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THE HISTORY OF
HORROR
“The old horror was either dead or dying; a new
horror was about to be born…”
“Films made post-2000 testify to the broadness of
the horror category.”
- Peter Hutchings
THE 1920’S
 These were eerie, dark horrors which featured scenes of
mutilation.
 They reflected the fact that the audience was terrified by mystical
monsters found in literature of the nineteenth century.
 Costume, isolated settings and dark lighting were used to create a
scary effect in order to frighten the audience. These conventions of
horror are still is use in films of today.
THE 1920’S
 ‘Nosferatu’ is an example of a
horror film released in the 1920’s
(1922).
 It was one of the first ever horror
films.
 It was a dark, gothic, vampiric
film.
THE 1930’S
 Most of the horrors were gothic and were set in far off lands that were alien
and feared by audiences.
 It was the first time sound was in use in horror and they featured monsters.
 Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi were the horror stars of this decade.
 They featured monsters and were inspired by 19th century novels.
 ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ (1935) was the first to feature a female monster and
is seen as one of the greatest horrors of all time. However, it did not break
boundaries in terms of gender representation, as the Bride was pretty, weak and
created only to fulfil the needs of the monster.
THE 1930’S
THE 1940’S
 Horror films were banned in Britain because of World War Two
as screen time would have been used for propaganda and because
there was enough horror occurring in real life. America took over.
 The Americans released horrors with many films recreating the
style of horrors made in the 1930’s.
 Horror featuring characters that turned into animals or were half-
human became popular.
THE 1940’S
 ‘Cat People’ (1942) featured a female antagonist.
Though beautiful, the villain ‘Irena’ terrorised the
streets in cat form, killing people. Unlike the ‘Bride
of Frankenstein’ she was actually scary.
 The film was one of the first to use film
methods that are still popular today such as subtle
scares (shadows, etc) and subtle uses of diegetic
sound.
 https://youtu.be/0ADPSaybusM
THE 1950’S
 After World War Two, previous horror films of the past decades
no longer seemed scary when compared to real life horrors.
 Audiences began to fear the effects of radiation, nuclear war,
technological change and scientific experimentation.
 Teenagers were the main audience for horror films so filmmakers
used them as characters so the audience could relate to them.
 Films such as ‘The Fly’ and ‘The Blob’ were typical for the 1950’s
as they played on the audience’s fears of radiation/experiments.
THE FLY
‘The Fly’ (1958) focused on the
audience’s fear of experiments as
the narrative is of a scientist who
mutates into a human fly after an
accident with his transportation
machine which switches their
DNA.
THE 1950’S
https://youtu.be/TdUsyXQ8Wrs
THE 1960’S
 Fears that plagued audiences in the 50’s were gone.
 It was a period of massive social change as there were new fashions,
there was more freedom and attitudes changed leading to looser sexual
morals and more widespread use of recreational drugs..
 Monsters in the 1960’s were in human form as audiences saw the
darkness of the human mind as they feared the effects of drug taking and
loosening morals.
 It showcased the first version of the ‘final female’ in the film ‘Psycho’:
the character of Lila Crane, Marion’s sister.
THE 1960’S
 ‘Psycho’ (1960) created the psychological-
horror sub-genre. It was typical of a 60’s
horror as the antagonist was a human so it
played on their fears of the effects of drugs
on the human mind.
 It was also the beginning of ‘B’ movies
that had the sole purpose of making a profit.
Roger Corman said they were full of gore
and buxom women and were the opposite of
intelligent horrors such as ‘Psycho’.
Roger Corman
THE 1970’S
 Horrors grew in quality, while tackling society’s fears.
 The introduction of the ‘contraceptive pill’ and birth defects caused by
Thalidomide lead to a fear of children and childbirth. This is portrayed in films such
as ‘The Exorcist’, which features a possessed, demonic child.
 In the 1970s. The idyllic family unit was falling apart, with divorce becoming
more widespread and women fighting for equal rights. This led to the idea that the
antagonist could be found in your own family and was reflected in 1970’s horror in
movies such as ‘The Shining’.
 The slasher sub-genre and the ‘final girl’ were born.
THE 1970’S
https://youtu.be/AWKQSDRekBM
THE 1980’S
 There was a technological change as there was an increased use of
special effects and prosthetics in horror films.
 Society became materialistic as they believed everything, including
films, should be bigger and showier. So they changed in the 1980’s to have
more colour, more gruesome killings, brighter lighting and more SFX.
 The villains remained human as society still feared the evil of fellow
men.
 The VCR was introduced so horrors could be viewed at home.
THE 1980’S
THE 1990’S
 Audiences became tired of seeing gore in horror films and wanted
more intelligent ones. ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’ was released in
response to this and featured serial killer ‘Hannibal Lecter’.
 Audiences were also too knowledgeable on horror conventions and
found them too predictable.
 Films such as ‘Scream’ and ‘The Blair Witch Project’ were released in
the 1990’s to give audiences something new that they could relate to.
THE 1990’S
THE 2000’S AND BEYOND
 After 9/11, audiences began to fear the evil that lurks in our world,
especially terrorists.
 Modern horrors often feature ‘a game’ of sorts that the characters
have to participate in or a killing force that cannot be seen e.g. Saw.
 Remakes and ‘spoofs’ of classic horror films have become popular.
 Audiences enjoy different genres of horror such as psychological,
supernatural, zombie, possession, slasher, etc…
THE 2000’S AND BEYOND
 Horror films that have been shot in a ‘found footage’ format have
become popular. This makes the film seem more real to audiences
and scarier.
 Possession and exorcism films have become extremely popular and
can also be presented in a ‘found footage’ style.
 Horror films have become more transportable and accessible for
audiences thanks to new and e-media.
THE 2000’S AND BEYOND
THE HISTORY OF HORROR
In the past almost 100 years, horror films have changed and evolved
massively. This is mostly due to the audience’s fears changing and the
horror genre having to keep up to date with it. If horrors didn’t adapt to
reflect audience fears they would not be scary. The horror genre has also
expanded by creating many sub-genres (e.g. psychological) that many
different audiences would enjoy and this has ensured that the horror film
genre is still popular today and satisfying a much wider audience. I too will
aim to ensure my film idea will acknowledge fears that are current in
today’s society in order to scare my audience.

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The History Of Horror

  • 2. “The old horror was either dead or dying; a new horror was about to be born…” “Films made post-2000 testify to the broadness of the horror category.” - Peter Hutchings
  • 3. THE 1920’S  These were eerie, dark horrors which featured scenes of mutilation.  They reflected the fact that the audience was terrified by mystical monsters found in literature of the nineteenth century.  Costume, isolated settings and dark lighting were used to create a scary effect in order to frighten the audience. These conventions of horror are still is use in films of today.
  • 4. THE 1920’S  ‘Nosferatu’ is an example of a horror film released in the 1920’s (1922).  It was one of the first ever horror films.  It was a dark, gothic, vampiric film.
  • 5. THE 1930’S  Most of the horrors were gothic and were set in far off lands that were alien and feared by audiences.  It was the first time sound was in use in horror and they featured monsters.  Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi were the horror stars of this decade.  They featured monsters and were inspired by 19th century novels.  ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’ (1935) was the first to feature a female monster and is seen as one of the greatest horrors of all time. However, it did not break boundaries in terms of gender representation, as the Bride was pretty, weak and created only to fulfil the needs of the monster.
  • 7. THE 1940’S  Horror films were banned in Britain because of World War Two as screen time would have been used for propaganda and because there was enough horror occurring in real life. America took over.  The Americans released horrors with many films recreating the style of horrors made in the 1930’s.  Horror featuring characters that turned into animals or were half- human became popular.
  • 8. THE 1940’S  ‘Cat People’ (1942) featured a female antagonist. Though beautiful, the villain ‘Irena’ terrorised the streets in cat form, killing people. Unlike the ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ she was actually scary.  The film was one of the first to use film methods that are still popular today such as subtle scares (shadows, etc) and subtle uses of diegetic sound.  https://youtu.be/0ADPSaybusM
  • 9. THE 1950’S  After World War Two, previous horror films of the past decades no longer seemed scary when compared to real life horrors.  Audiences began to fear the effects of radiation, nuclear war, technological change and scientific experimentation.  Teenagers were the main audience for horror films so filmmakers used them as characters so the audience could relate to them.  Films such as ‘The Fly’ and ‘The Blob’ were typical for the 1950’s as they played on the audience’s fears of radiation/experiments.
  • 10. THE FLY ‘The Fly’ (1958) focused on the audience’s fear of experiments as the narrative is of a scientist who mutates into a human fly after an accident with his transportation machine which switches their DNA.
  • 12. THE 1960’S  Fears that plagued audiences in the 50’s were gone.  It was a period of massive social change as there were new fashions, there was more freedom and attitudes changed leading to looser sexual morals and more widespread use of recreational drugs..  Monsters in the 1960’s were in human form as audiences saw the darkness of the human mind as they feared the effects of drug taking and loosening morals.  It showcased the first version of the ‘final female’ in the film ‘Psycho’: the character of Lila Crane, Marion’s sister.
  • 13. THE 1960’S  ‘Psycho’ (1960) created the psychological- horror sub-genre. It was typical of a 60’s horror as the antagonist was a human so it played on their fears of the effects of drugs on the human mind.  It was also the beginning of ‘B’ movies that had the sole purpose of making a profit. Roger Corman said they were full of gore and buxom women and were the opposite of intelligent horrors such as ‘Psycho’. Roger Corman
  • 14. THE 1970’S  Horrors grew in quality, while tackling society’s fears.  The introduction of the ‘contraceptive pill’ and birth defects caused by Thalidomide lead to a fear of children and childbirth. This is portrayed in films such as ‘The Exorcist’, which features a possessed, demonic child.  In the 1970s. The idyllic family unit was falling apart, with divorce becoming more widespread and women fighting for equal rights. This led to the idea that the antagonist could be found in your own family and was reflected in 1970’s horror in movies such as ‘The Shining’.  The slasher sub-genre and the ‘final girl’ were born.
  • 16. THE 1980’S  There was a technological change as there was an increased use of special effects and prosthetics in horror films.  Society became materialistic as they believed everything, including films, should be bigger and showier. So they changed in the 1980’s to have more colour, more gruesome killings, brighter lighting and more SFX.  The villains remained human as society still feared the evil of fellow men.  The VCR was introduced so horrors could be viewed at home.
  • 18. THE 1990’S  Audiences became tired of seeing gore in horror films and wanted more intelligent ones. ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’ was released in response to this and featured serial killer ‘Hannibal Lecter’.  Audiences were also too knowledgeable on horror conventions and found them too predictable.  Films such as ‘Scream’ and ‘The Blair Witch Project’ were released in the 1990’s to give audiences something new that they could relate to.
  • 20. THE 2000’S AND BEYOND  After 9/11, audiences began to fear the evil that lurks in our world, especially terrorists.  Modern horrors often feature ‘a game’ of sorts that the characters have to participate in or a killing force that cannot be seen e.g. Saw.  Remakes and ‘spoofs’ of classic horror films have become popular.  Audiences enjoy different genres of horror such as psychological, supernatural, zombie, possession, slasher, etc…
  • 21. THE 2000’S AND BEYOND  Horror films that have been shot in a ‘found footage’ format have become popular. This makes the film seem more real to audiences and scarier.  Possession and exorcism films have become extremely popular and can also be presented in a ‘found footage’ style.  Horror films have become more transportable and accessible for audiences thanks to new and e-media.
  • 23. THE HISTORY OF HORROR In the past almost 100 years, horror films have changed and evolved massively. This is mostly due to the audience’s fears changing and the horror genre having to keep up to date with it. If horrors didn’t adapt to reflect audience fears they would not be scary. The horror genre has also expanded by creating many sub-genres (e.g. psychological) that many different audiences would enjoy and this has ensured that the horror film genre is still popular today and satisfying a much wider audience. I too will aim to ensure my film idea will acknowledge fears that are current in today’s society in order to scare my audience.