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From gruesome slasher movies to supernatural themed flicks, our critic-at-large Samantha Ofole-Prince ranks and profiles a wide array of horror films from the 20th century vault. All are available on DVD.
The Changeling (1980)
Cast: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere
In this chilling haunted house tale, George C. Scott plays a composer who discovers his house is haunted by the presence of a child who died there more than 80 years ago. A prime example of a classic horror movie without buckets of blood and gore, “The Changeling” aptly captures an atmospheric creepiness whilst maintaining a steady pace of increasing suspense and is a horror flick without the gimmicks usually needed to elicit a state of fear.
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Cast: Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, this resurrection of Bram Stoker's novel nabbed several Academy Awards upon its release and is considered one of the best screen versions of the Dracula franchise.
The Orphanage (2007)
Cast: Belen Rueda, Fernando Cayo
A terrifying gothic thriller directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, it centers on a young woman who returns to an orphanage where she grew up 30 years earlier. Avoiding cheap thrills, it creates the kind of intelligent apocalyptic story scenario and a grim ambience of despair that ensures its horrific success.
The Exorcist (1973)
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair
This story about a twelve-year-old girl who is either suffering from a severe neurological disorder or has been possessed by an evil spirit is a superb meditation about the nature of evil and still ranks as one of the best horror flicks ever made.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Cast: Kevin McCarthy, Carolyn Jones
A roller coaster ride of scary thrills, Don Siegel’s version is the smartest of the ‘body snatcher’ brand and is one of the most chilling movies ever made for it delivers its paranoiac nightmare in a subtle and very convincing manner.
Cast: Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee
This spooky Asian horror is a far superior version to its American remake despite a sub standard plot. Creepy, stylish and well directed it offers plenty of jolts coupled with a phenomenal ending.
Cast: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch
Directed by Lucio Fulci who is also known as the “Godfather of Gore” this is one of the zombie horror movies that set the standard and offers some of the best looking zombies in the genre. With gruesome special effects and a haunting score, it creates a dark and decaying atmosphere that leaves the viewer with a sense of hopelessness.
Cast: Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins
Alfred Hitchcock once famously said: “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it” Thus, those words proved Hitchcock to be the master of the anticipation for “Psycho” remains one of the most influential horror films in history and is most often voted as the best horror movie of all time by both critics and fans.
The Devil's Backbone (2001)
Cast: Eduardo Noriega, Marisa Paredes
This entertaining ghost yarn from Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro takes place in Spain during the final days of the Civil War in a remote orphanage. A compelling and an emotionally haunting film, it creates tension with taut pacing with an equally spooky soundtrack and has settings that seem almost as frightening as the plot.
The Howling (1981)
Cast: Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee
A childhood classic for many horror movie buffs, this low budget horror was one of the best werewolf flicks of that era. With great special effects it also has one of the best werewolf transformations in cinematic history.