A History of Horror
1950 - 1960.


Sci-Fi horrors and the House of Hammer.


The 1940's had seen the birth of the horror comedy, but it was the 1950's that saw the introduction of science fiction horror pictures. The rising demand for science fiction resulted in very few dedicated horror movies being released at first, although many film makers still tailored their Sci-Fi pic's towards the horror market to appeal to the drive-in movie couples, who liked getting better acquainted over the popcorn. Most of these films where low-budget black-and-white B-movies, which would precede the main "colour" feature, now that black-and-white was quickly being replaced in the movie industry, although many of these B-movies still managed to achieve huge cult status in later years. However, mainstream horrors popularity returned in a big way towards the end of the decade, as Hammer film studios turned their productions towards the horror market with astounding results!


The Thing (from another world)The earliest notable sci-fi/horror combination came in 1951 with "The Thing from Another World" (The Thing), about a group at an Antarctic research station, who discover an alien body entombed in ice, only to find the being is still very much alive and unfriendly after they thaw it out.

The War of the WorldsThe film "The Day the Earth Stood Still", also released this year, was one of the first examples of cinema dealing in threat of alien invasion. A theme picked up on again in 1953's "The War of the Worlds", which was one of the first colour sci-fi pics. This was based on the novel by H.G. Wells, but updated the storyline from Victorian England, to 50's America.

The horror film "House Of Wax", which was also released in this year, was one of the few notable dedicated horrors of this decade. Not only did this take a refreshing break from the predominantly sci-fi orientated films released at this time, but it was also one of the first horror movies to be filmed in 3-D and also made Vincent Price a star in this genre.

ThemAbbot and Costello got up to more satirical horror nonsense with Boris Karloff in this year in the film "Abbot and Costello meet Jekyll and Hyde", with Karloff playing the title role.

"Them!" which appeared in 1954 was one of many examples of horror/sci-fi films influenced by the nuclear threat imposed by the Cuba missile crisis in fifties USA. Telling the tale of giant, radiation spawned, ants running amok in the deserts of Arizona.

Similarly, 1955's "Tarantula", about a giant spider terrorising small desert communities, continued the theme of nature mutating and turning unfriendly, with Clint Eastwood turning up as a fighter pilot captain who destroys the giant arachnid at the films climax.

The Curse of Frankenstein1956 however, saw the most notable horror film of the decade being released. Whilst American audiences were being thrilled by invading aliens and oversized creepy crawlies, British company Hammer studio's released their own version of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein entitled "The Curse of Frankenstein". The popularity of this movie brought the productions of Hammer studios into mainstream popularity and led to a resurgence in interest of dedicated horror films. It also made instant stars of genre actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

(The Horror of) Dracula Hammer studios followed up the success of their Frankenstein picture in 1958, with their own version of "Dracula", starring Messer's Cushing and Lee in the respective roles of Van Helsing and the Count. A sequel to Frankenstein also followed that year entitled "The Revenge of Frankenstein", in which Cushing creates a new monster, played by Michael Gwynne.

Steve McQueen battled "The Blob" in this year, in what was to be the last notable sci-fi/horror pic of the decade, the following year in 1959, Hammer released their own version of "The Mummy" which once again starred Peter Cushing, with Christopher Lee playing the part of the Mummy in what he described as "The most gruelling part he had ever played".

1900 - 1930 Silent Fear.
1930 - 1940 Classic Creations.
1940 - 1950 Chills and Chuckles...
1950 - 1960 Sci-fi, B-Movies and Hammer Horror.
1960 - 1970 Psycho's and Zombies.
1970 - 1980 The Birth of the Slasher.
1980 - 1990 Modern Horror Begins.
1990 - 2000 Scream until you like it.