Original roots of horror Often cited as the granddaddy of all horror films, The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari (1919) is an eerie exploration of the mind of a madman, pitting an evil doctor against a hero falsely incarcerated in a lunatic asylum. Nosferatu(1922)Nosferatu is the very first vampire movie, baldly plagiarizing the Dracula story to present Count Orlok, the grotesquely made-up Max Schreck, curling his long fingernails round the limbs of a series of hapless victims.Described as the vampire movie that actually believes in vampires, Nosferatu gives us a far more frightening bloodsucker than any of its successors.
Horror in the 1930’s.• Horror movies were reborn in the 1930s. The advent of sound, as well as changing the whole nature of cinema forever, had a huge impact on the horror genre. The horror films of the 1930s are exotic fairy tales, invariably set in some far-off land peopled by characters in period costume speaking in strange accents. Horror was still essentially looking backwards, drawing upon the literary classics of the 19th century for their source material. This is the decade when two character actors got lucky: Bela Lugosi (left), and Boris Karloff (right), who brought Dracula and Frankensteins Monster respectively to the screen. Their images are still synonymous with 1930s horror, they both played a selection of roles although Karloff proved to be the more versatile actor; they are enduring paradigms of the genre, evoking "horror" even in a still photograph.
Main horror films of the 30’s.• Dracula (1931)• Frankenstein (1931)• The Mummy (1932)• Freaks (1932)• King Kong (1933)• Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
40’s horror.Wartime horror movies were purely an American product. Banned inBritain, with film production curbed throughout the theatre of war inEurope, horror movies were cranked out by Hollywood solely to amusethe domestic audience. The studios stuck with tried and tested ideas,wary of taking risks. While Universal was sliding further and furthertowards the bottom of the barrel, over at RKO, they were tryingsomething new. Producer Val Lewton formed a "horror unit" that turnedout a series of successful entries to the genre between 1942 and 1946.Lewton was a novelist and former story editor. The RKO moviespointed in the right direction, and have much in common with some ofthe horror thrillers of the 1990s. But it is the bloated, creaking, and well-flogged corpse of the Universal monster pictures that truly representsthe ending of this first horror movie cycle. However, as any student ofthe supernatural will tell you, if a thing looks dead, thats the time to bemost afraid, as you never know what might come shooting out frombeneath the tombstone....
1950’s horror.• During the 50’s, the popularity of the horror genre was in decline. The 1950s are also the era when horror films were relegated well and truly to the B- movie category. The studios were too busy incorporating technical changes such as widespread colour production and trying to meet the challenge posed by TV. Production companies had no time to make quality horror pictures. Big stars were reserved also, meaning that no blockbuster names could be used for the horror films at the time.
1960’s horror• The 60’s was a period of change and mass violence. Events such as the Cuban and Vietnamese wars followed by the assassination of a president Kennedy showed a change in what the public deemed as horrible. Horror movies, usually made for low budgets outside the mainstream studio system, offered the counterculture opportunities to revisit old taboos and explore new ways of perceiving sex and violence.• Films which were popular in the 1960’s:Psycho (1960)Cape Fear(1962)Blood Feast (1963)
70’s horror.• The horror scene saw the rise of films which still to this day, have the power to shock and disturb a mass number of audiences worldwide. 70’s horror incorporated a new breed of narrative using characters which audiences could connect with.• Your Dad (The Shining). Your brother (Halloween). Your husband (The Stepford Wives). Your little boy (The Omen). Your daughter (The Exorcist). Its the people you see so often you dont really see them any more (Carrie), are all representatives of these everyday people being used to depict horror, giving these films a much more chilling vibe and also a sense of realism.• Horror of the 1970’s had very little humor and saw the removal of the over the top antics previously visited.
80’s horror films.The horror films of 1980’s saw a similar use of style asthe 70’s. Films such as Hellraiser and A Nightmare OnElm Street saw an introduction to the new explorationof onscreen gore with the development of specialeffects meaning audiences could be exposed to bloodyviolence in a close up mannerism.80’s horror saw many monster-like antagonists beingexposed to the masses, with everything that had lurkedin the shadows of horror films in the 1950s now beingbrought into the light of day. The monsters were finallyout of the closet.
90’s horror Se7en (1995) The horror films of the 1990’s saw an exploration into serial killers in a realisticmanner. The film Se7en (shown below) explores the seven deadly sins and can beconsidered one of the most effective horror films to date. The focus on the number 7shows the symmetrical world of horror fiction. Yet Walker confounds his ownconventions, handing his killer over after just FIVE murders. Scream (1996) Being arguably the most remembered horror film of the 1990’s, Scream takes an insight into a variety of horror elements from years gone by, showing its audience a masked killer much like horror of the 70’s and 80’s such as A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween.