The Fifties in horror was an period of creature options and can-do American communities banding collectively towards harmful outsiders—as in Howard Hawks’ The Factor From One other World, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, or The Blob. One of the best movies of the period although captured the seduction of the subversive and sometimes even had some sympathy for his or her monstrous others. Order is usually restored, however it wouldn’t be horror if chaos, with all its tentacles, didn’t a minimum of sometimes have a preventing probability.
The movies beneath are ranked, beginning with the most effective.
Throne of Blood (1957)
Kurosawa’s adaptation of Macbeth distills each iota of gore and sit back of Shakespeare’s spookiest play. Toshiro Mifune within the Macbeth position is as brutal as he’s clueless, a blunt instrument wielded by Isuzu Yamada’s Woman Macbeth with an ominous, methodical quiet. The three witches are changed by a hauntingly stunning white-haired forest spirit (Chieko Naniwa), who spins mist like destiny, “heaping karma upon karma” as his music goes.
Kurosawa is obsessive about movement, and his rustling timber, flapping banners, and smoke tendrils shift and scrabble throughout the display like a dire doom coming. Some horror movies are concerning the evil of devils and demons, however in Throne of Blood the gods themselves appear to conspire to drench historical past in purple.
Picture Credit score: Allied Artists Photos.
Invasion of the Physique Snatchers (1956)
A masterpiece of chilly conflict paranoia. Director Don Siegel presents us with the all-American, sit-com-ready city of Santa Mira. Then he slowly replaces all its residents with grotesquely impassive pod-people. The good cop, the nice previous uncle, even the pleasant neighbor boy, all are doing who is aware of what with the aliens behind their home windows.
The good orchestration of escalating strangeness and dread would affect many years of horror to come back—although few of them would ever equal the climax when heroine Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter) stares into the digicam in close-up as you notice that that’s not your heroine Becky Driscoll in any case.
A Bucket of Blood (1959)
Director Charles Griffins’ Corman-produced B-film was shot in 5 days, however just like the sculptures it options, it’s rigorously, if gruesomely, carved. Espresso-shop waiter Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) by chance discovers he might be an acclaimed artist by merely murdering individuals and protecting them in clay.
Miller is gorgeous as a sweet-tempered, easy man pushed mad by creative ambition and the pretention of overheated beat poetry; the shadows taking part in about his cell face are nearly a separate character themselves. The satire of the supposedly laid-back however truly bloody-minded status-seeking artwork world is splendidly vicious, as is the meta-indictment of the viewer who, together with Walter, embraces the artwork of homicide.
Picture Credit score: American Worldwide Photos.
Evening of the Hunter (1955)
Reverend Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) has HATE tattooed on the knuckles of his left hand and LOVE tattooed on his proper. Charles Laughton’s The Evening of the Hunter is equally break up. Powell himself is a portrait of insinuating evil, striding in his all-black swimsuit from spouse to switchblade-murdered spouse, singing hymns as he goes; he completely revels in his hypocrisy.
In distinction, the scenes of Powell’s step-children fleeing from him down the river are a few of the most romantically peaceable in cinema—stunning pictures of frogs and rabbits and willows within the foreground, whereas the boat drifts leisurely by with its sleeping cargo. “It’s a tough world for little issues,” is among the movie’s most well-known quotes. The menace to these little issues carries the film’s freight of terror. However Laughton cares for the victims in a approach few horror movies, and few movies of any form, do.
Picture Credit score: United Artists.
Dementia is greatest identified for being the movie taking part in within the movie show in The Blob. However author/director John Parker’s psychological horror deserves recognition in its personal proper. The dream-like, dialogue-less movie follows a younger lady (Adrienne Barrett) as she wanders by way of both a seedy cityscape or the shadows of patriarchal violence in her personal cranium. The modernist George Antheil rating, wailed moderately than sung by Marni Nixon, gives an eerie backdrop as the lady circles round recurring scenes of abuse.
Males accost ladies, her drunken father mistreats her, she stabs a rich John—or possibly that’s her father, who appears to seem all over the place. The narrative loops round in Lynchian model so trigger and impact, assault and revenge, previous distress and current, are scrambled, as if trauma has ripped an open wound within the story, or in somebody’s coronary heart.
Picture Credit score: Exploitation Photos.
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Ingmar Bergman’s existential fable isn’t often labeled as horror. However within the COVID period, a movie about being haunted by the Black Demise, full with gothic storm imagery and cadaver bounce scares, looks as if horror to me. Max von Sydow performs the returning crusader knight Antonius Block, who performs chess with Demise as he stalls for time to return to his spouse (Inga Landgré). The film’s tempo is leisurely, however there’s no scarcity of grim set-pieces.
The flagellants abuse themselves whereas declaiming their doom. The kid witch is burned on the stake as she stares at nothing. Within the ultimate picture, a lot of the major characters are compelled to bop towards the skyline as dying pulls them in the direction of his darkish land.
Picture Credit score: AB Svensk Filmindustri.
The White Reindeer (1952)
Erik Blomberg’s Finnish fairy story is sort of unattainable to search out within the states, however if you happen to can observe it down it’s nicely price it. Pirita (Mirjami Kuosmanen) is lonely as a result of her husband Aslak (Kalervo Nissilä) spends a lot time herding reindeer with the opposite village males that he’s not often residence. She goes to the native shaman to forged a love spell to carry him again, however her unruly anti-communal wishes flip her right into a white were-reindeer as an alternative.
She lures hunters to comply with her, then adjustments to a lady with fangs and kills them. Lyrically stunning scenes of the snowy panorama alternate with loving depictions of the villagers rounding up and catching deer—and naturally with photographs of Pirita’s transformation within the moonlight, all fangs, and feral want.
Picture Credit score: Adams Filmi.
The Fly (1958)
Kurt Neumann’s The Fly couldn’t have a a lot goofier premise; scientist André (Al Hedison) by chance switches his head with the pinnacle of a fly (oops!) The campy textual content is enjoyable, however the subtext is what actually will get its proboscis into you. André’s secret fly-head disgrace reverberates by way of his pretty technicolor home paradise like a sickly buzz of tension and discontent. The scientist’s isolation and the home haunted by that white-headed fly could possibly be a metaphor for homosexuality, or for infidelity—André’s brother François (Vincent Worth) is only a bit too sympathetic to André’s spouse Hélène (Patricia Owens).
Both approach, the ultimate scene is viscerally terrifying in its perverse self-loathing. The fly with a human head and arm shrieks as a spider bears down on it—a helpless monster consumed by a monster in a quiet nook of a beautiful middle-class property placidly unaware of the violence it conceals.
Picture Credit score: twentieth Century Fox.
Les Diaboliques (1955)
Michel Delassale (Paul Meurisse) is the sadistic principal of a boy’s college the place his spouse Christina (Véra Clouzot) and his mistress Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret) each work. They’ve bonded over their hatred of him and plot to drown him—however he gained’t keep useless. Henri-Georges Clouzot directed this twisty psychological thriller with touches of noir and repeated dripping head fakes in the direction of true horror.
The black-and-white cinematography is starkly claustrophobic, and the excellent actors make you’re feeling that the principle characters are all trapped of their erotic triangle of weak spot, hatred, and need. Robert Bloch, the writer of Psycho, cited it as a serious affect, and it has a Hitchcockian sense of cruelty, although with out his typically stifling icy management.
Picture Credit score: Cinédis.
Christopher Lee carried out as Dracula in sequels into the 70s, however his debut within the position is the one to see. Director Terence Fisher’s colourful, racy Dracula helped outline the Hammer horror model. The setting is bric-o-brac exterior time, with gothic settings, superb Victorian clothes for the ladies, and 20th centuryish apparel for the boys. The chronal chaos appears a becoming setting for the gouts of eroticism, within the type of luscious vampire brides, but additionally within the individual of Christoper Lee himself, who is among the horniest and cruelest Counts on the display.
Melissa Stribling as Mina virtually throws herself at him, neck and quivering bosom first. The movie feels just like the sixties arrived early, wanting to groove round Van Helsing (within the type of Peter Cushing) and previous all these staid crosses and garlic.
Picture Credit score: Common.
The 50s is just not fairly my favourite decade in horror, however there are nonetheless extra fascinating movies than you possibly can match on a listing like this. If I had an eleventh slot I’d attempt to get one of many atomic anxiousness horrors on right here like Godzilla or Them or The Fiend And not using a Face. I additionally considered together with Hitchcock’s Strangers on A Prepare or the Vincent Worth helmed Home of Wax.
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Picture Credit score: Common.