How much of a true horror film buff are you? Did you know any of the following ….
It might surprise you to learn that quite possibly one of the first ever horror films was actually a ‘short’ created by none other than Thomas Edison and was simply entitled The Execution of Mary Stuart which in all but 18 seconds displayed the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots .
Although others might suggest that the first true horror film was in fact ‘Le Manoir du Diable’ – 1896 – House of the Devil – another short film’ directed by Georges Méliès – it was considered lost until a copy was found in a film archive in New Zealand in 1988 …
A man tries to go to sleep, but is disturbed by a giant bug climbing up the bed and onto the wall. He attacks the bug with a broom and disposes of it in a chamber pot in a compartment of his bedside table.
A Terrible Night is an 1896 French silent comedy film by Georges Méliès
A man attempting tosses and turns in his sleep, has a nightmare. He is visited by various visions which transform into each other, including a girl clad only in a sheet, a minstrel wearing blackface, Pierrot, and the Man in the Moon, who gnaws on his arm. He wakes up tangled in his sheets. He is relieved that it was all just a dream.
A Nightmare (French: Le cauchemar) is a short silent trick film created and released in 1896 and directed by Georges Méliès.
Honorable Mention: The Joyous Skeleton (1898) In 1898, brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière directed a one-minute film of a dancing stop-motion skeleton, who keeps falling apart and putting his bones back together again. … This was more of an experimental film than an attempt at horror
Above displays some of the very early ‘horror films’ …. however all that aside.
I used to be a true connoisseur, an aficionado if you wish on all things downright ‘orrible’ in the worlds of the strange and unusual, scary, spooky, surreal – the occult, black magic, supernatural and just plain weird and freaky! I used to read thousands of horror books as a youngster, watch hundreds of horror, ghostly, slash and hack and gore movies and so on and nothing could scare me … until one day in 2015 and trying to watch Annabelle in broad daylight and suddenly l found l simply couldn’t? Something clicked inside my head and said DON’T DO IT!!
I stopped watching, l don’t know why it happened, what triggered me, my brain – who knows?
I can still watch zombies and werewolves and some slash and hacks [if l wanted to] and some other genres … but certain genres still freak me out … once l loved to be scared and now l can’t abide it. I tried to rekindle my interest recently and found that the film bored me and l fell asleep – go figure.
I was able to watch the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House which was quite frightening a few years back – but that was then … but today l can read up about real life horrors and not flinch or raise an eyelid to the true horrors that serial killers and murderers can carry out.
Some people love to be scared or so they say, recent studies have suggested that no one enjoys real fear, they can handle fake fear which is the world of the horror film, sufferers of anxiety find comfort in the thrills and spills of the horror movie … but of course the secret here is horror films are a controlled form of fear as in it’s easy to know that the horror we are watching will not actually KILL us whereas real life horrors could!
Anyway, enough already …. l hope you enjoy the unusually eclectic Halloween line up l have prepared for you below of some of the more lesser known horror flicks and personal favourites of my mine from between 1920 – 2020!
Here’s a real Halloween treat for you – hope you enjoy it – let me know your thoughts below!
The Golem: How He Came into the World (German: Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam, also referred to as Der Golem) is a 1920 German silent horror film and a leading example of early German Expressionism. Director Paul Wegener, who co-directed the film with Carl Boese and co-wrote the script with Henrik Galeen based on Gustav Meyrink’s 1915 novel, stars as the titular creature, a being in Jewish folklore created from clay. Photographer Karl Freund went on to work on the 1930s classic Universal horror films years later in Hollywood
A traveller arrives at the desolate Usher mansion to find that the sibling inhabitants, Roderick and Madeline Usher, are living under a mysterious family curse: Roderick’s senses have become painfully acute, while Madeline continues to get weaker with time. When Madeline apparently dies, Roderick has her buried in the family vault, not realizing she is merely in a catatonic state. Madeline awakens in her tomb, and realizing she has been buried alive, descends into madness as she escapes her coffin and seeks revenge.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1931 American pre-Code horror film, directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March, who plays a possessed doctor who tests his new formula that can unleash people’s inner demons. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the 1886 Robert Louis Stevenson tale of a man who takes a potion which turns him from a mild-mannered man of science into a homicidal maniac.
Torture Ship is a 1939 American science-fiction horror film directed by Victor Halperin, based on Jack London’s 1899 short story “A Thousand Deaths”. The film is about a mad scientist performs experiments on “the criminal mind” on captured criminals on board his private ship.
The Invisible Man Returns is a 1940 American horror science fiction film directed by Joe May. The film stars Cedric Hardwicke, Vincent Price, Nan Grey and John Sutton. The film is a sequel to the 1933 film The Invisible Man, it is the second film in the Invisible Man film series. The film is about Sir Geoffrey Radcliffe (Price) who is condemned for a murder he did not commit, which leads to him begging Dr. Frank Griffin (Sutton) to inject him with the invisibility serum despite Griffin’s warning that the serum will drive him mad.
She-Wolf of London is a 1946 American mystery and horror film directed by Jean Yarbrough. It stars June Lockhart and Don Porter. The film is set in London in the early 20th century, where a series of murders have recently occurred. An aunt then tells an innocent young lady that the blood of a werewolf runs in her family and that she is responsible for the deaths. The woman then immediately ends her engagement, leading to her partner to begin investigating the strange case on his own.
Cult of the Cobra is a 1955 American black-and-white horror film from Universal-International Pictures, produced by Howard Pine, directed by Francis D. Lyon, that stars Faith Domergue, Richard Long, Kathleen Hughes, Marshall Thompson, Jack Kelly, William Reynolds, and David Janssen.The film was released as a double feature with Revenge of the Creature.
Baron Osvaldo Lambertenghi is forced to sell his ancestral castle to pay his debts. The manor is ingloriously transformed into a frivolous hotel and Osvaldo is allowed to continue to live there working as a porter. One day Osvaldo receives a visit from his uncle, Baron Roderico da Frankurten, who turns out to be a real vampire. Osvaldo tries to warn the various guests of the hotel, with the only result being that he is taken for a madman. Bitten by his uncle, Osvaldo will also turn into a vampire, but his beloved, Lellina, will also be able to free him from the curse. Uncle Was a Vampire was Christopher Lee’s first appearance in an Italian film production.
The Cabinet of Caligari is a 1962 American horror film by Roger Kay, starring Glynis Johns, Dan O’Herlihy, and Richard Davalos, and released by 20th Century Fox. Although the film’s title is very similar to the German silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), it shares very few similarities except for the main plot twist. The film’s script was written by Robert Bloch, author of the novel Psycho. The cinematographer for The Cabinet of Caligari was John L. Russell, who also worked on Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho (1960).
Spider Baby is a 1967 American black comedy horror film, written and directed by Jack Hill. It stars Lon Chaney Jr. as Bruno, the chauffeur and caretaker of three orphaned siblings who suffer from “Merrye Syndrome”, a genetic condition starting in early puberty that causes them to regress mentally, socially and physically. Jill Banner, Carol Ohmart, Quinn Redeker, Beverly Washburn, Sid Haig, Mary Mitchel, Karl Schanzer and Mantan Moreland also star. The film was released to relative obscurity, but eventually achieved cult status
Cannibal Girls is a 1973 Canadian independent grindhouse comedy horror film, co-written and directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, and Ronald Ulrich. Whether by coincidence or not, the name of the film’s setting, Farnhamville, is reminiscent of Robert A. Heinlein’s novel Farnham’s Freehold, in which cannibalism is a major theme.
The Sentinel is a 1977 American supernatural horror film directed by Michael Winner, and starring Cristina Raines, Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles and Eli Wallach. It also features Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, John Carradine, Jerry Orbach, Tom Berenger, Nana Visitor and Beverly D’Angelo in supporting roles. The plot focuses on a young model who moves into a historic Brooklyn brownstone that has been sectioned into apartments, only to find that the building is owned by the Catholic diocese and is a gateway to Hell. It is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Jeffrey Konvitz, who also co-wrote the screenplay with director Winner.
Alligator is a 1980 satirical horror film directed by Lewis Teague and written by John Sayles. It stars Robert Forster, Robin Riker and Michael V. Gazzo. It also includes an appearance by actress Sue Lyon in her last screen role. Set in Chicago, the film follows a police officer and a reptile expert to track a giant murderous sewer alligator, flushed down the toilet years earlier, that is attacking residents after escaping from the sewers.
Warlock is a 1989 American supernatural horror film directed by Steve Miner and written by David Twohy. Julian Sands stars as the title character, a son of Satan who travels from the late 1600s to modern times with the mission of destroying the world. Lori Singer and Richard E. Grant co-star as a 20th century woman and a 17th century witch-hunter attempting to stop him.
Candyman is a 1992 American gothic supernatural horror film, written and directed by Bernard Rose and starring Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons and Vanessa E. Williams. Based on Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden”, the film follows a Chicago graduate student completing a thesis on urban legends and folklore, which leads her to the legend of the “Candyman”, the ghost of an artist and the son of a slave who was murdered in the late 19th century for his relationship with the daughter of a wealthy white man.
The Ugly is a 1997 New Zealand horror film, the first feature directed and written by Scott Reynolds. The film starred Paolo Rotondo, Rebecca Hobbs, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, and Roy Ward. The film is about a psychiatrist who is meeting with a serial killer to determine whether or not he has been successfully cured. They delve into a journey through his past and his victims, and through this “The Ugly,” a distorted allusion to The Ugly Duckling, is revealed
Apartment 1303 (1303号室) is a Japanese horror film, directed by Ataru Oikawa, that revolves around a woman who investigates a series of suicides in her late sister’s apartment Based on Ju-on horror author Kei Oishi’s original novel.
Miss Zombie (ミス・ゾンビ, Misu zonbi) is a film directed by Sabu. It was shown at the Busan International Film Festival on October 5, 2013. Running time, 85 minutes. Produced by Yoshiki Kumazawa, Satake Kazumi. It is about a future Japan where zombies are domesticated as servants and pets – the film chronicles a female zombie’s ‘ordeals and retaliation’.
Anna and the Apocalypse is a 2017 British Christmas zombie musical film directed by John McPhail from a screenplay by Alan McDonald and Ryan McHenry based on McHenry’s 2010 BAFTA-nominated short Zombie Musical. It stars an ensemble cast of largely unknown young talent, including Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Christopher Leveaux, Marli Siu, Ben Wiggins, Mark Benton, and Paul Kaye.