I’ve been watching quite a few horror films pre-70s and I’ve been enjoying them. Even though the 60s has become one of my favorite decades of the genre, I wanted to combine that love with tossing out some other films that I had seen in the past worth mentioning.
So today, I’m going to list 5 “classic” horror movies you need to see! Now by classic, it doesn’t mean the grand stamp of approval but include movies from a time period that still holds up or influences later decades and most of them are in black and white, a part of that “classic hollywood” era.
Let’s get started. I’ll also include some honorary mentions at the end.
5. The Blob (1958) – Recently reviewed, I believe I gave it a 4 out of 5 which is a staple of classic sci-fi, gimmicky but done right horror. Steve McQueen is great in this, believable, likeable and charming. The protagonist really wants to save the people of the town and is quite smart, too. The Blob itself is a really cool design for the time period. It looks like taffy or candy in the process of being molded. There is a remake, 1988, have yet to see it but I know the youtube channel Dead Meat has done a podcast about it and even with the podcast, the remake sounds really interesting. I’ve noticed that if they are into a film, most likely I am, too. Very similar tastes in the genre.
4. House of Wax (1953) – I saw this last year and in its own right, it’s quite eerie. This was also when I was watching a lot of Vincent Price led films in a row but if I had to compare to the ones I watched, I’d pick this one. He plays a wax sculptor who on the surface can be charming, quite intelligent, very talented but behind the scenes, he’s basically a body snatcher. To see him in a role that borderlines on plain evil at times is overwhelming. He clearly isn’t empathetic. If you look at films like The Fly, The Tingler, House on Haunted Hill (where it’s a very close similar role) or the Edgar Allen Poe adaptations, he’s the most frightening in this one.
3. The Haunting (1963) – I would pick this over House on Haunted Hill anytime. The latter is fun but kind of goofy at moments whereas The Haunting is genuinely scary. It’s a film that does so little or shows little to create the tense atmosphere and then boom, something happens to break that tension like a jump scare or comedic timing. A haunted house story, a group of people are brought together to explore the phenomena of the house, including a very eccentric woman who wants to live in the house, forever. This film also made my top 10 list of favorite horror movies based around haunted houses.
2. Carnival of Souls (1962) – Absolutely one of my favorite watches from 2020. No expectations, ended up really loving this film. I also did a review of this so I won’t go into much detail but the fantastical nature of this film read The Twilight Zone at some points (it was on air at the time) and this is after Psycho was released, just to give some film background of what was happening. A woman is the sole survivor or a horrible car accident and moves to a new state where her mysterious circumstances around her accident follows her.
1. Freaks (1932) – A movie that I feel doesn’t get the love or attention it deserves. This movie was, at one point, banned. This movie was quite controversial because of using real actors and people with these deformations and then having them hang out on the studio lot, getting food and other people being “uncomfortable”. This movie, directed by Todd Browning, was shown on TCM and I heard about this (through Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments) and I was immediately immersed into this world of betrayal, secrets and freak show performers. I don’t talk about Freaks enough but it is one hell of a film.
If I did a top 10, here are some films that would have made the list in some capacity! Here are the Honorary Mentions:
Village of the Damned (1960)
The Birds (1963)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
In conclusion, as much as we love horror from the 70s and later, we have to recognize these older films for what they eventually do which is… lay the foundation and groundwork for horror to grow and evolve. What “classic” or older horror movie would you add to the list or recommend? Leave a comment below!