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Classic Horror: 10 Movies That Shaped the Genre

By    |   Thursday, 05 Nov 2015 07:42 PM

Horror movie fans like to be scared, again and again and again. And what works is copied. Here are nine classic horror movies that helped shape the genre:

1. "Nosferatu" (1922)

Max Schreck’s vampire count Orlok looks nothing like how we’ve been conditioned to see vampires, but all the elements of the classic vampire movie are there. To see it “is to seethe vampire movie before it had really seen itself,” wrote film critic Roger Ebert.

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2. "Dracula" (1930)

Departing from the “Nosferatu” look, Bela Lugosi’s portrayal gave us the image of the vampire that persists today, even after modern screen portrayals turned vampires into sparkly, whiny teens.

“When you talk about influence, Lugosi probably holds the longest sway over the horror genre,” said Horror-Movies.ca site founder Herner Klenthur.

3. "Frankenstein" (1931)

The mad scientist, the misunderstood monster, the fear-crazed mob, the "Knowledge Not Meant For Man" — all those reliable horror tropes were born here, said Dolan Reynolds at What Culture.

4. "Psycho" (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock’s three promotional gimmicks — keep the plot a secret, deliberately promote it as schlock, and kill a leading character early — have all been copied by horror moviemakers since, wrote Stacy Grant at Lone Star Film Society.

5. "Night of the Living Dead" (1968)

George A. Romero’s low-budget wonder reanimated the horror genre for a generation inured to bloody images from the TV news — and somehow managed to make a social statement, according to Jason Zinoman at Vanity Fair.


6. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974)

“As violent and gruesome and blood-soaked as the title promises,” wrote Chicago Sun-Times film critic Ebert. “I can’t imagine why anyone would want to make a movie like this, and yet it’s well-made, well-acted, and all too effective.” And it opened the gates for the gorefests to follow.

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7. "Halloween" (1978)

"Halloween" was the inspiration of the big-budget splatterfest. “Without Halloween, there wouldn’t be 'Friday the 13th,' 'A Nightmare on Elm Street,' 'Scream' or any of the lesser known slasher flicks that followed.

'Halloween' took the template set by 'Psycho' and turned it up to 11,” wrote Dolan Reynolds at What Culture.

8. "The Exorcist" (1973)

This movie combined psychology and religion with efficient special effects.

“With all of the advances in CG, special effects, etc. no one has ever come close to topping what a simple rotating head and a few gallons of pea soup accomplished,” Klenthur said.

9. "The Shining" (1980)

Stanley Kubrick's version of Stephen King's "The Shining" is perhaps the most unsettling descent into madness ever put on film.

"[Jack] Torrance is not tortured by ghosts but by inadequacy and alcoholism. And for many, it’s as a study of insanity and failure that ‘The Shining’ is so chilling," said Cath Clarke of Time Out.

10. "Rosemary's Baby" (1968)


"You're not paranoid if they're out to get you," is a saying that is a good description of the terror plaguing the victim at the heart of Roman Polanski's creepy psychological horror film.

"Rosemary's Baby" influenced many "spawn of Satan" films in the genre. 

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Horror movie fans like to be scared, again and again and again. And what works is copied. Here are nine classic horror movies that helped shape the genre.
classic, horror, movies, genre
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2015-42-05
Thursday, 05 Nov 2015 07:42 PM
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