View Full Version : Best Val Lewton Horror Movies

12-19-2009, 02:23 PM

One of the greatest horror producers of all time, producing such films as Cat People, Curse of the Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, Body Snatcher, The Haunting, Curse/Night of the Demon, etc.

Currently reading a biography of him called Fearing The Dark and has been a great read. Really great, highly recommended for those who are fans of him and of his movies. Lewton had a wonderful style and believed the scariest horror and terror were those that were in the mind and wasn't seen, unlike the Universal Pictures which glorified in showing their monsters, etc.

Are there any fans of this guy's movies? What do you think in general?



03-05-2012, 11:12 AM
I'm bumping this thread about Val Lewton horror movies because it never seemed to gain any traction when it was first posted. I haven't seen all of the Val Lewton horror movies, but the ones I saw were pretty effective. One of the most interesting things about Val Lewton, for me, is that most movies, including horror movies, are considered to be "authored" by the director. It's very unusual that movies would be considered "Val Lewton movies" when he wasn't the director.

I have a friend who took a class in horror movies in college, and he said that during the class, they watched every Val Lewton movie ever made. I guess the professor was a big fan.

I have all of Val Lewton's horror movies, but I haven't seen them all yet.

Which Val Lewton horror films are you favorites?

03-06-2012, 05:26 AM
Isle of the Dead and I Walked with a Zombie both have great atmosphere.

03-06-2012, 05:48 AM
i love all of lewton's stuff, but cat people, isle of the dead, bedlam, and the body snatcher are my favorites.

03-06-2012, 06:21 AM
I liked I Walked with a Zombie, but I loved Cat People. The rest are still on my to-watch list.

03-06-2012, 02:16 PM
Cat People

The Leopard Man

Isle of the Dead

The Body Snatcher

all great, great films. Lewton has been on a Cronenberg streak with me; hasn't been a film I've seen of his yet that I didn't like....

03-06-2012, 03:49 PM
all great, great films. Lewton has been on a Cronenberg streak with me; hasn't been a film I've seen of his yet that I didn't like....

yes! exactly!

03-06-2012, 04:40 PM
the only question I have on Val is does he have a somewhat smaller filmography then others? While I'm betting his production's were of a more consistent level then others, it always seems like he didn't have his 'handprint' on all THAT many films..

Have I been led astray by this thinking?

03-06-2012, 07:12 PM
I think he made a total of either 7 or 9 films.

RKO made Val Lewton the head of their horror department because they wanted to compete with Universal in the horror movie genre.

He not only produced his films, he also helped with the screenwriting for most of them.

The first movie he did for RKO was Cat People, which was a big money-maker for the studio, so they gave him a lot of creative control on his subsequent movies.

He left RKO because of a management shake-up and because of his own health problems. He was only 44 or something like that when he died, so he was relatively young.

Jacques Tourneur, the French noir director, made 3 of Lewton's films. (Tourneur is also responsible for my favorite film noir, Out of the Past, which stars Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer. Lewton had nothing to do with Out of the Past, but I love that movie so much that I can't mention Jacuqes Tourneur without also mentioning Out of the Past.)

Boris Karloff appeared in 3 Val Lewton films too, so Lewton has his "regulars" that he worked with.

Martin Scorsese Presents Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows is a great documentary about Val Lewton, and it's less than $3 at Amazon, but the better deal is The Val Lewton Horror Collection, which includes all of Lewton's RKO horror movies AND the Scorsese documentary. It'll set you back $36 or $37 + shipping, but I think it's worth every penny. (And I've only seen the documentary and 2 or 3 of the actual films.)

One other thing from the documentary that I thought was interesting. The studio would come up with names for the horror movies before even writing the screenplay. They would poll people about which horror movie they'd rather see, based on the title, and when a title was a winner, they'd have Val Lewton go create a movie based on the title.

03-06-2012, 07:21 PM
Ah..okay that kinda jives with what little I had read up on VL. I was kinda hoping that there would be a TON more of his films that I just hadn't heard about, but I still have about half of his current filmography yet to see..so I guess that's better then nothin'...:cool:

Also interesting how the movie studio would 'research' what their new horror film would be..lol.