Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1967
This is the final week of my Psycho-Delic 60s project with just two more lists following this one! IMDB listed 358 titles for 1967 and only 61 of those were full-length feature films! Again, there is a ton of listing for Dark Shadows in 1967. I don’t think I realized, or at least I had not given it much thought to the sheer number of horror themed television shows made during the decade; The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Addams Family, The Munsters and Dark Shadows among others. I seen 37 of the 61 films listed for 1967. The top three films were rated 5/5, spots four through nine were rated 4/5 and spot ten was rated 3.5/5. Three other films garnered a 3.5/5 rating; Something Weird, Theatre of Death and Creature with the Blue Hands.
#10 TORTURE GARDEN
Directed By: Freddie Francis
Torture Garden is another Amicus horror anthology and this one features one of my favourite backdrops; a carnival sideshow! The charismatic showman Dr. Diablo provides the connecting thread to a quartet of stories where he predicts the futures of four carnival patrons. The first story sees a greedy young man get his comeuppance by a coin-carrying kitty cat. Michael Bryant is solid as the greedy young man and it is very satisfying seeing him driven to insanity! The second story is rather mediocre. A goofy little tale about an actress seeking the youthful secrets of her peers. You definitely need to suspend belief for this one. The dullest story by far is the incredibly silly third segment about a jealous piano! Yep. A jealous piano. Oh this one hurts! The biggest issue is it is rather dull. Love interest John Standing is stiff as a board and Barbara Ewing fairs just slightly better, neither performance was going to save this one from floundering. The fourth story and the best is about two Edgar Allan Poe fanatics played by Jack Palance and Peter Cushing! Poe is back from the dead and writing new stories! Both Palance and Cushing are excellent and chew up scenery right left and center! Finally the connecting story which has equal fondness in my heart with the fourth segment sees Burgess Meredith as the eccentric and charismatic showman who may just be the devil himself! I loved the unique transition bits where a pair of scissors is heard cutting through fabric! The film is light on effects but what is included is decent enough. As is the case with most of these early UK anthologies do not expect gore or graphic violence…there is none. Like any anthology, there are great segments and less than stellar, but overall I thought Torture Garden was a shitload of fun!
#9 THE TORTURE CHAMBER OF DR. SADISM
Directed By: Harald Reinl
I watched quite a few German made films for this feature; the vast majority of those have been Krimi (horror films based on the writing of Edgar Wallace). I guess it is fair to say I was generally disappointed in the Krimi offerings with only a few exceptions. The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism is a German made horror film but is not a Krimi flick. It is instead based (very loosely) on a Edgar Allan Poe story. Count Regula is drawn and quartered for the crime of killing twelve women; whose virgin blood was used in his experiment. The Count’s experiment was foiled by a female prisoner who escaped his torture chambers and the final nail in the coffin was dealt by the prosecutor. Count Regula swears vengeance on their descendants and intends to return and complete his experiment to attain immortal life! Admittedly, I am a sucker for a visually beautiful gothic horror film and The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism practically had me drooling! Every last second of this fast-paced film is stunning to look at. It’s quaint Bavarian town with its amazing architecture, the utterly fantastic Castle of Count Regula with its multiple rooms, hidden corridors and brilliant set pieces and props; skulls, glass coffins, snake pits, vulture adorned walkways, booby-traps and torture devices! The carriage ride to the castle is something else. The sudden appearance of men in black hoods on horseback robbing two female passengers of their possessions and leaving them on the side of the road is jarring. The surreal scene that follows soon after is the real capper! The carriage travels through thick fog and the sky looks as though it is on fire! The overwhelmingly sinister vibe of the landscape is so frightening it gives the poor carriage driver a heart attack! The effects and makeup are also good and it appears as though they used some stop-motion animation for some sequences which are very nicely executed. The story is not going to blow your mind by any means, but it is serviceable enough. Lex Barker is a bit unforgettable as the hero type character Roger but the captivating Karin Dor does a wonderful job as Baroness Lilian von Brabant, a deathly pale looking Christopher Lee leaves a grand impression in his limited screen time as Count Regula, Carl Lange as the Count’s eager assistant Anatol is a bit over the top but a lot of fun and Vladimir Medar as Pater Fabian adds a bit of comic relief. The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism is fast-paced, atmospheric, decently acted and even surreal at times but the real reason to visit is for its truly exceptional and wonderfully creative visuals!
#8 THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS
Directed By: Roman Polanski
The Fearless Vampire Killers is Roman Polanski’s second film to make a top ten list. This is comedy with a horror backdrop that features two vampire hunters; Professor Abronsius and his bumbling apprentice Alfred. The two find themselves in a small village after a long journey where they stay at the local inn. Alfred grows a fondness for the innkeeper’s daughter Sarah who is kidnapped by Count Von Krolock. The Count of course is a vampire and Abronsius and Alfred are hot on his tracks…sort of. The pairing of Jack MacGowran as Professor Abronsius and Roman Polanski as Alfred is brilliant, the two play off each other incredibly well. MacGowran playing the calm and collected to Polanski’s frightened cat works perfectly. Some of Polanski’s expressions are truly priceless! The entire cast are great; Ferdy Mayne as Count von Krolock, Alfie Bass as innkeeper Shagal, Terry Downes as the Count’s servant Koukol and the beautiful Sharon Tate as Sarah. There are a few scenes that are actually pretty chilling but as mentioned the film is comedy first. The Fearless Vampire Killers is full of memorable moments like a cheeky chase sequence between Alfred and the Count’s flamboyant son Herbert, a botched “staking” and an outstanding grand ballroom scene. The wintery setting gives the film a fairy tale vibe that suits it well. Krzysztof Komeda’s score is kitschy and fun with a mild hint of menace, a pretty good description for the film itself. The Fearless Vampire Killers is a comedy and as such your taste in humour will obviously affect your feelings about the film. The Fearless Vampire Killers is a nifty looking film that keeps me compelled and chuckling from start to finish.
#7 DJANGO KILL! (IF YOU LIVE SHOOT)
Directed By: Giulio Questi
Here is a genre merging that even to this day has been explored very little; the horror western! Django Kill! (If you Live Shoot) is the perfect melding of two violent genres to make one crazy freaking film! The Stranger digs himself out of a shallow grave and discovers a foul little town where he finds his double-crossing partners dead but no sign of the stolen gold. A fairly traditional Western plot that sets up a revenge scenario for our central character early. That is where most of the traditions end however in this wonderfully peculiar little story. The creepy little town is inhabited by psycho vigilantes who enjoy a good lynching and is overseen by an eccentric and psychotic bandit whose black-clad gang members enjoy the company of men. Hardly hospitable territory unless of course you enjoy scalping, rape, mutilation and torture! Kill Django! is quite violent at times, and is even fairly graphic. The scalping is a real doozy of a scene! A mob of townsfolk tearing at the barely living body of a resident to extract anything of worth is downright disarming. The acting is quite good with Tomas Milian as The Stranger, Roberto Camardiel as Mr. Sorrow and especially Paco Sanz as Hagerman. Django Kill! (If you Live Shoot) also has a fabulous score by Ivan Vandor that goes a long way to help with the mood which is suitably tense. Just a word of warning to those interested in the Django series; very few of these movies are related in any way whatsoever to Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 original starring Franco Nero. Django Kill! (If You Live Shoot) is one such example but just the same, it is an exciting, violent and bizarre watch!
#6 THIS NIGHT I WILL POSSESS YOUR CORPSE
Directed By: José Mojica Marins
This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse is the second José Mojica Marins film to make a top ten list for the decade. Coffin Joe is back in his signature top hat and cape looking for the perfect woman to bare his child. This is the second in the Coffin Joe series; the follow up to At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul which was #5 for 1964. The evil Coffin Joe returns to his hometown much to the local’s dismay. Along with his hunchback assistant, Coffin Joe abducts six women who he plans on putting through rigorously frightening scenarios to see which is the most fearless. The lucky winner of this twisted contest gets the honor of being Coffin Joe’s bride. This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse is considerably more exploitative than its predecessor and includes some really trippy far out scenes. Coffin Joe’s dream of hell is enough on its own to recommend this one! It has some super spiffy, sadistic and ingenious set pieces and scenes of suspense. Spiders, poisonous snakes, an ax to the head and a razor slashing among other horrific goodies await! It has an almost supernatural air about it, sort of dreamy in a way, which may be in part due to its low production value. Although they may not be flawless Marins films are always creative. Never in the annals of horror history has there ever been a character quite like Coffin Joe. This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse is a moody, bizarre, unique and compelling viewing experience! It’s pretty fecking awesome!
#5 WAIT UNTIL DARK
Directed By: Terence Young
Wait Until Dark stars the lovely Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn did some serious research on the blind before her performance and it certainly shows. She gives a stellar performance as Susy Hendrix that is completely believable. Susy is an intelligent woman still learning to live with her blindness following an accident a year earlier. The majority of the film takes place in Susy’s New York apartment where she is tricked and terrorized by men looking for a heroin-filled doll. Her husband Sam is handed a doll by a complete stranger which he is unaware is filled with heroin. The criminals looking for the doll track down Sam’s place of residence and find his blind wife Susy home alone. To be deprived of sight is a pretty scary thing and director Terence Young really plays on this. There is one scene in particular where we are blinded like our central character Susy. For a few minutes we live in Susy’s world. As is the case in most suspense flicks we know more than the central character which takes a whole new meaning in Wait Until Dark. Suzy does have some distinct advantages as a blind person; like particularly acute hearing and she devises a plan to put her attackers on an even playing field. Wait Until Dark is full of twists with excellent suspense, and a claustrophobic and chilling atmosphere. The film looks superb and has nicely executed action sequences. Hepburn’s superb performance is definitely a major highlight but the performances from Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna and Jack Weston as the criminals are also excellent. Wait Until Dark is an unnerving chiller and a great piece of cinema.
#4 THE SORCERERS
Directed By: Michael Reeves
The Sorcerers is an interesting little curio that I seen for the first time for this feature. Professor Montserrat is experimenting with mind control and discovers he can also experience the subject’s sensations. His domineering wife Estelle gets in on the action and enjoys the power of controlling Mike their young male subject a little too much. Each time Estelle controls Mike she ups her game involving him in more dangerous pursuits. Estelle’s obsession leads to a battle of wills between herself and her husband. Estelle really messes with Mike’s life! The Sorcerers is a time capsule of 60s youth culture. The film screams of the 1960s with Mike our bored mod as he interacts among fashionably funky ladies and dated backdrops to an oh so retro soundtrack. Ian Ogilvy is good as Mike the unfortunate puppet of the Montserrat’s. Boris Karloff as Professor Montserrat is natural and believable and has good chemistry with Catherine Lacey who plays his overbearing wife Estelle. Despite Estelle’s forceful ways there is a familiarity between the two that makes them work as an aging married couple. The entire cast does a solid job. The Sorcerers is a quirky tale with a strange electric atmosphere. There are some well-executed and unnerving action scenes and nice inventive camera work throughout. The story is intriguing and an aging couple living precariously through youth is an interest subtext for a horror film. The Sorcerers is an enthralling watch with great visuals, strong performances and some beauty action that is very entertaining. The Sorcerers will be a film I will definitely revisit! Micheal Reeves was only twenty-four years old when he made The Sorcerers; it is a shame he would only make one more film after this; the excellent Witchfinder General in 1968. Sadly Michael Reeves died of a drug over-dose at the age of twenty-five.
#3 FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN
Directed By: Terence Fisher
This is Terence Fisher’s fourth film to make a top ten list (and it won’t be his last). I have enjoyed other entries in Hammer’s Frankenstein series, but Frankenstein Created Woman has always been my favourite. Baron Frankenstein and his colleague Dr. Hertz are working on a means to trap a person’s soul immediately following death. Frankenstein believes transferring the soul to another dead body will reanimate the corpse. After the wrongful execution of Frankenstein’s assistant Hans he decides to put his experiment in action. He captures the soul which he transfers to Hans lover Christina who committed suicide upon learning of Hans execution. Frankenstein Created Woman is a love story about revenge that features what I think is one of the strongest and most intriguing of Hammer’s female roles. Susan Denberg is outstanding as Christina. She is badly scarred in the beginning of the film. Christina works at the local inn and is mocked and chastised by a trio of men. This infuriates Hans and the event inevitably finds him charged with the murder of the innkeeper. Not only is Christina resurrected from the dead with her lover’s soul the Baron painstakingly works to repair her damaged skin. When Christina is unveiled she is barely recognizable. Christina does become one of Baron Frankenstein’s creations and with her lover’s hunger for revenge! Susan Denberg plays the character sympathetically but when she is called on to seduce she does so with the conviction of being possessed by an outside force. Denberg is as beautiful and sad as she is bold and alluring. I was also rather fond of Thorley Walters who plays Baron Frankenstein’s colleague Dr. Hertz. Dr. Hertz’s blinding respect for Baron Frankenstein makes him an interesting and conflicted character. Peter Cushing as always gives a fantastic performance as the brilliant albeit unconventional Baron Frankenstein. Frankenstein Created Woman is a gorgeous looking film with the regular Hammer adornments; amazing sets, set pieces and costumes and the performances really elevate the film. Frankenstein Created Woman has mad science, a gothic love story, an execution, resurrection, body snatchings, and murder most satisfying. The revenge really hits the spot! The effects are great (there is a particularly nice severed head scene) and you even get a bit of the red stuff! Frankenstein Created Woman is a mysterious, creepy and beautiful gothic horror film and one of my personal favourite Hammer films.
Directed By: Georgi Kropachyov & Konstantin Yershov
Viy is quite special for being one of the few genre films to come from the Soviet Union. Viy is folklore at its finest. Based on a story by Nikolai Gogol, Viy is heavy on humour and fantasy elements with a dash of horror for good measure. A young Seminarian known as Khoma Brutus the Philosopher is ordered to pray over a beautiful young woman for three consecutive nights. The beautiful young woman also happens to be a witch and Khoma may need more than just his faith to survive her wake. Viy has some very impressive creatures and effects in its second half. This section is where Khoma spends three nights in a rickety old church with the witch. The witch awakes and terrorizes the hell out of Khoma. Each night she becomes more aggressive resorting to summoning other creatures of the night. The creatures are quite spectacular! I really can’t say enough good things about Viy’s effects! The film is something like a fairy tale with a Greek tragedy vibe (with more humour than tragedy). It is more fantastical than horrifying but there is definitely an electric and ghoulish vibe in its final chapter. Viy is a lovely film visually in every respect. The scenery is superb and the remote countryside locale lends greatly to the overall feel of the film. Leonid Kuravlyov is great as Khoma Brutus; some of his reactions are priceless. Viy is a nifty, other-worldly, well-written story with sharp and funny dialog. Viy does have a slower pace but it is certainly none the lesser for it. Viy kept me mesmerized from start to finish. To read my full review click here.
#1 QUATERMASS & THE PIT
Directed By: Roy Ward Baker
As much I love Hammer Films there are only a handful to which I have given perfect scores and Quatermass and the Pit is one of those. Quatermass and the Pit is one of the most intelligently written science fiction horror films I have ever seen. Smart dialog, intelligent conversations and a genuinely compelling story that is perfectly paced constantly doling out the information right through to its incredible finale! A mysterious object is unearthed during the construction of a new subway station. Professor Bernard Quatermass is brought in to examine the object and determines it has extra-terrestrial characteristics. Quatermass and the Pit is a film that will have you hanging on every detail. Every word spoken is significant as there is no unnecessary chatter in the film. It explores evolution and religion which inevitably leads to the question, where did we come from? The film is presented with such practicality and logic I find myself getting lost in the possibilites. Andrew Keir is superb as the intelligent Professor Bernard Quatermass, James Donald is perfect accompaniment as his colleague Dr. Mathew Roney and beautiful Barbara Shelley is strong as assistant Barbara Judd. It has a wonderful sense of dread throughout, the action scenes are exciting and intense and the effects are quite good. Quatermass and the Pit is a smart, well-written film with excellent performances full of intensity, excitement and chills not to be missed. In my humble opinion, Quatermass and the Pit is one of the best Science Fiction horror films of the 1960s or any other decade for that matter.