The Top Five Most Influential Horror Movies of All Time
Bela Lugosi as Dracula
1. Dracula (1931)
Dracula came out only four years after the first talking picture. Many of these first movies weren't very good because the film studios didn't yet have a grasp on how to pair sound with the visual element. Dracula did a great job with this. Bela Lugosi starred as the title character. His interesting accent still gives chills to movie goers today.
While Frankenstein came out in the same year, Dracula can still be attributed with starting the new monster movie craze. The Mummy (1932) and The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) were soon to follow. This movie was also the first of many movies based on the novel, Dracula, written by Bram Stoker.
Opening Scene from Night of the Living Dead
2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
We wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. This single movie spurred many great zombie movies after it. George Romero himself created Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985). Others made Return of the Living Dead (1985) and similar movies.
There has also been a resurgence of the zombie horror subgenre in recent years with Resident Evil (2002) and 28 Days Later (2002). There was even a successful remake of the original Night of the Living Dead in 1990 that gained popularity as well. While it may not have been the first zombie movie, it was definitely the most influential.
Original Halloween Trailer
3. Halloween (1978)
Up until this time, movies have mostly been about monsters, zombies, or ghosts. Halloween presented the general movie-going public with a new subgenre of horror: slasher. Instead of an obvious villain with a large on-screen presence, Halloween showed Michael Meyers, a man of no words. Instead, we watch his destruction unfold as he slaughters numerous horny teenagers. This movie started the large slasher trend that continued into the 1980s. We wouldn't have Friday the 13th (1980) without it. This was also Jamie Lee Curtis' first feature film. From this and other slasher horror films, including Prom Night (1980), she became known as the 'Scream Queen'.
Original Nightmare on Elm Street Trailer
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
While it can be considered a slasher film, influenced by Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street is influential in its own regard. Before this, horror movies were an acquired taste for many. They weren't really in the mainstream. That changed with this movie and its many sequels. Now the general public was loving slasher horror. They especially liked the villain, Freddy Krueger. In fact, children at the time, who were some of the movie's biggest fans, would refer to them not by the real name but by the villain's name. "Let's watch Freddy!" Horror movies got a lot more attention after the release of these movies. The first in this series was also Johnny Depp's first on-screen role.
Original Scream Trailer
5. Scream (1996)
The 1980s were full of great horror movies. In some ways, people got burnt out on these movies, and the popularity of the horror genre bottomed out at the end of the decade. People wanted happy or dramatic movies, and horror was left on the wayside. After a few years, the genre need a jumpstart. That's where Scream comes in. This movie brought back the popularity of horror. Many other horror movies came after it, including I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and Urban Legend (1998). The renewed popularity of horror in the 1990s can be attributed to Scream.
- Frankenstein (1931): This came out at the same time as Dracula and helped to popularize the monster horror movies of the time.
- The Sixth Sense (1999): This movie blew up the world of ghost horror. It had immense popularity. Some people don't consider it a horror movie, calling it a thriller or drama instead.
- The Ring (2002): Japan has a huge horror movie culture. The Ring remade one of their best horror movies to appeal to American audiences. Others were to follow, including The Grudge (2004).
- Saw (2004): This movie started the trend of what I call 'torture' horror movies. There have been many imitators since it came out, as well as many Saw sequels.
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