The Wasp Woman (1959)

The Wasp Woman (1959)
The Wasp Woman (1959)

Corman began the 1960s making AIP-adjacent monster Bs, like The Wasp Woman (1959). It centers on the same concept as The Fly a year earlier – the mixing of human and insect parts – but it had around a tenth of the budget of the Fox pic. The Wasp Woman was shot over two weeks on a $50,000 budgetNonetheless, Corman finds ways to introduce his signature flair.

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It’s Alive (1974)

Writer-director Larry Cohen began his career creating television shows before he moved into low-budget genre movies (horror and Blaxploitation, mainly). By 1974, he was known for campy humor, wry social commentaries, and well-rounded characters facing dilemmas audiences actually cared about. It’s Alive certainly helped define the ‘Keep It In The Family’ vibe of horror in the mid-1970s.

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The Brood (1979)

Shivers (1976) and Rabid (1977) established Canadian director David Cronenberg at the forefront of psychosexual body horror and The Brood (1979) caps off his 1970s work with a flourish. Within Cronenberg’s unique vision, human flesh is itself monstrous, capable of mutating, detaching, slithering, and destroying its progenitor. His movies of this decade burrow deep inside the human reproductive system and the urges that drive it, emerging drenched in blood and quite, quite demented. They refract male envy of pregnancy and childbirth by presenting alternative, non-sexual methods of reproduction. These narratives straddle the border between science fiction and horror, often including a cool, dispassionate doctor who, when consulted, regards the abominations of nature on display with only mild curiosity, as if they are the predictable consequences of human evolution: This is who we really are, this is what has always bubbled beneath our skin. Step across the threshold and embrace it.

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The Tingler (1959)

Grossing over $2million off a $400,000 budget, The Tingler was a huge money-spinner for producer William Castle. The plot is, in the main, misogynistic melodrama, and the solitary monster is just over a foot long. However, Castle’s showmanship, Vincent Price’s performance, and a unique LSD-trip sequence take it to another level. 

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Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

“Some movies age; others ripen”

Roger Ebert on Bride of Frankenstein

Frankenstein (1931) generated massive box office returns and global headlines (after it was banned in many countries) and made Boris Karloff into a bankable star. It was inevitable that Universal would want to take another run at a Monster-based movie. It took a couple of years to reassemble Karloff, Colin Clive, and director James Whale, but in January 1935 they reunited on the set of one of the final – and most outrageous – pre-Code horror films.

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