Horror in the 1960s: A Time for Crazy Hotel Owners, Zombies and Giving Birth to the Devil

The influences of the 1960s horror movies are still seen to this day

Hailed as one of the first to feature horror elements, the ’60s were believed to be the start of a brand new genre – horror. However, this isn’t the case, horror movie elements starting long before with Frankenstein and Dracula being at the height of the genre. But the 1960s are still an influential time for the horror genre. It was the first time that going to the movies was popular among everyone and horror was starting to gain popularity. Horror was a taboo and controversial genre of movies that was seen by primarily young people. Horror often contained sex, drugs, and gore which were seen as derogatory. Despite this, the horror genre flourishing even though critics at the time saw the horror movies as “lower class.”

Among the popular horror titles of the ’60s, four stand out – Psycho, Rosemary’s Baby, Night of the Living Dead and Repulsion. To find out which horror movie was the most beloved, I asked people to vote for their most liked horror movie of the 1960s. Here are some of the tweets I got:

Some weren’t sure who they liked more:


Some immediately gave the crown to Psycho:

Some commended the Night of the Living Dead’s influence:

And others preferred the more satanic nature of Rosemary’s Baby:

Before announcing the winner, let’s look at each of the four most influential movies of the 1960s.

Psycho (1960)


Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, was going at the height of his career. He directed previous mystery/thrillers but never went full on horror. In Psycho, he did just that creating a killer that would change cinema forever. Norman Bates a likable, quirky guy at first and a mentally ill momma’s boy killer at last. The twist helped put Hitchcock on the map as one of cinema’s best director. This also helped made horror movies popular and the effects would later be seen in the 1970s.

Repulsion (1965) 


A similar theme emerges in horror movies in the 1960s and that is the human mind. Psychology was just getting introduced in the medical sphere and that prompt directors to create horror movies revolving around the human “evil.” Before, it was mostly monsters terrorizing the people representing an otherness, but in the ’60s that otherness turned inside the people itself. Repulsion was continuing that trend of psychological thrillers that Psycho started and did it very well to say the least.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)


Good ol’ Roman Polanski. Dealing with the Devil was a very controversial and scary thing for that time. But that didn’t stop Polanski from delivering one of cinema’s most scary horror films. The taboo themes and the religious aspect of the movie is what made it so hated yet so scary. The thought that the devil could rape you in your sleep and then have no choice to deliver that baby was and still is frightening.

The Night of the Living Dead (1968)


Perhaps as influential as Psycho, The Night of the Living Dead was the first film to cast a leading black actor in a movie not about race. Without George Romero’s color blind casting, we may not have racially diverse movies today. Its story line was also very tragic and no one saw it coming at the time. It was also very gory for the 1960s and it did have some pretty graphic deaths. Zombies became popular because of this very movie and today we are still seeing the obsession with the likes of The Walking Dead.

Who was the winner?

Psycho, with more than half of the votes.


People still have a love for Hitchcock and his films will forever have a lasting effect on the horror, thriller and mystery genre. Psycho still remains a heavily watched film and the iconic shower scene is still seen today in popular culture. The risk that Alfred Hitchcock made to the world of cinema should be commended. The greatest risks have always been through horror which could explain why the horror genre is still popular to this day.

Do you like horror movies? If so why? And if you didn’t vote, don’t worry you can still vote in the upcoming ones. Vote or tweet me with the #HorrorByDecade and you could be featured in the next article.



Add Yours
  1. dbmoviesblog

    Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion were just great, even though I do not consider Repulsion to be horror at all…I think Rosemary’s Baby could be psychological horror…but Repulsion feels like psychological thriller if anything else. Anyway, just great great movies.

    • Zachary Doiron

      Yeah! That’s the tricky thing in horror. It’s not defined well. But I broaden the horror genre for this series. I attached the poll for the 1970s one below, be sure to vote. Thanks for reading as well!

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