ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Horror Films: Then Vs. Now

Updated on March 6, 2018

Horror movies are made as an inventive way to scare the audience, from vampires and mummies to blood and guts. There are all sorts of horror movies. There's paranoia horror, slasher horror. But how are horror movies different now than they were 122 years ago?

The First Horror Films

To fully understand this difference, we must go back to the beginning and see what horror movies were like then. French director Georges Méliès created what can be arguably considered the first horror movie back in 1896, Le Manoir du diable (The Haunted Castle).

Back then, they had limited effects and could only use what they had. It doesn't seem like much now, but in the nineteenth century, that was petrifying. Nobody had seen anything like it before. In 1922 Germany, F. W. Murnau created a loose adaption of Dracula that is the most well known earliest horror film to date: Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror. It gathered a cult following and became one of the scariest silent films.

Taking a look at the some of the special effects and judging it to today's standards, it's not all that good. But if you take a look at it from a perspective of when it was released, it's pretty horrifying. This type of movie was groundbreaking for its time.

Pre-Code: Hollywood Restrictions and Censorship

Before the MPAA had ratings, they had restrictions to what filmmakers could and could not show. In King Kong, there were a few scenes in the film that were originally removed because they were deemed too scary. There was a scene where a man falls into a trench, and a bunch of spiders crawled onto the screen toward the body. People in the theater started screaming and fainting, so they had to remove the scene, which later became lost.

Is less more?

There are some movies with scary scenes where content is not explicitly shown to leave it to the viewer's imagination. Examples of this are Jurassic Park, The Blair Witch Project, Alien, etc. A good example of this is the comparison of John Carpenter's and Rob Zombie's Halloween.

In Carpenter's classic, the prologue of the film opens to Michael Myers as a child killing his sister and being caught by his parents. It then jumps to present day. Not much is told about Michael's backstory or how he came to be. There's another scene in Halloween II where a couple are in a hot tub and the man goes in a backroom. Oblivious to the woman, we see a blurry vision through the window, without audio, of Michael creeping up behind him and strangling him to death. This is all we're shown.

In Zombie's remake, he spends the first half hour of the movie going more into detail about Michael's background and dysfunctional family. He also adds exploitation aspects to the film involving an unrated scene where two crooked sanitarium workers sexually harass and rape one of the inmates. Both films are two different types of horror. Carpenter's version is paranoia horror whilst Zombie's version is slasher horror.

Still from the Unrated Cut of Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007)
Still from the Unrated Cut of Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007)

In Let the Right One In, there is a scene where a group of bullies force a kid to hold his breath underwater for three minutes. As we are underwater with the kid, we hear the muffled screams and body limbs of the bullies sink underwater from the kid's vampire friend. This is all we hear of the bullies' torment.

The remake somewhat destroys this effect.

Pushing the Envelope

Today, we are treated to movies that enjoy pushing the envelope and seeing how bloody they can get. Most of these films leave almost nothing to the imagination, as they are nearly 90% blood and guts. Prime examples of this are Saw, Evil Dead (2013), The Human Centipede, and, what is cited to be the nastiest film ever created, A Serbian Film: a movie notorious for its scenes involving infant raping and necrophilia.

Still from the controversial A Serbian Film
Still from the controversial A Serbian Film


A couple in bed together was taboo enough in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Now the director of the 2017 IT is trying to add a scene of a baby being eaten by Pennywise. Horror movies have changed a lot since the 1920's. Horror films went from being subtle to indecent. Some argue that less is more and prefer not to be shown everything. Others argue that they enjoy the morbid beauty of the pretty colors blood makes exiting the wound of the victim.

What do you think?

Should directors leave it to the imagination or add more blood and guts?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • AlexisG profile image


      9 months ago

      As someone who regularly watches horror movies and critical analysis' of horror movies, I give a confident "leave it to the imagination". I am not a fan of blood and guts, and I avoid overly violent movies. Classic horror is one of my favorite genres.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)