Essential Hollywood Halloween Horror Part II

Last year, The Cluster published a list of essential horror films to watch during the Halloween season. The suggestions are back from the dead with a new list of films to check out this October!

Best Vampire Movie

There is no vampire better known than the original vampire himself, Dracula. It would be easy to say that Universal’s “Dracula” (1931) is the best of all vampire films, and for good reason. Tod Browning shot a beautiful film, despite being intoxicated most of the time.  The film was composed of great performances by horror icons Dwight Frye as Renfield and Bela Lugosi as Dracula. Despite the commendable acting and infamous plot, there is a better film, ironically made in 1931 by Universal, as well.

While “Dracula” was being filmed, Universal was filming a Spanish version of the film, “Dracula (Spanish-Language Version)” (1931). This version used the same script and sets, but with an all-Spanish cast and crew. Believe it or not, this film actually features much better camera work and better performances from most of the supporting cast. Pablo Alvarez Rubio portrays Renfield in this film, somehow managing to perform at the same level as Frye. The only thing missing is the main attraction of Dracula. Carlos Villarias does a fantastic job as the famous Count, just missing the marked standard that Lugosi set.

While this film had been mostly forgotten, it is starting to get the recognition it deserves, even being featured with “Dracula” on the recent Universal Monsters Blu-ray collection. Is it a little hipster choosing a movie most do not know exists? Perhaps, but it is hard to ignore a truly great film such as this.

Best Frankenstein Movie

Everyone tends to believe that sequels are never as good as the original, save for a few exceptions. Most people list films like “The Godfather: Part 2” (1974) and “The Dark Knight” (2008) as sequels that improve upon their predecessors. For whatever reason, people ignore the original grand trilogy that was the Frankenstein series. Featuring Boris Karloff as the iconic monster, he became an overnight horror star, despite not even being credited in the opening of the original film.

Despite how high of a quality film “Frankenstein” (1931) was, it was bettered by its two sequels: “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) and “Son of Frankenstein” (1939). Deciding between the two films usually comes down to personal preference. “Son of Frankenstein” features great, bone chilling performances from not only Karloff as the Monster, but also Basil Rathbone as Wolf Frankenstein, Lionel Atwill as the Burgomaster and Bela Lugosi as Ygor. All of that being said, “The Bride of Frankenstein” is to be considered the superior film.

Once again, Karloff gives a great performance as the Monster, this time actually speaking. He does not say much, but what he does say is truly memorable. Throw in Colin Clive reprising his role as Dr. Frankenstein and you have a recipe for success. But what truly makes this film so memorable is its establishment of two truly great movie monsters: The Monster’s Bride and Dr. Pretorious. Ernest Thesiger gives the horror performance of a lifetime as the nefarious doctor. He is scary, chilling and sometimes humorous in a very dark way. Combining all these elements makes for a very convincing case to call this the best Frankenstein film of them all.

Best Slasher Movie

Slasher movies are typically regarded as the trashiest of horror movies, yet are also the most synonymous with the genre. Full of blood, gore and sex, it is easy to understand the genre’s reputation. Still, it is impossible to ignore how much creativity goes into these films, especially the early ones. In determining which is the best, however, the film should feature some type of serial killer, gore and sexual promiscuity amongst the characters killed off, so sorry “Jaws,” but you will have to sit this one out.

John Carpenter’s “Halloween” (1978) set the bar for all slasher films. Its influence on all later slashers is so great that it has to be considered the best of all the slashers. It started the rise of popularity for slasher films that resulted in several cash-in attempts, giving us even more great franchises like “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) and “Friday the 13th” (1980). Carpenter does not rely on jump scares in order to terrorize the audience, but rather a general building of suspense. This is greatly aided by a haunting soundtrack composed by Carpenter himself.

While the film does suffer from some less than quality acting by the various teenagers, it is more than made up for by a career-defining performance from Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode and Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis. If you want a slasher film that is more than just blood, gore and sex and that will give you a good scare through tension alone, this is the way to go.