Nicole Kidman as Grace in "The Others" standing over a small child with a long white veil over it's face.

These Are the Absolute Best Gothic Horror Movies

Finished reading those gothic horror novels, have you?

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I can see you thirsting for more, like a creature of the night thirsts when gazing upon the pulsing veins of a neck. Very well, I shall furnish you with a list of gothic horror films to satisfy your appetites. These films may be the finest gothic horror titles ever made, but their reputations shall fall to utter ruin when faced with the upcoming horror adaption of the ultimate gothic masterpieceBambi.

Now, let us begin.

Nosferatu (1922)

A vampire rises from his bed with a curious look on his face in the movie "Nosferatu"
(Film Arts Guild)

We begin our list with this masterpiece of German Expressionism, and arguably the most terrifying silent film ever made. Nosferatu was directed by F.W. Murnau and was named as such because, at the time, it was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Perhaps it is better that Dracula was allowed to slumber, for the ancient vampire Count Orlok carries far more horror to the screen in his long fingers.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Dr. Caligari walks through a spooky hallways with weird linear designs on the walls in "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari"
(Decla Film)

Another gem of the German Expressionists, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is as visually stunning as it is psychologically unsettling. It tells the tale of a traveling hypnotist named Dr. Caligari who uses a sleepwalker named Cesare to commit murders, blurring the lines between reality and a waking nightmare.

Rebecca (1940)

A ghost behind a curtain in "Rebecca"!
(United Artists)

Adapted from a book of the same name, the gothic mystery Rebecca directed by Alfred Hitchcock lingers in the mind like a gothic fart in a drawing room. Bolstered by chilling set design and hair-raising performances from actors Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier, the film tells the story of a young woman who is haunted by the presence of her husband’s first wife—this would be a normal occurrence if the woman was not dead.

The Innocents (1961)

The governess in "The Innocents" stares nervously into the camera.
(20th Century Fox)

Based on the Henry James novella, The Turn of the Screw, this film’s horror is chillingly psychological. The Innocents follows a governess who gradually begins to lose her mind once she suspects that the children in her care are possessed by dark spirits. She should know better because ALL children are possessed by dark spirits.

Black Sunday (1960)

A woman admires a corpse in "Black Sunday"
(Unidis)

Italian director Mario Bava’s Black Sunday is amazing. It is the atmospheric tale of a witch’s curse and revenge and has a spine-tingling performance by Barbara Steele. This film is unique because it features two of pop culture’s most famous monsters—a witch AND a vampire. When doctors stumble upon a witch’s tomb during a visit to Moldavia, they inadvertently revive the witch and her vampire lover Javutich, who are buried together.

Crimson Peak (2015)

Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska staring deeply at each other in "Crimson Peak"
(Universal)

The modern gothic horror Crimson Peak directed by Guillermo del Toro pays homage to the classic tropes of the genre while maintaining a point of view as fresh as a newly killed corpse. It follows the story of Edith Cushing, who falls in love with the mysterious Sir Thomas Sharpe and marries him. They move to Allerdale Hall, a decaying mansion overflowing with dark secrets. As Edith unravels the truth of the mansion, she must fend off dark spirits and malevolent intentions that try to seal her fate.

The Others (2001)

A woman talks in the ear of a creepy little girl covered in a sheet in "The Others".
(Dimension Films)

This suspenseful story is set in a secluded mansion on the island of Jersey during World War II. The Others revolves around Grace Stewart, a religious mother of two whose children suffer from a rare sunlight allergy called Xeroderma pigmentosum. When Grace hires new servants to help maintain the household, strange events begin to occur. Mysterious figures appear and haunt the halls and the children claim to see dead people. Grace becomes increasingly paranoid and tries to protect her two little Haley Joel Osments’ from the spirits of the mansion’s previous occupants.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

A curved horned creature and a small woman look at each other in "Pans Labyrinth"
(Warner Bros.)

Set during the Spanish Civil War Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth blends dark fantasy with elements of gothic horror when a young girl named Ofelia discovers a secret Labyrinth in the Spanish countryside. She learns that creatures of all types live there—fairies, fawns, and child-eating monsters—all haunt the labyrinth. Then there is the horrifying Captain Vidal, a high-ranking officer in the Francoist regime and new husband to Ofelia’s mother.

The Witch (2015)

A young woman covered in blood stars into the light of a fire in "The Witch"
(A24)

The Witch is a period horror film set in 1630s New England. It is an example of what some call “elevated horror” and it explores weighty themes such as isolation and religious hysteria. After a colonial family is kicked out of their village and forced to survive on their own, strange occurrences begin to occur. After the baby of the family disappears without a trace, the family’s devout matriarch begins to suspect witchcraft. Witchcraft she believes to be orchestrated by her own daughter!

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

A lusty Frankenstein's monster feels up the arm of his spaced-out bride in "Bride of Frankenstein"
(Universal)

Considered one of the greatest horror sequels of all time (perhaps the only good one ever made) The Bride of Frankenstein expands upon the original tale, elevating it to new heights. Directed by James Whale, the film tells the story of Dr. Frankenstein’s doomed attempt at creating a suitable mate for his monster. As the mad doctor attempts to create life once more, Frankenstein’s monster tries to assimilate into modern society, with predictably disastrous results.

(featured image: Dimension Films)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.