It's Amir here, brining you this month's poll. It's October so we're obligated to take you to the dark depths of cinematic greatness with a list of horror goodies. We're looking at the best horror films of all time, with a twist. We chose The Exorcist (1973) as our milestone since it's the first horror film nominated for the best picture Oscar and about to celebrate its 40th anniversary. So we've split the Best list in half, with The Exorcist as cleaver. Part two comes next Tuesday, but for now
The Top Ten Best
Pre-Exorcist Horror Films
There really isn't much I can add by way of introduction, aside from pointing out that the boundaries of what is or isn't within the limits of this particular genre are blurry. Can Freaks still be considered a horror film today, removed from the initial shock of seeing circus performers with deformities on the screen in 1932? Cruel and unreasonable as it is, the appearance of the protagonists is the chief reason why such a passionately human piece of film history is considered scary at all - though as you will see below, one of our contributors has other ideas. No such questions would apply to Night of the Living Dead but what about Night of the Hunter? Hour of the Wolf? So on and so forth. The point is, take the genre categorizations with a grain of salt, but the suggestions to watch them very seriously. If you haven't seen any of these eleven films -- why is there always a tie? -- here's hoping this list persuades you to do so this October.
10. = Vampyr (1932, Carl Theodor Dryer)
There’s never been a horror movie with stronger art film credentials than this one, made according to the then in-vogue Surrealist style by a director who’d already created The Passion of Joan of Arc and had Ordet yet to come. But just because Carl Theodor Dreyer was a proper “artist” doesn’t mean that Vampyr’s pleasures are exclusively aesthetic. In fact, the same dictatorial control over image and space that makes Ordet a spiritual masterpiece makes this familiar story of one man’s journey through a creepy rural town living in fear of a bloodsucking old woman one of the most thoroughly unsettling things you will ever experience. It's more of a walking tour through a nightmare than a clear-cut narrative, with eerie shadows and shapes every which way and a profoundly moody score by Wolfgang Zeller that jangles one’s very last nerves.