By Allison Shoaf
Horror movies have changed dramatically throughout the years, from cheesy background audio and pixelated imagery to suspenseful eerie music and clear screen definition. Horror has a fascinating prolonged history throughout more than a decade. The genre began with the works of George Mellies. His screenplay consisted of ghosts, skeletons, spiders, etc. This evolved and Edison Studios released the first adaptation of Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Hyde, and The Werewolf.
The golden age of horror in the 1920s and 30s produced many classics known today. Horror was not generally unsettling, both The Cabinet of Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922) were the first attempts. In the beginning of the 1930s the second iteration of Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), and the first color adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Hyde (1931) were produced. More horror films began to be released, this soon unnerved viewers. The genre started to sprout general worry with heavy censoring and public outcry. A movie released called Freaks (1932) was cut extensively and the original version is now nowhere to be found. It is still at this time seen as a disturbing watch; it was banned for 30 years from Great Britain.
At the start of the Atomic Years the Hammer Horror Film Company was founded 1934 but only started turning prolific during the fifties. They were responsible for films such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Mummy. It was followed up with psychological thrillers and TV shows. The “Slasher Flicks” genre was singlehandedly established by Alfred Hitchcock.
Along with many new horror movies, Japanese history was also being written. During a war ravaging time in Europe and nuclear fallout, movies that did not necessarily pertain to human qualities were produced. One we can now recognize today is the Godzilla collection. Big hits such as The War of the Worlds and When Worlds Collide in 1953 made Godzilla well known. Halloween, Friday the 13th, and a Nightmare on Elm Street are the most prominent to become successful and famous. They sparked their own long run franchise.
Upcoming horror has changed drastically from older productions. Some say it has gotten worse not in quality, predictability wise. Haunted houses, zombies, killer clowns, and slasher flicks have become increasingly predictable. People can assume the bad guys and jump scares before they happen. The scary music that creates suspense, anxiousness, and ambience in movies are overplayed and dragged out to create the idea a scare is going to happen. However, the music will start to play up and become more intense, giving way to no scare whatsoever. Horror movies one can see releasing in October are Jeepers Creeper: Reborn (Oct. 28th), Horror Noire (Oct. 28th), The Lacerated (Oct. 29th), The Night the Sandman Returned (Oct. 29th), Last Night in Soho (Oct. 29th), The Awakening of Lilith (Oct. 30th), Giving Up Forever (Oct. 31st).
A Lenape student and instructor were interviewed about what older horror movies they personally enjoy and what newer horror movies they thought were well made. Older movies Mr. Perry, a CIT Instructor, says he enjoys are The Shining (1963), Haunting (1963), and Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and new films well-made are Midsommar (2019), The Void (2016), The Witch (2015). LeeRoy Blondeaux, a Lenape student, says he enjoys Chucky (1988), Scream (1996), Goosebumps (2015) and well-made films are Poltergeist (1982), The Visit (2015), MAMA (2013).
Classic horror movies have been followed up by more recent works and additions to older franchises. These can include older classics and newer movies one enjoys. The horror genre has a prolonged, large history that has many years of experimentation and public ridicule due to the graphic contents involved. Horror themed films now receive appraisal for amounted effort, storyline, and graphics just the same as any other genre. Many movies mentioned in this article are rated R and viewer discretion is advised.
New York Film Academy. “How Horror Movies Have Changed since Their Beginning.” Student Resources, 21 Oct. 2015, www.nyfa.edu/student-resources/how-horror-movies-have-changed-since-their-beginning/.
Mclaughlin, Christina. “Horror Movies Are Too Predictable.” The Current, 24 Oct. 2017, nsucurrent.nova.edu/2017/10/24/horror-movies-are-too-predictable/. Accessed 13 Sept. 2021.