The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
By the late forties, the monsters of Universal’s horror movies had become the stuff of children’s Halloween parties, killed off for good in 1948 by the twin plagues of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.
Horror movies became ultra-low budget drive-in fodder for the next few years, a cheap and effective way of capitalising on the new teenage market, often utilising innovative, brilliantly tacky techniques like Emergo-Vision and Percepto! American directors like Howard Hawks (The Thing From Another World) and Don Siegel (Invasion of The Body Snatchers) created masterpieces within the B-Movie genre, but it was good old British Hammer Films that took everything up a notch or two by taking the whole thing very seriously and by utilising gaudy colour to intensify its deadly purpose.
The combination of impressive set design, stately direction from Terence Fisher and great (albeit sorely underrated) actors like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee resulted in a handsome production of movie-studio quality. However, this prestige affair also boasted murder, severed limbs dripping with blood, brains being lowered into jars and a creature with a jaundiced patchwork face of leather stitched together like a crash test dummy made out of rice-pudding skin.
Audiences in 1958 had never seen anything so grotesque in all their lives…and naturally wanted more. That’s exactly what they got.
Dracula (1958), Black Sabbath (1963), The Masque of The Red Death (1964), Witchfinder General (1967), The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967).