Horror is really a genre where some of the best of what it offers thrives in the fringes of conventional definition and studio work. In means way horror really thrives on pushing the envelope. Yet, that must of course be done in the service of a greater good (like a great story line) to make the film in question truly great.

With that in mind about horror, a central goal of what we try to do at The 405 Film is to bring you – our dear readers – the best of the rare, the overlooked, and the weird in cinema. "Discovery" was our main guiding theme when we re-launched the section, and so it shall remain.

With Halloween this week, we thought a collection of some of the best, the most rare, and the overlooked in the horror section of classic movies and Old Hollywood (for our purposes, 1965 and before) was in order. Stay tuned for "The Rare, The Weird, and the Overlooked: Halloween Horror Edition – Part II, Contemporary", coming very soon. We have tried to find films for both lists that are – for lack of a better term – findable.

We hope you enjoy the list of 5 horror movies from the Golden Age of cinema as a medium below. Remember to head back to The 405 Film to catch Part II of this list.

1. The Seventh Victim (1943) … DVD can be found here.


"A woman in search of her missing sister uncovers a Satanic cult in New York's Greenwich Village, and finds that they may have something to do with her sibling's random disappearance".

The Seventh Victim is a remarkable film noir with horror elements because it tackles Satanism as a subject matter (yes, in 1943, with the repressive Hays Production Code still very much in effect). Once you consider forces like the Satanic Panic which raged essentially until 1992 (some even say its still not over) – when the FBI released a report (read it free here) debunking the idea of a mass spread of Satanic cults who were involved with all manner of crime from animal sacrifice to baby breeding – and facts like the Hays Code was notorious for not allowing A LOT of things (suicide as an example, or even the bad guy not seeing justice on screen) – this makes The Seventh Victim all the more incredible.

The Seventh Victim marks Kim Hunter's film debut and was very capably directed by Mark Robson (known for 1957's Peyton Place and 1956's The Harder They FallHumphrey Bogart's last film before he died of cancer). It functions effectively as a noir thriller with horror elements.

2. M (1931) … Watch a free print below via YouTube.

Peter Lorre in the infamous mirror scene in M (1931).

M represents one of the most solid serial killer movies you will ever see – not just a hallmark of great cinema from the Weimar Republic.

M was director Fritz Lang's first venture in sound movies and one of the last films he made in Europe before emigrating to America as Nazism spread over the whole of Europe.

He and screenwriter/wife Thea von Harbou (who later left Lang for the Nazi party) started M as a project with the storyline of someone sending obscene material through the mail. This later evolved into a story about a serial child murderer (based loosely on the real “Vampire of DüsseldorfPeter Kürten) played in utterly brilliant fashion by Peter Lorre.

Notice in watching M how Lang makes a character itself out of the unnamed metropolis it is set in as the police and mob set to catch a killer who is disrupting their business. Lang's use of sound – including Edvard Grieg's “Hall of the Mountain King”, whistled by Lorre's character (although that is actually Lang whistling the tune as Lorre could not whistle) – creates a truly eerie ambiance which underscores this truly profound study of evil.

3. Dementia 13 (1963) … Watch here via Amazon Prime.

Luana Anders in DEMENTIA 13 (1963).

Francis Ford Coppola was in huge part still a fledgling filmmaker in 1963. It was still 9 years until The Godfather and 16 until Apocalypse Now when he would begin his peak as a Hollywood creative.

Coppola was assisting director Roger Corman in Ireland on the set of The Young Racers when Corman said he could borrow sets and even actors Luana Anders, Patrick Magee and William Campbell for his horror flick about a family curse and an axe murderer.

What we ultimately get in Dementia 13 is an interesting albeit highly imperfect horror flick that really is a fascinating and experimental look at a director inching closer to greatness.

Which leads to...

4. Dementia (1955) – alternately titled Daughter of Horror … Watch a free, full print below via YouTube.

Still from DEMENTIA/DAUGHTER OF HORROR (1955). The film first started gaining traction when footage from it was used in 1958's THE BLOB.

Dementia is the reason for the "13" in “Dementia 13.” Corman as producer on Dementia 13 knew about the existence of this most bizarre little film from 1955 and wanted to make sure Coppola's stood out.

Dementia plays like a very, very peculiar fever dream. It was inspired by lead star and director John Parker's secretary Adrienne Barrett, who relayed a dream she had to Parker.

The film plays out as a horrific cinematic fugue state of our lead actress who makes her way through a city – mingling with winos, pimps, and prostitutes – and through a variety of other happenings including her childhood. Oh, and did I mention the entire journey is without dialogue? Yeah, Dementia / Daughter of Horror is one to see.

5. The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920) … Watch a free print below via YouTube.

Conradt Veidt as Cesare in THE CABINET OF DOCTOR CALIGARI (1920).

Caligari is undoubtedly one of the most potent and lasting horror flicks in the annals of any country's cinema, not just the Weimar Republic. It has effected everyone from the pioneers of film noir (because of its aesthetic being solidly in the German Expressionist camp), to many horror directors from Stanley Kubrick to Rob Zombie.

The film stars Werner Krauss as the infamous Dr. Caligari who takes his somnambulist (sleep walker) Cesare (played by Conrad Veidt) from town to town to perform at carnivals and... occasionally... kill people.

Fritz Lang was allegedly about to direct Caligari but ended up backing out. Robert Weine ended up taking the reins where he quite often would have to stop filming because of the frequent blackouts in the Weimar Republic as it suffered from massive fiscal problems after WWI.

The interesting odd angles in that German Expressionist set pieces of the film were fashioned that way also to save money: even the shadows are paper. It is beautiful, weird, and absolutely horrifying in all the best ways... it is also one of the first horror films with a twist ending.

SUPPLEMENTAL HORROR SHORT: Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) … watch it free below.

Still from MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON (1943).

"A woman returning home falls asleep and has vivid dreams that may or may not be happening in reality. Through repetitive images and complete mismatching of the objective view of time and space, her dark inner desires play out on-screen".

Meshes of the Afternoon is one of those short films that just has to be seen to be believed. Written and directed by Maya Deren (who also stars), it is an intense surrealistic piece of psychological horror that was inspired (in part) by the likes of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali.

Meshes of the Afternoon in turn inspired other more surrealist filmmakers like David Lynch – like Lost Highway, Inland Empire and Mulholland Dr., Meshes has elicited a myriad of interpretations – Lynch has also cited it before as an influence.

It has also inspired many, many female creatives as Deren was way ahead of her time in film techniques (extreme closeups and jump shots being but 2 of them in the film), in addition to filmmakers who operate on a microbudget – Meshes was made for only $275 (about $4012 in today's money).

Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou ("An Andalusian Dog") should also be watched with Meshes, to get a solid idea of a purely free-form film structure – of course characteristic of surrealism – as both films are essentially free of the rational in dictating the stories' structures.

See Un Chien Andalou below and stay tuned to The 405 Film for Part II of our Halloween horror film list.

Quiet possibly the most infamous scene from UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1929). It was a cow's eye that was used.