Who’s flickering the lights? The 1922 horror classic has stood the test of time. The silent nature of this film along with its vintage background makes it different to the others on the list because the modern audience is not familiar with its surroundings. Director Friedrich Murnau is a master at creating tension and fear through lighting, intimidating low angle shots and a mixture of slow scenes and quick moments of drama. I was doubly traumatised after watching the spindly Count Orlok when my mother proceeded to tell me that I looked him.
Eyes Without a Face
Here is one for the beauty industry. When a young teenage girl has her face disfigured in a car crash, her crazed plastic surgeon father attempts to find her a new face. This features the infamous heterograft surgery (skin transplantation) scene which is featured on way too many YouTube thumbnails. Another scary scene is the close-up of the young woman’s actual face which is hidden throughout most of the film by a mask. You may think that this film is absurd but when Kim Kardashian is stuffing plastic into her bottom anything is possible.
A relevant film given the sins many of you probably committed over Freshers Week. According to Evangelist Billy Graham ‘The Devil is in every frame of this film’, so it is clearly well worth watching. Director William Friedkin threw out the rulebook of morality in the 1970s when making this film. When this was first screened there were reports of fainting, therapy sessions and attempts by religious fundamentalists to assassinate the female child actor. There are debates about how scary this film is but there is no denying its cultural impact throughout the world.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
I would not advise watching this one before you go to sleep. Freddy Krueger’s character has been featured to death since the 1980s, but the original Nightmare on Elm Street still holds up. Released in 1984 this was one of the last great slasher movies in its golden age from 1978 to 1984. His masochist tendencies, his fedora and his evil laugh make Krueger one of the spookiest villains put to screen. Admittedly the ending could have been better, but the rest of the film is masterful in its use of suspense.
This may seem like an attempt by me to seem “hip”, but I do think this is one of the better horror movies of modern times. Unlike most of the films on the list this film is also a social commentary. It is scarier because it reflects on real life prejudices which still exist today. It is a good film for American historians to watch to understand the discourse of slavery and racism. It is also a good film for politics students to watch because it savages the notion that America is a post racial society.