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Hammer Horror (1955-1974)

Short on budget but big on blood, beauty and distinctly British swagger, the Hammer Studios horror cycle formed the cultural bridge between the gothic and gore eras of the horror genre - the fangs got sharper, the blood got redder and the cleavage got, well, bigger. Should see: All of them. Need to see: Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula (1958), The Mummy (1959), Frankenstein Created Woman, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, and Curse of The Werewolf.

They also produced One Million Years B.C. and When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth, which featured bikini-clad cavewomen fighting dinosaurs and thus stand as justification for the entire existence of the motion picture camera.

Psycho (1960)

Legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock took a project no studio wanted and, using the crew and resources from his popular TV series, independently produced it on his own. The eventual result - very loosely inspired by the notorious Ed Gein - was a film whose edgy depictions of murder, depravity and insanity outraged and fascinated 1960s audiences, but not nearly as much as the then-shocking surprise ending. The result? One of the biggest hits of Hitchcock's career, and an entire genre changed forever.

Fantastic Voyage (1966)

A Soviet defector carrying valuable scientific secrets has been mortally wounded, now comatose with a blood clot in his brain spelling certain death. To save him, a radical procedure is devised: Shrink a submarine and a crew of scientists down to microscopic size and inject them into his body to repair the damage from within. With a premise that wild, the movie almost doesn't have to be good, but Fantastic Voyage (pictured) is, anyway.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

The bodies of the recently dead rise again as flesh-eating zombies, and a diverse group of survivors try to hold them off from an abandoned farmhouse. From that simple setup, director George A. Romero built a career and invented an entire genre. All of modern horror rests on the shoulders of this film.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick's momentous collaboration for sci-fi luminary Arthur C. Clarke is still quite possibly the single most important science fiction film ever made - a one-of-a-kind fusion of hard sci-fi space exploration and surreal musings on the nature of existence. A mysterious mission surrounding the discovery of a possibly alien monolith on the moon eventually strands two astronauts at the mercy of their homicidally malfunctioning ship's computer, HAL 9000. And then ... well, you sort of have to see it.

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