Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1962
IMDB listed 120 titles for 1962; 59 of those were full-length feature films. I do not include shorts, documentaries, made for TV movies or TV series on these lists. There were several television shows and their individual episodes listed that included Twilight Zone, Thriller, and Out of this World. I have noted in all of these posts that I do not include shorts. I do not include anything that is listed as a short but I will include anthologies (there is one on this very list). Although these are indeed short films, they are sold as a single package and thus qualify for a full-length feature. Besides, there are a shitload of great anthologies from this period and it was a must that some of them be included! I seen 38 of the 59 films listed on IMDB. I had a deeper pool to dip into than I did for 1961. Although I didn’t give any film a perfect score, I definitely felt considerably warmer about 1962 than its predecessor. I rated the top four films on this list 4.5/5 and the balance were all films I rated 4/5! There were two other films I rated 4/5 which are well worth checking out; Phantom of the Opera and Panic in the Year Zero.
#10 THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS
Directed By: Steve Sekely & Freddie Francis
What more can I say about The Day of the Triffids that I didn’t include in my long winded review a couple days back? It’s about a meteorite shower that blinds most of the population and also brings with it alien spores in the form of giant killer triffids. Yep, killer flowers! I thought The Day of the Triffids was fabulous energetic fun full of thrills, chills, laughs and delicious campy goodness! To read the full review click here.
#9 THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF
Directed By: Jesus Franco
Jess Franco?! I had no idea until recently that Jess Franco (or Jesus Franco) ever directed a film this accessible! I enjoy some of Franco’s 70s stuff but pacing is constantly an issue with his films. A lot of his films are rather dull and talky which seems incredible considering the amount of sex and nudity they contain; and everything I have ever seen from the director post 70s has been a dud. I think The Awful Dr. Orlof may be the best film Jesus Franco ever directed! It borrows ideas from several different horror films, but perhaps no more so than Eyes Without a Face. Dr. Orlof abducts beautiful women with the help of his frankenstein-esque assistant in order to acquire skin to repair his badly scarred daughter. Howard Vernon stars as Dr. Orlof and he leaves an impression! Vernon is a great evil doctor! The Awful Dr. Orlof is creepy and surreal and is quite imaginatively filmed with its weird angles and lovely black and white photography. Although certainly conservative by the Franco book of standards, for 1962 I found The Awful Dr. Orlof to be a meatier entry than most of its peers. The Awful Dr. Orlof is a chilling gothic tale not to be missed!
#8 NIGHT OF THE EAGLE
Directed By: Sidney Hayers
Night of the Eagle is making its second appearance on a dungeon list; the prior being my favourite witchcraft flicks. Night of the Eagle has a great moody well-written intriguing story. A teacher in line for a promotion discovers his wife has been practising witchcraft. Firm in his belief that witchcraft is not real he insists she burn all her black magic trinkets. What happens as a result will make him question everything he believes. Smart, well-filmed, excellent performances, great visuals, impressive effects and a story that kept me enthralled. Night of the Eagle is a bewitching classic.
#7 TOWER OF LONDON
Directed By: Roger Corman
What?! A Roger Corman and Vincent Price collaboration not based on Edgar Allan Poe?! Tower of London is more of a Shakespeare kinda thing (although Shakespeare did not receive writing credits on IMDB). Vincent Price plays the cold-hearted and malicious protagonist Richard of Gloucester who is tormented by the people he murdered in his exuberance to become King of England. Sir Richard slowly descends into madness and tortures a few unfortunate folks with his nasty medieval devices along the way! As is the case with all Corman flicks it is stylishly filmed with wonderful sets and costumes and of course Vincent Price is excellent. I thought Price’s character, while a powerful figure does perhaps show a little too much uncertainty. Nonetheless he does display his power quite effectively and chillingly for the most part particularly in those aforementioned torture scenes. Tower of London is medievaliciously entertaining!
#6 PREMATURE BURIAL
Directed By: Roger Corman
A Roger Corman and Edgar Allan Poe collaboration without Vincent Price? What the deuce is going on in 1962? Ray Milland stars as Guy Carrell who has an obsessive and seemingly unreasonable fear of being buried alive. While one can certainly make an educated guess as to what inevitably happens in Premature Burial it is no less a suspense-laden trip. There are some really well done creepy scenes in this film! I get freaked out when my feet get wrapped in my bed sheets, so I don’t much care for the idea of being buried alive. You really must appreciate the fantastic sets Corman employs in all of his films from this period. It really makes these films an absolute pleasure to watch. Premature Burial is adorned with amazing set pieces from its creepy crypts to its foggy graveyards and the whole film has this perfect lovely moodiness. I wasn’t at all disappointed with Ray Milland as the lead; I thought he did a hell of a job as Guy Carrell. Premature Burial is an atmospheric lively-paced well-acted bit of neato.
#5 THE WITCH’S MIRROR
Directed By: Chano Urueta
The Witch’s Mirror is also making its second appearance on a dungeon list; like Night of the Eagle it was noted on my list of favourite Witchcraft films. The Witch’s Mirror is one of the best horror films I have seen hailing from Mexico. While it certainly borrows from a number of other sources, Urueta crafts something that nonetheless comes off as unique. The plot includes mad science, murder, a vengeful wife, possessed hands and black magic! The films has a spirited pace, particularly in its thrilling second half and it all leads up to a most awesome and fantastic finale! Some of the effects are a smidge cheesy, but overall the effects work very well and are certainly always creative. The Witch’s Mirror is a beautiful black and white, energetic, enchanting, supernatural, gothic tale yo!
#4 TALES OF TERROR
Directed By: Roger Corman
Ha! Ha! A Roger Corman-Vincent Price collaboration based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Now everything is right in the world again! Not just one, but three separate Poe works grace Tales of Terror. All three star Vincent Price! Morella is the most sombre story of the trio. A father blames his daughter who was a small child at the time for the death of his wife and sends her away to boarding school. She comes back as an adult to see her estranged father and tell him she is dying. Vincent Price’s character ain’t winning any father of the year awards. He is one cold fish, although he does warm up a little. His decision to keep his wife’s rotting corpse in the house was certainly questionable. Morella is a strange, bleak story about love and revenge with great performances and an excellent finale. The Black Cat was my favourite of the three films. It is absolutely hilarious! Peter Lorre plays a drunken lout. He is an obnoxious, bizarrely arrogant little man and an abusive husband to boot! One night he stumbles into a wine tasting and challenges star sommelier played by Vincent Price to a taste off. This showdown is one of the funniest scenes ever! Price is terrifically flamboyant and makes one particularly priceless expression that almost made me laugh tea out of my nose. Lorre is freaking great in his role as the brazen bastard and made me laugh often. The final segment is The Case of M. Valdemar played of course by Mr. Price. Valdemar is dying and has turned to hypnosis administered by Carmichael to ease his pain. His physician does not approve of the method but can not deny it appears to work. Valdemar’s beautiful wife supports anything that will ease her husband’s pain but is uncomfortable around Carmichael. And Carmichael played by Basil Rathbone is indeed a creepy dude! Carmichael is working for free but what he is asking for in return will cost more than Valdemar could possibly have imagined. The Case of M. Valdemar is pretty creepy and a bit trippy too. Rathbone and Price are just great! All three segments look great, the costumes and sets are fantastic and the performances are top-notch even the supporting roles not mentioned. Atmosphere, chills, laughs with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone; can you think of a better way to spend 80ish minutes? Tales of Terror is a trilogy of terrificness.
#3 CAPE FEAR
Directed By: J. Lee Thompson
Although Cape Fear is noted as a thriller, which is certainly an appropriate classification, this film did turn up on the IMDB advanced search I did for horror from 1962. Seeing as I am quite fond of Cape Fear and it definitely is an intense ride I decided to include it. Just be warned that this is not really a horror film. Sam Bowden is a lawyer living a good life with his wife and teenage daughter until ex-convict Max Cady is released from prison. Cady blames Bowden for his incarceration and intends to get revenge. He begins stalking Bowden and his family making no attempt to hide his intentions. The Bowden’s world is completely rocked by the bad-ass Cady and despite whether they survive the ordeal they will forever be changed. Gregory Peck is an extremely likable actor who is well cast as Sam Bowden. The performances across the board are great although Robert Mitchum who plays Max Cady is the star attraction here as his role and performance is quite unforgettable. Chilling actually. Cady did in fact commit the crime he was imprisoned for and frankly his grudge is pretty misguided and irrational. Cady struts about with his cocky confidence and sexual bravado bringing a certain charisma to the disturbed and violent character. Cape Fear is a great thriller in its own right, but made additionally special by the fascinating Max Cady and the outstanding performance of Robert Mitchum who creates one of the great iconic villains of cinema.
#2 THE HORRIBLE DR. HITCHCOCK
Directed By: Riccardo Freda
A film about Necrophilia must have caused quite the uproar in 1962! On the other hand, I would think the subject of Necrophilia is probably outside of most people’s comfort zone regardless of the decade. Robert Flemyng plays Bernard Hitchcock who can’t control his urge to have sex with corpses. He tries to hide his loathsome secret but as his desires become more powerful he begins to crack. Robert Flemyng is fantastic as Bernard Hitchcock! His journey into complete derangement is a beautiful thing to behold. He gets superb support from the stunning Barbara Steele. Oozing with atmosphere and no holds barred loathsomeness; this gorgeous gothic tale is a wonderfully twisted delight! The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock is a creepy and utterly captivating bit of celluloid.
#1 CARNIVAL OF SOULS
Directed By: Herk Harvey
Carnival of Souls is the only feature length film Herk Harvey ever directed. What a damn shame! Carnival of Souls is about a woman named Mary Henry who survives a car accident only to be haunted by a pale-faced ghoul. Mary attempts to keep a grasp on reality but will she be able to resist the draw of the carnival? Carnival of Souls is a beautifully filmed black and white masterpiece, the only thing that prevents this from getting a perfect score is its obvious twist. I must admit, that the ending although not surprising is still very satisfying. Carnival of Souls simple and eye-catching visuals and eerie atmosphere are extremely effective. The white-faced ghouls that haunt Mary with their blackened eyes and dark lips are spooky as hell and that superbly eerie abandoned carnival is just the most amazing and perfect backdrop. The excellent organ score is the finishing touch. Carnival of Souls is simply gorgeous, chilling and completely mesmerizing. To read my full review click here.