• December 31, 1896 The House of the Devil

    Le Manoir du diable or The House of the Devil, is an 1896 French short silent film directed by Georges Méliès. The film, which depicts a brief pantomimed sketch in the style of a theatrical comic fantasy, tells the story of an encounter with the Devil and various attendant phantoms. It is intended to evoke amusement and wonder from its audiences, rather than fear. However, because of its themes and characters, the film has been considered to technically be the first horror film. Such a classification can also be attributed to the film's depiction of a human transforming into a bat, a plot element which has led some observers to label the work the first vampire film. The film is also innovative in length; its running time of over three minutes was ambitious for its era.

  • March 18, 1910 Frankenstein

    Frankenstein is a 1910 American short silent horror film produced by Edison Studios. It was directed by J. Searle Dawley, who also wrote the one-reeler's screenplay, broadly basing his "scenario" on Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. This short motion picture is generally recognized by film historians as the first screen adaptation of Shelley's work. The small cast, who are not credited in the surviving 1910 print of the film, includes Augustus Phillips as Dr. Frankenstein, Charles Ogle as Frankenstein's monster, and Mary Fuller as the doctor's fiancée.

  • August 22, 1913 The Student of Prague

    The Student of Prague (German: Der Student von Prag, also known as A Bargain with Satan) is a 1913 German silent horror film. It is loosely based on "William Wilson", a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, the poem The December Night by Alfred de Musset, and Faust. The film was remade in 1926, under the same title The Student of Prague. Other remakes were produced in 1935 and 2004. The film stars Paul Wegener in his film debut. It is generally deemed to be the first art film in history

  • February 26, 1920 Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (German: Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari) is a 1920 German silent horror film, directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, it tells the story of an insane hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist (Conrad Veidt) to commit murders. The film features a dark and twisted visual style, with sharp-pointed forms, oblique and curving lines, structures and landscapes that lean and twist in unusual angles, and shadows and streaks of light painted directly onto the sets.

  • April 1, 1920 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1920 horror film directed and written by J. Charles Haydon, starring Sheldon Lewis, based on the 1886 novel Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. The Sheldon Lewis version was somewhat overshadowed by the 1920 Paramount Pictures version starring John Barrymore, which had been released just the month before.[

  • October 29, 1920 The Golem: Or How He Came into the World

    The Golem: How He Came into the World (German: Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam, also referred to as Der Golem) is a 1920[a] German silent horror film and a leading example of early German Expressionism. Director Paul Wegener, who co-directed the film with Carl Boese and co-wrote the script with Henrik Galeen based on Gustav Meyrink's 1915 novel, stars as the titular creature, a being in Jewish folklore created from clay. Photographer Karl Freund went on to work on the 1930s classic Universal horror films years later in Hollywood. The Golem: How He Came into the World is the third of three films that Wegener made featuring the golem, the other two being The Golem (1915) and the short comedy The Golem and the Dancing Girl (1917), in which Wegener dons the golem make-up in order to frighten a young lady with whom he is infatuated. The Golem: How He Came into the World is a prequel to The Golem from 1915 and, as the only one of the three films that has not been lost, is the best known of the series.

  • February 16, 1922 Nosferatu

    Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (German: Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens) is a 1922 silent German Expressionist horror film directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck as Count Orlok, a vampire who preys on the wife (Greta Schröder) of his estate agent (Gustav von Wangenheim) and brings the plague to their town.

  • September 18, 1922 Haxan

    Häxan (Swedish: [ˈhɛksan], "The Witch"; Danish: Heksen; English: The Witches; released in the US in 1968 as Witchcraft Through the Ages) is a 1922 silent horror essay film written and directed by Benjamin Christensen. Consisting partly of documentary-style storytelling as well as dramatized narrative sequences, the film charts the historical roots and superstitions surrounding witchcraft, beginning in the Middle Ages through the 20th century. Based partly on Christensen's own study of the Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors, Häxan proposes that such witch hunts may have stemmed from misunderstandings of mental or neurological disorders, triggering mass hysteria.

  • September 6, 1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

    The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a 1923 American drama film starring Lon Chaney, directed by Wallace Worsley, and produced by Carl Laemmle and Irving Thalberg. The supporting cast includes Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Nigel de Brulier, and Brandon Hurst. The film was Universal's "Super Jewel" of 1923 and was their most successful silent film, grossing $3.5 million. The film is based on Victor Hugo's 1831 novel, and is notable for the grand sets that recall 15th century Paris as well as for Chaney's performance and make-up as the tortured hunchback Quasimodo. The film elevated Chaney, already a well-known character actor, to full star status in Hollywood, and also helped set a standard for many later horror films, including Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera in 1925. In 1951, the film entered the public domain in the United States because the claimants neglected to renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.

  • May 6, 1924 The Hands of Orlac

    The Hands of Orlac (German: Orlacs Hände) is a 1924 Austrian silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene and starring Conrad Veidt, Alexandra Sorina and Fritz Kortner. The film was also released as Die Unheimlichen Hände des Doktor Orlac. The film's plot is based on the book Les Mains d'Orlac (1920) written by Maurice Renard. Wiene had made his name as a director of Expressionist films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), and in The Hands of Orlac combined expressionist motifs with more naturalistic visuals. The film has been remade three times: as Mad Love (1935) directed by Karl Freund, as The Hands of Orlac (1960), a British/French co-production, and as a low-budget American company as Hands of a Stranger (1962) directed by Newt Arnold. The film Body Parts (1991) also drew extensively on Renard's story.

  • November 13, 1924 Waxworks

    Waxworks (German: Das Wachsfigurenkabinett) is a 1924 German silent anthology film directed by Paul Leni. The film encompasses several genres, including a fantasy adventure, a historical film, and a horror film through its various episodes. Its stories are linked by a plot thread about a writer (William Dieterle) who accepts a job from a waxworks proprietor to write a series of stories about the exhibits of Caliph of Baghdad (Emil Jannings), Ivan the Terrible (Conrad Veidt) and Jack the Ripper (Werner Krauss) in order to boost business.

  • April 16, 1925 The Monster

    The Monster is a 1925 American silent horror comedy film directed by Roland West, based on the play of the same name by Crane Wilbur, and starring Lon Chaney and Johnny Arthur. It is remembered as an ante-cedental "old dark house" movie, as well as a precedent to a number of horror film sub-genres. The film has been shown on the TCM network with an alternative, uncredited musical score. Roland West went on to direct The Bat (1926) and its later sound remake The Bat Whispers (1930).

  • September 6, 1925 The Phantom of the Opera

    The Phantom of the Opera is a 1925 American silent horror film adaptation of Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, directed by Rupert Julian and starring Lon Chaney in the title role of the deformed Phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House, causing murder and mayhem in an attempt to make the woman he loves a star. The film remains most famous for Chaney's ghastly, self-devised make-up, which was kept a studio secret until the film's premiere. The film was released on November 15, 1925. The picture also features Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland, John St. Polis and Snitz Edwards. The last surviving cast member was Carla Laemmle, niece of producer Carl Laemmle, who played a small role as a "prima ballerina" in the film when she was about 15 years old. In 1953, the film entered the public domain in the United States because the claimants did not renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.

  • October 25, 1926 The Student of Prague

    For Balduin, going out to beer parties with his fellow students and fighting out disputes at the tip of the sword have lost their charms. He wants to find love; but how would he, a penniless student, ever dare looking up to any woman worth of loving? Absorbed in his dreary thoughts and indifferent to the advances of Lyduschka, Balduin is unexpectedly offered a fortune by the mysterious money-lender Scapinelli - but on a strange condition...

  • December 5, 1926 Faust

    Faust – A German Folktale (German: Faust – Eine deutsche Volkssage) is a 1926 silent film produced by Ufa, directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Gösta Ekman as Faust, Emil Jannings as Mephisto, Camilla Horn as Gretchen/Marguerite, Frida Richard as her mother, Wilhelm Dieterle as her brother and Yvette Guilbert as Marthe Schwerdtlein, her aunt. Murnau's film draws on older traditions of the legendary tale of Faust as well as on Goethe's classic 1808 version. Ufa wanted Ludwig Berger to direct Faust, as Murnau was engaged with Variety; Murnau pressured the producer and, backed by Jannings, eventually persuaded Erich Pommer to let him direct the film. Faust was Murnau's last German film, and directly afterward he moved to the US under contract to William Fox to direct Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927); when the film premiered in the Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin, Murnau was already shooting in Hollywood. It has been praised for its special effects and is regarded as an example of German Expressionist film.

  • September 9, 1927 The Cat and the Canary

    The Cat and the Canary is a 1927 American silent horror film adaptation of John Willard's 1922 black comedy play of the same name. Directed by German Expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni, the film stars Laura La Plante as Annabelle West, Forrest Stanley as Charles "Charlie" Wilder, and Creighton Hale as Paul Jones. The plot revolves around the death of Cyrus West, who is Annabelle, Charlie, and Paul's uncle, and the reading of his will 20 years later. Annabelle inherits her uncle's fortune, but when she and her family spend the night in his haunted mansion they are stalked by a mysterious figure. Meanwhile, a lunatic known as "the Cat" escapes from an asylum and hides in the mansion.

  • February 12, 1931 ​Dracula

    Dracula is a 1931 American pre-Code supernatural horror film directed and co-produced by Tod Browning from a screenplay written by Garrett Fort and starring Bela Lugosi in the titular role. It is based on the 1924 stage play Dracula by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, which in turn is adapted from the 1897 novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. Lugosi portrays Count Dracula, a vampire who emigrates from Transylvania to England and preys upon the blood of living victims, including a young man's fiancée. Produced and distributed by Universal Pictures, Dracula is the first sound film adaptation of the Stoker novel. Several actors were considered to portray the title character, but Lugosi, who had previously played the role on Broadway, eventually got the part. The film was partially shot on sets at Universal Studios Lot in California, which were reused at night for the filming of Drácula, a concurrently produced Spanish-language version of the story also by Universal. Dracula was a commercial and critical success upon release, and led to several sequels and spin-offs. It has had a notable influence on popular culture, and Lugosi's portrayal of Dracula established the character as a cultural icon, as well as the archetypal vampire in later works of fiction. In 2000, the film was selected by the United States Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"

  • May 11, 1931 M

    M is a 1931 German thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre in his breakthrough role as Hans Beckert, a serial killer of children. An early example of a procedural drama, the film centers on the manhunt for Lorre's character, conducted by both the police and the criminal underworld. The film's screenplay was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou and was the director's first sound film. It features many cinematic innovations, including the use of long, fluid tracking shots, and a musical leitmotif in the form of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" whistled by Lorre's character. Now considered a timeless classic, the film was deemed by Lang to be his magnum opus. It is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time, and an indispensable influence on modern crime and thriller fiction

  • November 21, 1931 Frankenstein

    Frankenstein is a 1931 American pre-Code science fiction horror film directed by James Whale, produced by Carl Laemmle Jr., and adapted from a 1927 play by Peggy Webling, which in turn was based on Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. The Webling play was adapted by John L. Balderston and the screenplay written by Francis Edward Faragoh and Garrett Fort, with uncredited contributions from Robert Florey and John Russell. Frankenstein stars Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein, an obsessed scientist who digs up corpses with his assistant in order to assemble a living being from body parts. The resulting creature, often known as Frankenstein's monster, is portrayed by Boris Karloff. The make-up for the monster was provided by Jack Pierce. Alongside Clive and Karloff, the film's cast also includes Mae Clarke, John Boles, Dwight Frye, and Edward Van Sloan. Produced and distributed by Universal Pictures, the film was a commercial success upon release, and was generally well received by both critics and audiences. It spawned a number of sequels and spin-offs, and has had a significant impact on popular culture: The imagery of a maniacal "mad" scientist with a subservient hunchbacked assistant and the film's depiction of Frankenstein's monster have since become iconic. In 1991, the United States Library of Congress selected Frankenstein for preservation in the National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

  • February 12, 1932 Freaks

    Freaks (also re-released as The Monster Story, Forbidden Love, and Nature's Mistakes) is a 1932 American pre-Code horror film produced and directed by Tod Browning, starring Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova, and Roscoe Ates. Freaks, was originally intended as a vehicle for Lon Chaney is set amongst the backdrop of a traveling French circus and follows a conniving trapeze artist who joins a group of carnival sideshow performers with a plan to seduce and murder a dwarf in the troupe to gain his inheritance, but her plot proves to have dangerous consequences. The film is based on elements from the short story "Spurs" by Tod Robbins, first published in Munsey's Magazine in February 1923, with the rights being purchased by the studio, responsible by MGM art department chief Cedric Gibbons. Filmed in Los Angeles in the fall of 1931, some employees at MGM were discomfited by the presence of the actors portraying the "freaks" on set, and, other than the so-called more normal looking "freaks", the Siamese twins and the Earles, the performers were not allowed to be on the studio lot, relegated instead to a specially-built tent. The film had test screenings in January 1932, with many members of the audience reacting negatively, finding the film too grotesque. In response to this, MGM executive Irving Thalberg, without consent of director Browning, edited the original 90-minute feature, which was significantly cut, with additional alternate footage incorporated to help increase the running time. The final abridged cut of the film, released in February 1932, was 64 minutes; the original version no longer exists. Despite the cuts made to the film, Freaks still garnered notice for the portrayal of its eponymous characters by people who worked as sideshow performers and had real disabilities. These cast members included dwarf siblings Harry and Daisy Earles; Johnny Eck, who had sacral agenenis; the conjoined twin sisters Daisy and Violet Hilton; and Schlitzie, a man with microcephaly. Because of its controversial content, the film was banned in the United Kingdom for over 30 years, and was labelled as "brutal and grotesque" in Canada. Though it received critical backlash and was a box-office failure upon initial release, Freaks was subject to public and critical reappraisal in the 1960s, as a long forgotten Hollywood classic, particularly in Europe, and was screened at the 1962 Venice Film Festival. In retrospect, numerous film critics have suggested that the film presents a starkly sympathetic portrait of its sideshow characters rather than an exploitative one, with Andrew Sarris declaring Freaks one of the "most compassionate" films ever made. Nonetheless, critics have continued to take note of the film's horror elements; in 2009, Joe Morgenstern proclaimed that Freaks contains some of the most terrifying scenes in film history. Film scholars have interpreted the film as a metaphor for class conflict, reflecting the Great Depression, and it has been studied for its portrayal of people with disabilities, with theorists arguing that it presents an anti-eugenics message. The film has been highly influential and is now considered a cult classic and one of the greatest movies of all time. In 1994, it was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry which seeks to preserve films that are classified "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".