The Continuing Quest For A Classic Horror Movie

Last week I posted about my quest to find a relatively unseen or unrecognised scary movie that could be considered 'classic'... and have since worked my way through a fair few of the candidates. Find out in the readmore if any of them have impressed enough to deserve the title.

1. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari
Viewed by many as the first horror movie, this 1920 silent film has aged pretty well. It's sets are all weird, surrealist backdrops which add to the tone; and the titular villain and his cohort are still pretty creepy. The only problem is, I suppose, that with the increased sophistication of the medium of film it's pretty difficult for such a lo-fi movie (and, I hate to say it, a silent movie) to genuinely scare a modern audience. So while really good, and obviously a classic in it's own right, it's not quite what we're looking for.

2. Session 9
Directed by Brad Anderson, who has gone on to direct The Machinist with Christian Bale and also several episodes of The Wire, it turned out not to be the straight-to-video dud I had initially expected. Revolving around a crew of workmen in an abandoned insane asylum (always a good setting), it's high on atmosphere, has a few good shocks and is a bit twisty in the plot department. While very decent, and at times even good, it's still a long way off the picky criterion I've set to warrant being called a classic- so no prize here. Worth a watch though...

3. The Changeling
Made by another Wire alumni, Peter Medak, The Changeling concerns a composer who after witnessing the violent death of his wife and child, rather foolishly goes to live alone in a big, scary, haunted house. Again, this one has it's moments, but comes across as a bit of a TV movie, and gets a bit too whodunit to be truly scary. Lots of points in it that other movies could be accused of ripping off though (particularly Ringu), so credit where credit's due.

4. Hour of The Wolf
This one is famed auteur Ingmar Bergman's foray into the Horror genre, and definitely came across as something by an amazing filmmaker. I'd never seen anything by Bergman before this, so there was a fair bit of expectation going in. True to reputation the acting was fantastic, and was pretty creepy in itself. As far as 'horror' content is concerned- it's more surreal than anything else, and I guess that's where it's kinda scary. The climax of the movie is very 'what the hell??', and is probably the source of it's claim as a horror film. There are also one or two sequences in the rest of the flick that are quite eerie- notably one that involves Max Von Sydow fishing (ahh, fishing... an untapped source of terror). Overall an excellent flick, but probably a bit more on the artistic side than the scary.


So round one down and no new classics to report. Hour of the Wolf comes close, but I'm gonna be really strict on this, so no cigar yet. Thanks to comments and suggestions we have added a few more to the watching list. Here it is as it stands:

Picnic at Hanging Rock
Carnival of Souls
Village of the Damned
Jacob's Ladder
Night of the Demon
Hellraiser (could do with a re-watch)

I'll post updates as soon as there's a significant amount watched. Surely one of the flicks on this list can scare the bejesus out of me... Fingers crossed.

Keep the suggestions coming!

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