Days ago Variety chose 10 horror films: one for each decade of cinema history. Comingsoon tries to propose its pending to know yours.
Halloween is approaching, and even if this year “want to celebrate ‘sartace on”, as we would say in Rome, lovers of horror cinema cannot but reflect on the anniversary. Let’s take a cue to do it from an interesting list that appeared a few days ago on Variety, it states Tim Gray, in which they were proposed 10 horror films for every ten years of cinema history. The editor specified that these were not necessarily the best or most successful films of the genre, but those that best express what was once called the zeitgeist, or the spirit of the tempor where they were produced, starting from silent to today.
the 10 most iconic horror films in 100 years according to Variety
Before offering you our choice, we present that of Variety, which in some cases found itself in an understandable difficulty in choosing the representative film of each decade. The links of horror cinema with the company that produces them are not always so evident and if in certain historical periods there are many memorable ones, in other epochs their function of dark mirror it seems less obvious.
- 1920-1929: Nosferatu the vampire of Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, the first unofficial adaptation of Dracula, released in 1922. After the First World War and the millions of victims of the Spanish flu, the horror of a plague-carrying monster, more than from the novel by Bram Stoker of 1897, for the spectators of the time it seems straight out of the news.
- 1930-1939: Variety chooses Frankenstein, another film based on another great nineteenth-century novel, written by the eighteen-year-old Mary Shelley, on the arrogance of the man of science. The reason for the choice is the connection (somewhat forced in our opinion) of this film, released in 1931, with the Great Depression, a period in which the people were in misery due to the arrogance of politicians and bankers.
- 1940-1949: The kiss of the panther, a splendid b-movie in black and white from 1942, was chosen among the few noteworthy of the period, as representative of the fear that comes from the unknown, in this case from Europe, as already happened with the two films mentioned above.
- 1950-1960: Godzilla, the film by Ishiro Honda of 1954, it seems almost a forced choice, coming from a country, Japan, which is struggling to rise from the rubble and destruction of the Atomic that wiped out Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The monsters that populate the cinema screens in this period are almost always the product of atomic mutations.
- 1960-1969: Rosemary’s Baby of Roman Polanski in the most significant year of the decade, 1968, the director’s masterpiece, based on the novel by Ira Levin, reflects the atmosphere of a time when women discover with horror the effects of thalidomide, a drug given to them during pregnancy, which produces severely handicapped and deformed children. The attempt to reclaim one’s body while feeling besieged in a world where no one can be trusted marries the instances of nascent feminism and conspiracy theories following the Kennedy assassination.
- 1970-1979: For the decade of the Seventies Variety chooses Halloween of John Carpenter, 1978. After the Tate-La Bianca murders at the hands of the Manson Family, monsters become humans. Faceless maniacs, apparently invincible and without motivation, who terrorize Americans, exemplified for all in this proto-slasher.
- 1980-1989: The fly by David Cronenberg, from 1986, is the apotheosis of his biological horror cinema, in which the organic marries the mechanical, the body becomes a monstrous hybrid entity. The editor, Tim Gray, relates the film to the diseases that began to spread in those years, such as AIDS and Ebola, a link that seems a bit forced.
- 1990-1999: In 1996 it comes out Scream by Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson, a film that puts an end (temporarily) to the myriad of commercial splatter, gore and slasher films in which victims do stupid things and cliché dictates action. Gray calls it a perfect film for a generation that grew up seeing horror on TV and videotape.
- 2000-2009: Released in 2001, Pulse of Kyoshi Kurosawa is one of the finest films of the so-called j-horror, directed by one of its most capable directors. According to Gray, it perfectly maps the new fears of the new millennium, namely the ability of the digital world to make us lose our soul.
- 2010-2019: Falls on Scappa – Get Out of Jordan Peele the choice for this decade, which reaches us. Jordan Peele’s satirical horror on racism dates back to 2017 and opens the door to a new wave of the genre and reflects on the big screen the instances expressed by movements such as #oscarsowhite and #Blacklivesmatters.
The 10 most iconic horror films in 100 years according to Comingsoon
And we come to the list compiled by myself, which is just one of the many possible horror films in my opinion most representative of the history of cinema, which does not mean, it is good to repeat it, the best or the scariest. You can have fun thinking about yours, or maybe take inspiration from them to see the ones you don’t know, even if they are all very famous.
- 1920-1929: The cabinet of Dr. Caligari by Robert Wiene (1920). Of course, it’s not a real horror like Nosferatu, but it has all the nuances of the nightmare and among the many, memorable expressionist films of the period, it seems to us that the story of the sleepwalker Caesar pushed with hypnosis to commit horrible crimes, while moving in a skewed setting, almost a Lovecraftian nightmare , both the portrait of an upside-down world that prefigures the horrors of Nazism and of a humanity in which the insane are in power and the citizens soulless puppets.
- 1930-1939: They are so much many horror masterpieces released between 1930 and 1940, which to choose is very difficult. But, more than that Frankenstein The Dracula, the first seems representative of the period King Kong (1933), the progenitor of all monster movies, where the monster is almost a deity, captured and brought as a prey from distant lands, put in chains in New York and exhibited for money, which before being shot down destroys the symbols of a city launched at dizzying speed towards progress. A perfect description for a country founded by emigrants and made rich by slaves, which has lost contact with its wildest and most authentic origins.
- 1940-1949: In the period preceding and following the carnage of the Second World War, monsters are less scary and even icons such as Dracula and Frankenstein are reduced to scarecrows for children. There are many films of undoubted value, but fear is mostly delegated to the RKO B-movies. Hard to say if they really expressed the zeitgeist, but even considering The kiss of the panther is a true masterpiece, in this case we will choose another film directed by Turner and produced by Val Lewton, or I walked with a zombie, Haitian variant of Jane Eyre, where the living dead is far from the Romerian representation, but is still the product of strange and mysterious cultures, it is practically the black slave forced to work even after death, a perfect metaphor for rampant capitalism.
- 1950-1959: The 1950s are the period of paranoia, of mutant monsters created by the atomic bomb he was born in red danger. More than real horror, they are science fiction nightmares that express the strongest fears of the decade in which America is on a collision course with the Soviet Union for the role of world superpower. In England the Hammer brings Universal’s monsters back to life in vivid colors, from Dracula a The Mummy, gives Frankenstein a The wolf man. But the film that best expresses the heart and the unconscious of the period is in our opinion Dr. K’s experiment. with Vincent Price, from 1958, the original of the masterpiece by David Cronenberg, a film that is frightening precisely because contemporary man is frightened by the destructive and apparently unstoppable powers of science, just as the one of the 1930s was afraid of mad scientists and their creatures. But this time it is the author himself who pays for the experiment.
- 1960-1969: Among the many masterpieces of the period, including the choice of Variety, Rosemary’s Baby, let’s take this time Psycho, with which sir Alfred Hitchcock, from the novel by Robert Bloch, brings to light the unexpected, unsuspected and terrifying danger that any citizen can encounter when leaving the territories that are familiar to him. Norman Bates performs the deeds of psychopaths who really existed as Ed Gein, foreshadowing a progeny of evil that becomes an increasingly visible cancer of modern society.
- 1970-1979: In a difficult and troubled period, pervaded by struggles, generational rebellions, wars, attacks, explosions of violence and cruelty, which saw the decline of the libertarian and pacificist ideals of the Sixties, it can only be The exorcist, the film that William Friedkin draws in 1973 from the novel by William Peter Blatty, to summarize the spirit of an age divided between emancipation and tradition, where we are witnessing a total disconnect between secularism and religiosity and where the Devil unexpectedly and forcefully returns to scare. The Exorcist is a film literally imbued with the spirit of the times: it was certainly no coincidence its global success, the fierce debate between supporters and detractors that was unleashed at the time and which made it a real phenomenon of custom.
- 1980-1989: The cinema of John Carpenter in this period, with films such as They live e The lord of evil, perfectly expresses the disasters of Reaganomics, unbridled capitalism and the splitting of American society. But it is The thing that we choose as the most representative film of the decade, for the return of paranoia, where a more modern and realistic terror than that for the monster arrived from space, or that for an entity capable of becoming us and make us unrecognizable to each other.
- 1990-1999: For the nineties we choose Candyman of Bernard rose, from 1992, from a story by Clive Barker. Because it is a film, as well as being beautiful, that combines urban decay and racism with the theme of urban legends that spread more and more with the arrival of the internet in 1991. It is no coincidence that right now Jordan Peele has decided to produce a remake, which we can’t wait to see.
- 2000-2009: We too rely on j-horror, the only one capable in this first decade of taking the genre seriously, renovating the asphyxiated and repetitive rooms of Western fear cinema. However, we choose among the many, even the best ones, that invaded the screens in that period, The ring, the Japanese original of Hideo Nakata, which introduces a new monster, belonging to the legend but hybridized with new technologies, now dominant. The image of Sadako emerging from the TV screen is perhaps the most significant of its kind in the new millennium.
- 2010-2019: Among a flood of poor products, divided between films for children and the challenge to the last bloody torture, these years have been marked, fortunately, also by the return of “serious” horror, with titles such as Martyrs, Ghostland, Midsummer (although we didn’t appreciate it), The Witch, It Follows and many others. We loved it Scappa – Get Out ma a parer nostro We, always of Jordan Peele, says much more about the times we live in, through a chilling and multi-layered portrait of America applicable to the entire Western world, where the gap between rich and poor has now broken and a conciliation seems impossible, with our hidden doubles and relegated underground ready to surface, unite and regain their rights.