Paul Leni's films, particularly "Cat and the Canary", "The Last Warning" and "The Man Who Laughs" had a tremendous influence on Universal in general and James Whale in particular (his "The Old Dark House" is almost a loving remake of "Cat and the Canary").
I must say, I take exception to the following:
"Nosferatu (1922) Very dark and creepy even for a silent movie"
Murnau's "Nosferatu" is not very dark and creepy even for a silent movie, it is creepy period. Furthermore, I'd wager silent horror films as a whole are far creepier than talkies, and black and white films than color (with few exceptions).
As for "Dracula", check out the Mexican version which was shot simultaneously on the same sets and using the same script. It is a different film, more grandiose and with stronger direction. I would wager the one true genuine advantage the Todd Browning film has over it is Bela Lugosi's performance which is iconic and unmatchable.
Hellshocked I must agree with you about the silents being far more creepier than the talkies. Im not saying all talkies are bad.. But the silence does have an added effect to it.
I do have to admit that I have yet to see the other version of Dracula.
On a side note, people who are interested in James Whale should read the book (or watch the movie), "Father of Frankenstein" (Gods and Monsters). It depicts his last days, amazing book & movie for movielovers.
Anyway, regarding classic Horror, Id suggest "The Mummy " with Cushing/Lee or the "Them", a masterpiece of giant monster movie.
The Creature From The Black Lagoon was the first movie to ever freak me out.
Psycho is still the movie I love to live through others as they watch it for the first time.
The Bad Seed and Straight Jacket are great also
I thought "The Haunting " (1963) was very creepy. It proves that without showing the ghosts, monster, etc., one can still be scared. The 1999 remake was a mess.
I have still yet to see much of the classic Universal horror movies, unfortunately :( But I definitely want to.
Saw "I Walked with a Zombie" recently and was very impressed by it. It felt like a combination of film noir and horror. Very atmospheric.
I'm not sure how far back people want to go, though judging by the Golden Era forum, I'm guessing a fair way back. I'm thinking The Innocents was really creepy. I agree that the black-and-white The Haunting was really scary. I really liked the remake before I saw the old one. New one's still a very interesting take though. I quite like comparing old and new; The House on Haunted Hill is another example.
I'm glad at least one person mentioned "Them" (the best of the creature features), "House of Wax" and "Dracula," but I believe you missed a few: "Horror of Dracula," "The Beast with Five Fingers," "The Corpse Vanishes," "The Uninvited ," "Cat People," and "Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein."
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