Historically, Hollywood doesn’t like horror movies, and unfortunately it seems that way since the very beginning of cinema. Sadly, that rather snobbish standard still holds true today, but thanks to more independent studios, more relaxed attitudes, and wonderful companies like Blumhouse, horror has its place in the mainstream.
However, in the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term “horror” was considered almost taboo. If someone proudly declared their work to be a horror picture, they were hoisted to the B list and treated with contempt from the industry.
Nor did the industry’s snobbery diminish when genre films exploded in popularity. Wanting to make the money as always, but never wanting their stars to “get down,” Hollywood came up with other names for their reluctant horror production.
Whether it was a “psychological thriller” or a “drama noir”, these pictures were basically good old-fashioned horror films. So, with the history lesson over, let’s take a look at 8 scary old Hollywood movies you need to see.
Although audiences may be most familiar with Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake of this property, the original contains plenty of chilling scenes.
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 revenge after Bowden’s testimony lands him in jail.
Cape Fear is a dark movie and there’s no escaping that fact – Robert Mitchum’s portrayal of Max Cady is absolutely chilling. The actor maintains an icy composure, but one is unnerved by a palpable rage bubbling just below the surface.
While the remake delighted in showing us Cady’s sadism with a rather over-the-top performance from Robert De Niro, that wasn’t possible in 1962. Seeing only glimpses of the sequel, the film becomes an unbearably tense exercise when the viewer realizes that Cady has “impure” intentions. for Bowden’s 11-year-old daughter.
A bold understatement for the time, director J. Lee Thompson treats the subject with style and unrelenting suspense. When we reach the climactic fight, played by a strange cabin in the woods, it’s a shock to see Peck’s stiff, straight lawyer engage in a bare-chested brawl.
Wonderful performances paired with stunning cinematography and lighting ensure that Cape Fear remains a classic that shouldn’t be overshadowed by its remake.