The Haunted Castle (1896): Video
This 1896 black-and-white silent horror film from George Melies (the special effects pioneer behind 1902’s A TRIP TO THE MOON) probably yields little gooseflesh for today’s viewers. However, it plays like an overture for the next forty years of horror movie imagery; its brief running time encapsulates such soon-to-be-familiar cinema imagery as old dark castles; flapping bats that transform into human figures; and a brandished cross to ward off the evil being haunting the castle. As always with Melies, believability is less important than amazement – and amusement. Although less overtly comic than some of his films, the occasional whimsical gag works its way in. Unfortunately, the ending seems a bit truncated, but you still get the general idea.