Most people think that horror films have always come from Hollywood and still do. But the German film industry has also been influential in the making of horror films throughout the years.
Luckily, there are many German horror movies of the 1970, 80s and 90s available to stream on Amazon and other streaming services. In this article, we explore some of the more unusual ones.
This article is a cooperation with killthecablebill.com.
History of German Horror Movies
During the 1920s, German expressionists used the horror genre to widen the various possibilities in the new film industry. During the 1930s and 1940s, horror film production disappeared from Germany, while other countries continued to make horror films. No horror movies were made in Germany between 1932 and 1952.
In 1932, the German horror film “Vampyre” would be the last one for the next 20 years. Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, the movie is about a drifter with an obsession with the supernatural. He comes across an inn where he finds an adolescent girl who is slowly becoming a vampire. If you’re a horror film historian, this movie can be seen currently on HBO Max.
The next horror film would not be released in Germany until 1952 when “Alraune” came out. Later renamed “Unnatural,” it is about a scientist who creates the perfect woman. Except she has no morals or conscience, and she brings destruction to everything around her. This movie can be seen through Amazon Prime Video.
A few horror films were released in the 1950s and 1960s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s when German filmmakers got back into producing horror films. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, German filmmakers were back in full production.
Some films were low-budget splatter movies that came with warnings. Some movies were better than others, with a few winning awards. Released in 1970, “Jonathan,” was one such movie. Director Hans W. Geißendörfer was awarded a Gold Film Award for Best New Direction at the Deutscher Filmpreis.
Here’s a selection of other German horror movies of the 1970, 80s and 90s:
- “Jack the Ripper” (1976) can be seen on Amazon Prime
- “Nosferatu the Vampyre” (1979) is on Amazon Prime
- “Angst” (1983) can be seen on AMC+ with Prime Video
- “Laurin” (1989) is available for rent or purchase through Amazon
- “Funny Games” (1997) is on HBO Max
- “The Curse” or “Der Fluch” is a little known German horror film from 1988 that can be purchased on Amazon
German filmmakers continued to make more horror films into the new century. Even in America, like in Germany, the major studios are still reluctant to produce horror movies. But that hasn’t stopped horror writers and directors from creating new films.
Written and directed by Lukas Feigelfeld, “Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse” has a unique storytelling structure that divides the movie into four chapters, Shadows, Horn, Blood and Fire. Each chapter pays homage to classic supernatural horror movies of the past.
The movie takes place in the 15th century Alps. The main story is of a young goat herder that the locals believe is a witch. Along with beautiful cinematography, the movie has a chilling soundtrack which is perfect for this horror film. As the story progresses, the horror increases, culminating in some of the most terrifying and shocking filmmaking out of Europe in a long time. “Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse” can be streamed on Amazon Prime and AMC+.
“Der Bunker” is a bizarre movie that is hard to put in any one genre. It is a mix of horror, thriller and comedy. The story begins when a young student rents a room in a quiet lakeside home so he can find peace and quiet. The room he rented is owned by a family of three, a father, a mother and an eight-year-old son.
But it soon revealed that the room is a bunker, and the son is actually much older than eight years old. The movie’s ability to mix horror, thriller, and comedy genres in one story is something few movies have been able to accomplish.
The film won numerous awards including the Next Wave Award for Best Film at Fantastic Fest and Best Film at La Mano Festival in 2016. “Der Bunker” can be seen on Amazon Prime. Other German horror movies that might interest horror film buffs include:
- “Cold Hell” (2017) can be seen on Amazon Prime and Apple TV
- “Anatomy” (2000) is on Amazon Prime
- “The Nightmare” (2015) is on Tubi
- “Mute Witness” (1995)
- “Funny Games: (1997) can be seen on HBO Max
“Dark” is one of the most popular television shows today on Netflix. It is more of a science fiction thriller than a horror series, but it will certainly scare you at times. By design, it is a three-season series. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should watch each episode in order.
The series begins when two children are missing in the town of Winden, Germany. Secrets from the past are uncovered as four families search for the children. The plot is intricate and involves time travel without getting into the complexities of messing around with timelines and disrupting the past and future.
Germany has an interesting history with horror movies. Beginning in the 1920s, German expressionists were able to use horror films to widen the possibilities in the newly created film industry. Film production was outlawed in the early 1930s, and it wouldn’t be until 1952 that Germany produced another horror film.
After the restrictions were lifted, there wasn’t much of an appetite for horror films in Germany until the 1970s. By the 1980s, German writers, producers, and directors were back to producing horror films again, with a few winning accolades and awards.