TechieTalk: Christmas Gifts from the Public Domain: Classic Horror Movies

By Roy Mathur, on 2012-12-24, for the Independent Daily, Mauritius (in which an edited version appeared)

Welcome to the Christmas edition of TechieTalk. Today is Christmas Eve, but I know from a confidential source in the big depot up north that my stocking is going to be pretty empty this year, apart from a book I asked Santa to bring. But gifts from the venerable hairy-one, overly rich food and visits from seldom seen family are but mere trifles compared to what's really important to modern Christmas festivities. And I'm not talking about that quick and ill-advised kiss under the office mistletoe either. I'm talking about movies. Sure, there are a few on TV, but let's be honest- most of them aren't that great. So this week I'll tell you where to get the perfect antidote to all that fake and awful Christmas cheeriness.

The answer is, of course, to watch some really great horror movies. Yes, on Christmas Eve when the socially inclined are visiting family that they can no longer avoid and the religiously inclined are off to church, it has become an unofficial tradition, in some countries including the UK, to show horror films late at night on Christmas eve. Being both born in the UK and a horror film nut, I put it to you that there is nothing better than a bag of popcorn, chilled lemonade and a gut-wrenching, terrifying horror movie to fill one with seasonal spirit. My reasoning? For highly practical reasons actually. First, you won't be bored. Second, the movies mentioned in this article are some of the best movies per se, and not just in the horror genre, thus you can also look on this experience as being educationally edifying. Lastly, you will be so disturbed by watching these movies that you won't be able to sleep even one wink, assuring that you can open your presents before anyone else.

Where to get the movies? purports itself to be the internet archive. It archives websites as well as other media including movies that are now in the Public Domain. This means you can download them, without fear of sinister, black-suited agents descending on your house from black helicopters. It also means you can don't even have to leave the house, brave ferocious Christmas crowds and visit the stall in the market that sells those pirated DVDs of truly awful quality. Yes, it's all free and legal for a change.

What to Watch?

Given the popularity of vampires in fiction today, I thought it appropriate to talk about two of the best vampire movies ever made.

The movie I recommend first is Dracula (1931). The classic movie stars the hypnotic and brilliant, maestro of horror Bela Lugosi. This is the definitive vampire movie from which all other vampire movies spring forth. Twilight fans take note, the Dracula in this movie quite definitely does not sparkle. Get it from this page- The Last Man on Earth (1964) starring Vincent Price is based on the Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend, most recently inferiorly remade and starring Will Smith. As the title suggests, this is the story of the very last remaining human on an Earth now completely populated by vampires. Get it here-

How to watch?

Options for viewing the movies are numerous. If you have a screen big enough, you can watch these directly from your computer from the links I have given you above. You can download the movie files and play them with a video player like the excellent VLC ( You can also watch the movies on your television if you have a DVD player capable of playing DivX format files; most DVD players have had this capability for a number of years. Just copy the files to a blank DVD or plug an external drive directly into your DVD player's USB port. If you want the video in another format to watch, for example, on your mobile device, you can always use HandBrake ( to convert your downloaded movies to something more compatible.

Merry Christmas from me at TechieTalk!

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