Top 10 Classic Horror Movies. Do You Agree?

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       The Best of the Best! The Top 10 from the 20’s to the 50’s!

 

These are, in my opinion, the top ten classic horror movies of the period. Deciding on only 10 was very difficult so at bottom of the page is a list of worthy mentions, close calls and runner-ups!


 

 

10. The Old Dark House  Five travelers are reluctantly provided shelter by a most bizarre family in their creepy old house.

– A lessor-known entry in the Universal Horror canon, though just as brilliant as any other film and an absolute personal favorite!

 

9. The Mummy  Boris Karloff in another career defining role made up as a reincarnated mummy. 

Top 10 classic horror movies-The Mummy

Boris Karloff – The Mummy 1932

 

– Directed by famed German Cinematographer, Karl Freund who achieves a very somber, subtle and somehow, poetic piece with Boris Karloff as the tragic lead.

 

8. The Body Snatcher  A distinguished doctor is tormented by a sinister old acquaintance who also provides the doctor with “subjects”.

– Featuring the last pairing of the two definitive legends of horror, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

 

7. The Wolf Man The classic tale of man transforming into beast.

– The film that bought to life so many of the modern day myths about werewolves.

“Even a man who is pure of heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolf-bane blooms and the Autumn moon is bright”

 

6. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde The primitive animalistic nature of man brought to the surface through experimental science.

– The first horror movie to ever win an Academy Award!

 

5. Island of Lost Souls  A stowaway is taken to an island where a mad scientist conducts human “experiments”.

– Wanting an unknown actress to play the role of “The Panther Woman”, the filmmaker’s chose Kathleen Bourke out of a contest of thousands! Working as a dentist’s assistant at the time, this was her very first role.

 

4. Phantom of the Opera   The tale of a love turned into tragic obsession.

– Actress Mary Philbin’s reaction to the unmasking of The Phantom was real! She had no idea what he would look like until that exact moment.

Top 10 Classic Horror Movies-Phantom of the Opera

Lon Chaney – The Phantom!

 

3. Frankenstein  Attempting to emulate God, a man is bent on creating life out of the parts of corpses.

– The seminal role of The Monster was actually, initially offered to Bela Lugosi who turned it down as there was no dialogue for him to speak. Makeup artist Jack Pierce came up with the entire look of The Monster, from the flat top head, neck “bolts” (electrodes), drooping eyelids and poorly-fitting suit.

 

2. Nosferatu A vampire’s evil bloodlust takes over a city like a plague

– This primal, silent, groundbreaking piece was banned in Sweden due to excessive horror. The ban was finally lifted in 1972!

 

     And at number one…

 

 

 

 

1. DRACULA (1931)  Desiring new hunting grounds, a vampire travels to London where he begins to pray on those in his path.

– Amazingly, Lugosi was not originally considered for the title role. Only after much partitioning and negotiation did he receive the chance to repeat the stage success he’d had as the infamous count. It’s hard now to imagine anyone else playing the iconic part.

 


 

∗ The one’s that got left behind and in no particular order..; “The Most Dangerous Game”,  “White Zombie”, “The Black Cat”, “Werewolf of London”, “Creature from the Black Lagoon”, “The Lodger” (1944), “Mania” (aka; “The Flesh and the Fiends”), “Horror of Dracula”, “The Mummy” (1959).


 

Agree?  Disagree??  Please leave some comments below and tell me what you think.

                        

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22 Comments

  • Hilda says:

    This is a really comprehensive list of top classic horror movies. Dracula has many versions..why one are you referring to in this post? I have not seen the version of the Mummy you mention here. You have done a great research on this topic. Way to go!!!

    Hilda

    • jamie says:

      Thanks a bunch Hilda! The Mummy is a real gem. Boris Karloff is supreme as “Imhotep” and would sit for 8 hours a day just to have the mummy make-up applied. You’re right, so many versions of Dracula! He is the character that has appeared most frequently on screen. A whopping 272 times! Have chosen the 1931 film in this case.

  • Teresa says:

    I love the story of Phantom Of The Opera

  • Colton says:

    Dracula definitely deserves the #1 spot! Awesome list, thanks for the post!

  • Vic says:

    Unfortunately I have not seen any of these films, I have seen some remakes of some of them. But i’m not a huge a fan of horror, I get scared very easily and I don’t like feeling scared! For me some of the scariest films I have watched are things like Cape Fear and Silence of the Lambs. What is it about horror that you like, do you enjoy the feeling of being scared?

    • admin says:

      Hi Vic. Thanks a lot for taking the time to comment. These classic old films I really recommend but not as films which would seem completely scary now days. For me, they are intriguing curiosities. Historic works of art which spawned a new genre of films. Fascinating to watch them with an awareness of how they affected generations of audiences from the 1920’s onwards!

      Those films you mentioned, Cape Fear and Silence of the Lambs are very creepy I agree! Great movies!

      Although I am a big fan of horror movies, it’s the old classics which interest me the most. Not exactly sure why but maybe something to do with being so frightened of Dracula and The Mummy and Frankenstein etc. etc. as a child. I guess now I’m curious to find out more about them.

  • RuthM says:

    I am definitely going to have to pass this page onto my husband who is a classic horror movie buff! I have seen so many now! He will love this summary page, and I think there are a few there he hasn’t seen.

    What do you think of the newer horror movies? they are quite different? Better, worse?

    • admin says:

      Nice to hear from you again Ruth. Sounds like you’re really getting into a lot of horror! I’d love to know what your husband thinks of the top ten list.

      The films I like to focus on are obviously the old originals but I’m a huge fan of MANY modern horror movies too.

      Newer movies are, I think, better in a lot of ways, but so too are the older classics in their own ways. A lot of times, less-is-more and I personally feel there can be too much going on in modern films. The make-you-jump type shock tactic is also too common in my opinion.

      The suspenseful tension and psychological fright of older style horror is the most effective and enjoyable in my opinion.

      Thanks very much for the visit Ruth

  • Alblue says:

    Wow this comprehensive list is awesome since it will be Halloween in near time. If I’m not wrong, those are all classic movies right?

    Sometimes being classic and old age movie is more creepier than today’s modern horror movie. Do you have a reccomendation where can I buy or maybe rent those classic horror movies?

    Thank you for your information 🙂

    • admin says:

      Yep, they’re all regarded as classics. Was very hard trying to put them in a particular order!

      I agree about the “creepiness” of some older movies. Think that’s why I like them so much.

      All those films are available here on my DVD/Blu-ray page. Alternatively, you can rent a lot of them through ITunes or Netflix.

      Thanks a lot Alblue!

  • Tasos Perte Tzortzis says:

    Hey there Jamie , nice bloody website , I am already frightened.I know Dr Jekyll , the phantom of the opera and Frankestein.

    I can’t vote as I mostly am fan of new movies but I would go with the “mummy” for an alternative scenario.I had to invest some time to these old versions.

    Thanks for this awesome list , it can keep me going for months.Do you have a list of the new?…Congrats on your great work here.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for checking out this post Tasos. I liked your phrase, “Nice bloody website” hahaha.

      The Mummy’s a great choice I think! Out of all the old classics that I love, there’s some that I feel like watching on a regular basis a little more than others. The Mummy (1932) is one of those films.

      Hmmm, lets see…a list of favorite modern horror movies…Again, it would be very hard to put them in order but off the top of my head, some absolute favorites are…The Omen trilogy, The Exorcist, The Shining, American Werewolf in London, The Blair Witch Project, The Wicker Man, Dracula (1992), Rosemary’s Baby, Paranormal Activity…to name a few.

      Now I feel like watching those movies again! Lolol.

      Thanks for your comments and feedback Tasos. All the best!

  • Martina says:

    I haven’t seen The Old Dark House or The Body Snatcher, but they sound interesting. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one I’ve heard of but haven’t seen yet. I wanna read the book first. Phantom of the Opera is really good, although it wasn’t scary to me. Love the soundtrack for Phantom of the Opera.

    • admin says:

      I can fully recommend The Old Dark House and The Body Snatcher Martina. They’re superb horror classics! Yeah, it would be a great idea to read Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde. I plan to do the same.

      There are heaps of film adaptations but this one from 1932 is the best example. Followed closely by a 1941 version with Spencer Tracey and Ingrid Bergman.

      The original Phantom of the Opera (1925) was overwhelmingly frightening in it’s day. Especially the Phantom’s (Lon Chaney) “unmasking” sequence!

      Thanks a lot for your visit/comments Martina.

  • emcnicholas@gmail.com says:

    Hey Jamie, great work! I do love that Dracula version but my favourite has to be the Christopher Lee version from 1958, have you seen it? He was such a legend! Will you do a top 10 list of contemporary horrors? That would be cool too. I haven’t see Lon Chaney as the phantom but I’ll have to check it out, it my favourite musical of all time. I’ve seen a couple of the film versions too but not that one. Something to look forward to!

    • admin says:

      Howdy Emcnicholas. Thanks a lot for your comments! Yep, I’ve definitely seen the 1958 Hammer version with Christopher Lee. A brilliant film! Love the colors and ‘look’ of the film itself.

      Not sure if I’d do a top 10 list of contemporary horror as I’d like to stay focused on the older classics and originals. Something to think about though, thanks.

      The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney is hugely recommended! Hope you get to see it sometime soon. It’s Gothic quality really stays with you! Jamie.

  • Mr Pianoforte says:

    Love the list! Not that many people know about the oldies, but I’m glad you do. You have great taste in horror movies, I remember watching the old Phantom of Opera when I was really young, but my favourite was Frankenstein! Nothing beats his storyline! Nevertheless, this list brought back some good ol’ memories. There’s great titles on here.

    • admin says:

      Really appreciate your kind feedback Mr Pianoforte! And I’m very glad you liked the list! Great to see another who appreciates the classics! Thanks again mate!

      Jamie.

  • Kay MB says:

    I love horror movies. I will admit that I haven’t seen many on this list. I’ve only seen the remake versions of them that came out in later years. Based on your list I will check out the originals. I love classic black and white movies.
    If you had extended your list into the 1960s, I would have definitely added Night of the Living Dead. That is one of the scariest movies I have ever seen.

  • Jeff says:

    Yup, had a good think about this and I can’t disagree with you. Every single one is a classic. I love all the Horror and ‘B’ Movies from this period, the sci-fi and crossover films are just the best….And it doesn’t get much better than Plan 9 From Outer Space 🙂

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