I’m almost halfway through watching all of the movies in the book Studies in Terror. I’ve watched nearly 60 movies. I say nearly because there are still some movies I’ve been unable to find. I’ve still got about 70 movies to go.
So far, I’m really happy I’ve been doing this. I’ve seen some great movies, some mediocre movies and some downright terrible films. But each one I watch makes me feel that much more smug and knowledgeable in the realm of horror. I highly recommend it.
I decided to continue and edit the list I created after I watched 30 films. It’s split into three sections: movies you should see, movies only die-hard fans of the genre need to see, and movies you can skip. Movies I was unable to find are listed at the end. It is in descending order; my favorites are higher on the list.
Movies You Should See
- Psycho: If you haven’t seen this movie, go see it. Right now. I’m not kidding.
- The Curse of Frankenstein: This is the film that skyrocketed Hammer Films to the top of popularity, with good reason.
- Island of Lost Souls: Charles Laughton is phenomenal in this movie, and it is a really fascinating take on the H.G. Wells story.
- Diabolique: A sinister tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat with suspense.
- The Old Dark House: I’ve already rewatched this movie for fun since I first posted about it. It’s a hokey but good creepy house movie.
- The Hands of Orlac: Conrad Veidt can somehow act out whole emotions with his hands. It’s excellent to watch a master actor at work. Plus, the story is nice and scary too.
- Quatermass Xperiment: This is an early Hammer Horror film, rich with science fiction scares.
- La Main du diable: Bargains with the devil make for good stories and this one is a whole lot of fun.
- Frankenstein: This is a true classic of the monster movie genre that every fan of horror absolutely must see.
- Nosferatu: If you like vampire movies, you have to see this original spin on Stoker’s masterpiece.
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Solid science fiction story that isn’t ruined even if you have seen later versions.
- Dracula (1957 version): Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Need I say more?
- Devil Doll: I will never own a ventriloquist’s doll. Ever. All due to movies like this one.
- Eyes Without a Face: An interesting story about the lengths a father will go to for his daughter and for science.
- The Return of Doctor X: It’s got Humphrey Bogart in it, so I’m pretty much going to include it here due to that fact alone. It’s also a good mad scientist story.
- Daughter of Darkness: The leading lady in this film is eerily enticing.
- The Unknown: Lon Chaney is an actor who put up with a lot of pain for his art. This movie does a great job showcasing it.
- The Wolf Man: Lon Chaney, Jr., is not as great as his father, but he does a good job in this movie all dolled up in full werewolf makeup. It’s also a core Universal monster picture that must be seen.
- The Body Snatcher: It’s got Karloff. It’s got Lugosi. And it’s basically about Burke and Hare. How can you go wrong?
- The Monster Maker: It’s a ripoff of other films but is still a lot of fun to watch.
- White Zombie: This is only low on the list because I did not like it the first time I watched it. However, now that I’ve seen lots of Bela Lugosi, this is definitely one of his better roles.
- Werewolf of London: I really liked the werewolf lore in this movie, even though it doesn’t have the great makeup that The Wolf Man has.
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: I’m going to admit that I didn’t like this movie much when I first watched it. Having watched 29 subsequent films, however, it is easy to see what a huge influence it was. Plus, it has Conrad Veidt, who was in The Hands of Orlac and Casablanca.
- The Brides of Dracula: This sequel to Hammer Films’ Dracula continues the story with more vampires and more Peter Cushing.
- Onibaba: Scary Japanese story about two women doing anything to survive set in the days of the samarai.
- Tales of Terror: It’s got Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone in three Poe-inspired tales.
- The Horrible Dr. Hichcock: I don’t know how this story about a necrophiliac slipped past the censors.
- Haxan: This movie is slow to start but has some utterly creepy scenes in a documentary style.
- The Cat and the Canary: A really good, Clue-style mystery.
- The Plague of the Zombies: Classic zombie film from the days when they were still steeped in Caribbean lore.
Deep Cuts for Hardcore Horror Fans
- Cat People: This movie is a very subtle film with psychological scares.
- Castle of the Living Dead: Taxidermy, Christopher Lee and some murders make up this hodge-podge movie.
- Castle of Blood: This is a classic Barbara Steele vehicle.
- The Whip and the Body: Italian horror film with Christopher Lee as a whip-brandishing rapscallion.
- Curse of the Demon: An interesting early satanic cult film.
- The Dark Eyes of London: If you like Bela Lugosi, this is a good one. Otherwise, it is just a pretty basic thriller.
- Mad Love: If you liked The Hands of Orlac, check out this remake.
- The Mad Ghoul: It’s a good ghoul/zombie film that is fun to compare to other films in that subgenre.
- Mystery of the Wax Museum: Classic wax horror movie with a fast-talking 1930s reporter to boot.
- The Black Cat: This was Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff’s first film together.
- The Wind: This is not strictly a horror film, which is why I do not include it above. I loved it, but I don’t know if all horror fans would enjoy this strange silent film.
- The Most Dangerous Game: This is here as a deep cut only because my husband liked it. I was not much of a fan.
- The Skull: What happens when you dig up the skull of the Marquis de Sade? Bad things for Peter Cushing.
- The Masque of the Red Death: Watch this one if you like Poe stories and Vincent Price. You’ll get plenty of both here.
Movies You Can Skip
- The Brain That Wouldn’t Die: It only makes it to the top of the bad list because it is so terrible, it becomes funny.
- Blood and Black Lace: An Italian movie with a bit of gore (but not enough to hold my interest).
- Nightmare Castle: If you have seen other Barbara Steele movies, you’ve seen this one.
- Macabre: It has an interesting premise, but the gimmicks don’t make it worthwhile.
- Waxworks: This movie is a bit too hokey for my liking and not particularly scary.
- Kill, Baby…Kill!: Only slightly redeeming factor is that the child ghost is creepy. Other than that, not worth it.
- Mill of the Stone Women: If you like hot Italian women, then that might be the only redeeming thing about this film for you.
- Vampyr: This one is too avant-garde without enough discernible plot.
- The Ghoul: I got very bored watching this.
- The Awful Dr. Orlof: The title is basically my review. It’s awful.
- The Maze: It’s just got a stupid plot and a worse ending.
- The Lodger: This Jack the Ripper story has far too much singing in it and not enough killing.
Movies I Was Unable to Find
- The Night Has Eyes: I only watched the first half; the rest of the online video was corrupted. It’s unfortunate, because it was a pretty good first half.
- El fantasma del convento: I was only able to watch this in the original Spanish, and I know no Spanish.
- The Silent House: I couldn’t find this movie at all. Let me know if you know where to find it by leaving a comment.
- Ladron de cadaveres: Don’t let Amazon fool you; the copy they sell does not actually have English subtitles.