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10 Best Horror Movies from the 1960s

Taking a look at the rise of the horror film thanks to creators like Alfred Hitchcock and Roman Polanski.

By Amanda SPublished 5 years ago 5 min read

The 1950s were a time of growing for the horror genre. But the 1960s were a period where the genre started to be seen as a more serious genre to get involved with. That doesn't mean there aren't still great campy horror movies to enjoy.

10. 13 Ghosts (1960).

Directed by William Castle. Written by Robb White. Starring Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, and Rosemary DeCamp.

The Plot: If you've seen the remake, you have a fairly good understanding of what is going on. An impoverished family is moved into a recently deceased distant family member's home. Only it's haunted. There are twelve frightening ghosts inhabiting the house, but they aren't the most dangerous thing to the family members.

Why You Should See It: The Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton, is a part of this movie and she is always delightful. This is a fun ghost story with some fun 1960s special effects. So, they're not very good, they're pretty campy, and it is a William Castle movie. So you know it's going to be a little wild.

9. Berserk! (1968).

Directed by Jim O'Connolly. Written by Herman Cohen. Starring Joan Crawford, Ty Hardin, and Diana Dors.

The Plot: In a traveling English circus, there is meant to be fun and entertainment for all. But after the death of a tightrope walker, some questions get to be raised about the unemotional Monica Rivers. She is the middle-aged ringmaster. People start dying at the circus and she is brought further and further under suspicion.

Why You Should See It: Obviously, this movie came after Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. So, it's using an older actress that has run out of her profitability according to Hollywood. Joan Crawford is a really amazing actress, and she looks really good in this movie. It's a fun little spooky thing. And I definitely won't talk about another grandma horror movie.

8. Strait-Jacket (1964).

Directed by William Castle. Written by Robert Bloch. Starring Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, Leif Erickson.

The Plot: Okay, I lied. This is a movie that is based around a woman that was recently released from a psychiatric hospital for killing her husband and his mistress. Which, fair. As someone that has recently been released, she's trying to understand the world that she has walked back into. Especially since her relationship with her daughter

Why You Should See It: I lied, I know. But this is a movie I just enjoy a little bit more than Berserk!. It's a little bit more psychologically interesting because it's a woman that murdered her husband. Or is it? It's a good movie.

7. Kwaidan (1964).

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi. Written by Yoko Mizuki. Taken from Lafcadio Hearn. Starring Rentaro Mikuni, Keiko Kishi, and Kazuo Nakamura.

The Plot: This is an anthology. There is: "The Black Hair," "The Woman of the Snow," "Hoichi the Earless," and "In a Cup of Tea." These stories are all ghost stories (which is the translation of Kwaidan).

Why You Should See It: Japanese movies are a special kind of experience. Especially horror movies; they go hard and they take no prisoners. These pieces of the anthology are all period pieces, because that's when the original stories were written. I love those types of movies and definitely recommend.

6. Gamera, The Giant Monster (1965).

Directed by Ishiro Honda. Written by Niisan Takahashi. Starring Eiji Funakoshi, Michiko Sugata, and Harumi Kiritachi.

The Plot: It is, at its core, a similar story to Godzilla. It's basically a giant ancient turtle. It's also another movie commenting on atomic bombs, because that's what wakes up Gamera from deep slumber. It's another situation where they're trying to keep this creature from destroying the cities.

Why You Should See It: It's a giant ancient turtle. When it brings in it's head and limbs in, it flies around like a flying saucer and spouts fire. It's just kind of amazing. It's one of those classic amazing monster movies from Japan.

5. The Masque of the Red Death (1964).

Directed by Roger Corman. Written by Charles Beaumont and R. Wright Campbell. Adapted from Edgar Allan Poe. Starring Vincent Price, Hazel Court, and Jane Asher.

The Plot: This film kind of follows the original story by Edgar Allan Poe. The story surrounds Prospero, a panicked nobility that shuts everything down and burns down a village to not get the Red Death, which is a very bloody plague. He's also a satanist. There's a lot going on but it is wildly entertaining.

Why You Should See It: This movie has a lot going on. It's taking the story by Edgar Allan Poe and another one of his stories, Hop Toad. You've got deadly illnesses, Satanism,, and Vincent Price having as much fun as is legally possible. Despite having seen this quite a few times, I couldn't honestly tell you what half of it is about.

4. Onibaba (1964).

Directed and written by Kaneto Shindo. Starring Nobuko Otowa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, and Kei Sato.

The Plot: The title of this is roughly translated to 'Demon Hag'. This is both a period drama and takes on the aesthetics of Noh theater. The plot takes place during a civil war. The two main characters is an older woman and her daughter, who kill soldiers and steal from them. Of course, a man eventually starts getting between them.

Why You Should See It: This is a really good story and it's really well portrayed. For someone like me that's really interested in Japanese folktales, there are a lot that take place in this movie. There are a lot of shots that are quite fascinating. if there's one weird thing to mention; the two main female characters do not have names?

3. Rosemary's Baby (1968).

Directed and Written by Roman Polanski. Adapted from Ira Levin. Starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, and Ruth Gordon.

Trigger Warning: Roman Polanski is a convicted pedophile and is a fugitive. If this makes you uncomfortable, just pass this by.

The Plot: Rosemary and her husband move into a nice apartment complex. They have really nice older neighbors, even if they are a little weird. Then Rosemary gets pregnant, and things start getting weird. Even if it feels like she's the only one that notices how weird things have been getting. Her husband is getting more successful, but she's in pain. And the truth is lurking in the back of her mind.

Why You Should See It: This is just a really good movie. It's not a terrifying and jumpscare heavy film. It's very much dealing with the psychology. It's also a movie that is particularly frightening to women, which I think is very interesting.

2. Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Directed by George A. Romero. Written by John Russo and George A. Romero. Starring Judith O'Dea, Duane Jones, and Marilyn Eastman.

The Plot: It's the original zombie apocalypse before we really had the words for it. A bunch of random strangers end up locked together in a farmhouse. There's a lot of commentary on racism and so much. There's Ben (a black man), Barbra (a white woman), Harry/Helen/Karen (a regular white family), and Tom/Judy (TEENAGERS). They're all trapped in this house while corpses are killing and eating humans.

Why You Should See It: Wow, this movie started one of my favorite sub-genres of horror. It's also just a really good movie with layers to the commentary. It's well shot, well acted, and well directed. It's not a perfect movie, of course. But it's near and dear.

1. Psycho (1960).

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Written by Joseph Stefano. Adapted from Robert Bloch. Starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, and John Gavin.

The Plot: Marion Crane disappears after disappearing from California with $40,000. Her sister and her boyfriend start searching for her in order to clear her name of being seen as a thief. In searching for her, there's a weird interaction with the man Norman Bates.

Why You Should See It: Alfred Hitchcock is amazing when it comes to being frightening. There are so many iconic scenes that were created through this movie. Sadly, I'm never going to be able to watch the movie and see the reveal for the first time. That's the one tragedy.

Thank you so much for reading this! I hope to have the 1980s out soon enough. If you enjoyed this, I would forever appreciate a tip below!


About the Creator

Amanda S

Fascinated by horror and entertainment.

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