The 10 best horror movies of the 60s

Horror is one of our favorite genres here at Your Money Geek. From the classic thrills of the best horror movies of the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s to the ridiculously bad horror movies we love to hate. We even love to read horror books and comics filled with ghoulish hosts and post-apocalyptic zombies.

The 10 best horror movies of the 60s

The 1970s was the decade that really kicked modern horror into the mainstream, defining subgenres – demonic possession, slashers, zombies, body horror – that are still with us today. The 1960s, on the other hand, feel in-between and in-between, as features of older creatures and thriller thrillers morph into gelatinous semi-forms. Watching movies from the era can seem a little frustrating for horror fans today, as gore and ichor and mass murderers fail to gore and ichor and murder. mass like they’re supposed to. But horror is also fun when, like a Frankenstein monster, not all parts are sewn the right way.

Image credit: Universal-International Pictures.

Rosemary baby (1968)

baby rosemary

Rosemary baby is an extremely faithful, often word-for-word adaptation of Ira Levin’s novel, and it reproduces that book’s feminist approach despite director Roman Polanski’s ugly story of sexual violence.

Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is happily happy to be pregnant… until she starts to think that a witch clan in her new apartment building is trying to grab her baby. Her new neighbors and even her gynecologist insist that she is paranoid. But it turns out that the patriarchy is in fact seeking to have it. John Cassavetes, as a nice boy, maybe not so nice wait, is more terrifying than the devil himself, and Levin’s plot slowly gains weight and detail, like a fetus coming to a terrible term.

Image credit: Paramount Pictures.

Carnival of Souls (1962)

carnival of souls

Decisively agnostic church organist Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) mysteriously survives a car crash and drowning, and immediately goes to a new job. But she is stalked by a pale specter, and slowly loses her grip on her sanity first, or then on the border between the living and the dead.

The movie may punish Mary for being an independent career woman, Ir it can be a metaphor for the social stigma and isolation that single women are subjected to. Or it could be the survivor’s guilt, or a ghost story from the ghost’s perspective. The buzzing organ score may or may not be in her head as she stumbles into a world that no longer notices her, a shadow among the chiaroscuro shadows of the film. Herk Harvey’s only feature film addresses Hitchcock and points to Lynch. But he also feels isolated in his own disconnected bubble, without air or answers.

Image credit: Harcourt Productions.

Woman in the Dunes (1964)

woman in the dunes

woman in the dunes is unclassifiable. But if horror means suffocation in the weird, director Hiroshi Teshigahara’s surreal parable qualifies. Entomologist Niki Junpei (Eiji Okada) goes to the dunes to capture beetles, misses his bus, and is himself captured by local villagers who trap him in a pit where he and a woman (Kyōko Kishida) dig sand. for cement in exchange for basic necessities. Domesticity, capitalism, curiosity, and society itself are nightmares in which human beings are helpless accomplices.

In stunning and disturbing visuals, the sand moves, blows, crumbles and, like Junpei himself, goes nowhere. He goes from condescending scientist to animal (he tries to rape the woman at the request of his captors) then to inert dust, placid and empty of ambition like the grave.

Image credit: Toho.

The Birds (1963)

The birds

Perhaps Hitchcock’s most overtly sadistic film, The birds is loosely based on a short story by Daphné du Maurier. Hitchcock changed the protagonist to a female and chose Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels, a fickle socialite who is berated for her independence and fancy with an invasion of birds.

No reason is ever given for avian animosity. They are creatures of sheer mischief and visual brilliance. In a dramatic scene, they land one by one until they completely cover a jungle gym. In another shot, a bird flies over a burning gas station, looking down with the sight of a god or virtuoso director. Hitchcock is said to have stalked Hedren throughout the film, and his composure and determination is a rebuke to him and his vision of a world bent on destroying women for no reason, out of the blue.

Image credit: Universal-International Pictures.

The Innocents (1961)

The Innocents on a scale

The adaptation of Jack Clayton by Henry James Screw turn foreshadows many films about the possession of children to come. Or The Exorcist and The omen fishy about blood and demonic imagery though, Innocents is only repression and suggestion. The crisp black-and-white cinematography positions housekeeper Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) in solid reality, belied by imaginary ghostly fades that drift through her troubled sleep.

The two children in Miss Giddens’ care can be pursued by the spirits of secular servant lovers. But it seems more likely that the thing haunting the estate is Miss Giddens herself, who projects her fevered fantasies onto her terrified defendants. The horror is not an outside invader, but the adults of the house and their obsessive dreams of corrupted innocence.

Image credit: 20th Century Fox.

Kwaidan (1964)


Masaki Kobayashi’s horror anthology presents four popular tales united by a visual style so lush it’s from another world. The line between the mundane and the exterior is paper thin; spirits appear in a cup of tea or take out your wife’s slippers.

The longest tale, “Hoichi the Earless” features a superb samurai water fight against matte backgrounds and traditional biwi chants; we have the impression of seeing a painting come to life. The segment you have the most left over though is “The Snow Woman”, in which a demonic snow spirit haunts the cold line between love and hate, and a casual word or betrayal can bury your life like hell. the snow.

Image credit: Toho.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living Dead

George Romero’s feature debut set the standard for all upcoming zombie films and also featured one of the first black protagonists in American horror. These landmarks are linked; While zombies have come to mean a lot of things over the course of the decade, they function here as a metaphor for America’s collective, voracious and racialized violence.

Ben (Duane Jones) is the only person to keep his cool as the dead start to rise and eat, and he tries to organize a small group that has gathered in a rural house to work together on the self-defense and preservation. But panic and hatred continue to stumble. The low-budget sets and scenic dialogues create an atmosphere of embodied claustrophobia that the zombie genre has rarely matched. And the ending, in which Ben escapes the zombies but not his fellows, is one of the most cynical in horror cinema.

Image credit: Continental Distribution.

Faceless Eyes (1960)

Faceless eyes

Eyes without face, Georges Franju’s grotesque Frankenstein riff, would have made viewers faint with its graphic scene of facial surgery. Even with a lot of gore horror movies over the past 60 years, this scene and the movie as a whole still offer a quick perspective.

Christiane Génessier (Édith Scob) lost her face in an accident, so her plastic surgeon father (Pierre Brasseur) sets out to capture other pretty young women and tries to transplant their faces onto his. Christiane agrees at first, but it’s really the daddy who is obsessed with consuming and reproducing female beauty, not the woman herself. The last scene, where Christiane wears a smooth white mask representing her own face as freed doves flutter around her, is beautiful and strange, a sort of symbolic escape from fathers and the identities they graft on their children. .

Image credit: Lux Compagnie.

Cap Fear (1962)

Cap Fear

The slasher usually dates back to Hitchcock psychopath, but Jason, Freddy, and Michael, not to mention Hannibal Lecter and Jigsaw, also have more than a little bit of Robert Mitchum’s Max Cady in their DNA. Vengeful ex-convict Cady isn’t a mystical force like some of his heirs, but Mitchum gives him a cunning, relentless malice and a savage sex gaze that is more than enough.

Honest lawyer Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck) believes law enforcement can protect him and his family. But Cady is too smart to get cornered by the cops, and Sam finds himself abandoning the warnings and work ethic to enter the gutter right next to her antagonist, struggling in horror – blood, mud. , hatred and revenge.

Image credit: Universal Pictures.

voyeur (1960)


The first slasher is also the first meta-slasher. Michael Powell’s Voyeur was released shortly before his friend Hitchcock psychopath, and he’s even more obsessively focused on his own masculine gaze. Cameraman Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) is obsessed with filming fear on women’s faces as he kills them; the opening sequence of the film is a viewfinder view of the murder of a sex worker.

Powell launches psychoanalytic gibberish about the trauma inflicted on Mark by his psychoanalyst father. But most of the time, the film is a horror film about the pleasures and repulsions of horror films; titillate the viewer with the sadistic, scopophile content and violence that so titillates Mark himself. Voyeur is half a review of the shady grotesque and half a celebration of it, and it deeply shocked critics of the time. But the next generation of filmmakers was watching.

Image credit: Anglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors.

Final thoughts

Planet of the Apes

The movie that scared me the most and didn’t end here is Planet of the Apes. I know it’s not generally classified as a horror movie, but it scared me of the monkey mask when I was a kid. Human explorers leap into space and time to discover that the two of them are utterly indifferent to themselves and to all of their species.

Seeing him again as an adult he still has some of that cosmic horror, but he’s buried in endless exposure and Charlton Heston sinking his pecs. So I didn’t put it on the list. Time will take you which is somewhat scary and somewhat tedious, especially when it drops you off with a bunch of monkeys.

Image credit: 20th Century Fox.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Feature film credit: Harcourt Productions.

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Noah Berlatsky is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her book, Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston / Peter Comics was published by Rutgers University Press. He thinks Adam West Batman is the best Batman, dammit.

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