Goofy Horror Films of the 50's: Did They Really Scare Audiences?

The springloaded cat technique is as old as the hills and its still being used. It is getting so I can watch a movie. Listen to the suspenseful music (Usually the only thing suspenseful in the scene is the music) wait for it to do its crescendo with the fake scare… count to three and wait for the real pop out bogeyman to attack.

There are very few horror movies these days. Gore has replaced suspense and atmosphere, and quite frankly I’m gored out… being disgusted isn’t always the same as being horrified.

Those weren’t really “goofy horror films” made for a young audience. They were big studio, big director top-of-the-bill features that happened to be scary. In some cases, REALLY scary. There’s no comparing The Haunting with Horror of Party Beach.

Likewise, and I was born in 1975.

It might be a hijack of this thread, or it might be a natural evolution of the discussion, so I’ll mention it here, and let groupthink determine whether or not it should be taken to a new thread, so…

What, in your opinion, is the oldest movie that is still legitimately scary?

The best answer, I think, from beginning to end, is 1963’s The Haunting. (Forget the remake from 1999; it’s dogshit.) 1960’s Psycho has some good stuff, but it’s so well known that the surprises don’t really work any more; it’s entered the collective mind. The Haunting, by contrast, is fairly unknown, and still has the power to freak people out.

Alternatively, if that’s the metric, then for sheer freakout value, Browning’s Freaks, from 1932, has a couple of sequences that haven’t lost their skin-crawling power despite being 76 years old. The bulk of the movie is a stodgy melodrama that the modern audience sort of snickers at, but when it gets really roaring, it’s still legitimately disturbing.

Likewise Nosferatu from 1922. A lot of it, as you would expect, is dated. But every now and then, it suddenly channels an otherworldly something that makes your hair stand up.

It’s only intermittent, though, which is why I’m sticking with The Haunting.

Anyway: new thread, or carry on here?

Gooble! Gabble! One of us! One of us! <shivers>.

I was a young kid and I watched “The House On Haunted Hill” on the ABC 4:30 Movie.

Scariest thing I’d seen at that time, and I slept with my little sister that night. (so that I could throw her at the monster and get away if I had to - no, I’m not proud of myself, but I was a survivor.)

The original Dracula was great. Then came the Mummy, the slow creature that just kept on coming. The device that still makes zombie movies work. The original “The Thing” was very good. The original “War of the Worlds” should have won an academy award.
The flying saucer movies came when the newspapers ran front page stories on sightings every day. “They Came from Outer Space”,Attack of the Mole People", “Destination Earth ',The Day the Earth Stood Still” and others came when the sightings were radio and TV lead stories.
Then the bomb brought on the mutant movies, 'Them" “Godzilla” Giant spiders,rats ,or any creature you could think of. We got scared for many years.

Good point. I lost track of the OP’s question. Those definitely aren’t goofy films.

I’m not sure what will qualify as scatring audiences. Certainly I think many of the 1950s films are effective, and I’ll drop things to watch them. The Thing literally – quite literally – gave both Pepper Mill and me nightmares when we were kids. I still think it’s a great flick, and have it on DVD. But does it scare people? I don’t know. Ditto for It! The Terror from Beyond Space.
If you’re looking for something that will, I guarantee, have adults squirming in their seats, let me recommend Eyes Without a Face/Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus/Les Yeux sans Visage. There’s one scene that will, I guarantee, squick most people out, even though there’s no explicit blood or anything. (I saw this film on TV on New York’s Channel 9 WWOR’s “Supernatural Theater” in the early 1960s. They must not have watched the film beforehand. On the other hand, I saw them selling the DVD of this film at Disney World’s Pleasure Island as couple of years ago. I’ll bet a lot of kids got freaked out. It’s from 1960

Some people blame Al Gore for everything!


Oh yeah. I saw this at a special screening at a revival house last year. The audience was blown away. The ending is a bit of a fizzle, but otherwise, good call.

Okay, here’s a GOOD one: Carnival of Souls.

Made for $33,000. All atmosphere, no effects unless you count creepy makeup and fast cuts. Lead actress has THREE entries on IMDB (five counting two documentaries). The rest of the cast was pulled from little theaters in the Lawrence, KS, area. Director made about 400 films; all but this one were educational or industrial shorts. Copyright not renewed so you can watch it on IMDB.

Despite all that, it works.

To me, The Thing is scary in part because the humans act pretty reasonably. They do pretty much what they’re able to do against the alien. The only “goofy” part to me is the one scientist who wants to negotiate with the creature.

And that stupid electric blanket stunt which started the mess!

When I started watching MST3K in junior high, I found it hilarious that my mother had seen many of the films being goofed on when she was a child. She especially remembered being terrified by “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die!”

Ditto, especially the scene where the cute young protagonist turned around and was confronted with the old crone. I almost literally wet my pants, and I was about 9 years old.

I saw it again a few years ago and thought it was silly tripe. Man, I’ve gotten cynical in my old age.

You were. Not a very accurate one, but you were.

They sure scared my girlfriends at the drive-in. They were prone to suddenly grabbing things and excitedly snuggling up closer. Made making out much easier.

The incredible shrinking man freaked me out at age twenty. But I was really really stoned when I watched it.