When the creatures took over: The evolution of horror movies


Kate Muir

VHS was a detrimental part of the evolution of horror movies, as it was the way that they reached home screens first, allowing their popularity to rise..

Since the beginning of human culture, horror and the fear of the unknown have been expressed through many different means. These stories and beliefs have been passed around, orally, religiously or by illustrations. In today’s media, these stories and beliefs are commonly expressed by movies or tv shows; but when did these oddities find their way into the big screen?

Le Manoir du Diable, released in 1896, is considered by many to be the first “horror” movie, as the general reaction was more frightful than creative at the time.  Never intended to scare people, Le Manoir du Diable is a rather simple display of monsters that transition from one to the next, in approximately three minutes span.

The big boom of horror in movies started in the early 1920s, according to Brittanica.com, with Germany and its new movie industry gaining fuel from WW1. One of the more well-known movies, The Golem, is credited with inspiring the trend of “monster movies,” a genre primarily focusing on one fictional or folk tale creature.

This idea of “monster movies,” and the development of sound technology in theaters, made many directors jump at the idea of using sound and video to create unsettling films. Basic sound effects such as creaking, general ambiance, and screams found their way into many productions in Hollywood.

Many iconic monsters or characters would make their cinematic debuts in the following years, including Dracula, King Kong, and Frankenstein

These movies would plant the seed that would become the horror genre we know today. Through the next 20-30 years, various movies would come out that would inspire other horror films, or become cult classics. This included Psycho, Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

“Horror” movies have slowly evolved, with many new ideas constantly changing the horror movie culture. Horror movies started with more creature features, but over time evolved into more shocking and psychological scares, as seen in movies like It, part 2.  Horror is known for its wide variety of productions, and it shows with the wide selection of classics its produced.