The Sixties is when Horror grew up. And the international scene led the way to a more sophisticated palette (for the most part). Eric and Mike break down some of our favorites from the front end of the 1960’s.
In our review of the 50’s, we visited upon some of the more serious fare, like Night of the Demon, The Bad Seed, and Night of the Hunter. Films that presaged the explosion of more mature content to come. We’ve mentioned it before, that 1960 was a watershed moment in the Horror Genre. Psycho, Black Sunday, Peeping Tom, and Eyes Without a Face all debuted that year and pushed the boundaries of what could be expected from horror. The atomic age was transitioning into a new Gothic International scene. The stompy rubber behemoths gave way to moody hauntings and psychological terror, and the slasher movement was in motion. Feel the morality police tremble!
The film industry of Europe and Japan had finally recovered from World War II and they brought with them a new edge to their productions. The New Wave of cinema in dramatic productions bled over into genre offerings as well, and the influence of Hitchcock, Bergman, Kurosawa, Fellini, and Godard can be felt in the genre offerings of the era, to be sure.
Many of the more popular films featured a competition from across the Atlantic for the period-piece horror fare, between Hammer Productions in England, who picked up the lapsing rights of all the Universal Monsters, and Roger Corman’s American International Pictures (AIP) who did a full run of Poe inspired Gothic horror films in response. In between, opportunists like Hershel Gordon decided to launch a broadside into good taste and introduced the gore movie to the masses… and found a receptive audience, turning miniscule budgets into big profits. The modern Grindhouse starts HERE.
The Italians gave us Giallo, with Mario Bava taking the lead, cranking out a number of films at the start of the 60’s. The Japanese were at a cinematic high point, graduating from giant stompy monsters (though those would continue on through the decade) but turning instead to samurai era cinematic horror tales of darker and more serious tones.
Horror in the 60’s had now gotten sexier, and bloodier, and was pushing the boundaries of film. Mike and Eric take a dive into the maturation of the horror movie, but we’re keeping a keen eye on the development of the lowbrow as well. There is a fork in horror, and both paths lead to greatness. Listen in!