(Post) Countdown to Halloween: My Favorite Films (1960-1969)

It’s the 1960’s – a time of great social and political change (civil rights, Vietnam war, assassinations of JFK & MLK, Apollo 11, Woodstock, and “flower power”). It also marks the appearance of such movie classics as Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead and the continued release of gothic horror offerings by British-based Hammer Films (Curse of the Werewolf, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, The Reptile).

A reminder that my super-favorites are highlighted in RED. Diego’s put his pawprint on the ones that star fantastic Felines.

Black Sunday
Filmmaker Mario Bava (Caltiki – the Immortal Monster) directed this Italian piece of gothic horror. A darling of the horror genre, Barbara Steele stars as a witch seeking revenge on her descendants. At the time, the movie was considered unusually violent (such as a face being pierced by an iron maiden). Banned in England, AIP cut some of the more gruesome parts before its theatrical release in the US. “In 2004, one of its sequences was voted number 40 among the ‘100 Scariest Movie Moments’ by the Bravo TV network.” (Wikipedia)
Black Sunday was loosely based on Gogol’s horror novella Viy and co-stars John Richardson.
Trivia:
Bram Stoker’s Dracula “recreates several scenes from Black Sunday nearly exactly as they were filmed…” (Wikipedia)
Tim Burton cited being inspired by its imagery during the making of Sleepy Hollow.
Burn, Witch, Burn Diego's pick
Originally titled “Night of the Eagle”, this supernatural thriller is based on a 1943 novel by Fritz Leiber, Conjure Wife.

Richard Matheson co-wrote the screenplay. Starring Peter Wyngarde as a psychology professor and Janet Blair as his magic-conjuring wife.
Carnival of Souls
Ghosts? Zombies? Ghouls? Whichever you choose, this independent horror film is a hauntingly eerie bit of terror. Filmed in black-and-white and set to an original organ score, Carnival of Souls was shot in three weeks in a style called guerilla filmmaking.

Starring Candace Hilligoss (in a role that gained her fame) and directed by Herk Harvey (above, in a cameo), it remains a cult classic, influencing such modern-day filmmakers as George Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead) and David Lynch.
The Curse of the Werewolf
Hammer Films’ The Curse of the Werewolf was based on a novel by Guy Endore (“The Werewolf of Paris”) and features Oliver Reed (as Leon) in his first starring role. The storyline here is a bit different from traditional lycanthrope films in that it does not require the victim to have been bitten by a werewolf in order to become one himself. Additionally, Leon’s werewolf persona is very elegantly crafted.

According to Wikipedia: “Benjamin Frankel‘s score is notable for its use of twelve-tone serialism, rare in film music.”
Dracula: Prince of Darkness
This is the second entry in Hammer Films‘ Dracula series to star Sir Christopher Lee (Horror of Dracula, Sleepy Hollow). The innate sensuality of Lee is matched by heaving bosoms, plenty of SEX (this is the 60’s), and loads of Technicolor(ed) blood.

Directed by Terence Fisher (Dracula) and co-starring Barbara Shelley (“The First Leading Lady of British Horror”) – with an uncredited Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing.
Gorgo
I shed tears over this film which “focuses on Gorgo, a young sea monster brought back to London for exploitation, and Ogra, his even larger mother, who rampages across London to search for him.” (Wikipedia)

Note:
It has a happy ending…
Mr. Sardonicus
A good old-fashioned black-and-white horror flim by William Castle (Rosemary’s Baby, House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler). The visage of Baron Sardonicus is terrifying to behold – even today – and took five separate facial application fittings to achieve. (Actor Guy Rolfe could only wear the application for an hour at a time.)
“Castle, with his reputation as the “king of gimmicks” to market his films, built the marketing for the film around the idea of the two possible endings.” (Wikipedia)
Trivia:
In his memoir, Castle stated Mr. Sardonicus was one of his favorites to produce.
Night of the Living Dead
Can you believe this movie is 50 years old? Not only does it stand the test of time, it set the standard for all zombie movies that followed. Dubbed the “Father of the Zombie Film”, this was the first movie by George Romero (Dawn of the Dead). He not only directed but photographed, edited, and co-wrote the screenplay.

Shot in black-and-white, it’s still a gory shocker. It’s a cult classic that begat several sequels and other related works.
Planet of the Apes
Loosely constructed from La Planète des singes by French author Pierre Boulle, it tells the story of an alternate universe where apes rule humans. (But you already knew that, didn’t you?) The film was “groundbreaking for its prosthetic makeup techniques” (Wikipedia) and inspired a film franchise, as well as a 2001 remake.
Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall (Fright Night, Fright Night Part 2), Maurice Evans (Rosemary’s Baby), Kim Hunter, James Whitmore, James Daly, and the gorgeous Linda Harrison star.
Rosemary’s Baby
Horror films rarely elevate themselves to the point that they transcend the genre to become a stylish and sophisticated cinematic success. Although Rosemary’s Baby is about the Antichrist, the horror is more psychological. It’s a sobering look at how society reacts to female intuition.
Rosemary (Mia Farrow) knows something’s not right from the beginning and when she becomes pregnant her maternal instincts kick in with a vengeance, only to be placated and ultimately derailed. Farrow received a well-deserved Academy Award nomination for her performance.
Director Roman Polanski (Blood for Dracula) also wrote the screenplay, which closely followed Ira Levin‘s book. His adaptation earned him an Oscar nomination and Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Rounding-out the stellar cast:  John Cassavetes, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans (Planet of the Apes), Ralph Bellamy, Charles Grodin (his film debut), Elisha Cook, and the voice of Tony Curtis.
Produced by William Castle (Mr. Sardonicus, House on Haunted Hill, The Tinger).
Note::
As the film was rated R, my Dad had to take me to see it. ≋;>
The Haunting
Another classic – this time a ghost story. Adapted from Shirley Jackson‘s novel (The Haunting of Hill House), it stars Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, and Russ Tamblyn. The fact that The Haunting was filmed in black-and-white only adds another layer to the mounting suspense. Don’t bother seeing the 1999 remake, the original kicks its ass.
Trivia:
“Director Martin Scorsese has placed The Haunting first on his list of the 11 scariest horror films of all time.” (Wikipedia)
Mod fashion designer Mary Quant designed the clothes worn by Bloom’s character (Theo).
The Lost World
Yeah, I know the special effects are dated but what do you want? It’s 1960! (At least it was shot in De Luxe Color.) This is the second movie based on Arthur Conan Doyle‘s novel. Here the explorers face cannibals, dinosaurs, carnivorous plants (!!!), and giant spiders. My favorite character was the “Native Girl” (played by Vitina Marcus). Michael Rennie, the curvaceous Jill St. John, David Hedison, Claude Rains, and Fernando Lamas co-star.
Trivia:
Director Irwin Allen (“Master of Disaster”) used stock footage from The Lost World for various TV shows.
The Reptile
Another horrific offering by Hammer Films which incorporates snake cults, shapeshifting, and mysterious deaths in a small British village.
(I loved the fact that the “monster” is female.)

Scottish actor John Laurie has a small part as Mad Peter.

My favorite (Halloween) films from 1950-1959
My favorite (Halloween) films from 1960-1969
My favorite (Halloween) films from 1970-1979
My favorite (Halloween) films from 1980-1989
My favorite (Halloween) films from 1990-1999
My favorite (Halloween) films from 2000-2009
My favorite (Halloween) films from 2010-2017

ℳ –

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