2. ROOTS OF HORROR
The first horror films found their inspiration from the late 1700’s Gothic literature
and in 1896, Georges Méliès went on to createThe Haunted Castle which is
considered the first ever horror film.The film can be seen at
The term gothic refers to the castles and
medieval buildings that the stories took place in.
The first horror films found their inspiration from
the Gothic literature and in 1896, Georges Méliès
went on to createThe Haunted Castle which is
considered the first ever horror film.
Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
are the main three films that influenced the
horror genre and defined what it is today.
3. THE SILENT ERA AND GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM
During the Silent era, several experiments were conducted which includes
Frankenstein which was originally adapted byThomas Edison’s studios in 1910.
Silent horror films did not get life until after the conclusion of the first world war in
German Expressionism is a style of cinema which emphasizes expression instead
of depictions of reality. Since electricity was scarce in Germany, the UFA decided
to paint the shadows on the set instead of using natural lighting which combined
with sharp angles and strange perspective distortion, then created the popular
style of cinema known as German Expressionism.
Once Germany has lost the war, the UFA decided to continue making the films for
4. THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI
The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari is a film about a madman against a hero character who
was wrongly incarcerated into an asylum. Due to the clever framing device, the
audience is never sure on who is made and who is sane keeping them on the edge
of their seat watching the realistic and stylised performances that tell them this
The audience sees the film in the narrators twisted version in which roads and
houses take a scary and spooky form. It would mainly be the Germans who saw
this film as the consequences of war was affecting them.
5. MONSTERS AND MAD SCIENTISTS – 1930
The 1930’s was when Horror films stepped up and began to have sound,
kicking off the Universal Gothic horror cycle.
Universal Pictures came out with the first cycle of horror films and
began the decade of Monsters and Mad Scientists.The horror films of
this decade were exotic fairy tales usually set in far-off land with
characters that spoke with strange accents.
Dracula (1931) was the first hit from Universal, it was directed byTod
The stage continued with Frankenstein (1931),The Mummy (1932), King
Audiences would flood the cinema to be scared by these supernatural
monsters that wreaked havoc in fictional worlds, these events would
avoid the everyday reality of depression and the approaching war.
6. WEREWOLVES AND CAT PEOPLE – 1940
TheseWartime horror movies were strictly anAmerican product, being
banned in Britain.This age evolved the horror movie memes but with no
In the outset of the 1940’s,Wolves posed as the main global threat.The film
Werewolf Of London (1935) represents the first time Hollywood attempted
to bring werewolf mythology to cinema screens.
Films like ‘Cat People’ were a glimpse at the psychologically scary horrors
that were to come in the following decades. Using studio sets that were
leftover, scares and moods were created by using shadows rather than
monsters and makeup.
These movies pointed in the right direction for horror and had many
similarities to the horror thrillers of the 90’s.
7. MUTANT CREATURES AND ALIEN INVADERS
The time between World War II and the 1950’s was a struggle for Hollywood since supreme court
rulings were destroying the studio system. During this time Hollywood was trying its best to stay a
relevant industry which meant Horror films were now relegated to being strictly B-film status and
A-list talent was saved for lavish epic films. But horror was still very popular.
• 1950’s was when horror used the cold war fear of invasion by
blending into a pulp science fiction cycle. Films like ‘The Day
The Earth Stood Still’ 1951, ‘TheThing From Another World’
1951, ‘Forbidden Planet’ (shown on the right) 1956, and
‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ 1956.
• These were the years when film creatures emerged from the
ground as well as outer space and this was when Godzilla
(1954) was born.
8. GHOSTS, ZOMBIES, SATANISM ANDYOUR
FAMILY 1960’SAND 70’S
The 1960’s was when we began to see new styles and cycles in the horror genre.
This was also when horror began growing even more popular and having more
freedom when the restrictive censorship of the Production Code was abandoned.
Alfred Hitchcock is well worth mentioning with his ability to play with the
audience like an instrument. His film Psycho (1960) made audiences see that
horror could in fact be more than just a B-Film Fare.The end of the film showed
the antagonist Norman Bates as the monster the entire film and he was so close
to normal that it defined this decade of horror.
In Britain, this was when Hammer began to reboot the universal gothic horror
films by adding gore and sex.These films were also shot in full colour and the first
of the reboots wasThe House of Frankenstein featuring Peter Cushing as Dr
Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as Frankenstein the monster and for the first
time, blood was shown on screen in colour.
Horror was now beginning to be taken seriously around the world.
9. NIGHTMARE DECADE
The 1970’s society may of got bad but that just meant horror got better as
this decade saw the return of big budget horror films that got respected.
These films dealt with many of societies issues by addressing the
psychological fears of the audience.
A popular horror theme in 1960’s and 70’s was children. Films like ‘The
Village’ showed how the concept of children in horror can be scary and
evil.This was a big thing for horror as it was no longer just monsters and
aliens, but someone from your family.
The 70’s was when the cult classic horror ‘The Exorcist’ released.The film
features a teenage girl who is possessed by an unknown entity and her
mother seeks the help of two priests so save her.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JUS23RCOfc this clip from the
exorcist really shows how practical effects can be terrifying even today.
10. 1980’S ANDVIDEO NASTIES
The horror movies of the 80’s was the beginning of special visual effects catching up with the horror
genre.These technical advances allowed for animatronics and liquid and foam latex which meant
humans could be distorted into a new dimension on the big screen. Horror films of this decade
delivered full colour special effects that were only dreamt of before.
‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ were both slasher films that were backed by a studio
that followed the backyard formula to success and sequels.
Films like Evil Dead would increase and over exaggerate the blood used in the film for a high gross
income and films like these are what we consider classics.
Video Nasties were films that contained scenes that were considered to be too violent or pornographic
and were banned. 39 titles made it to this list eventually. It was the first time the UK had passed a new
censorship mandate since 1737.
Nearing the end of this decade, horror movies were dumbed down so they would attract a certain
target audience that meant more sales which came with the price of plot and credibility.
11. HAMMER HORROR
Hammer Films is a British horror film production company that is based in London
(Founded in 1934), best known for the Gothic ‘Hammer Horror’ films made in the 1950’s to
70’s. During these years, Hammer Films dominated the horror market with worldwide
distribution and financial success.The outbreak ofWorldWar II saw the executives to active
service meaning production was halted around this time. Hammer Horror was then
reformed in the late 1940’s after the war.
The 1960’s was when Hammer began to develop sequels to its existing titles because the
success of the horror genre.Titles such as ‘Frankenstein Created Woman’ and ‘Dracula:
Prince of Darkness’.
In the 1980’s Hammer found a new outlet for horror since they were no longer producing
films.This outlet wasT.V beginning with a show called ‘Hammer House of Horror’ which
was a bunch of tales laced with horror and dark humour.
In 2010, Hammer Horror returned and with them came the critically acclaimed ‘Let Me In’
which was an adaptation of a Swedish film. 2011 saw the release of ‘The Resident’, and 2012
saw the release of ‘The Quiet Ones’ and ‘Woman in Black’. In 2015, Hammer Horror released
‘Woman in Black: Angel of Death’ which was the first sequel from Hammer Horror in 41
12. THE 90’S AND 2000’S
By this time the Monster cliché had now gone out of date and people were no
longer scared of zombies and vampires. So a new craze was born using
Psychopaths. Films in this decade would contain brutal murder of ordinary
people and more believable twists being added to the films. Most monster
films that were still around would have a heavy use of CGI. Psychological
horrors still remained a very popular genre through the 90’s and 2000’s
notably with films like ‘Se7en’ and ‘The Ring’
‘Scream’ was a self aware slasher film that debuted in 1992 about a killer
among a group of friends that uses the rule of slasher films.
The end of the 90’s saw the release of ‘The BlairWitch Project’ which was the
first major film using the found footage sub-genre and defines many horror
films to this day. It was also one of the first films to be marketed almost
entirely using the internet.
Torture Porn is a modern era that goes back to the Hammer Horror era.
Torture Porn emphasises gore and torturous violence.A perfect example of
this is ‘Saw’ and its future sequels, followed by ‘Hostel’ by Eli Roth.