The Films That Wouldn't Die:
A Look Back At Horror's Early Years
Horror today is truly a film genre to behold. The range of movie concepts, themes, and overall cinematic quality is so varied and diverse that we literally are like kids in a candy shop. From the movies reaching national acclaim such as Get Out and The Shape Of Water, to the phenomenon that is Sharknado, horror is thriving. But with seemingly an endless stream of movies and shows through a multitude of different sources, I fear that the early years of horror are flying too far under the radar. Horror is what it is today from such humble beginnings, and the era of black and white horror is a time that should get far more focus than it really does.
Most horror fans can name some of the most iconic black and white horror films. Frankenstein, Dracula, and well, most of the Universal Monsters films usually come to mind. Night of The Living Dead and Psycho also stick out as commonly known features. Most horror aficionados cannot go without mentioning Nosferatu, perhaps the true starting point of real horror cinema. But often overlooked is how many horror films were produced in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s that brought ideas and concepts to the screen that had never been seen before. Let that sink in, that some of these movies truly pioneered such simple techniques, tropes, and plot devices. Yes, some of these movies were on thin budgets, with even thinner plots. The technology now looks so antiquated that some viewers cannot immerse themselves in the story as it unfolds, and that is truly a shame. It’s a true testament to the films that, despite all this, they can still deliver fear and terror throughout their runtime.
I have recently been trying to dive back into this time in horror's history, with an open mind. To watch these films and see what they could invoke within me. What I have found is that there is not a single one in which I was not entertained in some way. Some of the films can truly achieve a startling sense of terror and dread as it creeps towards its titillating climax. Others had me impressed by the costume and effects used at creating such unique and terrifying monsters. No matter what, each one had me smiling by the end.
What really is inspiring of these old films is almost the freedom they had at telling stories. These films were made at times where the public was more open to the possibilities of any kind of reality. Science itself hadn't progressed to the point to cause viewers to immediately dismiss a story as ridiculous. The stories that were told aren't the same as the ones you see in current horror, and that's just a sign of the times perhaps. Stories of virgin eating plants, severed heads in science labs, and monstrous mutated bugs don't fill up the marquees like they used to. As horror fans, I feel it's almost a rite of passage to go back and seek out all types of old horror films that don't quite have the attention they deserve. To relive the early years of horror is a real treat that all fans should experience in some way.
Some films I recommend to check out would be The Woman Eater, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, Creature With an Atom Brain, Night Of The Demon, and The Tingler. Don't just settle on those, however. There are so many films to explore from this era, any chance you get to check out one, do it. You might just find yourself binge watching something else for a change.
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