Ten Years of Saw: Less is More, More is Less?

By Thad Komorowski




With the limited theatrical engagement of the initial entry in the Saw franchise placing horror once again in the public eye, one wonders: is it necessarily a good thing filmmakers can show anything now? Or was it better and more creative when they couldn’t under the Motion Picture Code? This AudioFiles feature touches on the issue with several filmmakers, historians and critics:

Below is what RottenTomatoes ranks as the 20 best horror movies. As with any list, it’s subjective, but the majority of voters do think the older horror movies as the best ones, with eight of the top 10 made before 1960.

The concept of what is pre and post Motion Picture Code can also be muddled. Many of the films were made before the Code was actively enforced in 1934, and the code was more or less neutered well before its complete collapse in 1968. Some of these movies are not American either, and thus didn’t have to adhere to the Code. But interestingly, eight out of nine non-American films on this list were still made before 1968.

But for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to just label films pre-collapse and post-collapse based on that 1968 date. See what you think.

01-TheCabinetofDrCaligari

1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Germany
PRE-COLLAPSE
02-Nosferatu

2. Nosferatu (1922)
Germany
PRE-COLLAPSE

03-Repulsion

3. Repulsion (1965)
U.K.
PRE-COLLAPSE

04-KingKong

4. King Kong (1933)
U.S.
PRE-COLLAPSE

05-BrideofFrank

5. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
U.S.
PRE-COLLAPSE

06-Psycho

6. Psycho (1960)
U.S.
PRE-COLLAPSE

07-NightoftheHunter

7. Night of the Hunter (1955)
U.S.
PRE-COLLAPSE

08-Alien

8. Alien (1979)
U.S.
POST-COLLAPSE

09-TheinvisibleMan

9. The Invisible Man (1933)
U.S.
PRE-COLLAPSE

10-Frankenstein

10. Frankenstein (1931)
U.S.
PRE-COLLAPSE

11-Jaws

11. Jaws (1975)
U.S.
POST-COLLAPSE

12-RosemaryBaby

12. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
U.S.
POST-COLLAPSE

13-Vampyr

13. Vampyr (1932)
Germany-France
PRE-COLLAPSE

14-LettheRightOneIn

14. Let the Right One In (2008)
Sweden
POST-COLLAPSE

15-Aliens15. Aliens (1986)
U.S.
POST-COLLAPSE

16-EyeswithoutaFace

16. Eyes Without a Face (1962)
France
PRE-COLLAPSE

17-InvasionBody5617. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
U.S.
PRE-COLLAPSE

18-TheInnocents

18. The Innocents (1961)
U.K.
PRE-COLLAPSE

19-EvilDead2

19. Evil Dead 2 (1987)
U.S.
POST-COLLAPSE

20-PeepingTom

20. Peeping Tom (1960)
U.K.
PRE-COLLAPSE