History of Horror

The genre for this week is horror.  I do not like horror movies because I am easily scared but I have chosen one that I can tolerate and somewhat enjoy.  According to filmsite.org, “ [They] are unsettling films designed to frighten and panic, cause dread and alarm, and to invoke our hidden worst fears, often in a terrifying, shocking finale, while captivating and entertaining us at the same time in a cathartic experience.”  I wholeheartedly agree with this except I am not entertained by them.  I have heard that in many horror movies they add in really low sounds that we don’t consciously pick up but subconsciously they fill us with dread.  Here is an interesting article on it.  This is a video demonstrating the low sounds.  I had my speakers on my computer pretty loud and I couldn’t hear anything but I felt the sense of dread and I’m not sure if that was because it worked or if I was psyching myself out.  This is a video demonstrating the one instrument that makes the music in the movies.  Horror films have been around for as long as they have been making films.  The first one was only about two minutes long and was made by a French filmmaker named Georges Melies.  His film was called Le Manoir Du Diable (1896) (The Devil’s Castle/The Haunted Castle).  It had what we now consider to be classic elements of horror and vampire movies like a flying bat, medieval castle, a cauldron, a demon figure, skeletons, ghosts, and witches with a crucifix to get rid of them of course.  Quasimodo, from Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris 1831 novel, became the first horror figure in the 10-minute short by female director Alice Guy titled Esmeralda (1905), and soon after was seen in the full-length horror film Notre-Dame De Paris (1911) (aka The Hunchback of Notre Dame).  Coming out of Germany in 1919 we have Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari (aka The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari).  This was still in the era of silent black and white films.  The first genuine vampire picture was also produced by director F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror (1922) (aka Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens).  It was an unauthorized adaptation of Dracula by Bram Stoker.  Lon Chaney is considered to be the first American horror film star because he used makeup and he made 157 films.  Unfortunately around 100 are considered lost.  There were many Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde films the first one being directed by Otis Turner in 1908 and it was the first American horror film.  The 1930s marked the end of the silent horror film.  The first talkie horror film was the second one with all talking from Warner Bros.  Directed by Roy Del Ruth in 1928 with The Terror.  The sound effects were heavily advertised.  The first Dracula movie was released in 1931and it was just called Dracula.  The original Frankenstein also came out in 1931.  Then in 1935 we got The Werewolf of London which of course led to the wolf man cycle.  There was also a movie called She-Wolf of London in 1946.  One of the first films with a mummy was called The Vengeance of Egypt in 1912.  It kicked off mummy and walking dead (as in zombie) movies.  The first one to be shot in color was Doctor X in 1932 directed by Michael Curtiz.  Mid-century there were Dracula sequels and even though there were more than Frankenstein sequels the Frankenstein sequels were more successful.  In the 1950s many were considered B-grade.  Some of these were Godzilla (1954), I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), and The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954).  Don Siegel appealed to our Cold War paranoia in 1956 with Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  In 1953 House of Wax was released and in it they experimented with 3-D.  Vincent Price also got his career launched because of it.  Sci-fi was also merged with horror in the 50s like The Blob and The Fly both released in 1958.  Alfred Hitchcock had a silent film in 1926 called The Lodger which expired horror’s themes.  In 1960 Psycho came out and it has influenced all Hollywood horror films since then, specifically the slasher style ones.  He also released The Birds in 1963.  Roman Polanksi greatest hit was Rosemary’s Baby in 1968.  I have seen it and I was doing some browsing determing how scary it really was and one of the reasons why it was so scary was because we only see Rosemary’s reaction to seeing her child leaving it up to our imagination to decide what she saw.  The zombie movies took off in the 1960s with The Plague of the Zombies in 1966 directed by John Gilling.  In 1968 the MPAA had to make a new rating system with G, M, R, and X due to the subversive violent themes in the horror movies.  Director Paul Morrissey’s sexy cult horror film Andy Warhol’s Dracula (1974) (aka Blood for Dracula), originally rated X but re-rated as R.  It definitely looks like something.  I’m not quite sure what.  In 1971 one of my favorite movies was released.  A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick.  In 1975 The Rock Horror Picture Show came out.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) has many sequels stretching over 38 years.  Halloween was released in 1978 and brought about the modern slasher flick.  It has 10 films as sequels each one wore than the one before it apparently.  The Exorcist (1973) started the devil possession films.  Including Poltergeist (1982), The Amityville Horror (1979), and The Omen (1976).  Some more recent ones include many films by Tim Burton, The Craft (1996), The Blair Witch Project (1999), Dawn of the Dead (2004), and The Conjuring (2013).

This is the page that I pulled my info from.


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