Entertainment Earth


The Top 10 Horror Films Up Until the 1960s

Every week or so this month, in honor of Halloween, I will be picking an era's ten best horror films, working my way up to the present. I will begin with the classic era of horror, up until the 60s.

10. - Roman Polanski's adaptation of Ira Levin's novel ranks alongside of The Exorcist and The Omen as one of the greatest Satanic horror films ever made. The performances are amazing and the Satanic rape scene chilling. The ending is classic and one of the best in the genre.

9. - The greatest werewolf film of the classic era this movie is, in fact, second only to The Howling in that subgenre. A great performance by Oliver Reed, a wonderful atmosphere, great make-up FX, and an exciting climax make this a must see. Surely, this Hammer film would be a major influence on the latter day werewolf films.

8. - The complete, uncut version of this classic was finally made available last year in an amazing DVD release. While, the series would go more campy and fun, the original remains a pure tale of the horrors of nuclear war. Dark and somber, this version excludes the bad dubbing, Raymond Burr, and elements that kept Godzilla: King of the Monsters from being a perfect film. The result? One of the greatest, and perhaps darkest, giant monster films, ever made.

7. - One of the finest films of the golden era of horror, James Whale's masterpiece is wonderfully acted and full of great atmosphere. In my book, this is the first truly perfect film from Universal's early horror days.

6. - The greatest of Hammer movies is also the single finest Dracula movie ever made. To me Christopher Lee is the greatest Dracula, ever, and Peter Cushing the greatest Van Helsing. Featuring a much better pace than the Universal film, this movie upped the violence and sex content in these type of films. While, tame by today's standards, one has to see it from the perspective of the era. Add the stylish atmosphere, and you have one of the single greatest and most influential horror films, ever made.

5. - The single greatest giant monster film ever made, King Kong still hold up after all these years. The pace is exciting and the FX still incredible after all these years. Faye Wray is, of course, horror's first scream queen and a perfect beauty to the beast. The amazing DVD release of a few years back gave us the uncut version, which added many scenes not seen in ages. And guess what? Despite the many sequels and remakes it inspired, some with some truly amazing FX work, none of them could ever touch this masterpiece.

4 - One of the most beautiful and sumptuous horror films ever made, this adaption of the classic Edgar Allan Poe also features one of Vincent Price's greatest performances. Throw in some Satan worshipping, beautiful scream queen Hazel Court, and the atmosphere and lush directing of Roger Corman, and this is, without a shadow of a doubt, the single greatest Poe film ever made.

3. - The grandaddy of the slasher film is, to me this is Hitchcok's best film. Extremely important to the horror genre, this film features smashing performances and is truly and smartly crafted and directed. Years later the shower scene remains one of the defining moments in the genre. The score by Bernard Herman is one of the most recognizable and greatest in cinema history. Simply put this is a must see, for horror fans and movie fans in general. I mean if you ain't seen it yet, what the fuck are you waiting for?!

2. - My absolute favorite film of the classic era succeeds because aside from the great atmosphere the film had, it is also very funny and very touching. There is a lot of heart in the film, and in, the end, a very tragic horror tale. The cast also give career define performances. The fact that Whales was able to top his masterful original only further drives the point home, making it the rarest of sequels. A movie to be held up, honored, and beloved by all generations of fright film lovers.

1. - George Romero's classic remains, to me, his best film. Not only is this film THE movie that gave birth to the modern concept of zombies, but it also is the movie that pretty much began the modern era of horror. While, HG Lewis had already done gore before Romero, NOTLD bought it to the masses. It also handled it with seriousness and was totally chilling. Add in the powerhouse acting, the excellent character interaction (thanks to a perfect script), political allusions to class and race, and the dark ending, and you get a film that, despite my countless viewings of it, is still light years of its wanna-bes. While, countless of zombie films (many even gorier than this one) have come and go NOLTD remains the pinnacle of the subgenre.