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The History Of Horror Films

Jun 19, 2008
Horror movies are often diverse in plots and characterizations, but they are all able to evoke spine-tingling thrills in moviegoers. The history of this genre can be traced back to the late 1890s, and the influence of these early films is still felt in the entertainment industry today.

The father of horror movies may be Georges Melies. In 1896, he depicted otherworldly events in his movie, "The House of the Devil". Two years later, Japanese producers entered the horror arena with two movies. And in 1910, Edison Studios in the United States created "Frankenstein". These early offerings into this genre showed creativity and the ability to evoke genuine emotions from the audience.

Writers, directors and actors in horror films have historically sought to create a level of fear that rivets moviegoers to their seats through adrenaline rushes. This has been accomplished in a variety of ways, from demonic activity, monsters on the loose or extraterrestrial beings. Although the premise of these films may differ in certain ways, the basic idea is to capitalize on everyday fears by making them larger than life. Viewers connect with this film fare because there is a disturbingly real sense that these events could actually happen in some way.

Most horror films have a single villain, and early movies took ideas for this character from literature. Dracula, Phantom of the Opera and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde easily made the transition from print to the big screen. Another interesting depiction of fear was created when movies explored societal insecurities or aberrations. The plots of these films included characters with bizarre personality traits, an apocalypse type situation or the presence of demonic activity. In the 1950s, science fiction began to influence the horror genre and gave it a modern, yet equally maniacal feel. In these movies, there was a sense of overcoming alien invasions to ensure the future of the world.

While horror films seem designed to "entertain" audiences, many directors and producers used them as vehicles to express commentaries on society. For instance, George Romero's classic cult film "Night of the Living Dead" expressed insightful views on human nature during the turbulent Vietnam War era.

Alfred Hitchcock took horror home. He didn't use extraordinary monsters, but injected a dose of terror in everyday people. In "Psycho" Freudian logic explained the action, and also gave his audience an open-ended fear to take with them.

Historically, the films in the horror genre have evolved and experimented with different types of themes. From aliens to zombies, characters have taken many faces and personality traits. Settings have featured private homes or entire countries. Additionally, the level of intensity is also a variable, either quietly turning up the tension with a psychological aspect or opening the floodgates of fear with explicit elements. Whatever the mode, horror films definitely fit the bill for many moviegoers.
About the Author
Sebastian Marders loves writing about a variety of things and sharing the website that inspires each piece with his readers. If you are in the mood for a light-hearted, zombie attack, you'll love these funny zombies.
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