I emailed a friend I met at the Popular Culture Association conference who is the chair of the horror section and asked him what horror films he would suggest I should watch, given the fact that I feel less versed on horror than I should be. He responded with a pretty huge list. I'm going to highlight in red which ones I have actually seen, and see how I'm coming along on my road to horror scholarship awesomeness.
1900s: Watch Thomas Edison's 1910 version of Frankenstein.
1920s: John S. Robertson's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu; Carl Dreyer's Vampyr; Luis Bunuel's and Jean Epstein's The Fall of the House of Usher; Robert Weine's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
1930s: Jame's Whale's Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Old Dark House and The Invisible Man (you must see all of these!); Ernest B. Schoedsack's King Kong; Tod Browning's Dracula and Freaks; Rouben Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Carl Freund's Mad Love; Edgar G. Ulmer's The Black Cat.
1940s: All of the Val Lewton films, but especially Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, The Seventh Victim and Isle of the Dead (in that order, please!); Lewis Allen's The Uninvited; Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard; Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past.
1950s: Hitchcock's Vertigo; Christian Nyby/Howard Hawks's The Thing (from Another World); Hammer Studios' Horror of Dracula and Curse of Frankenstein; Gordon Douglas's Them!; Jack Arnold's Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Incredible Shrinking Man; Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Charles Laughton's Night of the Hunter; Jacques Tourneur's Night of the Demon (also called Curse of the Demon); also check out The Blob and The Fly; Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone television series; Mario Bava's Black Sabath.
1960s: Michael Powell's Peeping Tom; Hitchcock's Psycho; William Castle's The Tingler and Mr. Sardonicus; Roger Corman's House of Usher, The Haunted Palace, and Masque of the Red Death; Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls; Roman Polanski's Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby; Romero's Night of the Living Dead; the televsion series, The Outer Limits
1970s: Hammer Studios' Taste the Blood of Dracula; Polanski's The Tenant; Brian DePalma's Carrie and Sisters; Romero's Dawn of the Dead; Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now; Peter Wier's Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Last Wave; Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre; John Carpenter's Halloween; Ridley Scott's Alien; Dario Argento's Suspiria and Inferno; William Friedkin's The Exorcist; David Cronenberg's Rabid and Shivers; Larry Cohen's It's Alive, God Told Me To (aka Demon), and Q: The Winged Serpent; William Crain's Blacula and/or Bob Kelljan's Scream, Blacula, Scream!; Mario Bava's Bay of Blood (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve)
1980s: Larry Clark's Deathdream; Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead (aka The Gates of Hell); Sam Raimi's Evil Dead and Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn; Joel Schumacher's The Lost Boys; Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist; David Cronenberg's Scanners, Videodrome and The Fly; Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street; Steve Miner's Friday the 13th, Part II; the televison series, Hammer House of Horror; Stuart Gordon's Dolls and Reanimator; Joe Dante's The Howling; John Carpenter's The Thing; Peter Jackson's Dead Alive (aka Brain Dead)
1990s: The Silence of the Lambs, The Ring, Se7en, Scream, Scary Movie I or III, The Blair Witch Project
2000s: The Others, Saw and Saw III, Eli Roth's Hostel and Cabin Fever, The Orphanage, Pan's Labyrinth, The Devil's Rejects, The Descent, Hansel and Gretel (Korea 2009), The Strangers, Tarantino's and Rodriguez's Grindhouse.
From the looks of it, I have a long ways to go. This weekend I watched Land of the Dead, John Carpenter's The Thing, The Exorcist, Candy Man, Hellraiser, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. So it looks like I'm well on my way. Next up I want to watch Silence of the Lambs, Suspiria and Reanimator. I need to see Reanimator because I'm writing about Lovecraft's contribution to the zombie genre. This summer is definitely going to be the summer of horror films.