The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Must-see classic horror films

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1921)

A traveling magician (Werner Krauss) and his creepy brainwashed assistant (Conrad Veidt) accurately predict the deaths of people in towns they visit.

Director: Robert Wiene

Additional Information: Silent; Black and White. David Lee Fisher directed an English-language sound remake in 2005.

Nosferatu (1922)

In this first filmed rendition of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, a hideously ugly vampire (Max Schreck as Count Orlock) tricks an impoverished young real estate agent into selling him a home in an Eastern European village.

Director: F.W. Murnau

Additional Information: Silent; Black and White.

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Lon Chaney stars in the title role as a dangerous phantom who threatens the performers in an opera house in Paris.

Director: Rupert Julian

Additional Information: Silent; Black and White. In 2004, this film was remade as a musical directed by Joel Shumacher based on the stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Frankenstein (1931)

Based on Mary Shelley’s novel about a misunderstood monster (Boris Karloff) and his flawed creator (Colin Clive), this film explores bringing the dead back to life.

Director: James Whale

Additional Information: Black and White. It was remade in 1994 by director Kenneth Branagh with Robert De Niro as the creature. Additional spinoff versions feature Frankenstein’s bride, son, and others.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, this horror classic reveals a man’s dark side when he drinks a magic potion.

Director: Victor Fleming

Additional Information: Black and White. This version stars Spencer Tracy (in the title roles) along with Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. The 1931 version directed by Rouben Mamoulian lacks the star power of the 1941 film.

Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

A scientific expedition in the Amazon encounters the desperately lonely Gill-Man, a prehistoric remnant of amphibious life that disrupts the mission.

Director: Jack Arnold

Additional Information: Black and White. A professional swimmer/diver (Ricou Browning) plays the monster in the water, while a stuntman (Ben Chapman) plays the monster on land.

Psycho (1960)

A woman (Janet Leigh) steals money to start a new life, but finds things don’t turn out as planned when she stays at the Bates Motel for the night.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Additional Information: Black and White; Remade by Gus Van Sant in 1998.

Carnival of Souls (1962)

After a tragic car accident, the sole survivor (Candace Hilligoss) finds herself followed by a phantom and drawn to an abandoned carnival in this eerie surrealistic tale.

Director: Herk Harvey

Additional Information: Black and White.

These movies represent some of the finest examples of early black-and-white classic horror films. This brief list is not intended to be comprehensive. Add a comment below to add more favorites to the list.