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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Zombelina Presents: Creepy Magazine, Then vs. Now

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Start Spreadin' the News: 92Y Tribeca Brings the Horror in October

It's good to be a New Yorker--or in my case, a slightly transplanted one, at least. Hate me all you want--yes, I'm the stereotypical arrogant, Yankee-lovin', cawfee-drinkin' Brooklyn boy at heart. And now, 92Y Tribeca has given me one more reason to be glad I live so close to the center of the universe--their amazing October lineup of events.

Just in time for Halloween, 92Y Tribeca has brought together a most impressive series of reasons for me to drag my sorry self from the suburban wiles of Fairfield County, Connecticut back to the town of my origin. Check out a sampling:

10/2: Zombie Girl: The Movie The much talked-about documentary about that amazing 12-year-old girl who managed to make her own zombie feature film.

10/7: The Old Dark House Classic Universal horror, starring Boris Karloff, directed by James Whale. Hosted by comedian and Daily Show writer Elliott Kalan.

10/10, 10/16: Audition Takashi Miike's notorious Japanese torture flick gets two screenings.

10/23: Kevin Geeks About... Vincent Price! An entire evening devoted to the crown prince of horror, with tributes from comics creator Tom Peyer, cinema critic Heather Hendershot, Price's Mercury Players' colleague Arthur Anderson, comedy writer Eric Drysdale and playwright Robert Satuloff.

10/23, 10/29: Ichi the Killer Another sadistic Miike favorite gets the double-screening treatment.

10/24: Cropsey The unusual documentary about one of the most bizarre urban legends of all time, and it's byzantine connection to a real-life child-killer. (Check out my interview with the directors.)

10/24: Little Shop of Horrors Sing-Along Rocky Horror ain't the only horror comedy musical worth singing along to. After Cropsey, you can stick around for this one-of-a-kind event, in which a beer is included with the price of admission. Beat that.

10/30: The Wicker Man With director Robin Hardy on-hand for a Q&A. Plus, a bunch of bands performing live interpretations of the film's original score, folk songs and pagan rituals.

10/31: The Phantom of the Opera For the big day itself, they're bringing out Lon Chaney's 1925 masterpiece, with the avante-garde Alloy Orchestra there to provide live musical accompaniment.

Between this and the lineup for Stamford, Connecticut's Avon Theatre I posted about some weeks ago, I'm going to be quite busy next month. For more info on what 92Y Tribeca has in store, check out their website.

The Tuesday Top 10: Favorite Twilight Zone Episodes

You don't need me to tell you how important and how incredible The Twilight Zone is. And I'm talking about Rod Serling's original here, not that decidedly average 1980s incarnation, or the recent abortion hosted by Forrest Whittaker. The original 1950s/1960s program is arguably the finest science fiction series of all time, rivaled in my opinion only by the original Star Trek and the new Battlestar Galactica. Yet it was also a horror-themed show, and in that category, nothing EVER touched The Twilight Zone.

During its run of only five years, the show produced one unforgettable episode after another, and pinning down ten faves is no mean feat. But here are the ten I most look forward to during the much-anticipated Fourth of July marathons on TV. You might agree, you might disagree, but remember, these are only my personal favorites, amongst a sea of classic eps...

10. Kick the Can (2/19/62)
In an episode recreated in inferior syrupy Speilberg fashion for the 1986 movie, a man in an old folks' home discovers a way for he and his friends to be young again. Their one bitter and cynical comrade ridicules them, and only realizes the error of his way when it's too late and he is left behind as an old man.

9. Living Doll (11/1/63)
How can I forget the great Telly Savalas, as an insecure stepfather being tortured by a vindictive, evil little doll? Legendary Looney Tunes/Jay Ward voice actress June Foray provides the creepy voice of "Talky Tina".

8. It's a Good Life (11/3/61)
Taken from an original short story by renowned sci-fi author Jerome Bixby, this is another one adapted in lesser fashion for the movie. Lost in Space's Billy Mumy plays the omnipotent little boy who wreaks havoc in a rural town. Has the distinction of being the only episode with a sequel, which appeared in the recent reboot series. Bixby also wrote several Star Trek eps, including "Mirror, Mirror".

7. To Serve Man (3/2/62)
Pulp sci-fi workhorse Damon Knight penned this one, a classic that's still grim, despite being parodied to great effect in the movie Airplane. Aliens come to Earth with a book entitled "To Serve Man"--but unfortunately, "IT'S A COOKBOOK!!"

6. The Midnight Sun (11/17/61)
Al Gore's worst nightmare, as the Earth begins to boil under the heat of an enlarging sun, moving closer in its orbit. The sense of claustrophobia is so palpable. And of course, we have one of the all-time classic twist endings, as our main character discovers she was only dreaming--in fact, the Earth is getting colder. Doh!

5. A World of Difference (3/11/60)
I always had a soft spot for this installment, about a man who really believes he is the character he plays on a TV show. In one of the classic openers, we approach it from his perspective, as his normal daily life is interrupted by a film crew yelling, "CUT!" Great stuff, and definitely pre-figured things like The Truman Show.

4. The Hitch-Hiker (1/22/60)
Adapted from a radio play originally performed by Orson Welles, this one always had a kind of Hitchcock feel to it for me. After a nasty car accident, a woman begins spotting the same mysterious hitch-hiker everywhere she drives. Turns out the hitcher is really Death, and the woman never survived the accident.

3. Eye of the Beholder (11/11/60)
For many, the most iconic episode of the series. A beautiful woman turns out to actually be disfigured in a world in which everyone appears as what we would consider to be hideous monsters. Such a classic summation of what The Twilight Zone was all about. Have to love this one.

2. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (10/11/63)
Bill Shatner plays a terrified passenger who discovers a monstrous gremlin on the wing of an airplane in this, maybe the series' most famous episode. It was adapted from Richard Matheson's first published horror story, and probably the only episode that was actually improved in adaptation for the 1986 Twilight Zone movie.

1. Time Enough at Last (11/20/59)
Maybe it's because I have such a love for Burgess Meredith, or the fact that I always related to his character, being an avid reader mysef. This one will always be my favorite. Meredith's character is so sympathetic, and the horror of losing the one thing that would make the apocalypse bearable for him is truly gut-wrenching. There's something about the sad cruelty of it all that makes this episode stand out for me above all the others.

21st Century Terrors, Part 1: 2000

Welcome to The Vault of Horror's year-by-year breakdown of the decade that was--a look back at horror in the aughts, if you will.

The first decade of the new century is basically over, and so it's time to assess what that ten-year stretch meant for the genre we adore. Time to begin at the beginning, the year that brought us into a new millennium, the year that had so many idiots thinking the world was going to end (until they bumped that back another 12 years). We start with the year 2000.

Interestingly, a study of 2000 in horror reveals that much of the horror drought of the 1990s, as well as other trends of that decade, were still continuing. It is not a particularly impressive year for horror, certainly not for those fans who are spoiled by everything that's been out there for the past few years.

In addition to the relative dearth of quality horror films that some would call a residual effect of the preceding decade, we also find that some of the franchises that defined the 1990s were still gasping their last. For example, Scream had its final sequel to date, Scream 3, which miraculously featured Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette all somehow surviving again. There would also be the second Urban Legends film (Final Cut), as well as the disastrous Blair Witch sequel, Book of Shadows, which effectively buried the legacy of what may have been the 1990s most important horror flick.

And yet a brand new horror franchise would be kicked off right here at the start of the decade. One which still continues today, and may be second only to Saw as the decade's most popular. Final Destination hinges on a rather simple premise: A group of characters cheat death thanks to a premonition glimpsed by one of them. And one by one, death comes calling for them all in gruesome ways. While no classic by any stretch of the imagination, it's guilty pleasure viewing at its finest, and hasn't seem to have lost any steam, as the fourth film in the series opened at number one at the box office just last month.

Classic monsters from horror's past proved that they could still survive even the change of a century--despite the fact that for the most part, we may have wished they hadn't. Of course, I'm thinking mainly here about the forgettable Dracula 2000, whose only merit was seeing Star Trek: Voyager's Seven of Nine fall victim to a vampire; as well as the banal Kevin Bacon clunker Hollow Man, yet another riff on the old Invisible Man concept.

Yet the classic horror theme struck paydirt at last with Shadow of the Vampire, a witty and clever film all about the 1922 making of F.W. Murnau's German masterpiece, Nosferatu. The film posits the question: What if Max Schreck really were a vampire? Willem Dafoe's performance in the role earned him an Oscar nomination, and John Malkovich is suitably masterful as Murnau.

Although it may have been a somewhat weak year, 2000 gave us a handful of unforgettable gems in addition to Shadow of the Vampire. For instance, the character of Patrick Bateman became a titanic figure on the horror landscape thanks to the instant cult classic that was Mary Harron's adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis' sinister indictment of yuppy culture, American Psycho.

Quite possibly the finest horror film of the year, American Psycho proved that the novel, once thought unfilmable thanks to its heinous imagery, could actually be transferred to the screen without losing its power. And along the way, former child star Christian Bale became legitimately established as an actor to contend with, playing the lead role with inspired lunacy.

We also got Robert Zemeckis' only straight-up horror film to date, the underrated ghost flick What Lies Beneath--starring Michelle Pfeifer and Harrison Ford in a rare turn as the heavy. And the Canadians gave us Ginger Snaps, the ingeniously fresh take on the werewolf mythos that approaches the material from a post-modern, feminist point of view, tieing lycanthrope in with puberty.

And finally, 2000 was the year that George Romero attempted to break back on to the horror scene with Bruiser, one of the most unfortunate misfires of recent years. The horror/thriller failed to connect with audiences, and Romero would have to wait a few more years before his old undead pals would return him once again to the spotlight.

Although a somewhat inauspicious start to the decade, 2000 would give us a few glimmers of the good stuff that was to come. The genre was shaking off the doldrums of the 1990s, and it wouldn't be long before things would be getting much, much better.

Also from 2000:

  • Pitch Black
  • The Cell
  • The Gift
  • Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV
  • Ju-on 2
  • The Little Vampire

Monday, September 28, 2009

TRAILER TRASH: Lucio Fulci Edition!



















Random Ramblings from the Vault...

  • How startling was it to see John Lithgow's naked ass on the season premiere of Dexter? Never saw that on Third Rock!
  • How sad is it that One Missed Call was actually ranked by Rotten Tomatoes as the second worst movie of the past ten years?
  • As nostalgically charming as they may be, the Monogram films of the 1940s are largely proof that every era had its share of bad movies, including the decade of Casablanca, White Heat and Notorious.
  • If you had to nail it down to a definition, would you say that the baby in Grace is a zombie? Semantic, yes. But I must know!
  • Can someone please explain to me why New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are not among the 13 markets currently showing Paranormal Activity?
  • I found Jennifer's Body highly enjoyable, despite the best efforts of Diablo Cody's pretentiously self-aware dialogue to derail it at every turn.
  • There really needs to be some kind of deluxe, box-set treatment for the films of Lucio Fulci. Somebody make it happen.
  • Suspiria may very well be the creepiest movie ever made. It is also an absolutely breathtaking work of art at the same time.
  • Little-known fact: Evil Dead: The Musical was actually professionally filmed for inclusion on some deluxe DVD release of the movie, but it never happened. If you have the opportunity to track it down somewhere, take it! Great, great fun.
  • How can the character of Barbara be in a Night of the Living Dead prequel, when she only first encounters the zombies at the beginning of Night of the Living Dead??

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Looking for a Review of Paranormal Activity?

Paranormal Activity. It's been the talk of the horror blogosphere (and beyond) for days now. It has garnered that very coveted buzz as a rare film that is seriously frightening everyone who has the opportunity to see it, in the way films of previous generations like The Blair Witch Project, The Exorcist, Psycho and Frankenstein did. And yet, it is currently only playing in a mere 13 movie theaters across this fine land of ours. And none of them are anywhere near me.

I am in the process of securing a review for The Vault of Horror, but in the meantime, for those curious, I'd like to direct your attention to a particular FOV (that's Friend of the Vault--act like you know) who has been lucky enough to see the film.

Here's a link to a video review from a visibly shaken Maweanne of The Spooky Brew that's well worth checking out. She was on-hand a couple days ago for the infamous L.A. premiere that was covered by MTV News...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The CHE Weigh in on Horror Lit--Be Prepared, It's Coming

After having polled the best and brightest of the online horror blogging/writing community on a whole bunch of movie-related topics in the past, I have finally decided (at the suggestion of the Vault's own RayRay) to focus the spotlight at long last on the written word. That's right, here in The Vault of Horror we still value books--bold concept, wouldn't you say?

I currently have emails out to a vast array of online pundits, asking for their own personal lists of the finest horror novels, short stories and/or poems. There is still some time for all the submissions to come in, but even at this time I've already gotten responses from the likes of Fascination with Fear, Evil on Two Legs, The Moon Is a Dead World, John Muir's Reflections on Film and TV, Cinema Suicide, Musings Across a Continuum, Uranium Cafe, Billy Loves Stu, McBeardo's Midnight Movies, Zombos' Closet of Horror and Kim Paffenroth's Gospel of the Living Dead.

Deadline for submissions happens later this week, so hopefully I will be able to tally the results for your perusal during next week. So get ready for the "Cyber Horror Elite" to direct its attention to the likes of King, Poe, Lovecraft, Stoker, Rice and all the rest of the genre's greatest scribes. I'm hoping it will make for some interesting debate, and maybe even give you some ideas for future reading...

A Quarter-Century of Krueger: Variations on Freddy

When you're virtually omnipotent in the dream world the way Freddy Krueger is, you can take an almost limitless host of different forms and appearances. This is part of what makes Fred such a memorable slasher. Here's a look back at some of the most famous (and infamous) incarnations of Elm Street's favorite psycho...

"Snake Freddy" devours Patricia Arquette in Dream Warriors.

In a twisted ode to Lewis Carroll, Krueger appears as a stoner caterpillar in Freddy vs. Jason.

It's a bird, it's a plane... no, it's Super Freddy, from The Dream Child.

"Welcome to prime time, bitch!" So says the rather crass Krueger in Part 3.

Freddy's charred skeleton battles the swarthy John Saxon, also from Part 3.

The very creepy marionette Freddy from Dream Warriors--damn, that movie has some good ones...

Cool, dude! Freddy on the beach in The Dream Master.

A cross-dressing Krueger, also from Part 4.

The notorious Power-Glove Krueger from Freddy's Dead--which leads to...

Video-Game Freddy! Probably not the franchise's finest moment.

And finally, also from Part 6, Wicked Witch Freddy. "I'll get you, my pretty! And your little soul, too!" Ugh.

Friday, September 25, 2009

VAULT VLOG: Some Halloween Music Ideas From Yours Truly...

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Motherlode of Horror Home Video!

Just a little heads up tonight for you adrenaline freaks out there, to let you know that last week and this week have unleashed upon us a rash of awe-inspiring horror releases on Blu-Ray and DVD the likes of which I've rarely seen. You just have to love the Halloween season.

Between this week and last, here's what you collectors and renters out there now have the ability to own and/or experience:

An American Werewolf in London (BLU)
Includes the excellent fan-made documentary Beware the Moon. And how about that awesome cover?!

Van Helsing (BLU)
Awful. But perhaps of interest to you Universal completists out there.

Army of Darkness (BLU)
This one's called the "Screwhead Edition". How could you not love that?

Phantasm II (DVD)
As astonishing as it may seem, this is the first time that this 1988 sequel has been released on DVD.

Misery (BLU)
The movie that made Kathy Bates a star, and reminded us all that James Caan was still alive.

Child's Play (BLU)
Just in time for the needless remake!

Grace (BLU)
Oddly enough, this one was not simultaneously released on DVD. Hope it's coming...

Deadgirl (DVD)
A limited release low-budget shocker that's well-worth seeking out. Trust me.

Shaun of the Dead (BLU)
Is there anything more that can be said about this one? A slice of fried gold. Get it.

Gojira (BLU)
I was delighted to see the original Japanese version get the deluxe DVD treatment a couple years, and now Blu-Ray. Rapture. I may just have to buy a player...

Retro Review: The People Under the Stairs

I've typically used this space to review films of the past that are widely hailed and recognized. This week, however (at the request once again of Ms. Merlot), I am taking a look at a movie that kind of gets short shrift, in my opinion. While not disliked, it does get unfairly overlooked, and is, in fact, one of the most fun horror pictures of the early 1990s.

When the name of Wes Craven is brought up, people usually think of A Nightmare on Elm Street, or maybe Scream. They might also mention Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, The Serpent and the Rainbow, hell, maybe even Deadly Friend or Shocker. But it's highly unlikely that they will mention The People Under the Stairs, which is easily the director's most underrated horror film.

Coming on the heels of the aforementioned Shocker, in which Craven had tried, unsuccessfully, to launch another slasher franchise, the director was looking to do something a bit different. And he certainly did that with People Under the Stairs--say what you will about it, it's quite unique.

The story of a poor young boy nicknamed "Fool" (played by child star Brandon Quinton Adams, best known for starring alongside Michael Jackson in Moonwalker), who breaks into the home of his wealthy landlord along with his older sister's boyfriend, the movie blends horror, suspense, and a liberal dose of comedy. Fool and Leroy (played by relative newcomer Ving Rhames three years before Pulp Fiction made him a star), are out to steal some valuable coins from the miserly landlord, in order to help Fool's poverty-stricken family and cancer-suffering mother. But they get more than they bargained for when they find themselves trapped in the house, and at the mercy of the owners and their mysterious brood of "people under the stairs".

The cast is rounded out by the likes of Bill Cobbs, a solid character actor who recently popped up as the old custodian in A Night at Museum; as well as fan favorite Kelly Jo Minter, whom had previously appeared in the fifth installment of the series Craven had started, NOES.

It's the quirkiness of the film, more than anything else, that makes it so interesting. It's not especially well-acted or shot. It does benefit from some effectively spooky production design from Spinal Tap and Moonwalker designer Bryan Jones. The makeup work also contributes tremendously to the horror aspect, and is especially shocking in parts due to the often comic nature of the film. For this we can thank Howard Berger, a luminary in the field whose resume includes such films as Day of the Dead, Night of the Creeps, Evil Dead II, Misery, Pulp Fiction, Craven's Scream, The Green Mile, Kill Bill, Sin City, Hostel, Drag Me to Hell, and many, many others.

It's a very bizarre and original premise, and only gets weirder when we learn that the supposed couple who owns the house are actually brother and sister, with the mutated, zombie-like kids under their stairs being children they have abducted to be their own. Add to that the fact that we have a main character in constant peril who is also a child, and this makes for some interesting viewing.

Craven would follow up this 1991 picture with a creatuve return to the series he launched, New Nightmare--and not long after that would enjoy a second career renaissance thanks to the groundbreaking Scream. And so, PUS (as I so fondly abbreviate it) would sort of get shuffled under the carpet, remembered only by the dedicated fanboys (like myself) who enjoyed it the first time around.

So for those who were not around to enjoy it, especially those who have found they particularly enjoy the work of Wes Craven, I wholeheartedly recommend The People Under the Stairs. It may be no Nightmare on Elm Street, but it's a far cry from Vampire in Brooklyn, too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Guest Post and an Award--Banner Day for B-Sol

In the grip of some foul and vaguely diagnosable head cold, I am taking the easy way out tonight and directing your attention to a couple of items of great interest--to me, at least. And so that means they should be to you, as well.

Firstly, I encourage you to proceed directly to Day of the Woman, where I have written my latest guest post for my venerable sister blog. This time around, it's a "Woman of the Week" piece on a woman who deserves it more than just about anyone--I'm talking about Ellen Ripley, also known as Sigourney Weaver, star of the Alien franchise.

Also, I wanted to acknowledge and thank the magnanimous Pax Romano, who has bestowed on me the brand spankin' new "Hot Zombie Award" for Best Blog by a Former WWF/WWE Employee (heh, heh). Go check out Pax's fabulous blog Billy Loves Stu for the full awards.

Hump-Day Harangue: Calling Out the After Dark HorrorFest, Part 1

This week I bring you a guest harangue, from long-time Vault Dweller and comrade in the world of the macabre, the mysterious and marvelous Marilyn Merlot. Marilyn is, I confess, much more versed in the notorious "8 Films to Die For" phenomenon than I, having subjected herself to almost all of them over the years. So I figured, with the fourth edition of HorrorFest headed our way, who better to rant on this yearly affront to our horror sensibilities than she? Enjoy...

The After Dark HorrorFest is a weekend of horror films that are supposedly considered too graphic or too disturbing for general audiences. At least that's the company line, and I must say, they have some great marketing skills. Too bad I can’t say the same for their movies. When you hear about movies that are "too graphic", any horror lover like me will run to the nearest theater. They are shown in roughly 500 theaters in 35 cities (unfortunately, these numbers are growing). Nevertheless, if HorrorFest is not coming to a city near you, consider yourself lucky.

8 films that would make you want to die, batch number one (2006):

  • Abandoned
  • Unrest
  • Penny Dreadful
  • The Gravedancers
  • The Hamiltons
  • Reincarnation
  • Dark Ride
  • Wicked Little Things

Some of these movies have all the right ingredients to make a good film, but fall completely flat, and fast. I like my B horror movies just like the next person, but these were far worse than that. Bad acting, no creep factor, very predictable, no nudity. If your film is going to be that bad, at least have someone get naked to keep my attention.

I think what kills me the most is how they market these movies as being too graphic and too disturbing, which is allegedly why they weren’t released to theaters. When in actuality, they were not released because they SUCK, in plain English. They went straight to DVD. Don’t worry folks, you don’t even need to go out and rent them if you want to try and prove me wrong. Because now, they're going straight to the Sci-Fi channel. Oh wait, I’m sorry, SyFy (don’t get me started on that one).

So out of all eight movies, which one do I think is the worst? My vote goes to Unrest. The "best" movie out of this list, if I had to pick, would be Penny Dreadful. To those who have watched these films, or those curious to do so, feel free to challenge me. I dare you.

Stay tuned for my take on the second installment of HorrorFest, as I bring you 8 more movies that would make you want to die!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Tuesday Top 10: Favorite Horror Movies of the 1920s

Although there certainly were a handful of fine horror films made prior to 1920, this list can essentially also be called, "My Favorite Silent Horror Movies". The problem with the 1920s, however, is that there is such a significantly smaller amount of movies surviving than in later decades, which results in this becoming more of a "usual suspects" list than anything else, since there is a more limited selection from which to choose.

Did you know that 90% of all the movies made in the silent era are lost? Yes, I was shocked to learn this statistic as well. What's also telling about this list is that a full six of the ten come from non-English speaking countries, demonstrating that the U.S. had not yet established itself as the center of the cinematic world. Anyway, take it for what it is, and behold the finest horrors the silent era had to offer...

10. The Man Who Laughs (1928)
Based on the Victor Hugo novel, this is not quite horror per se, but the classic Jack Pierce makeup from this early Universal gem still inspires terror. In fact, as most probably know, it was Bill Finger's inspiration for the creation of Batman's archnemesis the Joker a dozen years later.

9. Dr. Mabuse (1922)
The original Dr. Mabuse film, this tense crime thriller from Metropolis-director Fritz Lang contains elements of mystery, fantasy and suspense, all set in a bizarre gangland environment. An often copied film--in fact, the latest version of Dr. Mabuse is set to come out next year.

8. Haxan (1922)
Arguably the finest horror-themed documentary ever made, chronicling the "history of witchcraft through the ages". This history is depicted via illustration, as well as a series of dramatizations, resulting in some truly indelible images. A 1960s re-issue was narrated by William S. Burroughs.

7. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
Another genre-bending entry from the pen of Victor Hugo, and although it is not a horror film in the true sense, the involvement of the great Lon Chaney, and that unforgettable makeup, make it difficult to omit. Easily one of the most underrated movie "monsters" of them all. The whipping scene in particular is something that stays with you.

6. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Considered by some to be the finest horror film ever made, this classic early piece of German expressionism features some of the most mind-bending set design you'll ever see--reminiscent of some of the best of '30s Universal. It also has a young Conrad Veidt (the Nazi from Casablanca) as the uber-creepy Cesare.

5. Faust (1926)
Otherwise known as F.W. Murnau's other horror classic, Faust is his adaptation of Goethe's play, itself based on much older tales of the epic war between God and Satan over the soul of a powerful alchemist. Amazing visuals, particularly for its time. Expressionism at its best.

4. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Perhaps the silent horror flick best known by mainstream audiences and casual fans, this is also the finest hour for Chaney, the genre's first megastar. As Erik the Phantom, he is an icon, and the makeup he created for himself will live forever in horror immortality.

3. The Golem (1920)
A take on the classic bit of folklore about a rabbi in 16th century Europe who conjures up a creature to exact his vengeance, this is quite simply a gothic masterpiece, dripping with atmosphere.

2. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1920)
I've recently come to appreciate this as the finest adaptation of Robert Louis Stephenson's famous novella--better even than the revered 1931 version starring Fredrich March. Barrymore is jaw-dropping, conjuring up the evil Hyde with minimal makup and maximum acting chops. Put plainly, the finest American silent horror film.

1. Nosferatu (1922)
Not only the greatest horror film of the 1920s, but I believe an argument could be made that it might be the finest horror film ever (although I personally will not make that argument). Pure joy for any true horror fan, from beginning to end, Max Schrek's exploits as the demonic Count Orlock make up an almost transcendent experience of movie viewing. It might be easy and predictable to choose this as number one, but I choose it for a reason--it is the most frightening movie of its era, and still the most rewarding to watch. Not to mention the best screen adaptation of Dracula.

The Many Faces of Christopher Lee










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