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History of horror


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History of horror

  1. 1. History of Horror
  2. 2. The Beginning The Horror genre first began with the French film ‘Le Manoir du Diable’ (The House/Castle of the Devil), a silent film by Georges Méliès made in 1896. The three minute film was, through its containment of slapstick and pantomime elements, intended to be amusing to the audience, however, because the horrific, blasphemous presences on screen, and use of cutting to cause the objects and monsters to appear and disappear, it is considered to be a horror film overall. It is therefore arguable that Georges Méliès inspired the idea of horror created purely as a means to scare people with and people were now trying to find new and inventive ways to present ghouls and demons. George Albert Smith is a prime example of this as he wanted to make a film using double exposure on his camera to create a ghost effect, which he used in the film ‘Faust and Mephistopheles’ 1898, another silent Horror film containing the Devil and other classic Horror elements. It was now becoming clear to all that Horror was a progressing genre, and many saw potential and opportunity in it.
  3. 3. Moving into the 20th century, Horror was becoming more popular and people looked to the famous Horror literature as an opportunity to create more popularity for the genre. A play of ‘Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ was filmed and shown in the first of many depictions of the tale. ‘Frankenstein’ was then created in 1910; a thirteen minute depiction of Mary Shelley’s novel, not particularly true to the story but containing enough of the original tale to make an impression.
  4. 4. 1920s Horror was growing fast, and the next big Horror film came in 1922 ‘Nosferatu’, which was a full length silent film, the story was taken without permission from the novel ‘Dracula’, Nosferatu is still rated very highly in the Horror/Vampire film genre, despite the lawsuit passed, which decreed that all copies of the film should be destroyed because of copyright infringement. F.W. Murnau worked hard at creating effect which would terrify his audiences. He used chiaroscuro techniques, creating powerful contrasts on screen, half visible mysterious figures, long dark hallways, and distant shots of the harrowing castle where the vampire lives. The use of chiaroscuro causes us to mistrust the environment and creates tense, frightful moments such as the use of shadows in enhancing the hidden image of the vampire’s long claws. In this moment we feel fear for Thomas Hutter as the threat of impending doom is very powerfully presented.
  5. 5. 1930s 1931 saw the release of Tod Browning’s ‘Dracula’, the official film of the novel and from which the stereotypical Dracula depiction was created, with the slick combed back hair and long black cloak. Browning also used the lighting as a means to create a creepy effect, but rather than concentrating on the shadows, he lit the faces and eyes to emphasise the evil of the character. There were many shots in the film with Dracula’s eyes lit. I thought the effect worked well, and was probably very scary for the audience at the time.
  6. 6. 1940s During the 1940s there was a lapse in Horror films as the Second World War broke out, making cinema mostly obsolete. However, a few titles were made such as George Waggner’s ‘Wolf Man’ and Erle C. Kenton’s ‘House of Dracula’, which contained Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein, three of the most famous monsters in History, showing that because of the War, people perhaps wanted more to be distracted by the fear of monsters, or even that people were less scared by these monster films, and the three monsters included was a way to frighten them properly again.
  7. 7. 1950s A great fear after the war and in the 50s was the threat of nuclear, many films were being made about mutations, whether it be people or creatures which mutated as a result of nuclear exposure. There were many titles such as, ‘Attack of the 50 foot Woman’ 1958, ‘It came from Beneath the Sea’ 1955, and of course, ‘Godzilla’ 1954.
  8. 8. 1960s The genre of Horror was then altered slightly, as Alfred Hitchcock created the film ‘Psycho’ 1960, creating a new take on Psychotic Horror films, as the film’s sounds, shots and effects all contributed in making the concept of a psychotic character very real. During the sixties a few classic horror films were made, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ 1963, and George A. Romero’s ‘The Night of the Living Dead’ 1968.
  9. 9. 1970/80s The Horror genre rocketed during the 70s and 80s, many cult classics being produced such as ‘The Exorcist’ , ‘The Omen’ , ‘Halloween’ , ‘The Shining’ , ‘The Thing’ etc.... The new technology was allowing these films to create very gruesome and in some, very realistic effects, for example in ‘The Thing’ which is one of the most gory Horror films of all time.
  10. 10. 1990s • The 1990s Horror films contained much more mystery. Serial Killers and psychos being once again the threat, films such as ‘Se7en’, ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Scream’. However, there were still many films which were taking advantage of their good effects and either creating reboots or sequels to old films, such as ‘Exorcist III’ and ‘Night of the Living Dead’, or creating very gory and terrifying films using a basic but terrifying story and villain, such as ‘It’ or ‘Candyman’.
  11. 11. 2000 and Onwards Horror films consist now, mainly of big budget action Horror, such as ‘Deathwatch’, ’28 Days Later’ and ‘Dog Soldiers’. Because we have become accustomed to the fear we felt when watching the older films, films have become much more franchised, as ideas for original, individual Horror films are becoming more scarce. Franchises like, ‘Alien VS Predator’, ‘Predators’, ‘Paranormal Activity’, ‘Insidious’, ’28 Weeks Later’, ‘Scream’, ‘Saw’, and ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’.