10 Scariest Creature Feature Films Of The 1950s

2022 has been a particularly good year for campy creatures feature films, with films like Crabs! And Wolfkin delivering the same kind of schlocky fun that one associates with the characteristics of creatures from the 1950s.

However, while it’s easy to look down on or mock them for their melodrama and campiness, the truth is that many of these movies can, when viewed in a certain light, be quite scary. This is especially true of those who tapped into the anxiety surrounding a feared nuclear apocalypse, one of the most powerful worries of the post-war years.


Their! (1954)

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At first glance, it might not seem like a movie about giant, mutated ants would be so scary, but that’s fundamentally misunderstanding. Their! In the film, a colony of ants grows to gigantic proportions following exposure to atomic radiation, which then kills many people.

The special effects are surprisingly sophisticated for a film of this type, and the specter of nuclear annihilation helps give its narrative a powerful bite that lingers, especially given the extent to which such fears have resurfaced over the of the 21st century.

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

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Few horror films have exercised such a strong grip on the public imagination as Black Lagoon Creaturewhich is undoubtedly one of best horror movies ever made. It’s also one of the scariest, especially since the creature in question is so menacing in appearance.

Plus, the film manages to capture just the right level of sinister atmosphere. Even now, it manages to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat as they wait, along with the characters, to see what the creature will do next.

He Came From Under the Sea (1955)

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Ray Harryhausen is renowned for his ability to create truly unsettling stop-motion creatures, and this is evident in many of his 1950s films. He came from under the seafor example, features a giant octopus that has, unsurprisingly, been transformed by exposure to a hydrogen bomb.

If the creature is obviously a major reason that the film manages to scare, it is also its rather documentary tone. It gives it a sense of immediacy and reality that almost makes the viewer forget they are watching fiction rather than a slice of reality.

Invasion of the Body Thieves (1956)

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Many great horror films came out of the 1950s, but few were as adept at capturing the fears of the time as Invasion of the Body Thieves. As its title suggests, it centers on a small town overrun by an alien race determined to replicate their human hosts and take over the planet.

It remains a chilling film for many reasons, not the least of which is the skill with which it articulates the fear of conformity that was rampant in American culture at the time. The film’s relatively simple cinematography and film noir aesthetic underpin its dark look at 1950s America.

The Gout (1958)

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Many films have been made about alien invasions, but the blob deserves to be considered one of the best of them. Focusing on an amoeba-like alien creature that begins to devour people after it lands on Earth, it’s a film that’s very close to the B-movie aesthetic that was very common in the 1950s.

However, that’s not to say it’s not a very scary offering yet, and the creature’s ability to consume almost anything and anyone is one that still has the ability to send chills down your spine. even to the most cynical cinephile.

The Fly (1958)

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The 1950s was a decade characterized by enormous scientific progress, with many discoveries that would reshape American life. However, many of them involved exploring the unknown, with all the perils that entails.

Fly is a great example of a creature feature that expresses the fears of science, and its story about a man who becomes a terrible hybrid of fly and human after an experiment goes wrong is one that still has the ability to shock. It is, of course, a shocking and scary film and the special effects are better than one would expect.

The Thing From Another World (1951)

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The post-war decades were characterized by a certain level of paranoia, which helps explain why so many films of the time, especially creature features, were about beings from outer space. The thing from another world centers on a plant-like alien who, after being thawed out, terrorizes a group of scientists in the Arctic.

It’s a film that retains its terrifying power, especially since the creature in question is only rarely seen in full shot. As a result, he appears in the film as a source of threat and terror.

The 20,000 Fathom Beast (1953)

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As with so many 1950s films that were creature features, The 20,000 Fathom Beast involves nuclear testing, which in this case wakes a dinosaur from its slumber. The beast then wreaks havoc on the surface. It features Ray Harryhausen’s great special effects and the creature itself is one of his best early works.

In fact, it is precisely this menacing creature that gives the film its power to terrify a modern viewer, and The 20,000 Fathom Beast is a salutary reminder of the perils of nuclear technology.

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957)

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Ray Harryhausen had a particularly great decade in the 1950s, and his creatures would become a fixture on the B-movie circuit. 20 million kilometers to Earthwhich tells the story of a creature brought back to Earth by an American space crew.

The creature itself is one of Harryhausen’s best, both very frightening to behold and yet oddly friendly as it tries to figure out what it’s doing on this strange planet while everyone tries to destroy it.

The Mummy (1959)

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Few movie monsters have become as prominent as the Mummy, which has appeared in a number of creature features. This movie is not only scary enough – the title creature retains its power to terrify – but also pretty well executed. It’s clear that the film had a substantial budget, giving it a level of seriousness sometimes lacking in the characteristics of creatures of this particular variety.

As a result, the film manages to capture the chilling idea of ​​a creature returning from the dead to scare and kill the living.

NEXT: 10 Highly Underrated Creature Features

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