top 50 horror movies of the 20s & 30s

by veidt05 | last updated - 27 Jul 2011 | Public
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1. Nosferatu (1922)

Unrated | 81 min | Fantasy, Horror

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter's wife.

Director: F.W. Murnau | Stars: Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder

Votes: 74,568

2. Vampyr (1932)

Not Rated | 75 min | Fantasy, Horror

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A drifter obsessed with the supernatural stumbles upon an inn where a severely ill adolescent girl is slowly becoming a vampire.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer | Stars: Julian West, Maurice Schutz, Rena Mandel, Sybille Schmitz

Votes: 12,368

3. Freaks (1932)

Unrated | 64 min | Drama, Horror

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.

Director: Tod Browning | Stars: Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova, Roscoe Ates

Votes: 35,317

4. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Unrated | 67 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders.

Director: Robert Wiene | Stars: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover

Votes: 44,601

5. The Black Cat (1934)

65 min | Adventure, Crime, Horror

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

American honeymooners in Hungary become trapped in the home of a Satan-worshiping priest when the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident.

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer | Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Julie Bishop

Votes: 7,261 | Gross: $0.24M

6. The Unknown (1927)

Unrated | 63 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A criminal on the run hides in a circus and seeks to possess the daughter of the ringmaster at any cost.

Director: Tod Browning | Stars: Lon Chaney, Norman Kerry, Joan Crawford, Nick De Ruiz

Votes: 5,850

7. The Mummy (1932)

TV-PG | 73 min | Fantasy, Horror

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A living mummy stalks the beautiful woman he believes is the reincarnation of his lover.

Director: Karl Freund | Stars: Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Arthur Byron

Votes: 18,544

8. La chute de la maison Usher (1928)

63 min | Horror

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Allan visits the sinister Usher family mansion, where his friend Roderick is painting a portrait of his sickly wife Madeline. The portrait seems to be draining the life out of Madeline, slowly leading to her death.

Director: Jean Epstein | Stars: Jean Debucourt, Marguerite Gance, Charles Lamy, Fournez-Goffard

Votes: 2,692

9. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Not Rated | 75 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson

Votes: 35,891

10. Mad Love (1935)

Passed | 68 min | Horror, Romance, Sci-Fi

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In France, an insane surgeon's obsession with an actress from England leads him to replace her pianist husband's hands that got mangled in an accident with the hands of a late knife murderer which still have the urge to throw knives.

Director: Karl Freund | Stars: Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive, Ted Healy

Votes: 3,509

11. The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

When a proud noble refuses to kiss the hand of the despotic King James in 1690, he is cruelly executed and his son surgically disfigured.

Director: Paul Leni | Stars: Mary Philbin, Conrad Veidt, Julius Molnar, Olga Baclanova

Votes: 4,190

12. Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler (1922)

Not Rated | 242 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Arch-criminal Dr. Mabuse sets out to make a fortune and run Berlin. Detective Wenk sets out to stop him.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Aud Egede-Nissen, Gertrude Welcker, Alfred Abel

Votes: 5,895

13. The Man Who Cheated Life (1926)

110 min | Drama, Horror

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

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 ... See full summary »

Director: Henrik Galeen | Stars: Conrad Veidt, Elizza La Porta, Fritz Alberti, Ágnes Eszterházy

Votes: 462

14. Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1933)

Not Rated | 122 min | Crime

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A new crime wave grips the city and all clues seem to lead to the nefarious Dr. Mabuse, even though he has been imprisoned in a mental asylum for nearly a decade.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Otto Wernicke, Gustav Diessl, Rudolf Schündler

Votes: 9,527

15. White Zombie (1932)

Passed | 69 min | Horror

6.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A young man turns to a witch doctor to lure the woman he loves away from her fiancé, but instead turns her into a zombie slave.

Director: Victor Halperin | Stars: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Joseph Cawthorn, Robert Frazer

Votes: 7,479

16. Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Unrated | 61 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

6.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A mad scientist seeks to mingle human blood with that of an ape, and resorts to kidnapping women for his experiments.

Director: Robert Florey | Stars: Bela Lugosi, Sidney Fox, Leon Ames, Bert Roach

Votes: 2,898

17. Dracula's Daughter (1936)

Approved | 71 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

6.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Hungarian countess Marya Zaleska seeks the aid of a noted psychiatrist, hoping to free herself of a mysterious evil influence.

Director: Lambert Hillyer | Stars: Otto Kruger, Gloria Holden, Marguerite Churchill, Edward Van Sloan

Votes: 4,410

18. Frankenstein (1931)

Not Rated | 70 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

An obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff, John Boles

Votes: 53,720 | Gross: $12.00M

19. Dracula (1931)

Approved | 75 min | Fantasy, Horror

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina.

Director: Tod Browning | Stars: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye

Votes: 37,296

20. Häxan (1922)

Not Rated | 91 min | Documentary, Fantasy, Horror

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Fictionalized documentary showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern Europe.

Director: Benjamin Christensen | Stars: Benjamin Christensen, Elisabeth Christensen, Maren Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan

Votes: 8,942

21. Svengali (1931)

Approved | 81 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Through hypnotism and telepathic mind control, a sinister music maestro controls the singing voice, but not the heart, of the woman he loves.

Director: Archie Mayo | Stars: John Barrymore, Marian Marsh, Donald Crisp, Bramwell Fletcher

Votes: 1,376

22. The Hands of Orlac (1924)

Not Rated | 92 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A world-famous pianist loses both hands in an accident. When new hands are grafted on, he doesn't know they once belonged to a murderer.

Director: Robert Wiene | Stars: Conrad Veidt, Alexandra Sorina, Fritz Strassny, Paul Askonas

Votes: 1,603

23. The Devil-Doll (1936)

Passed | 78 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An escaped convict uses miniaturized humans to wreak vengeance on those that framed him.

Director: Tod Browning | Stars: Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan, Frank Lawton, Rafaela Ottiano

Votes: 2,978

24. The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

Not Rated | 63 min | Adventure, Horror, Mystery

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An insane hunter arranges for a ship to be wrecked on an island where he can indulge in some sort of hunting and killing of the passengers.

Directors: Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks, Robert Armstrong

Votes: 7,953

25. The Penalty (1920)

Passed | 90 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A deformed criminal mastermind plans to loot the city of San Francisco as well as revenge himself on the doctor who mistakenly amputated his legs.

Director: Wallace Worsley | Stars: Charles Clary, Doris Pawn, Jim Mason, Lon Chaney

Votes: 1,608

26. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (I) (1920)

Unrated | 49 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Dr. Henry Jekyll experiments with scientific means of revealing the hidden, dark side of man and releases a murderer from within himself.

Director: John S. Robertson | Stars: John Barrymore, Martha Mansfield, Brandon Hurst, Charles Lane

Votes: 3,924

27. Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Not Rated | 70 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

7.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An obsessed scientist conducts profane experiments in evolution, eventually establishing himself as the self-styled demigod to a race of mutated, half-human abominations.

Director: Erle C. Kenton | Stars: Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams

Votes: 6,379

28. Der müde Tod (1921)

Not Rated | 114 min | Drama, Fantasy, Thriller

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When a woman's fiancé disappears, Death gives her three chances to save him from his fate.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Lil Dagover, Walter Janssen, Bernhard Goetzke, Hans Sternberg

Votes: 3,918 | Gross: $0.01M

29. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

Passed | 98 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Dr. Jekyll faces horrible consequences when he lets his dark side run wild with a potion that transforms him into the animalistic Mr. Hyde.

Director: Rouben Mamoulian | Stars: Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart, Holmes Herbert

Votes: 10,405

30. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Unrated | 93 min | Horror

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A mad, disfigured composer seeks love with a lovely young opera singer.

Directors: Rupert Julian, Lon Chaney, Ernst Laemmle, Edward Sedgwick | Stars: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe

Votes: 13,636 | Gross: $0.72M

31. Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Approved | 99 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

One of the sons of Frankenstein finds his father's monster in a coma and revives him, only to find out he is controlled by Ygor who is bent on revenge.

Director: Rowland V. Lee | Stars: Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill

Votes: 7,184

32. He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

95 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A bitter clown endeavors to rescue the young woman he loves from the lecherous count who once betrayed him.

Director: Victor Sjöström | Stars: Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer, John Gilbert, Ruth King

Votes: 2,365

33. The Golem (1920)

Unrated | 91 min | Fantasy, Horror

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In 16th-century Prague, a rabbi creates the Golem - a giant creature made of clay. Using sorcery, he brings the creature to life in order to protect the Jews of Prague from persecution.

Directors: Carl Boese, Paul Wegener | Stars: Paul Wegener, Albert Steinrück, Ernst Deutsch, Lyda Salmonova

Votes: 5,248

34. Waxworks (1924)

65 min | Fantasy, Horror

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A wax museum hires a writer to give the sculptures stories. The writer imagines himself and the museum owner's daughter in the stories.

Directors: Leo Birinsky, Paul Leni | Stars: Emil Jannings, Conrad Veidt, Werner Krauss, William Dieterle

Votes: 1,313

35. The Invisible Man (1933)

Not Rated | 71 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Henry Travers

Votes: 23,576

36. The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)

Passed | 68 min | Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Englishmen race to find the tomb of Genghis Khan before the sinister Fu Manchu does.

Directors: Charles Brabin, Charles Vidor | Stars: Boris Karloff, Lewis Stone, Karen Morley, Charles Starrett

Votes: 2,558

37. The Walking Dead (1936)

Approved | 66 min | Crime, Horror, Sci-Fi

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

After hapless pianist and ex-con John Elman is framed for murder, he is resurrected by a scientist after his execution.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Boris Karloff, Ricardo Cortez, Edmund Gwenn, Marguerite Churchill

Votes: 1,725

38. Genuine (1920)

88 min | Horror

6.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Extremely rare work of Robert Wiene. From the director and year of excellent "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" this work was eventually overshadowed by the success of Caligari. It has a dreamy atmosphere, like another world or something.

Director: Robert Wiene | Stars: Fern Andra, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Ernst Gronau, Harald Paulsen

Votes: 676

39. The Old Dark House (1932)

TV-G | 72 min | Comedy, Horror

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Seeking shelter from a storm, five travelers are in for a bizarre and terrifying night when they stumble upon the Femm family estate.

Director: James Whale | Stars: Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Gloria Stuart

Votes: 6,249 | Gross: $0.03M

40. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (I) (1923)

Unrated | 133 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In fifteenth century Paris, the brother of the archdeacon plots with the gypsy king to foment a peasant revolt. Meanwhile, a freakish hunchback falls in love with the gypsy queen.

Director: Wallace Worsley | Stars: Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Kate Lester

Votes: 3,899 | Gross: $1.02M

41. The Invisible Ray (1936)

Approved | 80 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A scientist becomes murderous after discovering, and being exposed to the radiation of, a powerful new element called Radium X.

Director: Lambert Hillyer | Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Frances Drake, Frank Lawton

Votes: 1,705

42. Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

Unrated | 77 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

6.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The disappearance of people and corpses leads a reporter to a wax museum and a sinister sculptor.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell, Frank McHugh

Votes: 3,662

43. Murders in the Zoo (1933)

Passed | 62 min | Crime, Horror

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A monomaniacal zoologist is pathologically jealous of his beautiful but unfaithful wife Evelyn and will not stop short of murder to keep her.

Director: A. Edward Sutherland | Stars: Charles Ruggles, Lionel Atwill, Gail Patrick, Randolph Scott

Votes: 708

44. A Daughter of Destiny (1928)

108 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

6.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A scientist interested in the laws of heredity, impregnates a prostitute in a laboratory with the semen of a hanged murderer. The prostitute conceives a female child who has no concept of love, whom the professor adopts.

Director: Henrik Galeen | Stars: Brigitte Helm, Paul Wegener, Iván Petrovich, Wolfgang Zilzer

Votes: 224

45. The Raven (1935)

Approved | 61 min | Crime, Horror

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A brilliant surgeon obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe saves the life of a beautiful dancer and goes mad when he can't have her.

Director: Lew Landers | Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lester Matthews, Irene Ware

Votes: 3,585

46. Doctor X (1932)

Approved | 76 min | Comedy, Crime, Horror

6.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A wisecracking New York reporter intrudes on a research scientist's quest to unmask The Moon Killer.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Lee Tracy, Preston Foster

Votes: 2,111

47. The Cat and the Canary (1927)

Unrated | 108 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Relatives of an eccentric millionaire gather in his spooky mansion on the 20th anniversary of his death for the reading of his will.

Director: Paul Leni | Stars: Laura La Plante, Creighton Hale, Forrest Stanley, Tully Marshall

Votes: 2,222

48. The Man Who Lived Again (1936)

66 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Dr. Laurience, a brilliant but unstable scientist experimenting with transferring minds, becomes vengeful when his magnate patron withdraws his support.

Director: Robert Stevenson | Stars: Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, John Loder, Frank Cellier

Votes: 714

49. Werewolf of London (1935)

Not Rated | 75 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

6.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The juice of a rare Tibetan flower is the only thing that keeps Dr. Glendon from turning into a werewolf during a full moon.

Director: Stuart Walker | Stars: Henry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie Hobson, Lester Matthews

Votes: 3,846

50. Seven Footprints to Satan (1929)

Passed | 60 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

6.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young man of society wants to make an expedition to Africa, but his fiancée asks him for help about one of her fathers guests shortly before his planed departure. Her suspects about that ... See full summary »

Director: Benjamin Christensen | Stars: Thelma Todd, Creighton Hale, Sheldon Lewis, William V. Mong

Votes: 209