You have to know where you came from to have any idea of where you are going. This is so true with horror. If the movies of the past hadn’t taken chances or were not successful, we wouldn’t have horror today. Too many of the younger people don’t recognize the pastor hadn’t been exposed to it. They think movies like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Hellraiser were the movies that started it all, but it was Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and many others that laid the foundation for today’s horror. Here in this place, we will introduce the details of Best Classic Horror Movies.
One reason for this I think has been the death of the horror host. I remember settling down before the TV every Saturday afternoon to watch my favorite horror host Dr. Shock or Creature Double Feature. The host made it so fun and the movies were really cool. There were whole afternoons of classic and sometimes not so classic horror movies. Very few stations today give horror the chance that they once did. They cry ratings, ratings, ratings. Horror has always sold, but they rather show Baywatch. I say bring back the horror host and for you lucky few out there that have them, please tell them to come to my town, Philadelphia.
Video has been a godsend to horror fans. It is the only avenue for us to see these classics due in large part to the reason mentioned above. But I blame video store owners for a lack of horror history among our younger viewers. Sure a lot of horror movies get rented, which is great, but the video stores that I rent from don’t put classic horror in the horror section. You will usually find classic horror with the classics and very few young people are fearful to take a trip down that aisle. Come on guys, you won’t regret it.
Third, I blame the age of the special effects. Kids have grown accustomed to over the top special effects and a lot of the classics just can’t hold a candle effects-wise to modern horror. I hate hearing “those movies aren’t scary” or “where’s the blood” or “you call that a werewolf”. What they don’t realize is that those effects were cutting edge for the time. That a movie doesn’t have to be scary to be good or even a classic. Unfortunately, the special effect will and does inhibit younger viewers from watching the classics.
I was lucky enough to recently attend the Monster Bash and became fired up about classic horror again. I have all the classics in my video collection, but haven’t watched them in years. I got to see a couple when I was at the convention, and I really realize that these were truly magically movies.
The purpose of this page is to provide information on these great movies so my younger visitors can see the great selection of classic horror that awaits them and my older visitors (which includes myself) may be inspired to revisit these classics.
Again, as always, anything that you can add to these pages would be greatly appreciated. Please e-mail me with questions, comments, and criticism.
Classic Horror Movies
The Wolf Man Story
Upon his brother’s death, Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) returns to his home in Wales after spending many years studying in America. He has come to help his father (Claude Rains) with the family estate. A young girl (Everlyn Ankers) catches Larry’s eye and he invites her out to see a band of a gypsy who just arrived in town. The two are join by Jenny and off they go to get their fortune told. Bela (Bela Lugosi) is the gypsy who isn’t quite himself with the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright. Larry while trying to save Jenny is biting by a wolf, which he eventually kills with his new cane. Oh no, you know what that means. Click here to hear what Gypsy Malvera (Maria Ouspenskaye) has to say.
“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms. And the autumn moon is bright.”
Poor Larry… he just another misunderstood lycanthrope. He even tries to tell everyone its him and he’s a werewolf. The end comes quickly at the hands of some one who loves him, but the legend of the “wolf man” will live on forever!!!!!
Next to zombies, werewolves are my second favorite monsters. Unfortunately, there have been very few good ones to talk about. “The Wolf Man” is truly one of the greatest classic horror films of all-time and when Universal saw the success of Dracula and Frankenstein the next logical monster was the werewolf. Lon Chaney Jr. was selected on part due mainly to his namesake Lon, Sr. He took the role and established himself as a horror icon. Lon went on to play Larry Talbot five times. He is also the only one of the big three ( with Lugosi and Karloff) to play Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy, and the Wolf Man. Jack Pierce’s make-up transformation for the creature was totally amazing then and is still today. Stories of the first test application of the make-up took 18 hours, by the completion of the film they had gotten it down to 6 hours.
Based on the classic Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” . This film along with “Dracula”, which were released the same year, helped to establish horror as a legitimate genre. The film opens with a man in a tuxedo (Edward van Sloan) delivering a warning to all…..
“How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle [the producer] feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a word of friendly warning. We are about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation – life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now’s your chance to -uh, well, we warned you.”
This helped to prepare the audience for what lied ahead and was a tremendous marketing ploy. A classic example of man trying to play God with the usual deadly results. Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) experiments with creating artificial life. His parts came grave robbing. “It’s alive, alive” he yells…..yes, but it is more monster than man. Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) is a startling, grotesque, and gruesome figure, about seven feet tall with broad shoulders. Jack Pierce did a wonderful job creating the make-up for the Monster. He made the look of Frankenstein as American as apple pie.
Unfortunately the Monster never asked for life and reacts violent towards it. Escaping the lab, the Monster ventures out into the country site. This lead to one of Frankenstein’s most controversial scenes which only until recently has been restored. The Monster attempts to make friends with a little peasant girl named Maria, playing by the bank of a lake. She is not repelled by his appearance or fearful of him and invites him to play. She takes his hand and leads him to the side of the lake where they kneel. One by one, they toss flower petals onto the surface of the lake, watching them float.
When the Monster’s few flower blossoms are gone, he innocently and ignorantly picks up Maria and throws her in the water – expecting that she, too, will float like the flower petals. She flounders and splashes in the water and quickly drowns. Ashe staggers away from the lake, the monster seems to express some confusion, shaking and wringing his hands and possibly perceiving the horrible thing he has done. I think this was a very telling scene. It gave the Monster depth and truly allowed the audience to feel the pain of his sorrow. He was no longer a monster to us, but a man who was a victim of his environment.
After the girl is found dead, the villagers head out in search of the Monster lead by Henry. The end comes with the destruction of the Monster, well not really. He was soon to return in the spectacular sequel “Bride of Frankenstein”. If you watch carefully, Karloff didn’t receive a credit in the film. When the credits for the Monster roll up, there is only a question mark(?) where the actor’s name would be.
The story begins as Dracula (Bela Lugosi) is preparing to embark for London and his new home, Carfax Abbey. A young real estate agent, Mr. Renfield (Dwight Frye), has been sent to have Dracula sign the closing paper and help with the move. Unfortunately for Renfield, Dracula has decided to enslave him, making him into a ghoul. Dracula than charters a boat and off they sail to London. Upon the ships arrival, all the crew is discovered dead and a lone raving lunatic (Mr. Renfield) found on board is taken to a near by sanitarium.
Next, Dracula begins his pursue of human victims on the streets of London. It seem that his neighbors have caught his eye and he entrances young Lucy with his devilish stare, but his ultimate goal is to seduce Mina (Helen Chandler) into his world of darkness. This battle with evil calls for famed vampire hunter, Dr. Van Helsing (Edward van Sloan), to come and save the day. He quickly determines Dracula’s true desires and sets out to destroy this creature of the night.
Dwight Frye gives an excellent performance as Renfield, a man enslaved by Dracula. At the end, he has just enough of his mortal soul left to reveal the truth about his master and his hiding place. His betrayal brings his death, but also his freedom. Will Mina be saved, or does Dracula’s blood truly fill her veins?
Based on Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its publication this year. The first screen version of Dracula came with the 1922 German silent film, “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror.” With Universal’s Dracula, Bela Lugosi established himself as the definitive screen vampire setting the standards for all followed.
Tod Browning directed this classic and would later go onto direct the controversial movie, “Freaks” the following year. Jack Pierce provided the make-up and than went to make his mark on”Frankenstein“. Although not as true to Stoker’s version as the more recent “Bram Stoker’s Dracula“, this version was a well-crafted classic that help to aid the foundation for horror.
The Mummy 1932 Story
Egypt 1921. A British archeological expenditure lead by Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Bryon) has unearthed the remain of Im-Ho-Tep, high priest of Egypt. He had been condemned and buried alive for sacrilege against the gods. Also found in the tomb is the “Scroll of Thoth“, which carries with it a deadly curse. When a young archeologist reads aloud from the scroll, he inadvertently brings the MUMMY back to life.
Egypt 1932. Ten years after his father’s failed expedition, young Frank Whemple (David Manners) has returned to conduct his own dig. Along the way, he meets the eccentric and mysterious Ardeth Bey (Boris Karloff), who helps direct him to the final resting place of Princess Anck-es-an-Amon.
As the scene flashes back to modern Cario, we meet the very beautiful Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann), who is the living incarnate of the Princess. She instantly catches the eye of both Frank and Ardeth. While using his dark powers, Bey tries to lure her into an eternal union of living death. Only with the help fame occultist Dr. Miller (Edward Van Sloan), can Frank have any hope of saving Helen and stopping the MUMMY.
Fueled by the public’s interest in ancient Egypt (ala discovery of King Tut (aka TUTANKHATEN) in 1922) and following the birth of two highly successful horror franchises with “Dracula” (1931) and “Frankenstein” (1931), Universal decided to bring “The Mummy” to the silver screen. First-time director Karl Freund (“Metropolis“, “Dracula“) built upon his strengths in cinematography in bringing to life “The Mummy“. Karloff, just as he had done in “Frankenstein“, crafted a villainous character that even the audience could feel sorry as his searches for lost love. This film should be celebrated as another masterpiece in horror movie history. The first and still the best mummy movie!!!!
Peeping Tom Story
Mark (Karl Boehm) is a film technician/sound man who moonlights by photographing beautiful, nude models. However, Mark is less than normal. He has a growing fascination with the natural, physical imperfections of his models and begins killing his models with a spiked tripod, capturing the exact moment of their deaths on film. Due to a twisted childhood, caused by his equally twisted and sadistic, psychologist father (played by director Michael Powell), Mark painstakingly documents the killings and the ensuing police investigations.
You see, Marks childhood was spent as the subject of fear experiments and non-stop audiotaping by his father, who must have attended medical school while taking Mescaline. Their house was a network of microphones, recorders and cameras, which documented every single minute of Marks day. Now as a grown-up, Mark rents out rooms in his house and similarly documents the lives of his tenants, not unlike the recent film Silver. Does the blind tenant know what Mark is up to? When the police begin to close the dragnet around Mark, can he create the ultimate artistic act of photographic verit?
Peeping Tom was basically a lost film after its release in 1960. It was rarely seen, and even then, only in midnight showings and on late-night television. We have Martin Scorsese to thank for giving rebirth to Peeping Tom by re-releasing it into theaters in 1980. Like Todd Browning with Freaks, Peeping Tom ended the career of Michael Powell who had previously directed such classics as The Red Shoes and The Thief of Bagdad.
At least Powell had the satisfaction of ending his career on a high note and on such a personal film. As The Phantom of The Movies suggests, Peeping Tom is more than a thriller, it is a satirical jab at commercialism in cinema and more importantly, the voyeuristic tendencies of both filmmakers and film viewers.
Blood Feast Story
A series of gruesome murders has brought Miami to a screeching halt as women are being viciously mutilated by a homicidal madman. Strangely missing from the victims are certain body parts or limbs. The police remain baffled as they search for clues to stop this brutal killer while across town Mrs. Fremont (Lyn Bolton) enters the shop of one, Fuad Ramses (Mal Arnold), exotic cater. Looking to surprise her daughter Suzette (Connie Mason), Ramses promises to provide Mrs. Fremont with an authentic ancient Egyptian feast, one that he has been planning for a long time.
As the murders continue, Connie and her would-be boyfriend Detective Peter Thornton (William Kerwin) attend a lecture being giving on Egyptian cults. There they learn the grime details of an ancient blood ritual performed to celebrate the goddess, Ishtar, 5000 years ago. As they prepare to depart news blares across the airwaves regarding a possible survival from this murderous rampage. Peter races across town to the hospital hoping for a clue only to hear the dying words of the victim, repeated “Etar, Etar”.
As Mrs. Fremont makes final preparations for her daughter’s party, the violence strikes closer to home as Suzette’s friend Trudy mysteriously disappears. All the while Ramses continues to prepare for the feast. Finally, Peter puts the pieces together, but will he arrive in time to prevent Suzette from becoming the main course??
After a successful run of nudie cuties, Lewis and his partner David Friedman were itching for a change of pace. In 1963 born out of the tradition of the “Grand Guignol”, 19th century theater rooted in a gore-filled desire to shock and repulse its’ audience, came the release of a little gem called, “Blood Feast”, which would alter the face of cinema as the world would know it. Variety magazine offered its own review of the film calling it “incredibly crude and unprofessional from start to finish, (and) an insult even to the most puerile and salacious audience”, but the joke was on them as “Blood Feast” would go on to establish a new genre (splatter or gore) while taking exploitational filmmaking down a new and exciting path and forever shaping the impressionable minds of millions of budding filmmakers. All modern filmmakers, horror and mainstream alike, own a tremendous debt of gratitude to the chances that a film like “Blood Feast” took in breaking down the barriers of the 50’s McCarthyism way of thinking. This film is a definite requirement for any inspiring horror fanatic!!!!
Two Thousand Maniacs
A simple detour down a backwoods road leads six unsuspecting Yanks into the little town of Pleasant Valley (Pop. 2000), where a centennial celebration of some sort is taking place. As they pull into town, the massive party spills around them and Mayor Buckman (Jeffery Allen) declares that the “guests of honor” have finally arrived and the festivities can now begin.
After being put up in the best (and only) hotel in town, bizarre events start happening. First, the frisky Bea Miller (Shelby Livingston ) meets her gruesome demise when she sneaks off for a lover’s stroll with the debonair Harper (Mark Douglas). Later her equally promiscuous husband John (Jerome Eden) is quartered after a night of feasting on a strangely tasty barbeque. Tom White (William Kerwin) and his traveling companion Terry Adams (Connie Mason) starts to become suspicious when they are unable to make contact with the outside world and stumble upon a plaque marking the historic ramification of this celebration of blood. The carnage reaches new heights when a teetering rock and a barrel roll are introduced into mix.
When the truth is finally revealed, Tom and Terry attempt to make a mad dash for freedom. They solicit the help of local bad boy Billy to recover their car, but will they be able to escape this town bent on blood thirsty revenge or is the South gonna rise again???? Check it out!!!!!
Following in the highly successful footsteps of “Blood Feast” a year earlier “Two Thousand Maniacs” became the second film in Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Trilogy. Built on a stronger storyline, a combination of “Brigadoon” meets the Mansion Family, a larger budget (3 times that of “Blood Feast”), and superior acting (featuring the fine citizens of the now extinct St. Cloud, FL), “Two Thousand Maniacs” is by far my favorite H.G. Lewis film. The wildly outrageous ways in which this town of blood thirsty maniacs disembowels their unsuspecting “guests of honor” is truly a goremiester’s wet dream and comes in a close second only to Lewis’ own “Wizard of Gore” on the entrail scale.
Horror of Dracula Story
Trivia question, “Who is the most portrayed horror villain in cinema history”? If you guessed “Count Dracula” you would be correct. As a credited character, “Count Dracula” has appeared in more than 60 films. Second trivia question, “Who has portrayed “Count Dracula” the most times on the silver screen”? If you guessed Christopher Lee, you would be correct again. Christopher Lee has played “Count Dracula” ten times to date with seven of those being in Hammer Films. So where did it all start?
In the film “Horror of Dracula” , Christopher Lee assumes the role that will forever change his life. Although his performance may not be accepted as the definitive standard for the role (that honor would have to go to “Bela Lugosi”), he was able to give him more depth. This film also marked Peter Cushing‘s first-time duties as legendary vampire hunter, Dr. Van Helsing. Cushing, a mainstay at Hammer, went on to play the good Dr. opposite Lee’s “Dracula” in three films (and also in a few other Hammer films), but Baron Von Frankenstein was role he reprised an amazing six times.
Terence Fisher, the director of this film and other classics such as “Dracula: Prince of Darkness“, “Curse of the Werewolf” and “The Devil Rides Out”, did a wonderful job with the vision and atmosphere of the film. This film marked his emergence as one of Hammer’s big time directors. Fisher, along with Lee, firmly established “Dracula” as a British film legend.
The musical undertones were deliver by James Bernard and really added to films’ eerie atmosphereThis is your standard retelling of Bram Stoker’s classic novel “Dracula“, with a definite Hammer twist. It is probably my favorite film version of Stoker’s novel, although I thoroughly enjoyed Francis Ford Coppala version, as well as, that of Tod Browning’s. My favorite part is the end battle between Cushing and Lee. It is one of the best all-time classic clash in the history of horror, ranking right up there with “The Exorcist‘s” conclusion.
Classic Horror Movies Fanspeak
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RE: classic horror
I love these movies…I can’t say it enough times. One of my all-time favorites in any era of horror will always be The Mummy, with Karloff. Eerie, haunting, dream-like camera work, with a(mostly) great cast…the only beef I have with this film is a convention that drags down most of these classics to modern audiences-the love angle. Not that modern movies are spotless, how many good horror movies get stopped in their tracks for the sake of “DRAMA”…
But the older ones suffer for it, now, because the love element that was added to keep certain audience members watching(who?? I ask you!) is borrowed from the romantic comedies of the time, and really clashes with the mood and atmosphere the movie makers are trying to achieve. The Mummy is the best example of this that I can think of. Here we have Imhotep coming back to life and seeking out the reincarnation of his beloved, whose main romantic involvement is a corny little dweeb that probably strikes out in every bar he goes to. Imhotep wins hands down, you would think.
Other favorites in the Classic genre are The Raven(Lugosi and Karloff), The Black Cat(ditto), The Wolf Man, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Mark of The Vampire, Dracula, Dracula’s Daughter(silly title, but cool movie), Phantom Of The Opera(Claude Raines version), The Invisible Man,….Lord, there are too many. I am eternally grateful to these grounds-breakers of the past, and I wish we could start living up to them in the ’90’s.
Name: Alkis Philon
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RE: B/W MOVIES
T4: I was always a horror movie fan since I remember myself. I watched every horror movie I could get my hands on,but in the last few years I’m a dedicated fan of B/W horror movies. There’s nothing compared to the atmosphere and feeling of the old movies like Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman etc. There will never be actors like Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff again. And when it comes to color, I choose Hammer Films. The masters of the color horror movies are Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. The more I watch, the more I love it. People (friends,family) can’t understand my obsession, but I’m sure that I know something they don’t…