Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1963

IMDB listed 125 titles for 1963; 64 of those were full-length feature films. My rule is I do not include shorts, documentaries, made for TV movies or TV series on these lists. While I do not include anything listed as a short, I will allow anthologies that are a collection of short films sold as a full-length feature package. I have seen 35 of the 64 films from 1963. Woohoo! 1963 was one hell of a year for horror movies! I wasn’t sure anything would beat mighty 1960. 1963 edged out 1960 by a single point. I rated the top five films 5/5, spots six, seven, eight and nine received a 4.5/5 and the remaining spot received a very solid 4/5. There were seven other films I rated 4/5! The other excellent entries I did not include are These are the Damned, Man with the X-Ray Eyes, The Comedy of Terrors, Horror Castle, Twice-told Tales, Paranoiac and The Haunted Palace.

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#10 THE CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN

Directed By: Rafael Baledón

The Curse of the Crying Woman is a gothic folklore tale of witchcraft, curses and evil. Beautifully filmed in black and white with a wonderfully mysterious and haunting vibe complimented by fascinating and quirky characters, wonderful sets and props, and creative effects. A highly recommended little gem from Mexico; to read my full review click here.

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#9 MATANGO

Directed By: Ishirô Honda

Matango may be one of Toho’s most underrated creature features. Matango is indeed a story about mushroom people but it is also a well-executed human drama that explores love, lust, envy and greed. Matango is based on William Hope Hodgson’s The Voice in the Night. The first time I seen this film was on television under the title Attack of the Mushroom People. I loved it even with its bad dubbing, but the newly restored version I seen last year with a subtitled option was super fantastic. A group of people become shipwrecked on a mysterious island where the only thing that seems to grow is fungi. It is a classic story of survival where the creatures and the effects are as superbly alluring as the human interaction. The creatures of the story are fungi-infested humans and certainly are creepy. Matango is beautifully filmed with a wonderfully nightmarish atmosphere and an excellent score compliments it all. The great Ishirô Honda directed several amazing films for Toho including the exceptional 1954 Godzilla. The outstanding Matango can certainly be counted among Honda’s best.

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#8 THE SADIST

Directed By: James Landis

I could definitely sense a change in the wind through 1963. Horror films were getting grittier and more risqué. The Sadist is one such example, it is a great, dark, intense trip and Arch Hall Jr. as the titular sadist Charlie Tibbs is pretty damn unforgettable. The story cut short is about three teachers travelling to a Dodgers game; they have car troubles and are terrorized by Charlie Tibbs and his simple girlfriend Judy. There is certainly nothing complicated about its plot, the characters however are a different matter. The Sadist is a character-driven story and a fascinating one at that. The camera lingers on the victim’s agony and in equal measure Charlie and Judy’s menacingly child-like behavior. The stark daylight setting with its constantly blazing sun felt agonizingly oppressive. The film has a nicely executed build-up and some very effective scenes of violence. The Sadist is chilling and brutal with one of horror cinema’s most indelible killers notably played by Arch Hall Jr. The Sadist is a wicked and intense little number and is one of the grittier entries from the early 60s.

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#7 THE WHIP AND THE BODY

Directed By: Mario Bava

The Whip and the Body is the first of three Mario Bava films to make the list for 1963. The Whip and the Body is a dark, gothic sadomasochist love story. Mario Bava’s breath-taking scenery, incredible sets, stunning score and lovely soft muted tones scream with electric and chilling atmosphere. Christopher Lee is particularly dashing and gorgeous Daliah Lavi oozes sexuality; the two are impossibly steamy together. The Whip and the Body is a deliciously diabolical, beautiful, haunting, tragic, brutal and erotically-charged tale not to be missed. To read my full review click here.

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#6 THE RAVEN

Directed By: Roger Corman

I have seen The Raven at least a half dozen times over the years and it never fails to make me laugh. It also features the epic trio of Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre! That alone is worth the price of admission in my opinion! The film is very loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven, and I do mean loosely! The film is a comedy written by the legendary sci-fi horror author Richard Matheson. If you needed another reason to visit, it is directed by Roger Corman and is full of fantastic sets and costumes. After a raven comes a-tapping, a good sorcerer must face an evil sorcerer. Probably not The Raven you remember. And the raven is Peter Lorre who plays a real rascal that got abracadabra’d by evil sorcerer Scarabus. Lorre in his bird suit is not to be missed! The film is full of clever dialog and is absolutely hilarious! The final showdown between Dr. Craven the good sorcerer and Scarabus the evil sorcerer is freaking awesome! Roger Corman brings together an epic trio of horror legends and delivers one seriously funny and entertaining film.

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#5 BLACK SABBATH

Directed By: Mario Bava & Salvatore Billitteri

Black Sabbath is an anthology comprised of a trio of atmospheric tales. We begin with a superb introduction from Boris Karloff who takes us into our three excellent stories; The Telephone, The Wurdalak and The Drop of Water. A woman terrorized by phone calls, vampires, and a dead medium are the subject matters explored so eerily and beautifully. My favourite of the three was definitely The Drop of Water about a dead medium and a nurse with a guilty conscience. This one is particularly creepy and really plays with the imagination. Jacqueline Pierreux gives a top-notch performance as Nurse Helen. The Wurdalak has a vampire with a doomed lovers scenario but don’t let that scare you. It is richly gothic, loaded with atmosphere and is completely enthralling. The Telephone could be called a Giallo with its wicked little twisted plot. It is a well-executed potboiler with a particularly notable performance by Michèle Mercier. All three segments of Black Sabbath are excellent and the Karloff connection is icing on the already delicious cake. All beautifully and imaginatively filmed with exquisite settings and a sexy gothic vibe that just turns me on.

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#4 BLOOD FEAST

Directed By: Herschell Gordon Lewis

Blood Feast definitely pushed the limits of what was acceptable back in 1963. Blood Feast has an utterly outrageous story and is undeniably campy but the film has some serious gore. 1963 audiences never saw anything quite like Blood Feast. Its insane story revolves around a caterer who worships the Goddess Ishtar and collects the body parts of young women so he can perform a ceremony that would bring the Goddess back to life. It is handy that he is a caterer as he has a great facility for cutting up body parts and sometimes he gets to cater engagement parties full of attractive young women. The gore is graphic and messy and there are definitely a couple of scenes that would sicken unseasoned viewers. Blood Feast is some wonderfully sick fun! The acting is certainly a questionable business and is sometimes hilariously bad. Mal Arnold is irresistibly mad as caterer Fuad Ramses! I absolutely loved Arnold’s incomparably wacky performance! Blood Feast is often unintentionally hysterical and is not a particularly attractive film either but that is all part of its charm. I have seen the gore-laden trash-fest that is Blood Feast countless times and personally I think it is an absolute fecking masterpiece!

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#3 THE BIRDS

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

I am sure most of you are familiar with Alfred Hitchock’s The Birds. A film I am sure must have put the fear of the common bird into a few people. A campy premise expertly executed by Hitchcock into an exciting and suspenseful horror-thriller. A masterful build up and superb tension is complimented nicely by the unsettling sound of masses of birds. There are an impressive number of birds and the effects are just fantastic. There is an interesting dynamic between the characters and the performances are solid by all. There isn’t a thing I can criticize about The Birds; it is a thoroughly enjoyable horror-thriller I have seen many times over the years and it is always a joy to re-watch.

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#2 THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH

Directed By: Mario Bava

The Girl Who Knew Too Much, aka The Evil Eye is widely considered to be the first Giallo. It would be the last film the immensely talented Mario Bava would make in black and white and it is one of his best. A fantastic little mystery full of twists and turns with a sexy vibe. 60s-licious Leticia Roman plays Nora Davis the titular girl who seen too much and John Saxon plays love interest Dr. Marcello Bassi. Roman is a real stand out here, playing the strong and likable Nora and is very appealing and watchable. Saxon is charming as the hunky but clumsy doctor. All the performances are great but Roman is definitely the focal point. The Girl Who Knew Too Much is fast paced and exciting. Although greed seems to be at the heart of the crimes the mood is often light, almost comedic. That might appear to be an odd mix, but it works extremely well. With Bava on board it goes without saying the film is stunning to look at and the use of natural lighting and lighting in general helps to create a mysterious and moody vibe. The title I assume is a nod to Alfred Hitchcock, and while the film is a suspenseful mystery Bava borrows from the pulp fiction novels of the time to create something unique. The Girl Who Knew Too Much is a beautifully-filmed, well-paced, action-packed thriller, with chills, suspense and a few laughs thrown in for good measure.

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#1 THE HAUNTING

Directed By: Robert Wise

What a crazy mix of films director Robert Wise has on his resume! Wise directed West Side Story, The Sound of Music and Star Trek: The Motion Picture but he also helmed two of the best horror films ever made; The Body Snatcher and The Haunting as well as the excellent sci-fi horror flick The Day the Earth Stood Still and the charming Curse of the Cat People. Wise is not the first name that comes to mind when I think of great horror directors yet the man has made some significant contributions. While The Body Snatcher is my favourite (I can not even look at the cover of the film without hearing Boris Karloff saying “Toddy”) The Haunting is definitely a crowning achievement. The Haunting has an amazing setting in the massive and incredibly spooky Hill House where researcher Dr. Markway has invited an unusual group to help prove (or disprove) the existence of ghosts. The Haunting is equal parts psychological study and ghost story and works extremely well at both. The performances are great across the board but it is the awkward, socially inept and empathetic Eleonor played by Julie Harris that really chews up the screen. Harris is absolutely sublime as the troubled and traumatized Eleonor. Wise’s rich black and white photography and bizarre camera angles make for some seriously disorienting shots and the amazing use of its sound effects and score to motivate the terror is artful. Whether ghosts dwell within the walls of Hill House or they are all in Eleonor’s mind The Haunting is an effectively chilling tale. Smart, well-acted, beautifully and inventively filmed and genuinely unsettling; The Haunting is one of the finest horror films to come out of the 60s, or any other decade.

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13 Responses to “Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1963”

  1. I sure do love The Whip and the Body, it’s my third favorite horror movie from the 60s!

    • I am definitely enjoying my trip through the 60s…I have 7 more films to mark off my list from 1969 and I will have watched everything I am going to watch for this feature…and Lee is absolutely delicious in The Whip and the Body! I had a very vivid dream about Lee after seeing this film the first time…I won’t be sharing that dream.

  2. Once again I’ve seen all ten films that made your list,and enjoy each of them. Of course I’m ecstatic that three,count em,three Mario Bava films made the final cut. All three are excellent. It’s amazing just how different the Italian version of Black Sabbath is to the one released here by American International. I’m glad you singled out Michele Mercier’s performance in The Telephone which I don’t think ever recieves enough credit. It’s hard to believe The Sadist stars the same actor from Eegah(a film I like),but Arch Hall Jr. does an incredible turn,and as you said,you can see the seeds of grittier horror fare take shape in 1963. I didn’t catch up to Blood Feast until the early 1980′s. I just couldn’t stop laughing. Entertaining to the highest level. The Birds is the first Hitchcock film I saw on the big screen,and still my favorite. I love all his films. During an interview,Hitchcock was asked about the ending to The Birds,and how does humankind survive to which he relied with a wry smile “They don’t,it’s the apocalypse.” Directors like Mario Bava and Alfred Hitchcock can never be replaced. I could go on and on about all the films on your wonderful list,but I had better stop.

    • Arch Hall Jr is a very unusual looking cat with a very brief and sketchy resume but he sure chews up the screen in The Sadist!! Have you seen the 2002 sequel to Blood Feast? Haha! I absolutely LOVED IT! Totally straight up comedy and very very corny with lots and lots of gore!

      • Arch Hall Jr. is still around,and looks pretty much the same!Yes,the Blood Feast sequel is a hoot! A horror film made in recent years I actually like! But there are others…I think.

  3. I haven’t seen Matango but doesn’t it feature some dude with a mushroom wang? Or… like… a wang actually made of mushroom? Maybe I’m confusing it with Tetsuo. My friend watched both in the same week and it seemed like both had wangs made of ridiculous stuff.

    • I watched 171 60s horror films in the past 5-ish weeks and not once did I spot a single solitary penis. One of the female characters in Matango seems far more concerned about getting laid than getting fed, there is a midly naughty little hallucinatory scene and a sexual vibe throughout and the mushroom people themselves are kinda phallic-y but I sure don’t recall a mushroom penis. And wouldn’t a mushroom penis look kinda like a regular penis which is somewhat mushroom-shaped anyway? Tetsuo definitely has a HUGE metal strap-on penis drill even though it has been a year since I seen Matango I would like to think a gnarly mushroom penis might stay with me.

  4. Best Horror Movie Made…

    [...] ! I absolutely LOVED IT! Totally straight up comedy and very very corny with lot [...]…

  5. [...] – overall rating 48 1963 – overall rating 47 1960 – overall rating 46 1964 – overall rating 44.50 1967 – overall rating 42.5 [...]

  6. Victor De Leon Says:

    Matango! The Haunting and The Birds! All great picks. 1963 was a damn good year!

  7. […] How could I not love a director whose nickname is the Godfather of Gore? Mr. Lewis’ films Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs made my top ten lists for 1963 and 1964 respectively. I am also […]

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