The longevity of horror never fails to fill me with joy. While some genres cling to life like a candle at the end of its wick, horror’s flame has weathered the strongest of gusts and burns brighter now than ever before. But just because the genre we all love so dearly is doing incredible things these days doesn’t mean that we should forget the shoulders upon which our movies stand on. In fact, it’s all the more important to remember where it was we came from so as to appreciate where we are now and where we’re going.
The 1950’s was a fascinating time for horror. The looming terror of the Cold War mixed with the post-World War II economic boom saw a conflicted message within society and culture. Visions of the future were grand and exciting, promising an almost utopia for everyone. However, we never strayed far from our fears of atomic warfare, as seen in Duck and Cover, the defense film that was distributed throughout schools in the 1950’s.
This constant fear of atomic war, radiation poisoning, and the like saw a rise in horror films that dealt directly with such themes, albeit in far more gruesome and monstrous of ways. We saw it in titles like Them, Godzilla, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, and the like. These films, while now undeniably cheesy, were a reflection of the concerns of a population and, as such, are a fascinating manner by which to understand history.
Below is a gallery of several images from films in the 1950’s that capture extravagance, the terror, and, yes, the schlock of an era!
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