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    Categories: MoviesMovies and TV

Top 10 Public Domain Horror Movies

As it is Halloween, we would be remiss not to include a list of horror movies that you can watch online. For the sake of others on the site – be sure to let us know of any public domain movies you know of that people might also enjoy. Happy Halloween from the List Universe!

10. Dementia 13 1963, Francis Ford Coppolla

John Haloran has a fatal heart attack, but his wife Louise won’t get any of the inheritance when Lady Haloran dies if John is dead. Louise forges a letter from John to convince the rest of his family he’s been called to New York on important business, and goes to his Irish ancestral home, Castle Haloran, to meet the family and look for a way to ensure a cut of the loot. Seven years earlier John’s sister Kathleen was drowned in the pond, and the Halorans enact a morbid ritual in remembrance. Secrets shroud the sister’s demise, and soon the family and guests begin experiencing an attrition problem.

9. Phantom of the Opera 1925, Rupert Julian

At the Opera of Paris, a mysterious phantom threatens a famous lyric singer, Carlotta and thus forces her to give up her role (Marguerite in Faust) for unknown Christine Daae. Christine meets this phantom (a masked man) in the catacombs, where he lives. What’s his goal? What’s his secret?


8. The Last Man on Earth 1964, Ubaldo Ragona

Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) is the only survivor of a devastating world-wide plague due to a mysterious immunity he acquired to the bacterium while working in Central America years ago. He is all alone now…or so it seems. As night falls, plague victims begin to leave their graves, part of a hellish undead army that’s thirsting for blood…his!

7. The House on Haunted Hill 1959, William Castle

Millionaire playboy Fredrick Loren hosts a party for his 4th wife Annabelle Loren at the “House On Haunted Hill,” a house that has seen seven murders, Fredrick invites 5 guests: Lance Schroeder,a pilot, Ruth Bridges, a journalist, Watson Prichard, the owner of The House On Haunted Hill, Nora Manning, a worker for one of Fredrick Loren’s companies, and David Trent, a psychiatrist. Fredrick will offer each of them $10,000 to spend a night in The House On Haunted Hill. They all want the money. At midnight, the caretakers lock to doors, and the terror begins!

6. Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde 1920, John Robertson

Based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Henry Jekyll believes that there are two distinct sides to men – a good and an evil side. He believes that by separating the two men can become liberated. He succeeds in his experiments with chemicals to accomplish this and transforms into Hyde to commit horrendous crimes.


5. Night of the Living Dead 1968, George Romero

The dead come back to life and eat the living in this low budget, black and white film. Several people barricade themselves inside a rural house in an attempt to survive the night. Outside are hordes of relentless, shambling zombies who can only be killed by a blow to the head.

4. Dracula 1931, Tod Browning

After a harrowing ride through the Carpathian Mountains in Eastern Europe, Renfield enters castle Dracula to finalize the transferal of Carfax Abbey in London to Count Dracula, who is in actuality a vampire. Renfield is drugged by the eerily hypnotic count, and turned into one of his thralls, protecting him during his sea voyage to London. After sucking the blood and turning the young Lucy Weston into a vampire, Dracula turns his attention to her friend Mina Seward, daughter of Dr. Seward who then calls in a specialist, Dr. Van Helsing, to diagnose the sudden deterioration of Mina’s health. Van Helsing, realizing that Dracula is indeed a vampire, tries to prepare Mina’s fiance, John Harker, and Dr. Seward for what is to come and the measures that will have to be taken to prevent Mina from becoming one of the undead.

3. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari 1919, Robert Wiene

A horror film that surpasses all others. Alan relates the story of traveling magician Dr Caligari and Cesare. Their arrival in a town coincides with savage killings. Secretly Caligari was an asylum director who hypnotizes Cesare to re enact murders. But the final reel contains something, which will leave an audience shattered. It blows away all your moral certainties and beliefs. This is the true power of its horror. To leave you vulnerable and uncertain of what you feel was secure and certain.

2. Nosferatu 1922, F Murnau

An unauthorized production of Bram Stoker’s work (The legal heirs didn’t give their permission), so the names had to be changed. But this wasn’t enough: The widow of Bram Stoker won two lawsuits (1924 and 1929) in which she demanded the destruction of all copies of the movie, however happily copies of it were already too widespread to destroy them all. Later, the Universal studios could break her resistance against this movie. Count Orlok’s move to Wisburg (Obviously the real “Wismar”) brings the plague traceable to his dealings with the Realtor Thomas Hutter, and the Count’s obsession with Hutter’s wife, Ellen the only one with the power to end the evil.

1. M 1931, Fritz Lang

A psychotic child murderer stalks a city, and despite an exhaustive investigation fueled by public hysteria and outcry, the police have been unable to find him. But the police crackdown does have one side-affect, it makes it nearly impossible for the organized criminal underground to operate. So they decide that the only way to get the police off their backs is to catch the murderer themselves. Besides, he is giving them a bad name.

Text Sources: IMDB

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  • I don't think Dracula is public domain. It was made by Universal and they hang on to every thing they own with an iron fist.

  • I know this is an old post, but I wanted to clear something up in case someone looking at this does not do his own follow-up research. The film, M (1931) is NOT in the public domain and it was not in the pd in 2007, when this list was written. http://www.archive.org/post/341508/100-movies-in-the-public-domain "The works specified by sections 102 and 103, when published, are subject to protection under this title if— (1) on the date of first publication, one or more of the authors is a national or domiciliary of the United States, or is a national, domiciliary, or sovereign authority of a treaty party, or is a stateless person, wherever that person may be domiciled; or (2) the work is first published in the United States or in a foreign nation that, on the date of first publication, is a treaty party; or (3) the work is a sound recording that was first fixed in a treaty party; or (4) the work is a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work that is incorporated in a building or other structure, or an architectural work that is embodied in a building and the building or structure is located in the United States or a treaty party; or (5) the work is first published by the United Nations or any of its specialized agencies, or by the Organization of American States; or (6) the work comes within the scope of a Presidential proclamation. Whenever the President finds that a particular foreign nation extends, to works by authors who are nationals or domiciliaries of the United States or to works that are first published in the United States, copyright protection on substantially the same basis as that on which the foreign nation extends protection to works of its own nationals and domiciliaries and works first published in that nation, the President may by proclamation extend protection under this title to works of which one or more of the authors is, on the date of first publication, a national, domiciliary, or sovereign authority of that nation, or which was first published in that nation. The President may revise, suspend, or revoke any such proclamation or impose any conditions or limitations on protection under a proclamation. For purposes of paragraph (2), a work that is published in the United States or a treaty party within 30 days after publication in a foreign nation that is not a treaty party shall be considered to be first published in the United States or such treaty party, as the case may be. M seems to qualify for (1), (2), and (6) M was released in the USA more than 30 days after it was in Germany so it qualifies as a work originally published outside the USA. As, at the time of publication, the US had a bilateral copyright treaty in force with Germany, which began in December 1910, the authors' and work's country of origin was a "treaty party" and so copyright was extended to the work. It was registered for copyright properly: M. Nero Films, AG., Berlin. 1931. 9 reels sd Authors: Director, Fritz Lang; scenario, Thea Von Harbou Copyright Foremco Pictures Corp. and Nassau Films, inc (Nero Films, Author); 11May31; LP3800 When renewal came up it was not renewed and fell into the public domain in the USA. However, after the URAA was passed, the successors of the copyright registered a NIE on the film: M. Additional title: Murderer among us, Morder Unter Uns, A town is looking... Type of Work: Recorded Document Document Number: V8007P558 Date of Recordation: 1997-12-31 Entire Copyright Document: V8007P558 (Single page document) Title: M. Additional title: Murderer among us, Morder Unter Uns, A town is looking for a murderer. Notes: Motion picture. Filed for all rights. Notice of intent to enforce a copyright restored under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. Owner: Atlantic-Film, SA. Via Resore 6; Postfach 137; 6949 Comano, Switzerland. PHONE: (41) 1 422-3832. FAX: (41) 1 422-3793. Author: Fritz Lang. Date of Publication: 1998-04-17 Variant title: M. Murderer among us Morder Unter Uns A town is looking for a murderer. Names: Lang, Fritz Atlantic-Film, SA. Owner: Atlantic-Film, SA. Via Resore 6; Postfach 137; 6949 Comano, Switzerland 17 U.S.C. § 104A (b) Ownership of Restored Copyright. — A restored work vests initially in the author or initial rightholder of the work as determined by the law of the source country of the work."

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