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Horror movies became a lot more lurid – and gorier – in late Fifties as technical side of cinematography became easier and cheaper. This era saw rise of studios centered exclusively on horror, particularly British production company Hammer Films, which focused on bloody remakes of traditional horror stories, often starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, and American International Pictures (AIP), which made a series of Edgar Allan Poe themed films starring Vincent Price.
The early 1960’s saw release of two films that sought to close gap between subject matter and viewer, and involve latter in reprehensible deeds shown on screen. One was Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, other was a very low-budget film called Psycho, both using all-too-human monsters rather than supernatural ones to scare audience.
When Rosemary’s Baby began ringing tills in late Sixties, horror film budgets rose significantly, and many top names jumped at chance to show off their theatrical skills in a horror pic. By that time, a public fascination with occult led to a series of serious, supernatural-themed, often explicitly gruesome horror movies. The Exorcist (1973) broke all records for a horror film, and led to commercial success of The Omen.
In 1975 Jaws, directed by a young Steven Spielberg, became highest grossing film ever. The genre fractured somewhat in late 1970’s, with mainstream Hollywood focusing on disaster movies such as The Towering Inferno while independent filmmakers came up with disturbing and explicit gore-fests such as Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
John Carpenter’s Halloween introduced teens-threatened-by-superhuman-evil theme that would be copied in dozens of increasingly violent movies throughout 1980’s including long running Friday 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street series. Horror movies turned to self-mocking irony and downright parody in 1990’s – teenagers in Scream often made reference to history of horror movies. Only 1999’s surprise independent hit The Blair Witch Project attempted regular scares.
So go ahead, take a stroll through these favourite horror movies of all time. But pick your way very carefully, this walk is not for faint of heart. And if you happen to hear what sounds like some subdued whispering or soft creepy grating sounds, just pay no attention to it. It’s probably only wind.
Astrid Bullen is a freelance writer and movie buff living in St. George’s, Grenada. Visit her cool movie website at http://aboutfilm.info .