The Innocents, Jack Clayton's 1961 film version of Henry James's The Turn Of The Screw is a standing tribute to the fact that even classic films can still be scary. The interesting thing to me is the fact that it was equally as scary as modern films but employed some different means in being so.
One aspect of photography that lent a frightening mood to this film was the constantly dim lighting. This provides an atmosphere of scariness and a sense of foreboding. Not knowing what is going to pop out of the darkness makes the viewer afraid of what might be there.
Another major component in the overall scariness of this film was the background music. It was composed by Georges Auric and provides many creepy melodies with well-placed crescendos at climactic moments in the film, especially the final scene.
The acting of every single character in the film was also excellent at providing an air of wonder and fear. The viewer truly believes that Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) is afraid for both her life and the lives of the children. The children, Miles and Flora (Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin), also do very well in making the audience feel that something is just not right in the house. While the actor portraying Peter Quint (Peter Wynarde) and the actress portraying Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop) do very little speaking throughout the film, their presence and haunting faces play an important role in scaring the audience.
The big difference between this film and the horror films today is that it used little to no violence in trying to bring fright to the audience. Today's films have developed a propensity towards shocking the audience into being scared with graphic or disgusting images. In this way, the film is very much driven by its storyline.
I consider this film to be an excellent example of what a horror film should be; and I believe that film makers today should take a step back and look at what excellent righting, excellent acting and the right film techniques can to do entertain audiences.