In case you’re new ‘round these parts, for the past three years Jules has been sinking his teeth into the world of classic British, American and Hammer horror movies with his #31Days series of reviews.
Granted, some of these films are certainly showing the ravages of time, with ropey stories, dialogue and special effects, but there are a select few that have stood the test of time and remain bonafide classics to this day.
So with Halloween fast approaching, we thought we’d put together a little recap of some of the absolute top examples of the genre to help get you in the spooky mood this October.
How many of these absolute belters have you seen over the years?
“Frankenstein isn’t a classic in the way Lugosi’s Dracula is, where its impact and importance lends it weight, it’s a classic because it reinvented the wheel and is pretty much a flawless piece of filmmaking. A masterpiece? Oh yes. And then some.” – FULL REVIEW
Vampire Circus (1972)
“Much like the increased application of sex and nudity, the violence in Vampire Circus is ramped right up. Throats are graphically torn out, exit wounds explode out of backs and entire families are shredded for the camera. Again though, none of it feels excessive. It’s a nasty tale and needs no punches pulled. Vampire Circus is that rare thing in Hammer’s 1970s output- a stone cold classic where they just get it so, so right. Immense.” – FULL REVIEW
Night of the Demon (1957)
“Tourneur had made a perfect film here, but those bookending scenes showing the demon were stuck into his masterpiece against his wishes. Are they necessary? Not at all. Do they work? Well, yes. Very much so. The design is wonderful for a start and the somewhat clunky animation used gives it an otherworldly, surreal edge. Saying that, the appearance at the start does remove any ambiguity of who is right and wrong to the existence of the supernatural (and it’s not our hero), but it in no way ruins what was a perfect film before the additions and somehow, remains a perfect film after them. Flawless. Just flawless.” – FULL REVIEW
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
“James Whale really achieved something special here, there’s no doubt about it. Taking his original film and not just trying to replicate it was a bold move, but in creating a film that many feel is actually superior to that classic (though I’m not one of them), the director caught lightning in a bottle yet again. It’s an astonishing piece of work, and one that deserves every bit of its lofty reputation as a classic of the genre.” – FULL REVIEW
“Sure, they worked well on The Curse Of Frankenstein, but here, we properly get to see the real dynamic of the Cushing/Lee team and it’s a real joy to behold. Add in a tight script, some truly stunning set design and the most dramatic of scores and you have not only one of Hammer’s finest moments, but one of the finest moments of the horror genre itself. Magnificent.” – FULL REVIEW
The Plague of the Zombies (1966)
“Transplanting Haitian voodoo to Victorian Cornwall isn’t the easiest of concepts to pull off, but Plague Of The Zombies is nothing short of a masterpiece and it’s tragic that Hammer never returned again to the genre. The finest film Hammer ever made? Maybe. Just maybe.” – FULL REVIEW
Twins of Evil (1971)
“It’s that ambiguity that makes Twins of Evil stand out, that and its relentless pace, thrilling set pieces, gorgeous design and most of all, that towering central performance from Mr Cushing. Their twilight years might have been approaching fast, but in Twins Of Evil, Hammer proved that they still could be a force to reckon with. Magnificent.” – FULL REVIEW
The Haunting (1963)
“Is there actually a presence in the house? Or is it all the psychic manifestation of Eleanor’s traumatised psyche? Well, there’s an argument for both and the original script favoured the latter, but there’s more than enough evidence to suggest that yes, the dead are not quiet at Hill House indeed. The Haunting isn’t just a classic horror, it’s one of the greatest films ever made in any genre and has lost none of its power to disturb, even now.” – FULL REVIEW
Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1965)
“Special mention must be given here to the great man himself, Mr Peter Cushing. His Dr Shreck carried a kindly demeanour with an undercurrent of steely malice that only an actor of Cushing’s considerable talents could carry so elegantly. It’s a small role, but as ever, Peter brings it to full life. Alongside Hammer, Amicus would go on to be the main players in British horror for a few years, and Doctor Terror’s House Of Horrors saw them get it right first time.” – FULL REVIEW
Horror Express (1972)
“There’s a lot been said on how the genre was changing by this point and period-set horror was old hat. Maybe it was, but Horror Express is all the proof you need that classic horror done right is timeless. A stone-cold classic. There’s no other word for it.” – FULL REVIEW
The Old Dark House (1932)
“The most horrifying thing about The Old Dark House is the fact we nearly lost it. Make no mistake, this is a stone-cold classic. It’s terrifying at times, laugh-out-loud funny at others, featuring one of the all-time great ensemble casts and a director at the peak of his powers. If you’ve already seen it, you’ll know this already, but if you haven’t…put it straight to the top of your “must-watch” list. I guarantee you won’t regret it. Go on…have a potato.” – FULL REVIEW
The Wolf Man (1941)
“Ultimately The Wolf Man is a film about conflicts, between fathers and sons, the old world versus the new and at its core, between man and the beast that lurks within us all. In the end though, it’s a riveting horror film that rightly became an instant classic and has lost none of its power to enthrall, even after all these years.” – FULL REVIEW
The Thing From Another World (1951)
“It’s the kind of film that could only have been made post-Roswell, to be shown in cinemas who had seen newsreels of atomic bombs and communist witch hunts on their big screens. It’s a film that announces the arrival of a bold new era, where man is suddenly made aware that they are not alone in a cold and unfriendly universe. What could be more terrifying? Keep watching the skies…” – FULL REVIEW
The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy