Unfortunately I am skipping the 1940s, for now. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the decade, I simply have not seen 10 horror films from the decade. I know it is crazy. Nathan Thomas Milliner did send me a few to check out and while I look for them, I will move on to the next decade. We can revisit the 1940s later. If anything, a top 5 of the 1940s will have to work.
This will probably come as no surprise, I’ve only seen 13 horror films from the 1950s. Yeah, at one point I wanted to be known as a horror historian, but that is extremely laughable at this point. I have made a vow to watch more pre-1980s horror over the past few years and yeah, I have, just not enough.
The 1950s were kind of an odd decade in horror as we open the decade leaving behind the monster movies of old and ushering in the atomic age of horror. Haunted houses, Vampires and Werewolves made way for aliens and creatures of all kinds. Honestly that is a turn off for me. I do like a little science fiction with my horror, but the camp atomic age horror films did nothing for me. I never was interested, even with the granddaddy of monsters, Godzilla. So, with that, not a single Godzilla film is on any of my lists. I didn’t see my first Godzilla movie until 1998 and yeah, that Godzilla movie.
One really good thing about the 1950s, we saw a return of Gothic style horror by the end of the decade thanks to Hammer Horror and it was a terrific return.
Well, let’s get on with this list, shall we? Oh and remember, these are my favorites, not what I think are the best of the decade.
10. The Thing From Another World (1951)
While this does not compare to the 1982 John Carpenter film. It really has its charms and surprisingly took me until 2022 to watch this movie. We were going to do a show on both movies, we only covered the 1982 film.
9. The Blob (1958)
Even for 1958 this movie is kind of bad. We have a Steve McQueen who is in his 30s playing a teenager. The effects do not hold up, but there is something fun about the Blob. It has a Cult following and I think as in the case of the previous film, it is overshadowed by a remake.
8. The Mummy (1959)
This movie is miles better than the 1932 Mummy film from Universal. We get the third Hammer title starting Peter Cushing and it is pretty great. If you reach for a Mummy film, go for the Indiana Jones like epic from 1999, then pop this one in.
7. House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Likely first William Castle film that comes to mind when his name is mentioned. I wish I could place myself in 1959, be about 9 or 10 years old to see how this plays. ike this one for what it is and Vincent Price. It is campy and very silly at times, but I like it.
6. Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
Peter Cushing returns to the role of Baron Frankenstein for the second time. This movie is fantastic, a little silly at times, but possibly the second best of the Hammer Frankenstein series. Cushing is absolute gold in this and I love the way the film opens. One of the best things I cannot forget to mention, the set design is fantastic!
5. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
While this one is better than Revenge, I have others that out rank it. Peter Cushing plays a cold and well menacing Frankenstein in this one and he is paired with Christopher Lee’s importing monster. But Hammer couldn’t use anything Universal used and I think it was to this film’s advantage. Frankenstein was a ruthless man and the villain to be be sure. A great film to watch in October.
4. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
The last of the Universal Monsters introduced before monster movies became alien movies. Creature may not be placed in a Gothic castle but the Amazon has its share of Creep factor. The river itself Black and endless plays a big role and offers one of the finest and most chilling scenes in Universal history. Julie Adams is out for a swim and under the way we see the Gill-man swimming with her, reaching for her. Jaws kept people out of the ocean, perhaps Creature kept people from the rivers. You never know what is down there.
3. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Fear and paranoia play huge factors in a film that is way ahead of it’s time. Even in the remake it seemed ahead of its time. The cast is standout and the overall feeling of dread and paranoia is terrific. Who do you trust?
2. The Fly (1958)
Speaking of films ahead of its time. The Fly wowed me as a viewer at the time over 35. For a movie as old as it was and the reputation from the “help me” scene. I didn’t expect to love this as much as I did. The Fly 1986 is one of my favorite horror movies, but this one is very close. The ending is tragic and you really get to know and care about Andre and Helene. Streaming on HBO Max as of publishing, it is an absolute must.
1 The Horror of Dracula (1958)
I am nearly embarrassed at how much I love the Hammer Dracula films. To be honest, Curse of Frankenstein is the better film. But Christopher Lee comes alive as Dracula and seeing Peter Cushing as Van Helsing is remarkable after his take on Frankenstein. The music is powerful and you can hear “Dracula” in there. The story and characters change from what we know from Bram Stoker and the Universal film. This helps set it apart from the other Dracula films. Christopher Lee is amazing as the Prince of Darkness and this is my favorite of the 1950s.
Thanks for checking this one out and we’d love to see your favorites from the 1950s. And, yes I am a big Hammer Horror fan.
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