These days, most horror movies are low in atmosphere, crammed full of forgettable characters and filled with a lot of high dollar CGI effects that look, in all honest, pretty bad. But it wasn’t always that way. While the 70s and 80s – especially the 80s – are generally thought of as the ‘Golden Age’ of horror, there are a lot of great horror flicks that came out long before. In fact, the earliest years of cinema gave birth to some of the most memorable, atmospheric, influential, and creepy horror movies ever committed to celluloid.
And the best part? Most of these movies are from 70, 80, and even 90 years ago. That means that the majority of them can be found for free online – YouTube even has several of them up in their entirety. So without any further hesitation, settle in and take a look at what BB Basement consider some of the best silent horror films of all time.
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – Released in 1920, this is considered by most to be the granddaddy of all horror movies. It centers on a sleepwalker who sleeps inside a doctor’s cabinet, awaking to do the bidding of his evil master. Its overall vibe is incredibly creepy and unnerving, and inspired most of the legendary horror filmmakers of the following 60 years.
- Nosferatu – Directed by F.W. Murnau and released in 1922, this film is probably the most famous of all silent horror films. Essentially an adaptation of Dracula, only changed due to legal issues, it absolutely drips with gothic horror, and the shadows within the film hide as much horror as anything you actually see take place.
- Frankenstein – Long before the 1930s Universal adaptation, Mary Shelly’s tale of reanimation and obsession was filmed in 1910. It features early special effects that are still impressive, and the interior-only settings lend it a claustrophobic feel.
- Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages – You can see all the elements that would surface more than 80 years later in ‘Found Footage’ horror films on display in this 1922 silent horror gem. It’s a horror/documentary hybrid that focuses on telling stories of witchcraft and demonic possession, but is undeniably eerie.
- The Phantom of the Opera – Finally, Lon Chaney’s most famous role must be mentioned. Released in 1925 and directed by Rupert Julian, this is a legend of the silent era and still considered by many to be the definitive film version of the famous tale.
There you have it – five of the best silent horror films out there. If you’re willing to look beyond tales of pretty teenagers screaming like crazy while being killed by a masked psycho, you’ll find that some of the best horrors available to watch make no sound at all.