By Jerry Glynn
One of the most popular movie genres is the Horror movie, and it is also one of the oldest. Film pioneer Georges Melies made supernatural events the subject of many of his silent film shorts, his most notable being Le Manoir du diable, or The House of The Devil, in 1896, which some consider to be the first horror film.
The first movie monster in a feature length horror film, per se, was Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Before that Wegeners The Golem, in 1915, and Robert Wienes The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and the first vampire movie, Nosferatu.
Lon Chaney Sr. was the first American horror movie star, playing the leads in both The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1923 and The Monster in 1925. He is best known, however, for his title role in the 1925 version of The Phantom of the Opera. In the 1930s Gothic Horror films became all the rage in Hollywood. These included Dracula in 1931, starring Bela Lugosi, The Mummy in 1932, and one of the most controversial horror movies ever made, Freaks, based on the short story Spurs by Ted Robbins. How controversial. So much so that the studio burned at least thirty minutes of the films footage and then disowned it completely.
The horror movie genre expanded in the 1950s and 60s to include movies that featured threats from the outside, such as mutations, aliens, and zombies. This was also the era of 3D glasses and the Percepto electroshock technique used on theatre audiences during showings of the movie The Tingler.
In 1964, the Production Code of America fell by the wayside, and movies focusing on gore and the occult began being produced, starting with Rosemarys Baby in 1968 The Exorcist in 1973, and The Omen in 1976. The first adaptation of a Stephen King novel, Carrie, was also released in 1976.
In the 1980s, the horror movie genre saw the inclusion of films like Nightmare On Elm Street, starring Robert Englund, Friday The Thirteenth, Childs Play, and Creepshow, all of which spawned several sequels. This trend continued in the 1990s, and the trend of self reflective horror films, like Carrie, continued as well with movies like Interview With The Vampire, which was based on the popular Anne Rice novel of the same name. self parodying movies, like the Scream trilogy were popular as well.
Modern horror films place more of an emphasis on gore and torture than their predecessors, as evidenced by the success of the Saw films. Remakes of classic horror films, such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dawn of The Dead have also gained followings in their own right. The horror movie genre is one that is both timeless and constantly evolving.
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