It always starts with the big three: Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolfman and all made in the 1930s. No gore, no jump shots, no slashers. Just a feeling of dread that overwhelms you as the movie weaves its spell.
Some of my favorite quotes from them:
Dracula – “ I don’t drink…..wine.”
Frankenstein – “It’s alive ! “
The Wolfman – “Whoever is bitten by a werewolf and lives, becomes a werewolf himself.”
Horror movies continued in the same vein until the 1950s when the world began to worry about nuclear fallout, pollution, and problems with the environment. Suddenly we had disturbed The Creature from the Black Lagoon, insects were becoming enormous and deadly – Them! and Tarantula, and despite what was happening to the planet, aliens wanted to take over our bodies (Invasion of the Body Snatchers).
Some of my favorites from the 1960s are Carnival of Souls, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, Psycho, and Rosemary’s Baby. The 1970s began to be more graphic in the depiction of horror but without being too graphic, my pants were still scared off by the last episode in Trilogy of Terror with the Zuni fetish doll, the original John Carpenter’s version of The Fog, and Alien (“In space, no one can hear your scream.”)
The 1960s was a transitioning decade for horror films. Not until the late 70s and the arrival of the movies Halloween and Scream, did horror films turn into “slasher films”. The horror was now all blood and gore, jump shots, and screaming teenagers. Too bad. Classic horror movies took time to build the thrills and chills. It’s what you DON’T or CAN’T see that is far more terrifying in your head.
Since 1980 the only horror film that comes to my mind to recommend would be Tremors from 1989 because it blends humor with the scares so successfully.
What classic horror film of yours have I missed?