Best Horror Movies of the 1960’s

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Attack of the Crab Monsters-Horror movies from the 1960's

 

Moving on from the classical era of the 30’s and 40’s, past the Sci-Fi flavored 50’s, the best horror movies of the 1960’s brought with them their own unique and varied brand of scares and thrills as well as having the distinct advantage of color film.

 

Further developments in both technical and artistic creativity were also of obvious benefit.

 

Creature Features

 

Sadly, due to the huge proliferation of titles made in the 50’s, the quality of production and the originality of content suffered greatly. Many movies were churned out solely for the teen drive-inn audience and were basically low budget/giant mutant spectacles. Horror became relegated to B-movie standard.

Wasp Woman-best horror movies-1960's

Thankfully, the 1960’s saw a necessary turn-around. Horror themes began to be centered more  upon real life people and events instead of giant monsters from outer space.

 

Elimination of the restrictive “Production Code” can be credited to this change and hence, censorship laws became much more relaxed with the changing times.

Reflecting this is the shift in focus from the bizarre, other worldly and fantastical to the horror which may lie within and all around us.

 


Vincent Price Becomes the “Master of Menace”

 

Director Roger Corman, known as a producer of low budget horror fare including “A Bucket of Blood” and “Little shop of Horrors”, stepped it up a notch when he made several quality (and richly colored) horror films based on the gothic stories of Edgar Allan Poe.

Most of these starred the iconic Vincent Price and include, “House of Usher”, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, “The premature burial”, “Tales of Terror”, “The Raven”, “The Haunted Palace”, “The Masque of the Red Death” and “The Tomb of Ligeia”. Of these, House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Mask of the Red Death are considered best.

 

The Pit and the Pendulum

Based on the book by Edgar Allen Poe – The Pit and the Pendulum 1961

 

The Horror of Hammer

 

Hammer Studio’s were meanwhile going strong with several sequels to their Dracula and Frankenstein remakes. Indeed, it was Hammer who dominated the horror film market throughout the late 50’s and 60’s with their richly colorized period pieces.

A new level of gore was achieved by the studio with their graphic showing of blood, which up until now had been purposely ignored. This was made all the more shocking with color film.

Blood was not only being shown, but was now in a ghastly bright red!

 

Christopher Lee - Dracula - 1960's Horror

Christopher Lee in one of his many appearances as Dracula

 

“Brides of Dracula”, “Dracula: Prince of Darkness”, “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave”, “The Evil of Frankenstein”, “Frankenstein Created Woman”, and “Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed” as well as “The Curse of the Werewolf”; Hammer’s take on the werewolf legend, “The Devil Rides Out”(base on the controversial novel about devil worship by Dennis Wheatley) and “Witchfinder General” with Vincent Price…

These are all strong examples by Hammer Studios.

 

Hitchcock’s Masterpiece

 

Psycho - 1960's horror

Janet Leigh in one of the most unforgettable scenes of all time!

The most famous and by far one of the greatest horror movies ever made came at the very beginning of the decade.

Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is the very essence of how horror had begun to change direction with the evil now being ever present under a guise of normalcy.

The film was extremely daring for it’s time and explored with shocking candor the psychological make-up of a deranged schizophrenic killer. Themes of guilt, anxiety, repression and obsession are ever present.

 

Hitchcock followed up his masterpiece with the excellent, “The Birds”.

 


 

Surreal, Sinister, Stylized…and the Walking Dead!

 

Other notables are the highly controversial “Peeping Tom”, the surrealistic “Carnival of Souls”, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” (with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford), “Black Sunday”; a stylistic Gothic horror (filmed in black and white) by Italian director Mario Bava.

The highly atmospheric and creepy; “Eyes Without a Face”, “Village of the Dammed” (remade in 1995 by John Carpenter), “The Haunting” (b/w haunted house classic).

Best horror of the 1960's - Night of the Living Dead

The Groundbreaking – Night of the Living Dead!

The masterful Japanese horror anthology; “Kwaidan”. Another grim Japanese masterpiece; “Onibaba”, “Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors” with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, “Repulsion” Polanski’s other horror film.

 

And finally the seminal and ground breaking zombie horror that marked the beginning of a torrent of such films; “Night of the Living Dead”.

 

An Unforgettable Triumph

 

“Rosemary’s Baby” by Roman Polanski was another highly acclaimed piece from the period. It centers around a young pregnant woman’s corruption at the hands of modern day witches.

Again, they are frightfully normal, exceedingly helpful and even loving. This of coarse adds to the film’s unforgettable and shocking outcome…

 

Best horror of the 1960's-Rosemary's Baby

Another truly unforgettable scene from the 1960’s. Rosemary’s Baby 1968

 

These are the best horror movies of the 1960’s!

 

 

 

Please offer your thoughts and opinions below. Would love to hear about people’s favorite’s that I may have overlooked.  Jamie.

 

 

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10 Comments

  • Jay says:

    I am so young, but I remember Little Shop of Horrors! Reading through some of the movies that you listed made me think of one of the more recent movies, The Grudge…I think that was a Japanese horror film as well? I haven’t watched many of these movies, but this does bring back some memories. Thanks for a great post!

    • admin says:

      Hey there Jay! Thanks for reading and your interest in the original classics. There’s actually two versions of “Little Shop of Horror’s”. The original is from 1960. Then another version from 1986 starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin.

      The Grudge was pretty creepy and quite effective. So many incredible Horror movies came out during 1960. It would definitely be worth your while checking out some of the ones mentioned above! Bet you get a suprise as to how original and powerful they are and how well made they were!

      All the best Jay! Jamie.

  • Jay says:

    Hello Jamie, you’ve listed a lot of my favorite classic horrors here, I’ve always been a fan of the 60’s and 70’s movies. They focused a lot more on story line, nowadays I feel they pout all the effort into the effects.

    You mentioned the Roger Corman classics such as The Raven, which i think it one of my all time favs, along with the Classic Hammer movies. I watched one just last week called The Reptile which I hadn’t seen since I was very young

    I also like the movies that brought Vincent Price and Peter Lorre together, that had a very special chemistry. I remember seeing a movie with them that is actually quite funny called Comedy Of Terrors, that’s a classic in my opinion.

    Jay

    • jamie says:

      Good to meet you Jay and thanks for your feedback. Glad I mentioned some of your favorite’s from the 60’s. I couldn’t agree more about the storylines.

      Nice to meet a fellow Hammer enthusiast. I really liked The Reptile too and will watch again soon.

      I’ll be checking out Comedy of Terror’s soon as possible. Am a big fan of both Price and Lorre but havn’t seen them in that one.

      Thanks heaps for the recommendation Jay. Much appreciated. Jamie.

  • Kush1000 says:

    Hey! Great post you have created here.
    I wonder why so many horror movies suck so much in the last couple of years, I like to watch a good horror movies but lately it’s all dissapointing..
    I’m sure many people will find this article useful and interesting as I did.
    Thanks for sharing this and have a great day!
    Cheers and good luck

  • Darren says:

    I grew up watching 60s horror movies and your post sure brought back a lot of nostalgic and great memories. I’m not sure if it was made in the 60s or 70s, but one of favourite movies back then was The Blob. Another was The Creature From the Black Lagoon, but that might have been filmed in the early 70s too. Thanks for this post. It was cool to read.

    • admin says:

      Hey, thanks heaps Darren. I appreciate your visit and comment! The Blob hey..?? Good to know it was one of your fav’s. I did see it as a kid but can’t remember much of it. It always comes up on best horror lists too. I’ll be watching it very soon I can guarantee! The Blob and The Creature from the Black Lagoon are both actually from the 1950’s, so unfortunately didn’t make this list. HUGE fan of The Creature too! The Revenge of the Creature and Creature Walks Among Us are both pretty strong as well.

      Thanks for the recommendation of The Blob Darren. I’m right onto it! hehehe. Jamie.

  • Kelly says:

    Wow, some of these movies are definitely a must watch. I hope they’re on Netflix at least. I wasn’t really into horror movies because I’m a scared chicken, but after watching the walking dead up to the last episode on season 6, I have come to terms with my fears. Will look out for some of these movies though.

    • admin says:

      They certainly are a must-watch Kelly! I think most of them are on Netflix yes. If you’ve become a fan of The Walking Dead and mastered your fears, definitely check out these flicks from the 60’s. Night of the Living Dead for instance is possibly the most powerful, groundbreaking zombie film ever created! Classics such as Psycho and Rosemary’s Baby cannot be missed! …Seriously!!

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