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.
#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.
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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!
#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.
#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.
#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.
This entry was posted on November 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm and is filed under horror, movies with tags black sabbath, blood feast, horror castle, man with the x-ray eyes, matango, paranoiac, the birds, the comedy of terrors, the curse of the crying woman, the damned, the evil eye, the girl who knew too much, the haunted palace, the haunting, the raven, the sadist, the whip and the body, the whip and the flesh, twice-told tales. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.