10 of the best Horror Films of the 1950s

The 1950s in horror was an era of creature features and can-do American communities banding together against dangerous outsiders—as in Howard Hawks’ The Thing From Another World, The Creature From the Black Lagoon, or The Blob

The best films of the era though captured the seduction of the subversive and occasionally even had some sympathy for their monstrous others. Order is generally restored, but it wouldn’t be horror if chaos, with all its tentacles, didn’t at least occasionally have a fighting chance. 

Throne of Blood (1957)

Kurosawa is obsessed with motion, and his rustling trees, flapping banners, and smoke tendrils shift and scrabble across the screen like a dire doom coming. Some horror films are about the evil of devils and demons, but in Throne of Blood the gods themselves seem to conspire to drench history in red. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

A masterpiece of cold war paranoia. Director Don Siegel presents us with the all-American, sit-com-ready town of Santa Mira. Then he slowly replaces all its residents with grotesquely emotionless pod-people. 

A Bucket of Blood (1959)

Director Charles Griffins’ Corman-produced B-film was shot in five days, but like the sculptures it features, it is carefully, if gruesomely, carved. Coffee-shop waiter Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) accidentally discovers he can be an acclaimed artist by simply murdering people and covering them in clay. 

Night of the Hunter (1955)

In contrast, the scenes of Powell’s step-children fleeing from him down the river are some of the most romantically peaceful in cinema—beautiful shots of frogs and rabbits and willows in the foreground, while the boat drifts leisurely by with its sleeping cargo.