AT THE MOVIES - Fifty years of fright: Horror movie picks worth rewatching

AT THE MOVIES - Fifty years of fright: Horror movie picks worth rewatching

As Hollywood continues to repackage notable horror flicks for a generation weaned on high-def hastiness, nostalgia for the genre remains consistent. Each decade produced a wealth of inspired films, and as we close in on Halloween, it's only fitting to look back on a half-century's worth of horror classics. Instead of spending a Saturday afternoon with Chloe Grace Moretz as she attempts to one-up Sissy Spacek's blood spattered, bug-eyed lunacy in "Carrie," take a click down memory lane and cue up one of these frightening features.

1960s Ladies Unhinged: Despite the Oscar, Natalie Portman's channeled hysteria in 2010's "Black Swan" wasn't an original accomplishment. While Alfred Hitchcock tormented his blonde leading ladies throughout the 1960s with feathered creatures and nervous proprietors, Roman Polanski downright tortured his twitchy starlets. Catherine Deneuve faced a psychologically awkward afternoon in her apartment in "Repulsion," and Mia Farrow faced the prospect of carrying the devil's spawn in "Rosemary's Baby." Polanski pushed his films beyond the boogeyman, adding cerebral heft to the genre. Bonus Flick: 1962's "Carnival of Souls" - A beautiful blonde, a haunted amusement park, what could possibly go wrong?

1970s Lush Lunacy: A revered period rife with oft-referenced classics and impressive diversity (from man-eating sharks to mall-roaming zombies) Italian director Dario Argento spruced up the grimy '70s, substituting gore for scenic splashiness in "Susperia". His artfully arranged dance academy, coupled with an eerie score by prog-rock band Goblin, imbued the genre with a necessary sense of style. While "The Exorcist" and "Halloween" are mandatory must-watches of the decade, "Susperia" maintains singular cult status through its memorable tone and colorful spirit. Bonus Flick: 1977's "Hausu" - A madcap Japanese technicolor psychotrip.

1980s Mad Men: Laughably colorful characters littered the '80s landscape of excess, where Freddy Krueger was king and "Evil Dead's" Ash his cabin-bound prince of demented cackling. However, it was one toothy antagonist who kicked off the decade with a boisterous "Here's Johnny!" - "The Shining's" Jack Torrance, played by a maniacal Jack Nicholson. Stanley Kubrick's graceful adaptation of Stephen King's novel toys with perception while begging for analysis. The provocative 2012 documentary "Room 237" chronicles the hidden meanings within Kubrick's classic, making for a cerebral (and nightmare-fueled) double feature. Bonus Flick: 1985's "Re-Animator" - A light and loony exploration of a doctor a little too into his work.

1990s Cuckoo Carnage: While shoddy Stephen King adaptations clogged up the beginning of the decade (even a terrifying Tim Curry couldn't save the second half of "It") the genre fully embraced its comedic capabilities with corpse-bungling slapstick and gore galore during the '90s. Self-awareness began to define the horror-comedy sub-genre in Wes Craven's "Scream" franchise, but it was Peter Jackson who decided that there is no such thing as too much blood. In the New Zealand zombie movie "Dead Alive," Jackson marries goofy rubber puppets with plenty of gore. It's twisted, it's amusing, and it's a fine respite from grim horror flicks. Bonus Flick: 1994's "Cemetery Man" - A portrait of an unlucky man in a dead-end position.

2000s Throwback Esteem: Aside from the slew of hackneyed remakes, horror has come back around in tone, honoring the tormented females of the '60s, the visual grace of the '70s, the male lunacy of the '80s, and the self-awareness of the '90s. Ti West's "The House of the Devil" celebrates the '70s and '80s with a slow-pace and a dip in several sub-genres. Like this year's "The Conjuring," only far less frenetic, West turns to the classics to deliver an original homage to the genre. Lucrative, but often neglected, horror movies have a place outside of the Halloween season. Every decade has its diamonds, and hopefully the next decade yields a memorable theme and more than a few screams.