History of Horror Films
HISTORY OF HORROR FILMS
Horror films are somewhat unique among the film genres in
that there is a recognizable pattern that happens again and
again. A film will come along and terrify an audience
capturing their imaginations.
But as we look at how the genre changes overtime, we must
not think of the history of horror as being rigid one way
street. New films borrow from old films all the time, a
constant remix of subgenres and new techniques to make
something for the contemporary culture.
So who did the first horror films borrow from? Monsters,
murderers, demons and bests have been around since
antiquity, ghost stories told round camp fires since we
learned how to talk. But the roots of filmed horror were an
extension of a genre of literature that got its start in the late
Marry Shelley, Bram Stoker and Edgar Allan Poe are famous
gothic writers from late 1700s.
It was Gothic literature that the first horror films found
inspiration. The genre was popular in both books and theater
at the time. Although the term horror did not come into use
for film until the 1930s, early filmmakers and film goers
certainly showed an interest in the macabre in the clip
“Spook Tale” from 1895 created by the Lumiere brothers.
In 1896 Georges Melies would go on to create what is
considered to be the first horror film ever made.
During the early period of talking pictures, the American Movie
studio Universal Pictures began a successful Gothic horror film
series. Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (also 1931) and The Old Dark
House (1931) both feature Boris Karloff as a monstrous mute
antagonists. These films were science fiction.
The Invisible Man (1933) featured a mad scientist. This type of film
was designed to thrill but also incorporated serious elements.
With progression of the genre, many actors, including Boris Karloff
and Bela Lugos began to build entire careers making horror films
very successful in the 1940‟s.
Including, The Body Snatcher (1945), Cat People (1942) and I
Walked With A Zombie (1943).
With advances of technology, the ton of horror films shifted from the
Gothic towards contemporary concerns. Two sub-genres began to
emerge: the horror-of-Armageddon film and the horror-of-thedemonic film.
During the 1950‟s the Hollywood directors and producers
sometimes found ample opportunity for audience exploitation with
gimmicks such as 3-D. Some horror films such as The Thing From
Another World (1951) and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)
used this gimmick.
Ghosts and monsters still remained a frequent feature of horror in
1960, but many films used the supernatural premise to express the
horror of the demonic.
Blood Feast (1963) and Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) both used
ghosts in their films but inhabited supernatural premise.
During the 1970‟s horror films began to involve the youth in
the counterculture began exploring the medium. The Hills
Have Eyes (1977) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
(1974) recalled the Vietnam war.
In late 1970‟s Canadian director David Cronenberg featured
the „mad scientist‟ movie sub-genre by exploring
contemporary fears about technology and society.
A cycle of slasher films was made during the late 1970‟s .
Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980) and A Nightmare
On Elm Street (1984)
List of successful Horror films
I Saw The Devil (2010)
The Day Of The Beast (1995)
The Ring (2004)
Drag Me To Hell (2009)
The Grudge (2002)