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Horror Films are unsettling films designed to frighten and panic, cause dread and alarm, and to invoke our hidden worst fears, often in a terrifying, shocking finale, while captivating and entertaining us at the same time in a cathartic experience. Horror films effectively center on the dark side of life, the forbidden, and strange and alarming events. They deal with our most primal nature and its fears: our nightmares, our vulnerability, our alienation, our revulsion, our terror of the unknown, our fear of death and dismemberment, loss of identity, or fear of sexuality.

The genre goes back as far as the onset of films themselves, over a 100 years ago. From our earliest days, we use our vivid imaginations to see ghosts in shadowy shapes, to be emotionally connected to the unknown and to fear things that are improbable. Watching a horror film gives an opening into that scary world, into an outlet for the essence of fear itself, without actually being in danger. Weird as it sounds, for some people there is a very real thrill and fun factor in being scared or watching disturbing, horrific images.

We are not fans of modern horror movies however we love classic horror. Most of these are showing on TCM this month and you can find out when they are scheduled to air here. Just like our taste in all classic movies is eclectic, the same can be said for our favorite classic horror movies picks.

 

Poster for the movie "Dracula"

© 1931 Universal Pictures − All right reserved.

Dracula (1931)

The atmospheric, commercially-successful film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel played upon fears of sexuality, blood, and the nebulous period between life and death. The heavily-accented voice and acting of Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi in his most famous portrayal as the 500-year-old vampire was elegant, suave, exotic and stylish – and frightening to early audiences – while the undead villain hypnotically charmed his victims with a predatory gaze.

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Poster for the movie "Frankenstein"

© 1931 Universal Pictures − All right reserved.

Frankenstein (1931)

James Whale’s adaptation from Mary Shelley’s novel about Dr. Henry Frankenstein with a virtually unknown actor – Boris Karloff. With a boxy forehead and neck electrodes (and other features created from Whale’s sketches by make-up artist Jack Pierce), Karloff’s poignant portrayal of the pathetic Monster’s plight gave a personality to the outcast, uncomprehending character with a lumbering and lurching gait.

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Poster for the movie "The Invisible Man"

© 1933 Universal Pictures − All right reserved.

The Invisible Man (1933)

James Whale’s second hit and Universal’s critically-acclaimed film version of H. G. Wells’ novel. An obsessed mad scientist Jack Griffin (Claude Rains in his film debut) created a chemical formula compound that made him irreversibly invisible (with spectacular special effects), without any counter-agent. At first, the effects were comedic, but the serum slowly turned him into an insane megalomaniac lusting for power, and he wreaked havoc on a British country village.

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Poster for the movie "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"