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HISTORY OF
HORROR
RYAN TARRAN
ROOTS OF HORROR
The first use of Horror was in 19th century classic literature. Mary Shelley
was the first and published a book called Frankenstein in 1818. A whole
61 years later Bram stocker published Dracula, the most well known
vampire story to date. However, it was not the first vampire story and
Bram spent more than 5 years gathering data and researching into
folklore and legend to gather enough content. Then last but not least
there was the strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde which was
published by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886. These are
all classed under classic gothic horror.
HORROR OF THE SILENT ERA
AND GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM
The era of silent film and german expressionism was a completely man
made unrealistic representation of reality. One of the first films to use
german expressionism, using jagged asymmetry of the mise en scene
was The Cabinet of Dr Caligari in 1919. A story about a mad doctor and a
falsely incarcerated hero under control and being oppressed. Very
relevant at the time during Germany. Another example of this was the
very first vampire film which intertextualised Bram Stoker’s Dracula
heavily, Nosferatu used german expressionism heavily and with its clever
usage of lighting and shadows made it extremely scary at the time.
MONSTERS AND MAD
SCIENTISTS
In 1931 Universal studios moved into the world of monsters and mad
scientists. In the same year, they published both Dracula and
Frankenstein in its first official movie format. Universal studios paved the
way for big budget horror films and after the release of Dracula began
working on a series of classics. At the time in America it was still enduring
the great depression and horror films, being so unrealistic, were the best
form of escapism, therefore making them so successful and setting a
foundation for the future of horror films.
THE PRIMAL ANIMAL WITHIN
In 1941 the primal animal within was unleashed in the form of the wolf
man and cat people. The wolf man was a huge hit because it was the first
visualisation of an ancient myth that had been passed around the world
for hundreds of years. This was another hit from Universal studios which
then triggered another series of film sequels. Cat people on the other
hand was more of a physcological thriller, made during the war as
propaganda against women to try and represent them as evil. The film
was a massive hit like the wolf man.
MUTANT CREATURES AND
ALIEN INVADERS
During the 50’s World War 2 had just finished and the use of atomic
bombs and radioactive testing was ongoing. This caused mutant
creatures to be used in horror films as it reflected very real fears that
were ongoing within the world. Best examples of this were Godzilla and it
came from beneath the sea (1955). At the time the space race had also
begun. This influenced the originality and questionable existence of other
life outside of Earth, therefore creating films towards the end of the 50’s
which questioned Alien invaders. A good example of this was ‘They came
from outer space’ which was released in 1953.
GHOSTS, ZOMBIES, SATANISM
AND YOUR FAMILY
In the 1960’s to the 1970’s the cold war had lost its heat and aliens hadn’t
invaded earth yet, so after the manson family murders in America the film
makers took to our own families to create horror, those who we’d never
suspect to be the ones to kill us. This was depicted in Psycho with
Norman bates in 1960. Other horrors based in family homes included the
haunting in 1963 and the exorcist introduced satanism and possesion in
1973. Other important titles which revolved around family and murder
and the shift of moral code included Halloween (1978), the shining (1980)
and the omen (1976). It also saw the introduction of zombie films, with
the biggest being Night of the Living Dead, released in 1968.
HAMMER HORROR
Hammer films were a small London operated film company that became
notably popular in the 60’s. This was due to its remakes of original
classics such as Dracula and curse of Frankenstein in 1957. These
became popular because not only were they in colour and used good
actors, but also had much more gore, violence and sex that kept up with
the times of the swinging 60’s. The rise of Hammer horror films and its
particularly iconic style created new sub genres of horror that were then
continued for decades.
SLASHER MOVIES
Slasher movies were the peak and downfall of the extreme and over the
top gore that was exaggerated from the 70’s and peaked in the 80’s. The
slasher film was created when producers thought that they needed more
gore and more guts to scare the audience, this worked at first with films
like the shining (1980) and evil dead (1981) but after a nightmare on elm
street (1984) the audience quickly became desensitized and as quickly
as it became popular, it had its downfall and producers had to once again
think of new ideas. However, the slasher was revamped in the 90’s with
scream being one of the most notorious slasher films in horror history.
FORMAT FEARS AND MORAL
PANICS
The video nasties was a list of particular titles that were deemed too gory
and nasty for the general public to watch. This forced copies to be made
and was forced underground and then naturally increased sales even
more. In total there was 39 titles that had been banned. Most notable of
these was the famous and gory Evil Dead which depicted extreme
violence and body gore.
IRONIC HORROR OF THE 90’S
The ironic horrors of the 90’s were essentially continued versions of the
slasher of the 80’s. However, it became so conventional and stereotypical
that the audience expected everything that was going to happen and
therefore lost its factor of the ‘horror’ actually being scary. Therefore lots
of these horrors became ironic. A noticeable example of this is scream in
1996. It is filled with references to other horror films and plays on
stereotypes from within the horror genre. This makes it ironic and a
parody but at the same time unique and fresh for the audience. Making it
a box office hit.
TORTURE PORN
During the early 2000’s stories ran In the news about how third world
dictators were torturing its citizens. This didn’t bother the general
population as it had always been happening and didn’t effect them.
However, when stories began to leak of Guantanamo Bay and its
methods torture became a very real and very scary subject. Producers
used this and pushed it to the upmost extreme by depicting victims being
completely and utterly dominated and tortured in films such as Saw
(2004) and Hostel (2005) brought new levels of gruesome and gore that
made audience members uncomfortable to a new level that created an
entirely new type of horror experience.
SOUTH EAST ASIAN HORROR
Looking for new material producers began to look eastwards for
inspiration. Asia focused heavily on spirt, ghosts, curses and more
intangible fears that can’t be seen or touched rather than material horror
like the westerners had been use to for so long. Asian horror films that
have been remade for our target audiences also have the same slow
paced – plot focused and orientated horror. This has given a fresh feel to
some new horror films and therefore the target audience for Asian style
horrors is steadily growing. A good example of this is the grudge (2004)
and the ring (2002).
THE REAL WORLD IS
FRIGHTENING
In the 2000's it was mainly fantasy but realism was starting to appear through films such as 'Final Destination'
and 'American Psycho' with the introduction of animal films such as 'Crocodile' and 'Python'. Final Destination
was so successful because it introduced everyday horrors that could occur; for example the plane crash scene
was far more horrifying after the 9/11 attacks that happened a year later. 28 days later was an iconic movie in
the 2000's because it was the first film since 9/11 and final destination that once again took realistic potential
horror to the big screen. This was done by exaggerating a flu virus and how devastating it could be to our
economy and way of life. This was such a big hit because there were two strains of avian flu that were of huge
concern to the government’s and public safety. Much like Ebola was feared in 2014. As horror progressed
through the years, around 2009 the realism aspect of the genre wasn’t as effective and paranormal films
became popular due to Japanese culture and American remakes. This was due to the release of the popular
film paranormal activity in 2007 which caused a huge increase in demand for paranormal and supernatural
films. In 2016 the films that have been released still follow the trend of being paranormal and supernatural
orientated films. However, lots of the new horror films are going back to similar roots to the early 2000's where
they would play on basic human rational fears and exaggerating them. This is most visible in the new
paranormal film called 'lights out' which plays on the basic human fear of the dark. This makes the film so
effective because it plays on an everyday and common fear.

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History of Horror

  • 2. ROOTS OF HORROR The first use of Horror was in 19th century classic literature. Mary Shelley was the first and published a book called Frankenstein in 1818. A whole 61 years later Bram stocker published Dracula, the most well known vampire story to date. However, it was not the first vampire story and Bram spent more than 5 years gathering data and researching into folklore and legend to gather enough content. Then last but not least there was the strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde which was published by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886. These are all classed under classic gothic horror.
  • 3. HORROR OF THE SILENT ERA AND GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM The era of silent film and german expressionism was a completely man made unrealistic representation of reality. One of the first films to use german expressionism, using jagged asymmetry of the mise en scene was The Cabinet of Dr Caligari in 1919. A story about a mad doctor and a falsely incarcerated hero under control and being oppressed. Very relevant at the time during Germany. Another example of this was the very first vampire film which intertextualised Bram Stoker’s Dracula heavily, Nosferatu used german expressionism heavily and with its clever usage of lighting and shadows made it extremely scary at the time.
  • 4. MONSTERS AND MAD SCIENTISTS In 1931 Universal studios moved into the world of monsters and mad scientists. In the same year, they published both Dracula and Frankenstein in its first official movie format. Universal studios paved the way for big budget horror films and after the release of Dracula began working on a series of classics. At the time in America it was still enduring the great depression and horror films, being so unrealistic, were the best form of escapism, therefore making them so successful and setting a foundation for the future of horror films.
  • 5. THE PRIMAL ANIMAL WITHIN In 1941 the primal animal within was unleashed in the form of the wolf man and cat people. The wolf man was a huge hit because it was the first visualisation of an ancient myth that had been passed around the world for hundreds of years. This was another hit from Universal studios which then triggered another series of film sequels. Cat people on the other hand was more of a physcological thriller, made during the war as propaganda against women to try and represent them as evil. The film was a massive hit like the wolf man.
  • 6. MUTANT CREATURES AND ALIEN INVADERS During the 50’s World War 2 had just finished and the use of atomic bombs and radioactive testing was ongoing. This caused mutant creatures to be used in horror films as it reflected very real fears that were ongoing within the world. Best examples of this were Godzilla and it came from beneath the sea (1955). At the time the space race had also begun. This influenced the originality and questionable existence of other life outside of Earth, therefore creating films towards the end of the 50’s which questioned Alien invaders. A good example of this was ‘They came from outer space’ which was released in 1953.
  • 7. GHOSTS, ZOMBIES, SATANISM AND YOUR FAMILY In the 1960’s to the 1970’s the cold war had lost its heat and aliens hadn’t invaded earth yet, so after the manson family murders in America the film makers took to our own families to create horror, those who we’d never suspect to be the ones to kill us. This was depicted in Psycho with Norman bates in 1960. Other horrors based in family homes included the haunting in 1963 and the exorcist introduced satanism and possesion in 1973. Other important titles which revolved around family and murder and the shift of moral code included Halloween (1978), the shining (1980) and the omen (1976). It also saw the introduction of zombie films, with the biggest being Night of the Living Dead, released in 1968.
  • 8. HAMMER HORROR Hammer films were a small London operated film company that became notably popular in the 60’s. This was due to its remakes of original classics such as Dracula and curse of Frankenstein in 1957. These became popular because not only were they in colour and used good actors, but also had much more gore, violence and sex that kept up with the times of the swinging 60’s. The rise of Hammer horror films and its particularly iconic style created new sub genres of horror that were then continued for decades.
  • 9. SLASHER MOVIES Slasher movies were the peak and downfall of the extreme and over the top gore that was exaggerated from the 70’s and peaked in the 80’s. The slasher film was created when producers thought that they needed more gore and more guts to scare the audience, this worked at first with films like the shining (1980) and evil dead (1981) but after a nightmare on elm street (1984) the audience quickly became desensitized and as quickly as it became popular, it had its downfall and producers had to once again think of new ideas. However, the slasher was revamped in the 90’s with scream being one of the most notorious slasher films in horror history.
  • 10. FORMAT FEARS AND MORAL PANICS The video nasties was a list of particular titles that were deemed too gory and nasty for the general public to watch. This forced copies to be made and was forced underground and then naturally increased sales even more. In total there was 39 titles that had been banned. Most notable of these was the famous and gory Evil Dead which depicted extreme violence and body gore.
  • 11. IRONIC HORROR OF THE 90’S The ironic horrors of the 90’s were essentially continued versions of the slasher of the 80’s. However, it became so conventional and stereotypical that the audience expected everything that was going to happen and therefore lost its factor of the ‘horror’ actually being scary. Therefore lots of these horrors became ironic. A noticeable example of this is scream in 1996. It is filled with references to other horror films and plays on stereotypes from within the horror genre. This makes it ironic and a parody but at the same time unique and fresh for the audience. Making it a box office hit.
  • 12. TORTURE PORN During the early 2000’s stories ran In the news about how third world dictators were torturing its citizens. This didn’t bother the general population as it had always been happening and didn’t effect them. However, when stories began to leak of Guantanamo Bay and its methods torture became a very real and very scary subject. Producers used this and pushed it to the upmost extreme by depicting victims being completely and utterly dominated and tortured in films such as Saw (2004) and Hostel (2005) brought new levels of gruesome and gore that made audience members uncomfortable to a new level that created an entirely new type of horror experience.
  • 13. SOUTH EAST ASIAN HORROR Looking for new material producers began to look eastwards for inspiration. Asia focused heavily on spirt, ghosts, curses and more intangible fears that can’t be seen or touched rather than material horror like the westerners had been use to for so long. Asian horror films that have been remade for our target audiences also have the same slow paced – plot focused and orientated horror. This has given a fresh feel to some new horror films and therefore the target audience for Asian style horrors is steadily growing. A good example of this is the grudge (2004) and the ring (2002).
  • 14. THE REAL WORLD IS FRIGHTENING In the 2000's it was mainly fantasy but realism was starting to appear through films such as 'Final Destination' and 'American Psycho' with the introduction of animal films such as 'Crocodile' and 'Python'. Final Destination was so successful because it introduced everyday horrors that could occur; for example the plane crash scene was far more horrifying after the 9/11 attacks that happened a year later. 28 days later was an iconic movie in the 2000's because it was the first film since 9/11 and final destination that once again took realistic potential horror to the big screen. This was done by exaggerating a flu virus and how devastating it could be to our economy and way of life. This was such a big hit because there were two strains of avian flu that were of huge concern to the government’s and public safety. Much like Ebola was feared in 2014. As horror progressed through the years, around 2009 the realism aspect of the genre wasn’t as effective and paranormal films became popular due to Japanese culture and American remakes. This was due to the release of the popular film paranormal activity in 2007 which caused a huge increase in demand for paranormal and supernatural films. In 2016 the films that have been released still follow the trend of being paranormal and supernatural orientated films. However, lots of the new horror films are going back to similar roots to the early 2000's where they would play on basic human rational fears and exaggerating them. This is most visible in the new paranormal film called 'lights out' which plays on the basic human fear of the dark. This makes the film so effective because it plays on an everyday and common fear.