The History of Horror

November 7, 2008
To say that times have changed would be a tremendous understatement. It’s amazing to see how our culture has done a complete one-eighty. Clothes, television, music, everything is different now. This also includes horror movies, which unfortunately have started to take a turn for the worse. The classic, genuine horror films are gone and have been replaced with tasteless movies full of blood, gore, and half-hearted attempts at a decent plot. I suppose if you want to understand the terrible transition the horror genre has gone through, you have to go back to the beginning.

The first horror movie was created in 1896 by a man named Georges Mèliès. It was a two minute, silent movie name Le Manoir du Diable. It was also considered the first vampire film. The first truly “serious” horror film was Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which was made in 1920. It told the tale of a doctor who had read of a man named Dr. Caligari, who had trained a killer. The doctor decided on conducting an experiment to see if he could yield the same results as Caligari. The result was the first psychological thrillers of all time, still exulted as a cinematic masterpiece.

Ten years later, Universal Studios came up with several monster movies, including Frankenstein and Dracula, both of which were produced in 1931, and The Mummy, which was released in 1932. These movies were followed by numerous sequels, which is why Universal Studios is known for having the most success in the horror genre.

Later, in the 1950’s, horror films turned toward the future. Alien invasions of the earth were the focus. A box-office hit at the time was Invasion of the Body Snatchers, produced in 1956. In the 1960’s, a film was released that was even scarier than any of the older films, mostly because the monster was a human being. Michael Powell, a famous director at the time, made a film by the name of Peeping Tom. In it, a man named Mark Lewis gets a new, terrible hobby. Fascinated by the effects that fear has on people, he kills several women, recording the events on camera to watch later. This movie was so shocking to audiences and critics alike that it led to the end of Powell’s career. Only years later did it become a cult favorite.

Twenty years later, John Carpenter’s Halloween was released, creating the theme of teenagers being threatened by a killer, which would be repeated throughout the years. After that, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street slashed their way into theaters. Many sequels followed these movies, including Freddy vs. Jason (2003), in which Freddy Kruger of Nightmare and Jason Voorhees of the Friday series, cross paths.

Now, in the 2000’s, it seems a good horror movie is nowhere to be found. It seems that we can’t even think of our own plots here in America, as the trend is to copy many films from the Japanese, such as The Ring, The Grudge, One Missed Call, and Shutter. Even so, will people ever grow tired of the dark, terrifying worlds that the horror genre creates?

Not bloody likely.

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SparaxisThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 10, 2016 at 6:36 pm
Wait, we're copying the Japanese now? That's no way to make a horror movie.
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