Many great classic horror films use cinematography, music and suspense of story to scare and intrigue. Gore seemed to be used sparingly to heighten impact of certain scenes. Conversely, modern horror films seem to rely on blood and gore in every sequence to scare the pants off you. Where’d the story go? What’s left to the imagination? If you would rather be paralyzed by suspense and allow your imagination take hold, here are five classic films that will do just that.
1. “The Haunting” (1963) is based on Shirley Jackson’s classic horror novel, “The Haunting of Hill House.” The plot is simple,; five people try to spend the summer in a haunted house under the direction of a psychiatrist, Dr. Mackay, who’s trying to prove the existence of a paranormal dimension. There are elements in “The Haunting” that do not rely on special effects to scare its audience. Through the use of music, lights and Julie Harris’s powerful internal narration, the viewers feel paranoia. The notion that it would be fun to stay in a haunted house will not cross your mind again after seeing this classic film.
2. “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane” stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, both in the twilight of their careers. Davis and Crawford play sisters Jane and Blanche Hudson. Both characters were stars in their own right – Jane (Davis) was a child vaudevillian star and Blanche (Crawford) was a successful film actress until a terrible accident left her crippled, thus ending her cinematic career. With Blanche completely dependent upon Jane, the suspense is great, particularly in a scene where Jane brings Blanche her covered lunch after the suspicious disappearance of a pet. The verbal and physical brutality expressed between the two actresses onscreen reaffirms the possible rumors that they really detested each other offscreen.
3. “Rear Window”(1954) includes an all-star cast with James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and “Perry Mason” star, Raymond Burr. One of Hitchcock's classics, this film is about L.B. Jeffries (Stewart), a photographer who, because of a broken leg, is confined to his apartment. His "window shop" view of the apartment complex turns him into an amateur sleuth when he suspects a murder has taken in one of the apartments. Did he? Or didn’t he?
4. “The Birds,” a Hitchcock essential starring Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor, is a film loosely based on Daphne De Maurier’s short story of the same name. It all starts in a bird store when Melanie Daniels (Hedren) is intrigued by a handsome man named Mitch Brenner (Taylor). Melanie actively pursues him to his mother’s residence in a seaside town called Bodega Bay. Melanie’s arrival seems to trigger violent bird attacks, not only to her but to other townsfolk. If you want a real scare by this film, turn the volume to high; bird screeches will echo in your ears days after. Better yet, find a theater that is playing the original film!
5. “The Blob”, the ORIGINAL and best version, stars Steve McQueen as a part of group of teens in a race against time to save their disbelieving town from being swallowed by an inter-galactic jelly monster. We have recently published an article featuring other interesting facts about this film located in the links below.