The Top 5 German Horror Movies That Are Classics of the Genre
Feeling ready for a night of fright?
Then think about settling down in front of a couple of German horror movies for the ultimate spooky evening.
Let’s take a look at our top five German horror movie picks as well as why watching movies in a foreign language is beneficial. We’ve even provided some bonus tips at the end of the post for you!
So, grab your popcorn and let’s tune in!
- 1. “Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens“
- 2. “Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari”
- 3. “Funny Games”
- 4. “Der Bunker”
- 5. “Angst”
- Benefits of Learning German with Horror Movies
- Bonus: Tips for Learning German from Horror Movies
1. “Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens“
English Title: “Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror”
Director: Freidrich Wilheim Murnau
Where to watch: Amazon and Youtube
Commonly referred to as “Nosferatu”—the full title is actually “Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens“ (Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror), so there’s no hiding just how freaky this silent film is.
Somehow, the costumes, make-up and scenery still do an incredible job of affecting modern viewers and giving them the shivers, even though we’re accustomed to watching high-definition movies on the big screen.
The movie is loosely based on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Excellent inspiration, but Stoker’s family wasn’t happy about it and sued the filmmakers for breaching copyright laws. Stoker’s wife even sued the studio.
Regardless, the film is still considered a classic of the horror genre and is largely credited with introducing many vampire tropes into our culture.
2. “Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari”
English Title: “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”
Director: Robert Wiene
Where to watch: Amazon and Youtube
Often regarded as one of the very first horror movies, “Das Cabinet des Doktor Caligari” was written by Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz, who had both returned from World War I extremely embittered.
It’s a dark tale about a mad performer who uses a sleepwalker to commit various murders.
The movie is widely regarded as one of the best examples of German expressionism and the story is thought to be an attack on the omnipotence of the state. Watch it and decide for yourself.
3. “Funny Games”
Director: Michael Haneke
Where to watch: Criterion
Rolling Stone called “Funny Games” one of the scariest horror movies you’ve ever seen, so you know you’re going to be in for some serious chills when you watch it.
German film director and screenwriter Michael Haneke went on to remake it in 2007 with an American cast and crew.
One aspect that the film has been praised for is its continual breaking of the fourth wall, which ups the creepy factor of the film as the audience becomes complicit in the antagonists’ actions.
This movie can be quite graphic in places and is rated R, so viewer discretion is advised.
4. “Der Bunker”
English Title: “The Bunker”
Director: Nikias Chryssos
Where to watch: Amazon
“Der Bunker” is the most recent film on this list, having premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2015.
If some of the films I’ve previously mentioned have given you the shivers, this one shouldn’t be too bad as it’s classed as a horror comedy.
The movie focuses on an unnamed student who rents out a room at a rural home for a peaceful vacation.
However, his trip soon becomes far from peaceful when he realizes that the room is actually a bunker and his host family expects him to carry out a series of bizarre tasks.
English Title: “Fear”
Director: Gerald Kargl
Where to watch: Amazon
Loosely based on real-life, mass murderer Werner Kniesek, this film follows a psychopath who has recently been released from jail.
The movie isn’t that well known outside of Austria, but it’s highly regarded by critics for its unusual camera style and excellent performances.
Since this is another R-rated movie focused on terrifying subject matter, please be aware that there are some graphic and chilling scenes in “Angst.”
Benefits of Learning German with Horror Movies
Watching German horror movies is a fun way to experience fascinating examples of German culture and cinematic production outside of the United States.
There are many more practical reasons for watching movies too, such as being exposed to German as it’s spoken by native speakers.
Bonus: Tips for Learning German from Horror Movies
- One of the best ways to learn German using horror movies is to watch them as much as possible so that you absorb a lot of the vocabulary. You’ll be able to recite all the lines along with the actors, eventually!
- While you’re watching, take notes of any words that you don’t fully understand so that you can look them up afterward.
- When it comes to watching a silent film with subtitles, pause the movie as soon as the text flashes up on the screen. Then see if you can write down what you saw, word for word, from memory. This is a great way to pick up new vocabulary and grammar constructions.
- There’s nothing better than watching a few spooky movies together with friends, so why not get a few of your buddies together for a scary German session? Draw the curtains, turn off the lights and pick one of your favorite horror movies to scare yourself silly with.
- Try not to scream or jump throughout the entire movie. If anyone does, then they have to do a quick linguistic challenge. Beginners should list five new words that they’ve learned so far from the film. Intermediate and advanced learners should try and explain in German what frightened them so much.
- The learning doesn’t have to end as soon as the movie does. One way to take things further is to have a go at writing your own sequel to the movie. Writing a script in German is a great way to test your writing skills. You can do this on your own or team up with some of your friends if you watched the movie together. Even beginners can write a nice script. As scripts are mostly just dialogue, the sentences shouldn’t be too difficult to construct. If you feel like a challenge, you could always write your sequel as a short story, making sure you use lots of complex sentences and grammar.
To learn German through movies, you can also look into FluentU.
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Watch authentic media to simultaneously immerse yourself in the German language and build an understanding of the German culture.
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Vocabulary and phrases are learned with the help of interactive subtitles and full transcripts.
Hovering over or tapping on any word in the subtitles will automatically pause the video and instantly display its meaning. Interesting words you don’t know yet can be added to a to-learn list for later.
For every lesson, a list of vocabulary is provided for easy reference and bolstered with plenty of examples of how each word is used in a sentence.
Your existing knowledge is tested with the help of adaptive quizzes in which words are learned in context.
To keep things fresh, FluentU keeps track of the words you’re learning and recommends further lessons and videos based on what you've already studied.
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Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)
If you can stomach them, German horror movies sure are a great way to learn the language.
Just make sure you have something to hide behind—or someone to hold onto—if things get a bit too scary!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.