Best Horror Movies of the 1950s

The film and media industry has been on the rise since the 1900s. Hollywood and other major film industries have evolved because of the classic films that were successful. Every genre had its own preference by the people. Likewise, the Horror Films of the 1950s were quite unique and provided a different level of suspense and thrill. Artists like Kim Newman even suggested that these were “out of fashion” yet they emerged as the top horror movies of the vintage era. Find out which one you should watch on the coming weekend.

The Thing From Another World

On the top of our list stands one of the most impactful films of the 1950s which gave birth to several controversies. Although it was science fiction, it sparked a debate on the presence of Unidentified Flying Objects also known as UFOs. The full suspense film starred Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, and Douglas Spencer.  

The story revolves around the US Air Force crew which finds a flying saucer in the Arctic. A mysterious humanoid body is also found which creates suspicion among the crew members. What the crew does not know is that the body is still alive. As soon as this body gets defrosted, “The Thing” becomes alive and creates massive trouble. The story explains how the crew handles the tough times with it. James Arness took on the role of “The Thing”. The best part about it was that the audience was always in a delusion because the outfit and makeup are done in a way that they obscure the features of the character. 

The Thing From Another World theatrical poster

The Seventh Seal

Although not an American classic, but still considered as one of the best movies of all time is “The Seventh Seal”. The film is a Swedish one and was released in 1957. The movie was set in the times of the Black Plague. It tells the journey of a Knight during medieval times as he plays a game of chess with a personified form of Death who has come to take his life. 

During the game of chess, the man seeks answers about multiple elements of life, death, God, and other elements. With exceptional logic, and creativity in the dialogues, the film was a whole new level of suspense and thriller. The audience remained engaged in the film throughout and critics praised the Director,  Ingmar Bergman, for such an unprecedented film about life and reality. If you want to catch everything that goes on in this film, you should stay fully concentrated and catch the hidden clues. It was also a great influence on pop culture.  

The Curse of Frankenstein

The Curse of Frankenstein was released in 1957 and it was a classy horror film that could still give you some chills. With many black and white films being released during this time, The Curse of Frankenstein was the first horror film that was in color. The film was so successful that many other parts and remakes of this film were made under the Frankenstein series. 

The success of this film was over and above many films of the era. According to Critics such as Patricia MacCormack, this film was the first really horror film as it openly displayed violence, blood, and guts of the human body in color. The film was directed by Terence Fisher starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Watch it with someone as it might be a little too much for you to handle alone. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Invasion of The Body Snatchers is yet another dark film that was released in 1956. The film was directed by Don Siegel and produced by Walter Wanger with stars being Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. Although it was a black and white film, it got fame around the world and many of its remakes were made later on. 

The film is based on the storyline of extraterrestrial creatures such as aliens invading California. This happens only when the Alien Plant spores fall from the space and grow into numerous large seed pods. As a result, a human clone is produced. The invasion is one horrifying experience for mankind. The film was so successful that it was selected in the United States National Film Registry for being culturally and aesthetically significant. 

The Undead

Most of the top horror films during the decade were released after 1955. The Undead was released in 1957 under the Direction of Roger Corman starring Pamela Duncan, Allison Hayes, and Richard Garland.  Val Dufour was also a part of the film. The film considers the aspects of Voodoo and magic with the inclusion of hypnotism. Unlike other films we mentioned above, this one was very distinctive in its theme. 

The story is about a psychic researcher who hires a prostitute and sends her into a trance over 48 hours to gain access to her past life. From her body to prison life, she shares the same aspects. Many might think that it isn’t as much of horror but the thrill and few chunks of the movie run shivers down the spine making it one horrifying film without ghosts. 

Learn about the Top Pop culture trends of the 1950s here – Highlights of the Major Pop Culture Trends of the 1950s.

The Vampire 

The Vampire was another black and white film released in 1957. Produced by Arthur Gardner and Directed by Paul Landres. Stars of the film include John Beal and Colleen Gray. One might feel that how a horror film was exceptionally produced with just two leading roles but this was one job done very well. 

This fiction horror film takes the story of an experiment with bat blood performed by a doctor prior to his death. On the other hand, the colleague of this doctor takes a bottle of pills to bring home but her daughter accidentally subtitles vampire pills for these tablets. As a result, when the colleague tries these pills, he is having abrupt reactions, and his personality changes similar to a Vampire. For weekend fun, this film will give you real chills. 

The Mummy

The Mummy has been one of the best horror films which was released in 1959. Produced by Micheal Carreras and Directed by Terence Fisher, the movie has a story from two 1940s films named “The Mummy’s Hand” and “The Mummy’s Tomb”. Most of us have seen the modern version of “The Mummy” which was released in 2008. 

However, watch this movie to visualize how the story was very different. The film stars include Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. The movie is set in the year 1985 when archaeologists are searching for the tomb of a princess who has been cursed. Despite these warnings, the archaeologists enter this tomb and one of them is cursed in a catatonic state. 

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Unarguably one of the top horror movies of the 1950s is The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms which was an American black-and-white film. The movie revolves around a big monster which is basically a dinosaur. This dinosaur is released from its frozen state due to an atomic bomb test in the Arctic. As a result, the beast awakens and creates horrendous problems for the people including those belonging to New York City. 

It was considered a financial success too because it earned over $5 million with a budget of $200,000. The film was produced by Jack Dietz and Directed by Eugene Lourie. Stars of the film include Paul Christian, Paula Raymond, Cecil Kellaway, and Kenneth Tobey. It was among the first movies to feature atomic explosions and monsters and became a roadway to the creation of a film named “Godzilla”.

Bride of the Monster

By just watching this poster, one might have the idea as to how much horror this film had. Bride of the Monster was released in 1955 and was an American film with Direction by Edward Wood JR. and starring Bela Lugosi and Tor Johnson. It had one of the biggest budgets at about $70,000 at that time and had several financial constraints. Since production in 1953, it was released 2 years later in 1955. 

The movie isn’t for those with a weak heart because it was regarded as one of the most terrorizing ones. Despite the constraints, it became a huge success which is why it is a part of our recommendation too. Sequels for this film were also made.

Suggested Reading – Important Historical Events of 1958


The 1950s has been one of the most important decades for horror movies because many new themes were introduced to the horror genre. Many unique and unprecedented stories were there that added more interest to the viewers. The above-mentioned films are some of the top horror films of the 1950s. There are many others too. Watch any of these with regards to your interest.