Roots in classic literature:
century horror stories;
The roots were the three great 19th
'Frankenstein', 'Dracula' and 'Dr Jekyl & Mr Hyde'. The
horror genre originated in England and only began to have
forms, codes and conventions towards the end of the 18th
century. Writers reflected strong emotions in their novels
and writers marketed their novels towards woman. The
first Gothic novel was 'The Castle of Otranto' by Horace
Walpole which was published in 1764.
The horror of the silent era:
era of German expressionism.
This was the
They created films which had a more
serious and deeper underlying meaning.
Examples of films from this era is
'Nosferatu' and 'The cabinet of Dr Calligari'.
They used trickery to explore darker stories
with psychological and supernatural
themes. They had very limited technology
so they were basic imagery. The first film of
this era was a dancing skeleton by the
During the 1930's mad scientists and monsters were the main
characters in the rebirth of horror. Sound was a major part of
these new movies to help build suspense. Universal studios
emerged during this time creating two very famous films of
the decade Frankenstein and Dracula. Further films such as
King Kong, The Mummy and Freaks were also big films
from this era. The cinema provided an escape from the
depression and ominous war. This led to a significant
increase of enthusiasm towards cinema with 80 million
people attending the cinema weekly. However in 1933 Hitler
came into power so the mad scientist side reached its peak.
This is because his dictatorship was too similar to the
characters within these films.
The primal animal within:
In the 1940's most films contained werewolves and cat
people. Some films from this time are the wolf man,
cat people, and the curse of the cat people. These films
were made to express their fear towards world war 2.
They used werewolves because they could be seen as
Nazi's. This is because when a werewolf bites a
human they pass on the condition, this links to Hitler
when he kept recruiting army and pressuring more
people to be Nazi soldiers. In the film 'Wolf man'
the werewolf dies, this could be seen as propaganda
suggesting Hitler can too. Cat people emerged as they
resembled woman in the war.
Mutant creatures and
This type of horror was mainly in the 1950's. During this era
horror breaks free from its literary roots as audiences were
first introduced to mutant creatures and aliens. Rocket
ship X-M was one of the first low budget movies to feature
outer space creatures. This started of the sci-fi films. Some of
the main films are 'The thing', 'Invasion of the body snatcher'
and 'war of the worlds'. These monster movies from the
1950's were the first blockbusters. The reason behind these
films were because it offered a vision of destruction created
by non-humans which represented bombs in the war.
Nowadays there is still an obsession with aliens and outer
space which means there was a massive impact from this era.
Satanism and your family:
Horror movies in the 60's to 70's was mainly
when the big budget films returned. They
were usually about issues in society and the
fears of the public. One main fear was of
children and childbirth. The exorcist was a
film that really expressed this fear. It involved;
Satanism as the person was possessed by the
devil; and family issue as the enemy was
found closer to home than they originally
thought. This movie was voted the most
'scariest movie of all time'. Other films from
this period were 'The Omen' and 'Halloween'.
Ghost stories were also on the rise in this
decade as they were a reaction to the elaborate
creatures made in the later 1950's.
Hammer horror was a British film production
company. It was founded in 1934 and was a large
success during the 1950's. There are some hammer
horror films still such as 'Woman in black' and 'Let the
right one in', but its not as popular today. The UK
Hammer studios gave a new life to the Dracula novel
by creating 8 Dracula films. They were usually low
budget (but in colour) and focused on the victim not the
creature. The success led to more different films.
Slasher movies & body
Slasher is a type of horror where a 'killer' mutilates its
victims with various weapons. Body horror is where we
are graphically shown the destruction of the human
skeleton. The most popular slasher movies are 'scream',
'Halloween', psycho' and 'nightmare on elm street'.
These movies came about with the advance in
technology because it allowed them to explore the
special effects. Target audiences grew to love killers
such as Freddy Krueger, Chucky and Mike Myers. This
lead to many sequels and further production of films.
In the 1980's there was a set of horror films which got
classified as 'video nasties' for having absurd titles,
gory story lines and gruesome covers. Some of these
films were 'Bloody moon', 'Axe', 'The beast in heat' and
'Absurd'. These films were highly based on taboo
subjects. The films got banned for this and wee heavily
blamed for changing Britain. Despite court cases being
filed against the films they were still largely available.
This was because people were getting them privately
rather than going cinema to watch them. Consequently
this led to the rise in watching films within the home.
Torture porn & 'gorenography':
Gorenography is a genre which focuses on showing
brutal gore, where plot, story and characters are non
existent. Some examples of this is 'Texas chainsaw
massacre' and 'wrong turn'. People like this type of
horror because it pushed the genre to its limits and they
like the satisfaction of being out of their comfort zones.