It’s difficult to name just 10 groundbreaking horror films because so many of them have led the way for things to follow. There are plenty of films in the genre that trailblazed: Very early entries like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari set the tone for things to come. Early slashers like Black Christmas and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre certainly inspired legions of filmmakers. The first entries of powerhouse franchises could be considered groundbreakers as well by introducing new icons… Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Saw all paved the way for incredibly lucrative franchises. And some films opened the doors to new sub-genres like Alien for mainstream sci-fi/horror and Hostel for the unfortunately nicknamed “torture porn” sub-genre.
You could argue a spot for any of those films on the Top 10 Groundbreaking Films list, but this is what we came up with. Please feel free to comment below, or give us your own Top 10 Groundbreaking Horror Films.
Directed by FW Murnau
When he couldn’t secure the rights to use the name Dracula, FW Murnau simply renamed everything from Bram Stoker’s book and created this historic film. He named the movie Nosferatu and then was brilliant enough to find Max Schreck to play Count Orlock (Dracula) in a role that would influence vampire films for decades. Nosferatu took the first step for the vampire sub-genre which would run from Bela Lugosi to Robert Pattinson. From Christopher Lee to Alexander Skarsgaard. Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, even Eddie Murphy all portrayed vampires that can trace the inspiration for their performance back to Murnau, Schreck and Nosferatu. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to turn on a television and not be able to find some kind of program or film which doesn’t contain a vampire, and it all started right here.
Directed by James Whale
Although Frankenstein certainly deserves a spot on this list, this film is also a representative selection as you could include so many of the classic movie monsters here. King Kong, Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Phantom of the Opera and the Mummy were all iconic characters that led the way in horror. Frankenstein, however, stuck out as the most memorable of this remarkable group. Also adapted from a classic piece of literature, Frankenstein was, of course, based on Mary Shelley’s book. The film contained grave-robbing, torture of the monster and the murder of a child. Pretty heavy stuff for the early ’30s. It’s funny to think that so many of today’s cartoonish Halloween decorations were actually inspired by this beast constructed from the rotting pieces of other corpses. An iconic figure that may be the most recognized monster of all time, Frankenstein is a true original piece of artwork that is a rightfully part of the United States National Film Registry.