I mention elsewhere on this site how much I love horror films, but in truth I haven’t watched many over the past 15 years as my wife doesn’t like them, so I normally have to wait until she has gone out for the evening to get my fix. But recently I decided to commit to getting up early everyday and watching a horror film before starting work! Due to other commitments I can’t do this everyday, but I reckon on watching at least four films a week this way. The question was, what films to watch? I have a reasonable collection of films but wanted to expand it. Now I am a great lover of books like top 101 films to watch before you die as you get to see the best, but also some more obscure films that you might not have come across before. 
So with 101 horror films to watch before you die in hand I began my quest… 

A Nightmare on Elm Street 

The book starts from the earliest days of horror films so as well as working my way through them, I alternated these films with others in my collection, starting with Nightmare on Elm Street 1-7! The first nightmare street, directed by Wes Craven and starring Heather Langerkamp as well of course as Robert England as Freddy Kruger is great and has the added bonus of being Johnny Depp’s first feature film - of course some of it is downright silly but it has some great moments. 

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari 

Onto the first of the early films - The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. A great German expressionist film with some incredibly futuristic and weird scenery and is one of the first films to feature a framed narrative. It tells the story of an old man (Calgary) who has a show at the local fair where he exhibits the somnambulist Cesare who can apparently predict the future. A series of random murders happen in the village and everything points to Calgary, but all is not as it seems with a lovely twist at the end. Despite this being a very old film, it has some fantastic images and well worth a look. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 - Freddy's Revenge. 

A really fun film where a young lad is haunted by Freddy and finds himself doing the murders under his control - their is a great scene where he is with his girlfriend, starts kissing her and then his tongue becomes about a foot long - hilarious! 

The Golem 

Staying with German expressionist film, this movie tells the story of some Rabbi’s in a Jewish Ghetto in Prague who summon a Golem ( a clay figure of a man brought to life) to help them and protect them. Needless to say it all goes wrong and the Golem runs amok. Again great visuals in a film directed by and starring Paul Wegener (he plays the Golem) 

Nightmare on Elm Street 3 - the Dream Warriors. 

This film sees the return of Heather Langenkamp, this time as an intern at the local hospital as she tries to help other teenagers plagued with dreams of Freddy. Lot’s of funny scenes again, but also some great depictions of nightmares an I think this is what the Nightmare series have done so well. As you are watching it you are often reminded of aspects of nightmares you have had in the past. 

Nosferatu (1922) 

The very first vampire film. Interestingly director F Murnau did everything he could to get around the copywriter laws of the novel Dracula (he had been refused permission to adapt it into a film. He changed the name from Dracula to Count Orlov, Mina became Ellen, Harker because Hiutter, the location was changed, but none of this was enough and he was successfully sued in 1925 and all prints were ordered to be destroyed. Luckily a few survived so we are able to see this remarkable film today. The images are striking, the use of shadows and lighting is inspired and it is a great film. 


Haxan - This is a very weird Danish film from 1922. Part documentary, part drama on the History of Witchcraft with illustrations of hell, re-enactments of the rituals and trials and subsequent torture of witches make it a fascinating film - I particularly liked the different parts of images being pointed out on the screen by someone with a pointer! Not sure if this is really a horror film but it is interesting nevertheless. 
Next week - Nightmare parts 4 and 5, The Phantom of the Opera and Dracula! 

 Dark Parlour 

 The Secret Room 

 After Dinner Show 

Tagged as: horror films
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