Horror Films are unsettling films designed to frighten and panic, cause dread and alarm, and to invoke our hidden worst fears


Remakes of Classic Vampire, Wolfman, and Frankenstein Films in the 80s and 90s



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Remakes of Classic Vampire, Wolfman, and Frankenstein Films in the 80s and 90s:

Classic Wolfman, Dracula/Vampire, and Frankenstein films were also resurrected and refashioned in the 80s and 90s with bigger budgets and stars. A few of the more accomplished but cliched horror films involving werewolves included John Landis' An American Werewolf in London (1981) (re-made as An American Werewolf in Paris (1997) in the setting of Paris), Joe Dante's horror/comedy The Howling (1981), and Mike Nichols' Wolf (1994) with Jack Nicholson as the afflicted individual - these films featured stunning metamorphosis sequences of man-into-wolf, elements that are now standard procedure for such films. Other recent werewolf films included: Michael Wadleigh's classic werewolf film Wolfen (1981), Neil Jordan's fairy tale-monster film The Company of Wolves (1984), Silver Bullet (1985) - an adaptation of Stephen King's Cycle of the Werewolf, the spoof Teen Wolf (1985) with Back to the Future's Michael J. Fox - and its sequel Teen Wolf Too (1987).

Frank Langella recreated his Broadway role and starred as the famed but tragically-anguished Count in Dracula (1979), and in the same year, the vampire myth was spoofed in the campy Love at First Bite (1979) with George Hamilton. And then Tony Scott filmed the glossy lesbian/vampire tale The Hunger (1983) that starred Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. The campy teen/horror spoof Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) cast Kristy Swanson as the improbable cheerleader and Valley Girl mall queen chosen to challenge LA vampires. The popular TV series of the same name, with high-school vampire slayer Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) perpetuated the vampire myth - it was set in her hometown of Sunnydale, conveniently located above the Hellmouth.

Writer/director Stephen Sommers resurrected The Mummy as a horror creature in his two cliff-hanger Mummy action films: The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001), starring Brendan Fraser as the character of legionnaire Rick O'Connell- a take-off on Indiana Jones, with a pretty but inept Egyptologist archaeologist (Rachel Weisz), and the 3,000-year-old mummified corpse of vengeful high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo). (A spin-off character, the Scorpion King, appeared in another film, Chuck Russell's The Scorpion King (2002), with professional wrestler Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in the title role.) Sommers also wrote and directed the big-budget Van Helsing (2004), featuring Hugh Jackman as the legendary monster hunter who battles not one but three classic creatures: The Wolf Man, Count Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster. The film contained compelling CG special effects, including three half-naked vampires.

Other classic horror tales remade on celluloid in the 80s and afterwards included:


  • The Bride (1985) with Jennifer Beals as the attractive 'bride of Frankenstein'

  • Joel Schumacher's teenage vampire film The Lost Boys (1987)

  • director Kathryn Bigelow's directorial debut film - the violent Western/vampire film Near Dark (1987)

  • director Francis Ford Coppola's visually compelling and baroque Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) with Gary Oldman as the blood-sucking, sexy and ruthless vampire and Anthony Hopkins as his crazed arch-nemesis Van Helsing

  • director/actor Kenneth Branagh's British film (co-produced by Francis Ford Coppola) of the horror classic Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) with Robert De Niro as the Creature and Helena Bonham-Carter as the doctor's distressed fiancee Elizabeth

  • the over-the-top, star-studded vampire epic Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) from director Neil Jordan that was partly based on Anne Rice's popular gothic vampire novels, and featured Tom Cruise as the roguish vampire Lestat

  • the violent horror crime film From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) scripted by Quentin Tarantino

  • John Carpenter's horror/western Vampire$ (1998) with James Woods as a vampire killer

  • Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000 (2000), a loose adaptation of the original Bram Stoker novel

  • Blade (1998) and the sequel Blade II (2002), with Wesley Snipes as the Marvel Comics half-vampire vampire slayer

  • The Queen of the Damned (2002) - singer Aaliyah's last film based on author Anne Rice's popular book series The Vampire Chronicles

Other Notable Horror Films in the 80s and 90s:

Inventive fantasies with Gothic plots included:



  • Michael Mann's visually and technically impressive WW II horror flick with evil Nazis titled The Keep (1983)

  • producer Steven Spielberg's comedy/horror film Gremlins (1984) about cute little "mogwai" hand puppets that turn nasty; a sequel, Joe Dante's Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) provided both black comedy and a parody/satire with lots of in-jokes and cameos, a Donald Trump-like character, and a Busby Berkeley musical homage ("New York, New York") performed by the gremlins

  • the summer blockbuster comedy spoof Ghostbusters (1984) about paranormal investigators in the Big Apple

  • director George Miller's excessively decadent The Witches of Eastwick (1987) about the sexual liberation of three small-town women through Jack Nicholson's Mephisto (Daryl Van Horne)

  • director Arthur Penn's gothic horror thriller/film noir Dead of Winter (1987) with Mary Steenburgen in a multiple role as a victimized woman in a remote cabin during a blizzard

  • Adrian Lyne's Fatal Attraction (1987) with the merging of horror and suspense/thriller genres with a manipulative film about a spurned, deadly woman

  • Nicolas Roeg's The Witches (1990) with Anjelica Huston as the chief witch

British writer/director Clive Barker made his directorial debut with the graphically grisly Hellraiser (1987) featuring nasty Cenobites, followed by innumerable sequels. Another British director, Bernard Rose, made the nightmarish fantasy Paperhouse (1989) and directed Clive Barker's terrifying, violent tale Candyman (1992).

In 1990, Kathy Bates won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of a sick celebrity fan in Misery (1990), based on another Stephen King novel. The first film to feature the evil psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter was Michael Mann's slick Manhunter (1986). Respectability was awarded to the horror film genre when director Jonathan Demme's shocking horror/thriller The Silence of the Lambs (1991), starring Anthony Hopkins as the murderous 'Hannibal the Cannibal' and Jodie Foster as a vulnerable FBI agent, walked away with five major Academy Awards - a clean sweep. Further derivations of the original films included Ridley Scott's Hannibal (2001) and Brett Ratner's prequel Red Dragon (2002) - a remake of Manhunter.



Cape Fear (1991), a Martin Scorsese remake of the early 60's classic with Robert Mitchum as a psychopathic stalker, starred Oscar-nominated Robert DeNiro as a creepy, Freddy Krueger-like paroled convict. The disturbing Jacob's Ladder (1990) featured a Vietnam vet (Tim Robbins) troubled with nightmares due to possible military experiments with LSD and other family traumas. In 1992, the controversial suspense/erotic thriller Basic Instinct (1992) produced pure horror in its story of a beautiful, bi-sexual murder suspect. David Fincher's thriller-horror film Se7en (1995) followed two NY homicide cops (Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt) as they tracked down a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) known for displaying the 'seven deadly sins' at his murder scenes.

A few other horror films in the mid-1990s surprised the industry with their phenomenal success and return to slasher themes. Each of them provided an attractive and hip young cast: The Craft (1996) about schoolgirls dabbling in witchcraft and black magic, Wes Craven's horror/thriller Scream (1996) (see above), and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), about teens covering up a fatal hit-and-run accident - with expected horrific results.

The end of the century's low-budget docu-horror The Blair Witch Project (1999) was filmed as an expressionistic, hand-held video and captured the public's attention with its suggestive and understated horror. Similarly, M. Night Shyamalan's ghost story The Sixth Sense (1999) created suspense without the typical formulaic and explicit elements of most slasher films. One of the most effective, intelligent and stylish horror films of the new decade was Gore Verbinski's The Ring (2002) - a modern-day, gothic horror classic. The Mothman Prophecies (2002), with Richard Gere and Laura Linney, was another intelligent, chilling psychological thriller/horror film based on a legendary 'true' creature with mothlike features and red eyes in Point Pleasant, WV.

Lucrative Horror Film Retreads:

Film making studios realized that lucrative profits could be scored by cheaply remaking or 're-treading' classic horror films (i.e., the re-release Exorcist: The Version You Haven't Seen Before (2000), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Freddy vs. Jason (2003), the prequel Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), Dawn of the Dead (2004), Alien vs. Predator (2004), The Amityville Horror (2005), and House of Wax (2005)). Even some Asian horror films were retreads of successful foreign classics (i.e., The Ring (2002), The Grudge (2004), and Dark Water (2005)). These films were low cost to produce; didn't require much originality, big-name (and salary) actors or extensive marketing (because of brand-name recognition); and they had ready-made legions of faithful horror-film devotees. One thing most of the films had in common - they were not favorites of the film critics.


Greatest Early Classic Horror Films:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919, German)

Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terror (1922, German) (aka Nosferatu, The Vampire)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Dracula (1931)

Frankenstein (1931)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)

Freaks (1932)

Island of Lost Souls (1932)

The Mummy (1932)

The Old Dark House (1932)

White Zombie (1932)

The Ghoul (1933)

The Invisible Man (1933)

King Kong (1933)

The Black Cat (1934)

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Mad Love (1935)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

The Wolf Man (1941)



Cat People (1942)

I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

Phantom of the Opera (1943)

The Seventh Victim (1943)

The Lodger (1944)

The Uninvited (1944)

The Body Snatcher (1945)

Dead of Night (1945, UK)

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

The Thing (From Another World) (1951)

House of Wax (1953)

Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

Gojira (1954, Jp.) (aka Godzilla)



The Night of the Hunter (1955)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

Curse of the Demon (aka Night of the Demon) (1957)

The Fly (1958, remade 1986)

The Horror of Dracula (1958, UK)

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)



Other Greatest Horror Films:

Les Yeux Sans Visage (1960, Fr./It.) (aka The Eyes Without a Face, or The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus)

Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Peeping Tom (1960)



Psycho (1960)

Village of the Damned (1960)

The Innocents (1961)

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

Burn Witch, Burn! (1962)

Carnival of Souls (1962)



What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

The Birds (1963)

The Haunting (1963)

Dead Ringer (1964)

Kwaidan (1964), (aka Ghost Stories (1965)

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

The Tomb of Ligeia (1964, UK)

Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1965)

Repulsion (1965)

Frankenstein Created Woman (1966)

Seconds (1966)

The Devil Rides Out (1968, UK), (aka The Devil's Bride)

Night of the Living Dead (1968)



Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Witchfinder General (1968)

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Blacula (1972)



Deliverance (1972)

Last House on the Left (1972)

Don't Look Now (1973)

The Exorcist (1973)

The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Sisters (1973)

The Wicker Man (1973)

It's Alive! (1974)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)



Jaws (1975)

Race with the Devil (1975)

Burnt Offerings (1976)

Carrie (1976)

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

The Omen (1976)

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Suspiria (1977, It.)

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Halloween (1978)

Alien (1979)

The Changeling (1979)

Dracula (1979)

The Fog (1979)

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

Phantasm (1979)

Dressed to Kill (1980)

Friday the 13th (1980)



The Shining (1980)

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

The Howling (1981)

Scanners (1981)



Poltergeist (1982)

The Thing (1982)

Videodrome (1982)

The Dead Zone (1983)

The Evil Dead (1983)

The Hunger (1983)

The Keep (1983)

The Company of Wolves (1984)



Ghostbusters (1984)

Gremlins (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Day of the Dead (1985)

Fright Night (1985)

Re-Animator (1985)

The Fly (1986)

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

The Hitcher (1986)

Manhunter (1986)

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

Dead of Winter (1987)

Fatal Attraction (1987)

Hellraiser (1987)

The Lost Boys (1987)

Near Dark (1987)

The Stepfather (1987)

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Beetlejuice (1988)

Dead Ringers (1988)

The Vanishing (1988)

Arachnophobia (1990)

Darkman (1990)

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990)

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

Misery (1990)

The Witches (1990)

Cape Fear (1991)

The People Under the Stairs (1991)



The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Army of Darkness (1992)



Basic Instinct (1992)

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Candyman (1992)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Body Snatchers (1994)

Ed Wood (1994)

Interview with the Vampire (1994)

Wolf (1994)

Crash (1995)

Se7en (1995)

The Craft (1996)

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Lost Highway (1996)

Mars Attacks! (1996)

Scream (1996)

The Devil's Advocate (1997)

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Scream 2 (1997)

Apt Pupil (1998)

Ringu (1998, Jp.)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Mummy (1999)

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Final Destination (2000)

The Others (2001)

The Ring (2002)

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Van Helsing (2004)

The following list, in unranked alphabetical order, presents a solid collection of the most classic, 'scariest' scenes in movie history, including film scenes that were once considered 'scary' upon their initial screenings, but have lost some of their shock appeal. Films represent some of the best and worst of the horror film genre including entries from the classic Universal 30's monster films to some of the scariest, bloodiest and gore-ridden slasher films of the recent past.




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