8 Chilling Old-Hollywood Movies You Need To See

Think old movies are tame? Think again.

Yield To The Night Diana Dors
Allied Artists Pictures

Historically Hollywood does not like horror movies, and it sadly seems to have been this way since the very beginning of cinema. Unfortunately this rather snobbish standard still holds somewhat true today, however thanks to more independent studios, more relaxed attitudes and wonderful companies like Blumhouse, horror has its place in the mainstream.

Back in Hollywood's golden age however, the term "horror" was deemed almost taboo. If one proudly declared their work a horror picture, it was shafted to the B-list and treated with industry scorn.

The industry snobbery didn't abate when genre films exploded in popularity either. Wanting to make money as always, but never wanting their stars to "stoop," Hollywood came up with other names for their reluctant horror output.

Be it a "psychological thriller," or a "dark drama," these pictures were good old-fashioned scary movies at their core. So, with the history lesson over, let's take a look at 8 Chilling Old-Hollywood Movies You Need to See.

8. Cape Fear (1962)

Yield To The Night Diana Dors
Universal Pictures

Although audiences may be more familiar with Martin Scorsese's 1991 remake of this property, the original has plenty of bone chilling scenes of its own.

The film follows Gregory Peck's Sam Bowden as he and his family are stalked and harassed by the sadistic Max Cady. Cady is determined to get vengeance after Bowden's testimony sent him to prison.

Cape Fear is a dark film and there's no escaping this fact - Robert Mitchum's portrayal of Max Cady is absolutely chilling. The actor maintains an icy cool, but one is unnerved by a palpable rage bubbling just under the surface.

Whereas the remake delighted in showing us Cady's sadism with a rather overblown performance by Robert De Niro, this was not possible in 1962. Seeing only glimpses of the aftermath, the movie becomes an unbearably tense exercise when the viewer realises Cady has "impure" intentions for Bowden's 11 year-old daughter.

A bold implication for the time, director J. Lee Thompson handles the subject with style and unremitting suspense. When we reach the climactic fight, played out by an eerie woodland cabin, it is a shock to see Peck's stiff, straight-laced lawyer engaging in a barbaric shirtless brawl.

Wonderful performances coupled with stunning cinematography and lighting ensure Cape Fear remains a classic that should not be overshadowed by its remake.


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