Robert Wiene's German expressionist masterpiece follows a ghoulish sleepwalker (Casablanca's Conrad Veidt) who is programmed by the title hypnotist (Werner Krauss) to commit gruesome murders. The stylized sets have influenced generations of filmmakers, particularly Tim Burton.
This haunting tale nearly ended Dracula director - 's career when it opened to a hail of controversy. The lurid tale of carnival sideshow performers who are taken advantage of by a conniving pair of "normals" gives the title characters sweet revenge and something even more subversive: dignity. "One of us! One of us!"
Universal Pictures' two titans of horror -Béla Lugosi and Boris Karloff -- collided in this truly bizarre and terrifying gothic horror tale. Lugosi plays a psychiatrist seeking revenge on the man who stole his wife and imprisoned him 15 years before. Unfortunately that man -- played brilliantly by Karloff -- is a practicing satanist who preserves dead women in giant glass jars. Oh, and there's a black cat in it too!
James Whale directed this sequel to his "monster hit" Frankenstein, but instead of doing a straight sequel he made what could arguably be called the first true campy horror film. Elsa Lanchester co-stars as both the titular (reluctant) bride as well as author Mary Shelley in a brilliant prologue.
Lon Chaney Jr. inherited the mantle of make-up king from his dad with his unforgettable transformation scene (courtesy of legendary make-up man Jack Pierce, who originally designed the make-up for Henry Hull in Werewolf of London). Chaney performed the tragic role of Larry Talbot with great sympathy, and later reprised it in four more sequels.
A surprisingly sophisticated film for its era, Val Lewton's production (directed by Jacques Tourneur) tells the story of a woman (Simone Simon) who represses her own sexuality for fear of becoming a wild animal. That's both literal and metaphorical, and causes understandable trouble for her new marriage. The melodrama is played out realistically, and the scares are doled out with subtlety that leaves much to the imagination. The film was later remade (not as well) by Paul Schrader in 1982.
Howard Hawks produced this terror tale about a group of scientists near an Arctic research outpost who discover an alien body in the snow and bring it back to study. Of course, this "thing" isn't dead, and begins to wreak havoc. The decision to mostly hide the creature from the audience was a brilliant play, leaving the hulking figure (played by "Gunsmoke" star James Arness) to become a more effective figure of menace. Later brilliantly remade by John Carpenter in 1982.
Deborah Kerr plays a governess terrified that the children she is in charge of may be hiding a ghostly secret that could be dangerous for them all. Freddie Francis's gorgeous photography and director Jack Clayton's deliberate pace keep the chills coming in this classy adaptation of Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw." Highly recommended!
This surreal low-budget horror picture by Herk Harvey (who also plays the infamous main ghoul) follows a church organists who begins having eerie visions of the undead. The film inspired the look and tone of Night of the Living Dead and pretty much every David Lynch movie ever made.
Roger Corman made eight films loosely based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe for American International Pictures, and this is without question the best of the bunch. It concerns a decadent Prince who holes himself up in a castle with his satanist pals to wait out the plague, only to have his selfishness come back to bite him in the ass. The production of sumptuous and psychedelic, with beautiful colors and an amazing Vincent Price performance at the center.