2. In 1922, Nosferatu was released and was on of the first ever horror films. It was a dark, shadowy, gothic, vampiric piece. Similar
to other horrors of this time which were eerie, dark and featured scenes of mutilation.
Films brought out in the 1920’s reflected that audiences were terrified by mystical creatures - such as vampires.
The use of setting/darkness/costume all contributed together in order to create a scary effect.
In general, looking back at Nosferatu, it is evident to see how much the horror genre has evolved and it has in many ways - such as
the difference types of horror now available to audiences. The horror genre responds and adapts according to what society deems
to be frightening, which shifts and changes all the time which is partical how the genre has evolved so much.
● The horror’s of the 30’s were
gothic, and were set in far off
lands. Such as Dracula and his
remote castle in pennsylvania.
● Many features monsters, and
were inspired by 19th
● First use of sound.
● Dracula 1931, was the first
talking horror. Which in
itself, changed horror forever,
not only could views be scared
upon what they see on screen,
but also by what they hear.
Although they would receive a
similar scare through the use
of both non-diegetic and
diegetic music, the use of
dialogue intimidates and
● During the 1940’s films were banned in Britain because of WW11. As a result of this, America took over. However, the
Americans decided to play it safe, with many of the films being very similar to those that were made in the 1930’s.
● Character’s that were featured in these horrors turned into animals or were half man/half beast. But still, this was VERY
● In 1942 “Cat People” was a filmed that consisted of a female character, who was actually scary. Irena prowled around in cat
form terrorising and killing people. However, they were more subtle scares, through the use of shadows or diegetic sounds.
Due to the horror of world war two million
people losing their lives, the on screen
horrors of the previous decades no longer
seemed scary in comparison to their real life
horrors. However, because of the war new
fears arose such as: radiation, nuclear war,
technological change and scientific
experiments. This left teenagers the main
audience for horror films.
‘The Fly’ (1958) was typical of the era. It was
based on mutated creatures that were
affected by radiation. This begun to make
audiences fear what affects radiation as well
as scientific experiments could have on the
world. Another film that had an impact on the
teens of this era was ‘The Blob’, which was
also released in 1958. It was based on a giant
amoeba-like creature that terrorised a town.
This film further reiterates that audiences
feared the side effects of nuclear explosions
and radiation on the universe.
Now the 50’s had ended the fears that had gripped the world in the 50’s were gone.
Audiences no longer feared nuclear explosions or destruction caused by radiations.
The 60’s was a period of massive social change regarding drugs, sex, new fashions and
freedom. In horror films, the monsters of the 60’s were in human form. Audiences begun
to see and fear the monstrous potential of a man and the murky darkness behind the
‘Psycho’ 1960: The hitchcock classic featured a ‘monster’ that was as close to a man as
you could get. The monster himself was called ‘Norman’ which presumably Hitchcock
chose as it sounds like ‘normal’. However, he was a ‘psycho’. As oppose to the intelligent
horrors made by Hitchcock, Roger Corman made ‘B’ movies with the sole intention of
making a profit. His movies included: The Raven, The Haunted Palace and The Wasp
Woman. They all included plenty of gore and buxom women.
With the 70’s came the depression and the optimism of the 60’s came to an end. Despite this horrors grew in quality. Within
society ‘the pill’ was introduced and with the defects caused by Thalidomide, it led to a fear of children and childbirth. The
idyllic family of the 1950’s crumbled away. The idea that the enemy could be found in your own family was reflected in 70’s
horror. It was also the decade the sub genre ‘slasher’ was born, as well as ‘the final girl’.
‘The Shining’: featured a husband/father who was controlled by a supernatural presence which led him to become
murderous and violent and tried to kill his wife and son. Another film released in the 70’s was ‘The Exorcist’ which featured
a child possessed by evil, reflecting the fear society had of disturbed children.
The 1980’s was a time of technological change and an increased use of SFX. This led to a materialistic society that
believed the bigger and showier, the better. There was lots more colour, SFX, killers in full view, gruesome killings,
brighter lighting, increased prosthetics and experimental makeup. One thing that continued to prosper from the 70’s
was that monsters remained human, society still feared the evil of fellow men.
‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ (1984): It contained
excessive gore and brightly lit sets. The first victim was
Tina, who was slashed to pieces for having sex, which is a
main convention in the horror genre.
A VCR was a brilliant addition to the
home in the 80’s, it meant that horror
films could be watched at home.
Audience’s begun to get sick of the guts and gore and instead demanded more intelligent horror. Audiences believe that
they were clued up on existing horror and found them predictable.
In 1996 Wes Craven acknowledged how genre-savvy audiences were by having characters who were aware of and mocked
horror conventions, but they still died. This brought a lighter sense to horror and audiences would laugh at the characters
because of their stupidity.
11. 2000’s and beyond
The tragedy of 9/11 changed our view of what is scary.
Audiences fear of the evil that lurks our world - especially
Modern horrors often featured a game that was a race of time
against a killing force that cannot be seen. Also popular, was
remakes a spoofs such as ‘The Amityville Horror’, which was
originally released in 1979 and was remade in 2005.
Audiences begun to enjoy different genres of horror such as:
psychological, supernatural and zombie. Also popular was
‘found footage’ horrors such as ‘Grave Encounters’. Films like
this made it more realistic for audiences and therefore more
scary. Additionally, possession and exorcism films surged in
popularity such as ‘The Devil Inside. Thanks to new e-media,
horror films are now more transportable and accessible to
audiences, on websites such as Netflix.
Throughout time, horror has considerably progressed and the change is certainly noticeable. As a genre of film it has broadened, as
time goes on the horror genre has to adapt according to what society finds frightening, it shifts and changes mimicking our fears.