowed mother and her precocious 6-year-old son, it indulges in all manner of familiar fright tactics. However, Kent redeems the horror clichés by grounding them in real, recognizable human emotions, which makes The Babadook as dramatically compelling as it is scary.
News source: Baylor University.
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