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PRE-GORE FRIGHT FLICKS

 

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For Halloween-movie consideration, last week’s vintage column looked at Universal’s gallery of monsters from the 1930s-1950s, from Frankenstein and Dracula to The Phantom of the Opera and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. This week we’ll broaden our horizons a bit and look at scary flicks from the 1930s-1980s, but no slasher flicks, please. These are fun choices for movie buffs, and for young people who have not yet been turned away from black-and-white movies. Some are a bit hokey by today’s standards but the admittedly old guy that I am still thinks these are fun. This ‘Hicks On Flicks’ column was published in the Deseret News back in the era of VHS videotape, on Oct. 30, 1988. (It’s interesting in 2020 to look at this list and realize how many of them have been subjected to remakes — some of them to several remakes!)

 

OK, all you Halloween video watchers — got your scary movie picked out for Oct. 31 yet?

 

Some wonderfully scary movies can be rented from Iggy’s shelves at Humongous-BigMonster Video — or whatever rental store you frequent— and since I get the same phone calls every year at this time asking about good, solid horror movies that can be shared with the kids without embarrassing the parents, here’s a list of a few of my personal favorites.

 

House of Usher (1960)/The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) — These two Roger Corman films are arguably the best of his Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, both starring Vincent Price, and both in color. Great stuff.

 

The Black Cat (1934)/The Raven (1935) — These are Poe-oriented films, but only nominally. Both star Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi at the peak of their popularity and the films come on one videocassette tape, since each feature is only slightly over an hour long. Very scary old black-and-white thrillers.

 

 

 

The Thing (1951) — This black-and-white film about a flying saucer discovered under the Arctic ice, and the thawed-out monster from within tracking down and butchering his rescuers. James Arness is the monster.

 

The Fly (1958) — This color 1958 original is not as technically refined as the recent remake (nor as gloppy and gooey), but it builds suspense very well in a story about a scientist inadvertently switching his head and arm with a tiny fly, then searching desperately for the insect to try and switch back.

 

The Haunting (1963) — A fine British cast and great atmosphere make this haunted-house yarn one of the best of its kind; another black-and-white chiller.

 

Poltergeist (1982) — Forget the two sequels. How long has it been since you’ve watched this one? Steven Spielberg’s haunted-house-in-the-suburbs is one of the most frightening contemporary ghost stories around.

 

Forbidden Planet (1956) — Technically a science-fiction film, this is as much a horror yarn as “Alien,” with the monster from the id killing a rescue team on a nearly deserted planet. Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis. In color.

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956/1978) — The one I prefer is the black-and-white 1956 classic, simply one of the greatest scare films ever made, but the ’70s color remake is a good one too. Both are very scary sci-fi/horror yarns about seed pods from space taking over the human race.

 

 

 

The Phantom of the Opera (1925/1943) — While the Claude Rains ’40s color version is entertaining enough, I opt for the silent original with Lon Chaney in one of the great horror classics.

 

Nosferatu (1922/1979) — The silent classic is a good old-fashioned “Dracula” yarn but the German remake with Klaus Kinski is also excellent, a wonderfully moody look at the world’s most misunderstood monster.

 

Psycho (1960) — Alfred Hitchcock’s black-and-white masterpiece prompted people take baths instead of showers for years afterward and it still holds up as a terrifying film of great power.

 

Westworld (1973)/Futureworld (1976) – Both the original and its sequel are frightening sci-fi/horror yarns set in futuristic theme parks that may make you think twice about your next trip to Disneyland.

 

There are others, of course, but this will give you a good start.

 

But when you’re watching one don’t get so involved you forget to open the door for the trick-or-treaters — otherwise the trick may be on you.