Post by Sharon
One of my favorite treats on a hot day is to close the blinds, pop some popcorn, and light a candle. It's spooky movie day. I like some real classic scares and not interested in blood and gore. Here's some that make my list very often -
This 1963 classic ghost tale has a group staying in a notoriously haunted mansion to uncover the answer to the question - do ghosts exist? Starring Julie Harris. It is filled with creepy sounds and darkness, ornate antiques and lots of breathless wonder. It's a beautifully told tale fashioned nicely from my favorite horror book of all time - "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson. With Robert Wise directing, it was cinematically suspenseful. The film has been widely reported to be the most horrifying horror movie of all time. It's interesting to note there was no blood or screaming thrills in it, it was simply a truly plausible haunting in a very melancholy mansion. We learned from this one that a great script, good pacing, expert actors, and leaving the audience to fill in the blanks of what was tormenting the occupants is all one needs for a truly good thrill. This movie teaches us that it's what we fear that is so scary, not what we actually see.
The Legend of Hell House
This is another Brit horror (they do suspense so well) from 1973. It stars Pamela Franklin and Roddy McDowall. It was based on my favorite horror author's book (Richard Matheson) "Hell House." A group enters a very haunted mansion to try and use a machine to negate the energy and stop the haunting, but each person must deal with their own demons as well as those of the house. This is a gothic spooky delight and very loosely based on the book. This horror movie has the gothic seance-like vibe of the early 70s and leaves a zinger of an ending to surprise and terrify.
An often overlooked suspenseful and chilling ghost tale with George C. Scott as a widower who lost his wife and child in an accident. The composer rents a big old historic mansion to write his music but the house has lots of secrets of another child who was murdered long ago. This film did a great job of providing dust and clues, seance and torment. It gave me chills as a kid and still does.
The Thing From Another World
You can't get more classic SciFi (1951) than this one and in the summertime, I watch this a few times just to see snow and hear howling winds. In the arctic, researchers run into a crashed UFO and take the alien in a block of ice to study it, only it thaws out! As a kid, this was a weekend movie marathon favorite on the local station that showed 50s scifi. I've always loved the lonely isolated freezing setting and this plant-humanoid (James Arnez) that has it out for them.
The Creature From the Black Lagoon
Researchers rush to an isolated lagoon on the Amazon to uncover more of a strange clawed hand with webbed fingers. Their boat is afloat on the black lagoon and the researchers dive into the water to look for more remains, but run into a gillman from a past dinosaur-era world. This film (1954) was done so slick, so beautiful, and the soundtrack and sound effects make you feel like you are right on the lagoon with them.
This 1944 film is a beauty from England. A composer and his sister move into a sea cliff cottage that has an unseen ghostly resident. Starring Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey. This film is a beautiful and atmospheric wonder. It is a spooky haunting mystery without any true terror or gore. It satisfies me when I want to hear the intercontinental dialect of the times and a good black and white scare.
Alfred Hitchcock knew how to create suspense and beauty. What happens when a mischevious socialite pursues a sassy lawyer by heading out to his family home on a quiet bay? Her arrival with some love birds for his sister's birthday seems to coinicide with birds acting oddly and gathering and then attacking citizens. If you watch the beginning of the film, Hitchcock exits the pet shop with his own dogs on leashes. Nice little cameo. This is a wonderfully told terror (1963) and the sound of screeching birds really does make you anxious over time.
This is my very favorite Hitchcock tale (1954). A photographer is laid up in his NY apartment with a cast on his leg. Unable to do much, he starts watching the neighbors in the adjacent buildings. Eventually, he believes one of them has killed his wife, but has trouble convincing anyone. Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly did a fantastic job in this thriller. It's beautiful, cinematic, stylish, and suspenseful. Sometimes, I just need me some Jimmy Stewart.
House on Haunted Hill
This 1959 film is a Vincent Price treasure. A wealthy estranged couple decides to hold a party, offering money to their guests to stay locked up overnight in the haunted mansion. A variety of guests arrive and then wish they could leave, but can't. Vincent Price, as always, was all finesse and wit in this suspenseful thriller. It's one of those you can find on Amazon Prime Videos or YouTube for free almost all the time.
Here's some great mood enhancements -