People have always had a fascination with stories that were unexplainable and entailed fear. These tales existed long before the development of film, yet they became more mainstream during the 1930s.
Though, not the original creator of the horror movie genre, Universal Pictures helped lead the way. Among some of their pioneer films were “Frankenstein,” “The Invisible Man,” “Dracula,” and “The Wolf Man.” Many of these films based on books written prior to the creation of the films. Sequels to some of these movies continued to be made throughout the 1940s and 1950s, even with some remakes in later times, something all too familiar in horror.
As time went on, the genre slowly began to develop along with technology. During the 1950s, an increase of films dealing with alien invasions and mutations began to arise, including “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and “The Blob and the Fly.”
In the 1960s, another shift took place as the stage was set for many of the most recognizable and influential horror movies to this day. For the next three decades, horror would release some of its most successful films with more recent films struggling to follow up.
In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock directed “Psycho,” a movie that arguably pioneered the slasher flick era that would come into play for decades to come. It became one of the most recognizable names in the genre.
The “Psycho” shower scene is one of the most memorable murder sequences in the horror genre. Numerous sequels and a remake followed but none with the same amount of success.
In 1968, George Romero revolutionized horror filmmaking with an idea that would become a genre on its own: the zombie genre. “Night of the Living Dead” follows a character by the name of Barbra who encounters the walking dead while visiting a dead relative at the cemetery. Escaping from near death, Barbra heads to a farm house, where she comes across Ben, another person trying to escape from the same situation. As night arrives, the two come across several other characters in what turns out to be a struggle for survival. The farmhouse becomes surrounded by the flesh-eating zombies as Ben, Barbra and the rest of the crowd try to figure out a way to escape.
The success of the movie led Romero to create many more films, including “Dawn of the Dead,” “Day of the Dead” and, more recently, “Land of the Dead.” “Land of the Dead” and a recent remake of “Dawn of the Dead” included features associated with current films, such as extremely graphic scenes.
In 1973, one movie came along that to this day is still considered one of the best of its kind. A well-balanced film, “The Exorcist” follows the story of a young girl who becomes possessed by a demon. A young priest becomes determined to rid her of the possession and he, along with an elderly priest, must suffer drastic losses in trying to rid the girl’s body of the demon.
It was the most popular movie that experienced a shift in outcome. The ideal ending of good conquering evil wasn’t as apparent in this movie. Perhaps a movie too advanced for its time, no other movie of its kind was able to duplicate it, including sequels and spin-off films.
A movie at least a decade ahead of its time, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) featured one of the first characters to become recognized simply by his name. The movie features Leatherface and his cannibalistic family. A movie with a less than brilliant storyline, it remains a highly successful film because of its highly intense and graphic scenes. The 2003 remake was not a total failure like many other remakes. The gory theme of the movie blended well with the recent trend of increased horror movie violence and gore.
In 1978, the slasher era officially began with the release of John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” Michael Myers would become a leading force in the genre with Jason Vorhees of the “Friday the 13th” series and Freddy Krueger from “Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) following. All three characters became publicly recognizable. These characters, along with Charles Lee Ray (“Chucky”), Pinhead and others, were significant in an era in which long lists of sequels would dominate the 1980s and 1990s. The popularity of the characters is apparent with the success of “Freddy vs Jason.” Though not a scary flick, two of the most notorious horror movie murderers duking it out caught the attention of the fan base.
Recently, the genre has focused too much on gore and violence and not enough on the back-story that was so predominant in earlier films. These earlier flicks featured a simple but interesting storyline.
Remake movies and new prequels such as “The Hills Have Eyes” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” have concentrated more on boosting the blood content rather than developing the story. This has led to the failure of several remakes as well as new films.
A film series unlike any other, the “Saw” franchise has developed into a top name in the genre. For the last three years, “Saw” and its two sequels have taken over the Halloween box office. The film, though gory, features a more complicated story than your average horror movie. All three movies have remained consistent with each other, particularly in their level of entertainment. The first is probably the most interesting, mainly because it was the first and caught movie-goers by surprise. Perhaps “SAW” will revolutionize a new generation of horror with many of the new films and remakes coming up short of expectations.