Murnau was an innovator, combining built sets with real locations and adding a new layer of realism to the vampire tale, as well as trick photography to present Count Orlok as truly otherworldly. Available on Amazon Prime. Even in monochromatic tones, the Universal Classic Monsters painted worlds of horror, eliciting horror through trailblazing cinematic techniques rather than relying on the splatter or gore that would define the genre in later years. Available on Amazon.
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The final moment of the film remains one of the most shocking endings in pre-code horror history, and takes a stance now common in horror: that sometimes the worst monsters are those that walk among us, undetected. Animals are crying out for food and kept in iron-clad cages, and at one point, they legitimately fight one another. One of the first true low-budget horror success stories was also the saving grace of the financially failing RKO Studios.
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Satanism and lesbianism go hand in hand in another Val Lewton—produced masterpiece. Part noir, part horror film, The Seventh Victim is one of the first movies to treat women in horror as fully fledged people with their own thoughts and desires, allowing them full agency. The women are strong-willed, mouthy, and uncharacteristically bold in this pulp staple. Available on DailyMotion. What is perhaps one of the first haunted-house films to treat ghosts as legitimate threats and sources of horror, the British-made flick has largely gone unnoticed by American audiences.
The Uninvited boasts high-caliber acting performances and, crucially, practical in-camera ghost effects that rely on lighting, sound, and wind machines. Available on Criterion. Connecting five different stories from British filmmakers and a wrap-around, the film is a psychological creepfest and delivers what is arguably the best work of director Charles Crichton. Even today, the cold, dead eyes of the sinister dummy serve as nightmare fuel.
Available at Best Buy. The film is a triumph in deep-focus cinematography, and earned Angela Lansbury her second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress not to mention her first Golden Globe win in the same category. As interest and popularity in horror movies began to wane, studios struggled to breathe new life into what had been one of their most profitable sectors. Enter the horror-comedy. Borrowing elements of horror as well as influence from the Japanese kaiju flicks, Them! The film avoids the tropes that would become popularized in later B-movie cinema, opting instead to treat the gigantic ant monsters as legitimate threats and presenting the horror as sincere.
However, The Night of the Hunter is compelling, visually stimulating, and downright thrilling.
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Guaranteed Delivery see all. No Preference. She became a writer; she grew fat; she married a Jewish intellectual, Stanley Edgar Hyman, and ran a bohemian household in which she dyed the mashed potatoes green when she felt like it. And in her marriage to Hyman she found a person with whom to replicate the abusive relationship. His main drawback was his principled insistence on sleeping with other women.
He also expected Jackson to listen good-naturedly to accounts of his sexual adventures. But he refused to compromise his integrity on the issue. They married—in the face of determined opposition from both sets of parents—shortly after graduating, and moved to New York. During the next couple of years, both of them began contributing to The New Yorker , she as a fiction writer and he as a contributor to The Talk of the Town and, later, as a staff writer.
In , after their first child was born, they settled in Vermont, where Hyman had been offered a post on the literature faculty at Bennington College. Here, in a rambling, crooked house in North Bennington, they raised four children and became the center of a social set that included Howard Nemerov, Ralph Ellison, Bernard Malamud, and Walter Bernstein. But Jackson was miserable a good deal of the time, as indicated by her increasing reliance on alcohol, tranquillizers, and amphetamines. She felt patronized in her role as a faculty wife and frozen out by the townspeople of North Bennington.
Jackson did the cooking, the cleaning, the grocery shopping, and the child-rearing; he sat at his desk, pondering the state of American letters and occasionally yelling at his wife to come and refill the ink in his pen. He took solace in characterizing Jackson to their friends as a sort of gifted idiot, who composed her fiction in a trance state of automatic writing and had to take it to him to have it explained. He also continued to be chronically, blithely unfaithful, mostly with former students.