What do you know, we’ve got another German expressionist picture making the list. I’d bet a lot of younger fans have no true idea just how influential the Germans were to our beloved genre. Their passion for shadowy images and conflicting approaches that intermingle to form these fantastical productions would prove key to the future of horror. And, amazingly, this is a style of film that we still see today, typically to a toned down degree, and sometimes unrecognizable as a result of the visual dynamics introduced by the color image. The simple fact is, we may still see some of this vintage style specifically because of Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. These films weren’t just important for the horror genre, they made a serious impact on film as a whole.
As for Nosferatu in particular, to the best of my knowledge, this is actually the first vampire film out there, based on – of course – Bram Stoker’s legendary novel. I could be wrong about that, but I can’t think of a bloodsucker pic that predates F.W. Murnau’s absurdly eerie vampire picture. It’s now a tale that comes to atypical life thanks to a baffling performance from Max Schreck, who brings a new meaning to the word ‘haunting.’ Schreck’s elongated appearance is creepy to the point of astonishment, and his understanding of physical acting feels flat out uncanny. Were Schreck alive and filming movies today, even given the landscape as we know it, he’d be right up there with the absolute best of them. As history stands, Nosferatu is right up there with the most important pictures ever made. I won’t tell you we’d have never seen Tod Browning’s Dracula without Nosferatu, as Stoker’s epic was destined to inspire a slew of films one day, one way or another, but I will tell you that Nosferatu feels unlike any other vampire film out there, and it is hands down one of the most important accomplishments in the history of horror.
Continue the countdown of the 15 films that defined the horror genre on the next page!