Along with several other horror bloggers, I was asked by B-sol of the Vault of Horror to contribute ten must see titles for anyone with a f...

Monster Land Contributes to the Canon on Vault of Horror

Along with several other horror bloggers, I was asked by B-sol of the Vault of Horror to contribute ten must see titles for anyone with a fledgling interest in the horror genre. I submitted my list of movies ranked from one to ten and using some infinitely complicated geometric algorithm, B-Sol proceeded to compile a list of the top 35.

Being the nerd that I am, I put together the titles on my must see list from a purely academic standpoint, as they reflect major trends and themes in horror prevalent during their time periods.

1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920): An exquisite specimen of German expressionism, this 1920’s film employs chiaroscuro lighting, stylized acting and sharp angles to create a nightmare in black and white.

2. James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein (1935): Whale’s work will always hold a special place in my heart as the best of Universal’s classic monster films. That said the composition of Bride is poetry in motion, especially the lighting and use of canted angles during the animation sequences.

3. Peeping Tom (1960): This film was dubbed a video nasty in Britain and destroyed the career of its director, Michael Powell. Peeping Tom heralds in the era of the realist horror film and blurs the line between pornography, Hollywood film and art.

4. American Psycho (2000): Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a psychopathic business executive in this scathing critique of 80s yuppie culture. Bateman indulges in violent fantasies of murder and mayhem as the society around him either condones or ignores his actions.

5. Drag Me to Hell (2009): Raimi has really come into his own with this film that seems primed to critique our current troubled times. In it, an ambitious bank employee denies a gypsy woman an extension on her mortgage in order to get a promotion and is put under the curse of the Lamia.

6. I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958): This black and white sci-fi horror feature from Paramount expresses fears of a communist other during the Red Scare of the 40s and 50s. A young bride discovers her husband is not the man she thought he was, and is actually an alien come from outer space to repopulate the earth with his species.

7. The Brood (1979): Nola’s brood of rage babies reflects the trend of the terrible child in horror during the sixties and seventies. The rising youth counterculture was seen as a threat by the establishment and gave birth to films like It’s Alive! (1974).

8. Dead Alive (1992): Peter Jackson’s early flick has all the elements of a postmodern horror film, complete with in-jokes and over the top gore. It also reflects many of the stock elements of horror films, including the threat coming from a foreign land (Skull Island) and the triumph of normalcy in the end.

9. Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972): Filmed near the end of Vincent Price’s career, this film and its predecessor, the Abominable Dr. Phibes are perfect examples of camp horror. Price plays a vengeful doctor who talks through a metal tube implanted in the side of his neck and kills his victims with everything from locusts to a giant corkscrew.

10. Sleepaway Camp (1983): This film will never win an Oscar, but has all the elements that would make slasher films so popular. It also employs a twist on the slasher formula by combining the psychosexual killer and the final girl into one character.

4 comments:

  1. Great list of choices; loved that you added Peeping Tom (1960) as I absolutely love that film - an underrated masterpiece!

    So glad I discovered your great blog!

    cheers!
    Sebina

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  2. I really dig the angle you took with your list, results in some very interesting picks. All fantastic films, with the exception of Drag Me To Hell, which I unfortunately missed out on in theaters...but the word has been great for Raimi's return to horror.

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  3. Great list!I've never seen I Married a Monster From Outer Space. NetFlix-ing it ASAP!

    I love your inclusion of Sleepaway Camp. To me, its the penultimate slasher and it completely turned the genre on its head.

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  4. I completely agree Sebina. Peeping Tom, along with Psyco would change the landscape of horror to come.

    Matt,
    I loved DMTH and it would definitely be worth your while to check it out.

    Planet,
    I love the elements of naive camp in this film. The Aunt was hilarious.

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