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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday August 14, 2019 

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With Scream thrilling movie audiences around the world, it seems good old-fashioned horror is back in vogue. But did it ever really leave us? Patrick Giorgi selects some of the most influential horror films of our time.

Halloween (1978)

This low-budget but well-made screamer from the disturbed mind of John Carpenter (Escape From New York) is arguably the most influential horror film of all time but probably for the wrong reasons as it spawned a whole new genre the stalking slasher. He (inevitably it was a male) came in many guises though the favourites were the well-manicured Freddy Krueger in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, the masked Jason Voorhees in the interminable Friday the Thirteenth saga (all nine of them) and ol' Mike Myers himself in all six Halloween flicks.

Psycho (1960)

Much has been written and argued about this classic from director Alfred Hitchcock. From using chocolate sauce as blood in the shower scene to arguments about whether the rotund British master of suspense actually directed the infamous segment, the most shocking angle has to be Hitch's sheer audacity and brilliance in knocking off the leading lady in the first 20 minutes of the movie unsettling the audience totally for what was to come.

Freaks (1932)

Hardly seen for may years, this interesting and inspirational piece had many studio chiefs running away in fear because director Tod Browning (Dracula with Bela Lugosi) had the cheek to use real circus freaks a living torso, Siamese twins, the bearded lady, etc. But this is more a touching tale of humanity and bravery than anything else.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Shot in stark black and white, this heralded film has one of the best opening sequences in any film ever made, as "born-again" zombies just rise from the dead and go on a frenzied rampage. Why? There's no reason given and that's what makes this landmark feature one of the most unsettling and disturbing ever made. It puts you right there: what would you do in such a maddening and irrational situation?

Les Yeux sans Visage (1959)

A little known but highly reverential French flick which sparked a rash of pictures about mad doctors who want to save their daughter/fiancee/secret admirer by giving them a new outlook on life by surgically restoring their beauty.

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

When American giant Universal re-released its classic black and white horror films of the 1930s Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, etc in the late 1950s, English minnow Hammer Studios thought it would be a great idea to update these gothic gems, except with one difference blood-curdling colour which were so vivid and real it caused the audience and censors much distress.

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Low-budget king Roger Corman and scream giant Vincent Price had already done several succesful movies based on Edgar Allan Poe's work, but this is a beautiful, sweeping and poetic piece which was totally unheard of in horror films.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962)

The Grand Guignol of movies which sparked a whole series about psychotic old ladies who feel the need - the need to wield a little willow, that is. Revered by many, it is driven along by two outstanding performances from Hollywood veterans Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (who hated each other in real life as much as they did in the film).

The Exorcist (1973)

This Hollywood blockbuster, which made demon possession respectable, was the first film of its type to get a Best Picture nomination. Whatever you do, lock the doors, unplug the phone and don't watch this alone.

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"...the most shocking angle has to be Hitch's sheer audacity and brilliance in knocking off the leading lady in the first 20 minutes of the movie ... "

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