Sense of Wonder: Celebrating 1960’s Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction Films

Barbara Steele in BLACK SUNDAY, one of the great horror films of 1960

Barbara Steele in BLACK SUNDAY, one of the great horror films of 1960

PSYCHO, which opened on June 16, 1960, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, leading to numerous retrospectives on the Internet, including this week’s Cinefantastique Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction Podcast 1:20. The accolades were well deserved, because five decades later, Alfred Hitchcock’s film still stands as one of the towering achievements in the horror genre; however, it is worth remembering that other great genre films were released the same year, including PEEPING TOM and HOUSE OF USHER (also covered in the podcast). In fact, 1960 was something of a banner year: although the number of titles released was relatively small (about half as many as last year, for example), many have endured as classics worthy of inclusion on any all-time best list: BLACK SUNDAY, THE BRIDES OF DRACULA, CITY OF THE DEAD, EYES WITHOUT A FACE, JIGOKU, THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL.

With that in mind, it seems like a nice idea to launch a blog-a-thon celebration of 1960’s horror, fantasy, and science fiction films. We have invited our contributors to cast their minds back through the mists of time and summon forth their memories and impressions of these classic efforts, with an eye toward defining why these films have endured and why, fifty years later, they are still worth watching. As with our previous blog-a-thon (Favorite Nightmares from Elm Street), the posts will be serialized, meaning that each entry will contain, at the bottom, a linked list of all other posts in the series, making it easy for you to navigate back and forth.

Being Cinefantastique, we already have a head-start on the theme, with several reviews and retrospectives already in our archives. Unfortunately, our Serial Posts feature, which automatically links the series together, allows a post to belong to only one series; consequently, these pre-existing posts may not show up, if they were already assigned to some other series. In order to avoid any omissions, I am manually including links to relevant articles that already exist in our archives:

  • BLACK SUNDAY – retrospective article: Mario Bava’s classic black-and-white nightmare of vampirism and witchcraft, starring the Queen of Horror, Barbara Steele
  • BLOOD AND ROSES – retrospective look at director Roger Vadim’s adaptation of “Carmilla.”
  • THE BRIDES OF DRACULA – review
  • CITY OF THE DEAD – DVD review: great moody piece set in a spooky New England town, with a structure that parallels PSYCHO
  • EYES WITHOUT A FACE – retrospective review: French director George Franju’s art house horror film, one of the genre’s greats
  • PSYCHO – review: the Hitchcock classic
  • PSYCHO – Interview with Anthony Perkins: the actor who brought Norman Bates to life
  • PSYCHO – interview with Joseph Stefano: the screenwriter who adapted Robert Bloch’s novel
  • THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL – review: under-rated but very inventive variation on Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale, from Hammer Films

Over the coming days and weeks, we will be adding more, so check back from time to time as we add entries on everything from DINOSAURUS to THE TIME MACHINE, from THE 3 WORLDS OF GULLIVER to o THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, from BRIDES OF DRACULA to JIGOKU to TERROR OF THE TONGS .

All in all, 1960 was a very good year.

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About the Author

Steve Biodrowski

Cinefantastique's Los Angeles Correspondent from 1987 to 1993 and West Coast Editor from 1993 to 1999. Currently the webmaster of Cinefantastique Online, I also run a website called Hollywood Gothique that covers Halloween Horror and Sci-Fi Cinema Events in the Los Angeles area.

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