Horror History: The origins and roots of horror

Horror History: The origins and roots of horror


As the leaves in the trees change and pumpkins appear on people’s porches, we know Halloween is starting to roll around the corner. It’s a perfect time to sit back and turn on your favorite scary movie. 

This poster is for the movie Dracula and it is Universal Pictures 1960 reissue. The movie originally was created in 1931 based on the novel written by Abraham Stoker. It was directed by Tod Browning and Karl Freund. It has morphed into a historical horror movie classic. via Creative Commons

The first horror movie was Le Manoir du Diable, known in English as The Haunted Castle or The House of the Devil, by Georges Méliès. Created in 1896, only being a three-minute film, it’s packed full of cauldrons, skeletons, ghosts, and an incarnation of the Devil. It’s most often credited as the first horror film, despite the fact it wasn’t intended to be scary at all, but it was the first movie to include the aspects of the horror genre.

During the 1900s-1920s the horror genre started to form. The first adaptation of Frankenstein was released during these years and many people were finding their footing in the genre. These years led up to the Golden Age of Horror. 

The Golden Age of horror took place during the ‘20s and the ‘30s and it’s widely considered to be the greatest era of the horror genre. Many classics were produced such as Nosferatu, Freaks, Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Phantom of the Opera. Only in the ‘30s was the genre officially referred to as horror and there were concerns with the genre. It faced heavy censorship, and some movies, for example: Freaks, got banned completely for years.

The next massive turning point in the history of horror was the ‘70s. The movies that were coming out 

This is a movie poster for Halloween in 1978. The movie was directed and produced by John Carpenter, and co-written with producer Debra Hill. It starred Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis and it turned into one of the most successful independent films ever, grossing 70 million dollars. via Creative Commons

at this time were reflecting society’s fears and anxieties about the future. Lots of horror movies were coming out and their antagonists were reflecting the traumas and especially showcasing the fears of young people who were growing up in America at the time. With Vietnam people thought the world was ending and people growing up during it witnessed the horror. Christian morals were waning in this time and movies like The Exorcist played perfectly into society’s fear revolving around the loss of religion. 

Then the ‘80s came and slashers dominated the genre. Started by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre back in 1974, slasher movies began to gain popularity. Slashers were being pumped out like crazy during this time, most were simply generic and uninspired movies, but some took off among them. The most iconic being, Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. 

Horror slowed down in the ‘90s and lost the momentum that it had in earlier decades. Things would stay slow up into the 2000s, of course, there were a few remarkable movies released during this time such as Saw or The Babadook. But overall, the lack of momentum and original ideas caused many fans to complain that it seems like the industry only pumps out sequels and remakes as cash grabs.

Opinions on horror right now are mixed, but a few students were asked about their favorite scary movies, and this is what they had to say:

Senior Walter Torres, when asked what his favorite horror movie is answered excitedly, “I recently watched The Thing, and it was really cool. I liked the special effects a lot, and it’s just so terrifying, genuinely, the concept is really cool.”

Junior Maddie Pierce said, “Insidious, because it’s a whole series you can watch, and it’s a really good movie. The kid is possessed by a demon, and it’s about him and his family and their life that they go through. I really like how the first movie and the second movie connect,” she explained. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Guidelines for Commenting: No profanity, stay on topic, don’t negatively name individual people *Please keep in mind this is a high school newspaper, please comment accordingly.*
All The Nest Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *