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The history of horror

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The history of horror
1950
1940

1970
1960

1990
1980

2000-10 and
beyond
The first horrors were silent movies produced at the
beginning of the 20th century. They were surreal,
dark pieces with appearances based on
expressionist painters work and narrative style on
the stories played out by the Grand Guignol Theatre
Company. Darkness and shadows were impossible to
create using the filming equipment that was
available to them at this time, and these are such
important conventions of the horrors nowadays.
Therefore when watching these original horrors it
seems strange. The films relied on music and sound
effects to make the piece scary. Early horror films
drew upon the folklore and legends from around the
globe and rendered the monsters into a physical
form. German expressionism of the time created a
strong visula style of these early horrors; using
distorted worlds and strange angles. Examples of
these are Caligari and Nosferatu (which was the very
first vampire film).
Wartime horrors were produced in this time
period but were purely an American product as
they were banned in Britain. So America cranked
out a lot of these to amuse the domestic
audience. This era was also the birth of animal
horrors, focusing on the "animal inside" and
working out the scariest possible way of putting
this onto film. Two popular ones of the time were
Wolfman and Cat People. Hitler himself strongly
identified with the iconography and legends of
the wolf. The name 'Adolf' means "noble wolf" in
Old German. This may be how some of these
films came about. Also in 1940, Disney's pinoccio
was released, in which the bad boys are turned
into donkeys. This animal transformation is
something that lives on now with the obvious
"werewolf" stories.
Big changes occurred between 1940 and
1950. The war had ended and the genre
changed once again. The faces of horror
monsters began to look somewhat
human. However in this era the horror
genre was neglected a little.
Homecoming soldiers and bereaved
widows had no time for horror films
when they had enough of their own to
tell. Also studios were too busy
incorporating technical changes such as
widespread colour production and trying
to meet the challenge posed by TV to
have much time to concentrate on horror
films. Although some other studios and
producers stayed true to the horror
genre and produced films such as The Fly
Tarantula, Mutants and Alien Invaders.
1960s saw a great change in what the public
perceived as horrible. They wanted horror that was
more rooted in reality, more believable, more
sophisticated, that dealt with some of the issues
they faced in a real world. Thrillers and horror were
intertwined; there was a lot more onscreen violence
and nudity. Films like Phsyco and The Shining were
made in this sexual era. However this decade also
introduced a completely different kind of horror..The
beginning of the 1960's introduced ghost stories
such as The Haunting. Using black and white
photography and minimal special effects, all these
films required was the audience to believe a little in
the supernatural. These ghost stories throb with
psychosexual tension, and take a sadistic satisfaction
in the suffering of the beautiful heroine. The
protagonist is a final sacrifice rather than a Final Girl.
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The history of horror

  • 3. The first horrors were silent movies produced at the beginning of the 20th century. They were surreal, dark pieces with appearances based on expressionist painters work and narrative style on the stories played out by the Grand Guignol Theatre Company. Darkness and shadows were impossible to create using the filming equipment that was available to them at this time, and these are such important conventions of the horrors nowadays. Therefore when watching these original horrors it seems strange. The films relied on music and sound effects to make the piece scary. Early horror films drew upon the folklore and legends from around the globe and rendered the monsters into a physical form. German expressionism of the time created a strong visula style of these early horrors; using distorted worlds and strange angles. Examples of these are Caligari and Nosferatu (which was the very first vampire film).
  • 4. Wartime horrors were produced in this time period but were purely an American product as they were banned in Britain. So America cranked out a lot of these to amuse the domestic audience. This era was also the birth of animal horrors, focusing on the "animal inside" and working out the scariest possible way of putting this onto film. Two popular ones of the time were Wolfman and Cat People. Hitler himself strongly identified with the iconography and legends of the wolf. The name 'Adolf' means "noble wolf" in Old German. This may be how some of these films came about. Also in 1940, Disney's pinoccio was released, in which the bad boys are turned into donkeys. This animal transformation is something that lives on now with the obvious "werewolf" stories.
  • 5. Big changes occurred between 1940 and 1950. The war had ended and the genre changed once again. The faces of horror monsters began to look somewhat human. However in this era the horror genre was neglected a little. Homecoming soldiers and bereaved widows had no time for horror films when they had enough of their own to tell. Also studios were too busy incorporating technical changes such as widespread colour production and trying to meet the challenge posed by TV to have much time to concentrate on horror films. Although some other studios and producers stayed true to the horror genre and produced films such as The Fly Tarantula, Mutants and Alien Invaders.
  • 6. 1960s saw a great change in what the public perceived as horrible. They wanted horror that was more rooted in reality, more believable, more sophisticated, that dealt with some of the issues they faced in a real world. Thrillers and horror were intertwined; there was a lot more onscreen violence and nudity. Films like Phsyco and The Shining were made in this sexual era. However this decade also introduced a completely different kind of horror..The beginning of the 1960's introduced ghost stories such as The Haunting. Using black and white photography and minimal special effects, all these films required was the audience to believe a little in the supernatural. These ghost stories throb with psychosexual tension, and take a sadistic satisfaction in the suffering of the beautiful heroine. The protagonist is a final sacrifice rather than a Final Girl.
  • 7. One genuine fear apparent in the horror films of the 1970s is the fear of children, and the fear of the painful and often fatal process of childbirth. Author David J Skal identifies this fear with the introduction of the contraceptive pill and the birth defect horror forced on the Western world by thalidomide. All in all the films of this decade were pretty grim. The crumbling family unit becomes the source of much fear and mistrust. Different to earlier films; this time around 'the enemy within' is not a shapeshifting alien from another planet. Now the enemy is to be found in your own home. The Excorcist, 1973, was voted the 'scariest movie of all time' in 1999 by Total Film Magazine. Also this decade introduced a new wave of monster horrors with more realistic monsters.
  • 8. At the beginning of this decade, special effects finally caught up with the gory imaginations of horror fans and movie makers. This began with Alien, which was actually released in 1979. Everything that lurked in the shadows in films of the 1950's was now out in the light, all bigger, better and more gruesome than before. The main demographic for audiences of horror movies in the 1980s was 15-24 year old men; an audience seeking thrills as a rite-of-passage, to prove that they have strong enough stomachs to sit through these gut-wrenching gore fests. Horror films of this era included A Nightmare On Elm Street and slashers, Halloween and Friday 13th.
  • 9. By the end of the 1980's the grossness that once terrified had kind of worn off; by this time all they did was amuse the audience. A lot of dark, disturbing films of this time labelled themselves thrillers, yet they shared an awful lot of the same codes and conventions used in horror films. Phscokillers are introduced at the beginning of this decade with The Silence of the Lambs and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In 1996 Scream was released; this mixed the slashers of previous decades and the new serial killer genre together and produced a parody for those that had grown up with the original slasher horrors.
  • 10. The beginning of the 2000's gave us hypergory movies and portrayed the moral panic around gore-nography or torture porn. Final Destination mixed gore and phsychological horror together and produced a film where death takes the form of the scary killer. Apparantly "death is hunting you down one by one" in the order that you would of died in an accident. In 2002, 28 Days Later was released and started off a long chain of zombie movies. However the zombies are not dead, just contain a deadly virus that is gradually killing off the world's population. Torture porn hit the tabloids in 2007 when the poster for film Captiviy caused a moral panic. A definite line was crossed with this and there was even a call for the posters to be removed.