This early vampire epic featured a truly hideous-looking undead creature portrayed by Max Shreck who indeed gave me the creeps when I first saw him as a youngster.
The Phantom of the Opera
The classic cinematic unmasking scene by Lon Chaney set the standard
for all others to follow, embodied in a consistent film noir backdrop!
Lon Chaney portrays an armless circus performer who is in reality a murderer with an unusual double thumb. He loves the beautiful Joan Crawford who is repulsed by the acrobat who keeps grabbing her, preferring the "armless" Chaney. So that she will not learn his secret, he goes to a surgeon wo owes him a favor to have his arms actually AMPUTATED. Then,when he returns to the circus, he finds Crawford has fallen for the acrobat,and tries to kill him, being torn himself torn to death by a pair of horses. This grim tale, especially, the amputation, literally gave me the shivers.
This classic tale, especially the early dark scenes involving Dracula's castle, must be included in any list of horror classics. But, unlike the vampire in "Nosferatu," I was intrigued and enchanted by Lugosi's character!
This ultimate creature feature demands inclusion on this list, with not only Boris Karloff's creature, but the graveyard and laboratory scenes engendering a truly horrific masterpiece!
This grandfather of all mummy films, with Boris Karloff's revivification and later lapidification, set the bar for such epics...while the recent "Mummy" entries may have more special effects, they cannot in any way, shape or form compete with this classic!
The contingent of zombies created by Bela Lugosi, former enemies in life, as well as the zombie slaves working at his sugar mill and other film noir scenes mark this as the prototype of all other zombie films...while later ones may have more zombies, blood, and gore, none can compare to this entry!
This Tod Browning classic, about a sideshow populated by actual teratological specimens (such as an armless, legless man) and a denouement with the villainess, a trapeze artist, being transformed into one herself, strongly argues for this entry on any list of unnerving horror films!
Island of Lost Souls
An island filled with animal-human hybrids(including Bela Lugosi), created by your stereotypical mad scientist (Charles Laughton), who himself is placed on the operating table by his "children," must be included on this list!
The Black Cat
The deadly conflict between Lugosi and Karloff in the setting of a WW1 fortress converted to a futuristic home, including the dark walk down its dungeoned corridors, dead females in upright glass tombs, the rites of Lucifer, and the skinning alive of a villain, make this an unforgettable horror entry!
Strangler of the Swamp
This low-budget film featured an eerie ghost (portrayed by Charles "Ming The Merciless" Middleton) seeking venegeance on those who framed him for murder, and menacing the heroine (Rosemary LaPlanche), trying desperately to save her beloved (Blake Edwards in his 1st film role). My nominee for best ghost film in cinematic history!
The Body Snatcher
The film noir character of this film was present from start to finish, with Karloff working as a body snatcher to supplement his pitiful income as an Edinburgh cabbie. Cemeteries, cadavers, and even a phantom, along with superb acting by Karloff, Henry Daniell,and Lugosi (in a minor role), make this a horror film of the highest order!
While the fly-human mutant (portrayed by Al(David) Hedison) was definitely creepy, the scene that secures a place on the horror list for this film is that of the tiny fly, trapped in a cobweb, with a wizened human head and mutated arm, who cries,"Help me," as he is about to be devored by a spider. This scene is the one I was most shocked at seeing as a youngster, and am impacted by it to this very day. Indeed, when my friend and I left the theater, this was the scene we were discussing, not the human-fly!
This lesser-known horror classic features a mad Japanese scientist who has transmogrified his wife into a horrible creature, his brother into a monster, and an American reporter into a 2-headed entity (who first has an eye growing out of his shoulder) which ultimately divides into a pair of creatures. These elements demand its inclusion of this list of horror films!
Carnival of Souls
Top horrific honors are demanded for this film that depicts a woman (Candace Hilligoss) pursued by a creepy character and encountering a dance of dead beings who learns that she actually died in an auto accident and must journey beyond the grave! (Inger Stevens did an excellent job in an abbreviated version of this tale on "The Twilight Zone")