The 10 Best Horror Films of the 1960s
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Index to Best of Horror by Decade.
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The 70s was the decade that really launched modern horror into the mainstream, defining subgenres—demonic possession, slashers, zombies, body horror—that are still with us today. The 60s in contrast feel betwixt and between, as older creature features and suspense thrillers mutate into gelatinous semi-forms. Watching films of the era can feel a little frustrating for current-day horror fans, as gore and ichor and mass murderers fail to gore and ichor and mass murder in quite the way they’re supposed to. But horror is also fun when, like a Frankenstein monster, the parts aren’t all sewn right way up.
10. Peeping Tom (1960)
The first slasher is also the first meta-slasher. Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom was released shortly before his friend Hitchcock’s Psycho, and it’s even more monomaniacally focused on its own male gaze. Cameraman Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) is obsessed with filming the fear on women’s faces as he kills them; the opening sequence of the movie is a viewfinder’s eyes view of his murder of a sex worker.
Powell throws in some psychoanalytic mumbo jumbo about the trauma done to Mark by his psychoanalyst father. But mostly the movie is a horror film about the pleasures and repulsions of horror film, titillating the viewer with the sadistic, scopophiliac sex and violence which so titillates Mark himself. Peeping Tom is half a critique of sleezy grotesquerie and half a celebration of it, and it thoroughly shocked critics at the time. But the next generation and more of filmmakers were watching.
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