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Horror Movies Through the Ages: 80s Horror Slashers to 2010s Paranormal Ghostly Dimensions
Horror Movies: Through the Ages
Yep, Horror movies. They have been around since the dawn of motion pictures, and believe it or not this stretches back to the 1890’s. “The House of the Devil” was the first recorded horror movie of the ages, and throughout the 1910’s and 1920’s there were some iconic American cinema productions; including Frankenstein (1910), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), and The Phantom of the Opera (1925).
This paved a way for Universal’s dominance in the 1930’s; with such iconic productions of Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), King Kong (1933), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and The Werewolf in London (1935). Then, throughout the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, there were a fountain of great horror movie productions that would lead us into the 80s; a decade for horror movie making that we are going to begin our focus. To check out all of the greatest horror movies throughout the years - check out: A Timeline History of Horror Movies (by ThoughtCo.com).
The 1980’s dawned the foundation for such great horror sub-genres as the slasher genre, comedic toned horrors, and the living undead. Sure, these sub-genres were beginning to emerge before the 80s, but the modern movies that we all know and love today within the horror category library are littered with 80s throwback horror themes. Not everyones cup of tea, but the style of horror movie production in the 80s is the furthest most fans of mass movie consumption are willing to go back to every once in a while.
The 1980s horror movies: The way that many would put the 80s library of horror movies released in this decade is - the first half of the decade was lined with slasher horror movies; like Friday the 13th, Prom Night and My Bloody Valentine; and the second half of the decade was bridging horror with comedic tones; such as in movies like Aliens, The Lost Boys and Child’s Play. These movies were the most realistic in design that horror fans had ever had the luxury of choosing between, and this was only going to get better.
The 1990s horror movies: Psychological torment would be a thing of the 90s, and first appeared in such horror movies as Arachnophobia, Misery, The Silence of the Lambs and Candyman. Misery won the lead actress, Kathy Bates, an Academy Award for her performance; holding a literature novelist author captive in her secluded home whilst he suffered severe injuries to his legs. The Silence of the Lambs is Anthony Hopkin’s greatest achievement in his acting career for his performance as Hannibal Lecter - the sophisticated, intelligent, M.D. psychopath, who has been a prisoner in an insane asylum for his cannibalism murders.
Still in the early 90s, there was the release of Jurassic Park (1993), a movie about a newly opening theme park on an island off the mainland where a large corporation has been chemically producing living Dinosaurs, and before they grow full size they are set free in a portion of the island (that is their home) that is fenced off. That’s the theme park. The way the theme park would have worked had it made it past its BETA phase; is there would be electrically controlled cars that would circle the island where paying customers could lay witness with their own eyes to living, breathing dinosaurs. Horror! Now, technically Jurassic Park did contain horror themes throughout, as the theme park has an automated (hacked) power down, and during this time the T-Rex escapes its enclosure, and the expert hunters - the raptors have also escaped their enclosure. The T-Rex is somewhat horrifying in Jurassic Park (if you are a child), and the raptors are more or less scary to everyone in the audience. Were it not for the horror themes, in having the T-Rex and Velociraptors, this would have been a somewhat pleasing movie, but definitely boring.
The second half of the 90s horror movie scene: Scream (1996) is the first movie that comes to mind, and this was the first horror slasher movie to unite the teenage front; as everybody who was not living under a rock in the beginning of the second half of the 90s (and was a teenager) went to watch Scream. This movie was a rite of passage for horror slasher fans from the modern age, and Ghostface (the fully outfitted psychopathic slasher) was clumsy (which made him/her humorous), had a cool voice changer device (just amazing!), and would chase his victims with a shiny hunters blade (that looks a little like a giant kitchen knife). The lead character, Sidney, is the killers main victim - and after escaping the first attempt on her life - suddenly everybody around her is being killed. The mystery behind who the killers is left audiences feeling the suspense right up until the last scene, and the fully costumed Ghostface is both terrifying and hilarious. Then, teenagers of the 90s received "I Know What You Did Last Summer" - starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. To put it simple, now everybody who was somebody in 1997 (when IKWYDLS released) hates Jennifer Love Hewitt (for starring in a trashy movie that conned fans of Scream into thinking this was a movie that could be just as good - FLASHBACK - it isn’t). In 1999, released Sleepy Hollow - a ghostly movie about a headless horseman killing the locals, and The Sixth Sense - the insanely commercially successful psychological horror - starring Joel Haley Osment, you know, the kid that says the famous line, “I see dead people”. Bruce Willis’s character was dead… no way!
The 2000’s horror movies: The early 2000s horror movies were (how do we put it…) VIOLENT! That’s right! So, ends the days of tasteful suspense and psychological mind bending tactics. In the 2000s, restrictions were as lenient as they could possibly get… because as it turns out, bloody gory horror movies are economically viable. The people want what the people want. Bang, and immediately in the year 2000 released Final Destination - a movie about a group of high-school kids who avoid certain death through one of the group dreaming of a vision of the deathly aftermath, and so before the certain death they exit the jet plane. Wam! Bam! Boom!… The jet plane explodes just like the vision showed. Sorry, people, there is no cheating death in this movie. A little sickly to watch, but each of these survivors is haunted by death, and in the same order that they would have died had they stayed on the exploding plane they begin to each die - each in a weird and gruesome manor - and these were all grim reaper style accidents. In 2002, there was the height of the asian adapted horror movies, through the release of The Ring (based on asian movie, Ringu). Rachel and Aidan (mother and young son) are haunted by a demon named Samara, and after Aidan sees the cursed movie, Rachel - a successful journalist by trade - tracks down the roots for the Samara girl, trying to find out what caused the young girls death. Rachel is under the clock, as anyone who watches the cursed tape has just 7 days before they are to die. The blood and gore potential reached its climax with the release of Saw (in 2004), a movie that was based around captured victims being put into death-traps (extremely gory-“cut-your-own-throat” death-traps), and the choice is theirs, they can either figure out the puzzle to unlocking the death-trap, or accept their fate and die after the timer runs out. Yeah… what about Hostel?… Even fully grown mature men are afraid to watch Hostel (released in 2005).
The late 2000s (still horror movies, well duh): Horror movies were becoming more tasteful again by the late 2000s, and with the successful of Cloverfield, the movie making phenomenon truly hit off with home-footage style camera work for horror movie-making (technically started in 1999 - with "The Blair Witch Project”). The late 90s though was filled with hidden horror movie gems; like The Strangers (2008), Friday the 13th (reboot) and Zombieland (2009). Paranormal Activity was perhaps the most successful of all home-footage horror movies that have ever been made - mostly due to the wide selection of sequels. Twilight, ladies and gentlemen, was a modern drama/romance/horror movie, and for the most part stole away large audiences from mass horror movie consumption, and may be the reason for the failure of the Friday the 13th reboot.
The 2010’s horror movies: In 2010, the most popular horror movie was Insidious - a movie by director, James Wan, which followed the lives of a typical average North American family, and one night one of the sons, Dalton, goes into a coma. Spooky things have been happening up to this stage in the movie, and thanks to a psychic that has a connection with the other side - they soon realise that Dalton is in fact a body jumper, and whilst he sleeps he can exit his body into the other side. He is in a coma because he drifted to far into the nether, and it takes the father (who also possesses the gift of body jumping) to sleep and go into the nether ghost world to find his son and bring him home. A touching movie at times, and a formula that made big bucks at the box office from practically scraps used as a budget for the movie. James Wan returned to direct the sequel, Insidious: Chapter 2 (released in 2013), and during the same year (2013) he directed The Conjuring, a movie that shared a similar formula to the one that was successfully used in the making of Insidious. There were some hidden gems around a similar time; including “The Crazies” (2010), “Let Me In" (2010) and “Sinister’ (2012). A few horror movies that skipped a beat where the audiences were concerned; includes Piranha 3D (2010), Fright Night (2011), and Oculus (2013).
Finally, wrapping up the 2010’s horror movies: The Conjuring 2 (directed by James Wan), may be one that certain audiences have been putting off (even though the movie was commercially successful) because of its London, England setting. But, from personal experiences seeing the movie twice, it was your typical enjoyable James Wan (Insidious, The Conjuring) horror movie. Not groundbreaking, but it did seem like a wise decision to change-up locations, as the US is always the victim when it comes to the other dimension crossing over. Nice to see the UK take some of the heat, and amazingly it is all based on true events. M.Night Shyamalan’s The Visit (released in 2015) amazed audiences around the globe, as with its $5 million budget they managed to make a suspenseful, scary horror movie that would bring a global box office return for a sum of more than $98 million. M.Night Shyamalan might have had a few flops over the past sum of years, but it says something about a director when they can work with measly budgets, and still create something amazing (and best of all, original). But, the best is still yet to come, as "Don’t Breathe” was my top pick for horror movies released in 2016. It had (similar to “The Visit”) a measly budget of $9.9 million, and the proof is in the money, as the movie went on to gross more than $157 million at the global box office. If you haven’t these movies, be very much aware, as there small budget has clearly fooled you in the wrong direction - because this movie will have you at the edge of your seat (as would “The Visit”). The box office smash for the horror genre in the 2010’s came with the release of (the Brad Pitt lead…) World War Z. Yep, I think this stands for World War Zombies, or perhaps a military code - like World War (Plan) Z). Whichever - whatever - World War Z grossed more than $540 million at the global box office, and it should seem Brad Pitt truly earns every cent that he makes in screen-presence appeal. A final thought, and that is the sadness that came with the ending of a great movie franchise in 2011, and that movie is titled Scream 4. Audiences simply did not wow the producers enough with their return on investment (commercially successful, but around half the success of its predecessors). Yep, they made a Scream Netflix Original show, but this really killed any hopes of a bounce back for the franchise to the silver screen, as super-fans for the Scream franchise will be warn down after watching the immensely popular Scream Netflix Original TV series.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to chip in on the comments section with all of those judgemental disappointments over movies that have been overemphasised, and all of the movies that lacked thereof a mention. Sorry, guys, but it would be great to get some feedback - any feedback - no feedback (no pressure).
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