The History of Horror Films

Horror films play a prominent part of American culture, especially during the fall. Let’s look back at some of the history of this peculiar genre. Horror films today are obviously different than their grandfathers who started the genre, such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu, but these classic original horror films helped pave the way for a new kind of entertainment. Entertainment drawn from fear. Some films like Freaks (1932) were banned for 26 years in Great Britain due to public outcry regarding the disturbing content. Movies like this along with directors and actors helped pave the way for some of the most influential figures in the genre, such as Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock would continue to produce horror films from the 1940’s until the 1970’s. It was with his creation of Psycho that he invented modern horror. Up until then a lot of horror films were based on folklore, urban legends and the life of those in sideshows.

Following Hitchcock’s reinvention of the genre movies like The Exorcist (1973) would follow. Following these films though would be a lot of backlash due to their disturbing and graphic content including rape, murder, and animal cruelty. A good reference on how society, especially the U.K, reacted to such films would be to research Film Nasties. Films that were banned due to their very graphic nature that a lot of people would believe may cause an extremely violent society.

Horror continued to grow and even cultivated a sub-genre, known as slasher parodies. Scream (1996) is among the most popular slasher parody. With most of these characters deliberately breaking the rules to survive a horror film; No sex, no drinking or drugs, and never wondering off by yourself. Another strange, yet good, sub-genre of horror films is horror romance. Warm Bodies (2013) which took the Romeo and Juliet formula and put it in a world of humans and zombies in war.

As horror films continue to grow and gain a following, we see more and more styles of horror films and new takes on the genre. James Wan brings back the classic anticipation anxiety that a lot of old films produced. Movies like Zombieland have comedic relief that also portrays humans essentially turning on humans in the form of becoming zombies. Horror has become a genre that has multiple sub-genres and a mass following that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon.

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