F.W. Murnau’s silent film is one of the earliest examples of cinematic horror. Max Schreck played the vampire title character the way a blood-sucker should be portrayed – hideous and spooky, not shimmering and hunky.
Alfred Hitchcock’s black-and-white thriller set at the Bates Motel transformed the everyday event of showering into a terrifying task.
1968: “Night of the Living Dead”
Writer-director George Romero kicked off his horror-filled career with this zombie gorefest that inspired countless slasher flicks.
1973: “The Exorcist”
There is something very wrong with 12-year-old Regan in William Friedkin’s Oscar-winning movie about a little girl inhabited by a filthy-mouthed demon.
1984: “A Nightmare on Elm Street”
Wes Craven wrote and directed this blood-soaked thriller about Freddy Krueger, the villain with knives for fingernails and a distinctive sweater who haunts dreams and kills in real life.
Another Craven spectacular, this hit made slashers mainstream and took a tongue-in-cheek approach to genre.
1999: “The Blair Witch Project”
Found-footage horror has been overdone thanks to “Paranormal Activity,” its four sequels and myriad copycats, but this nausea-inducing shaky cam thriller is among the earliest adopters.
Although 2005’s “Hostel” inspired the term “torture porn,” the designation is often given to this low-budget surprise success from director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell that spawned six gruesome sequels.
— Washington Post