The Evolution And History Of American Horror Films
EARLY YEARS OF HORROR FILMS
This is my tribute to American horror films through the ages. The article will not be focused on any particular movies nor will it be a list of horror movies, but rather the entire film category and its assorted styles of pulling out our deepest fears.
Horror films have been around nearly as long as the entire process of filming for audiences has, beginning for the United States, with the 1910 release of Frankenstein. It was a crudely filmed movie to say the least, but given the technology of the era it is considered quite the masterpiece. the film was produced by Edison Manufacturing Company and was used in part as an advertisement for Thomas Edison's Kinetogram.
Aside from the films "typical of the era" poor film quality and the fact that it's only 16 minutes long, it holds its own very well. After the initial release of this classic film it wasn't long before many more silent, black and white horror attractions were produced.
1920s, 30's and 40's
In the mid to late 1920s the primary steps of commercialization of sound cinema were taken in the United States. Though it wasn't until the early 30s that the first significant stage of development for American horror films took place, beginning with the likes of Dracula, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man and another version of Frankenstein all filmed between1931 and 1941.
In the 1950s science fiction and horror (many still in black and white) began to blend in many instances partly due to the atomic bomb fear and the turns technology was taking at the time. By this point, horror films were being produced at a significant rate, and more storyline and better effects were being added to help the audience feel the fear at a higher level than previously known.
A few of the better known thrillers from the era are The Day The Earth Stood Still, Zombies Of The Stratosphere, The War Of The Worlds and many more. As a side note the very first 3-D color movie was a horror film by the name of House Of Wax, starring the king of horror himself Vincent Price.
1960s Through 80's Horror - A New Type Of Horror
During the late 60s through the 80s horror films had taken on a new meaning in the U.S., thought by many to be fueled by the devastating effects of the war in Vietnam. The top horror films of this era were specifically well known for their amount of bloodshed, and the themes were more often pointing to psychopaths and cults rather than the monsters, aliens and the supernatural of the previous eras.
Special effects were also upgrading somewhat with the use of psychedelic type effects and a lot of fake blood, so much in fact it often took away from the picture more then it added. Blood Orgy Of The She Devils, The Hills Have Eyes, Friday The 13th, and Halloween are all good examples of this time periods fears.
1990s Horror Film Facelift
In the 90s horror film budgets began to grow tremendously, the low budget B type horror films grew into full fledged cinematic and television hits. With the use of high dollar special effects, better make up artists and costume designers the thrill was brought to an all new level. No longer did you see the awkwardness of bulky rubber suits or the strings connected to the puppets back as their attempting to slay their victims.
Aliens, vampires, possessed toys, Demonic possessions, even leprechauns and clowns were attacking the theaters during this time period, along with a nearly uncountable selection of other monsters and madmen. Some of the well known films from the 90s were Freakshow, It, Night Of The Scarecrow, The Blaire Witch Project and Wish Master. As another side note The Blaire Witch Project was one of the first horror movies to be filmed in a documentary style.
What is the most terrifying of the movie monsters?
The New Millennium Welcomes Horror Films With Open Arms
Let's move on now to the new millennium, the number of evil animals, vampires, werewolves, zombies and assorted newcomers has never been greater. During this era though the idea of evil vampires gets blatantly pummeled by the unfortunate idea of romance by a certain well known book while zombies take on an all new level of popularity due to all of the "end of the world hype" and the advances in make up and digital effects.
The stories have tried to take on a close to the heart effect to draw out one of mankind's oldest well known fears of having to fend of the reanimated corpse of a friend or relative. The special effects of this era is definitely a jewel in the crown of horror film history, with even the finest of detail being added for that realistic look and feel.
A small taste of the movies from the present era would be films such as Resident Evil, Dawn Of The Dead, Ring, Final Destination, The Crazies, Diary Of The Dead and Night Of The Living Dead Origins 3D, to just name a few of the many.
As you can see there have been many twists and turns down the road of American horror, and no single article could even begin to cover it all. I wanted the readers to know just how the industry standard of horror has reached the point it's at today and the transitions it has made in doing so.
I can only hope that this article has accomplished that much. Now go and pick out the style of horror film that scares you the most, turn out the lights and relive your childhood fears, if only for a few hours.