Horror Films: A Brief History and Why I Love the Genre

Horror films: Brief History and Why I love the genre

I love horror films. I have been watching them since I was three years old. No I am not crazy, stupid or violent. I find them fascinating, so much so that I wanted to write a myTake on them.

THE START OF IT ALL

Horror films have been around since the late 1800s. The Universal Monsters; Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Phantom of The Opera and The Invisible Man are just a few horror villains that really started the genre. For decades they were the stars of the horror movies. Until 1959 when the man who I say started the slasher film genre came into the picture.

Robert Bloch wrote a book; Psycho. It became Alfred Hitchcock's next film and kicked off the slasher genre. Because of Psycho we have all these other films, everything from Halloween to Saw. When most people think of Psycho they think of the killer Norman Bates. Anyone who has seen the movie knows he is a momma's boy with deep mental issues. Not everyone knows that he is based off a real life serial killer; Ed Gein, he is pictured below.

He is not exactly the boy next door. This man was inspiration for not just Norman Bates but was also the inspiration for Leather Face from Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Buffalo Bill from Silence Of The Lambs. Ed Gein was a grave robber, skin suit making cannibal. He killed two women and his brother supposedly. He was very close with his mother before she died. When he was arrested they found masks made of skin, bowls made out of skulls and various other things I will not mention incase you are eating.

So for anyone who has seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies and thought there was a man who ran around chasing people with a chainsaw and a family of cannibals in Texas you can breathe a sigh of relief!

The term "Based on a true story" is a very loose term. Real life horrors do happen though. I have said, "it is because of horror films that I have never been kidnapped or killed" because horror taught me more about stranger danger than my parents ever could. It also taught me to never judge a book by it's cover. Norman Bates was a nice looking man but he could flip a switch at any time.

Horror is and always will be my favorite genre, they have crazy story plots and even stranger villains. As time went on more people started making horror films. In the 1970s Wes Craven gave us Last House On The Left, Tobe Hooper gave us Texas Chainsaw Massacre and then John Carpenter gave us Halloween.

Halloween got negative reviews at first but then one review changed everything. It became popular, the 1970s came to an end and everyone and their brother decided to jump on the horror movie band wagon. Friday The 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Child's Play, Evil Dead and Hellraiser to name a few came out. They all were successful and with success comes studios wanting more money. Every major horror film got a crap load of sequels, even Psycho got 3 more installments! Everyone wanted in on the horror deal. Of course with success and crazy fans comes negative reviews. In 1984 a film changed everything, that film was Silent Night, Deadly Night. It took one ad to ruin the success of a horror film. Moms saw the ad for this movie about a tormented young man who snaps and is dressed as Santa Claus. Here is the poster, what do you think?

So with moms freaking out the studio pulled the ad but it went to theaters the same time as Nightmare On Elm Street and did very well but those picketing moms wouldn't let it go and because of that the box office sales went down. To all parents who have kids who want to see a horror film or who see the trailers on tv, tell your kids they are just movies, it is all fake and no one is being hurt. That is one thing that drives me nuts about some people. Teach your kids the difference between reality and make believe.

Enough about slasher for now, I wanted to mention a horror sub genre that is great but is hard to execute; paranormal horror films.

THE PARANORMAL HORROR FILMS

The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist are some pretty intense paranormal horror films.

The Exorcist, another book turned into a movie was also based on a true story that took place decades before. A boy was supposedly possessed by a demon and William Peter Blatty wrote a book based off of it; The Exorcist. It became a movie in 1973. It was a success and again it also caused a commotion! Everyone was starting to wonder if they were possessed! It has spawned many sequels and prequels. Then there was another movie that had people talking. This was also based on a book and a true story; The Amityville Horror!

This movie and the book have been loved and hated since they came out forty years ago. Some people believe it was all a hoax. What happened was this; a young man named Ronald Butch Defeo was hearing voices telling him to kill his family. He shot every single family member in the house. He is still alive and is still in jail. Not too long after the murders the Lutz family moved into the house and they said they experienced terror every day. They did not stay in the house for a full month! The real house is still up in Amityville, New York. Here it is back in the 1970s.

Here it is today; apparently you can buy it. Do you dare?

Enough about the paranormal for now. There is still another part of horror I want to tackle, SHARKS!!

SHARKS

Sy Fy channel has for some weird reason had success with Sharknado. Why? Beats me. There is only one really great shark movie out there and it is Jaws! Jaws was the summer blockbuster that made everyone afraid to go swimming. Jaws was also based off of a book. Jaws did not happen but something frightening involving a shark did happen in 1916.

On the New Jersey coast there were five shark attacks. Supposedly this is inspiration for the movie Jaws. Shark movies are also hard to execute. Then again any horror film about a large animal, reptile or mammal is hard to do. Shark movies, crocodile movies, anaconda movies they can be great but a lot of them are just copy cats with CGI and a bad plot. Jaws is one of the coolest shark movies out there. I won't go any more into it because the weekend is coming up and I'm sure some of you will be going to the beach. So enough of that. I wanted to mention another "part" of the horror genre, this guy needs his own category for all the books he has written and all the films based off those books, STEPHEN KING!

STEPHEN KING

This man has written some very creepy books so it is no wonder why so many of them have become movies. Carrie, The Shining, Cujo, Pet Sematary, Rose Red, Misery, IT and Children Of The Corn are just some of the books that were turned into movies.

PENNYWISE from IT

CUJO

THE CEMETERY in Pet Sematary

I tell people if they want a weird or creepy movie to watch one based off of a Stephen King book. They are bizarre. You were warned.

ANYWAYS....

After the 1980s we were still getting sequel after sequel for a lot of different horror movies; Halloween, Friday The 13th, Child's Play and countless others. Horror hit a slump as I call it. Then Scream came out and changed the game. Scream was cool. It brought back the serial killer villain and others even made "copy cat" movies to compete; I know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend were two of them. The "who done it" of horror films. In the 1990s with all the sequels of all the great horror films of the 1970s and 1980s and the "who done it" horror films as well as a couple of odds and ends it all came to an end. In the 2000s things changed. Freddy Krueger took on Jason Voorhees and Alien VS Predator happened. The slasher villains' time was up. Horror wasn't done though. Eli Roth comes out of nowhere with Cabin Fever, Rob Zombie puts out House Of 1,000 Corpses, Saw and Final Destination came out and then some jacka$$ who I can't stand; Michael Bay gives us a remake of Texas Chainsaw massacre.

This was The beginning of the end. Michael Bay is responsible for remaking Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday The 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street and was a producer for the Amityville Horror remake. 😡 Now many other horror and slasher films have been remade; The Stepfather, I Spit On Your Grave, Evil Dead, Halloween, My Bloody Valentine, Sorority Row, Last House on The Left, The Fog, Psycho, Silent Night, Deadly Night and thats just to name a few. There are some great horror films out there though from the 2000s and even now; Final Destination, House Of 1,000 Corpses, Saw, Cabin Fever, Hostel, Devils Rejects, Clown, The Conjuring and Orphan are some really cool and interesting horror movies. I love the older horror movies by far but those impressed me. Now after watching so many horror films I have been trying to find more disturbing horror films. Exploitation is the way to go. They are very disturbing and are not for anyone who faints easily. They are often harder to find but its worth it.

This is very notorious and it is gross. Cannibal Holocaust had its fair share of issues, the man who directes this had to be brought into court and prove it was fake! All the actors and actresses had to appear as well to prove thwy were alive. I liked it. It is one of the more "out there" movies.

I continue to look for other strange horror films because I have seen the classics.

I will always watch horror. Comedy and drama films are great, don't get me wrong but horror is something special. The special effects, the plots, the characters and the creepy and disturbing facts associated with them are awesome. What horror films can teach you is; stay out of the water, never trust someone you barely you know, if your friend is trying to tell you something please listen no matter how crazy it is, stay away from camp and don't drink or do drugs.

Horror is great, scare your friends and yourself. Sorry about any bad grammar and of course I do not own any rights to any of the pictures of these films. I do respect everyone in the business and the genre.

R.I.P. Wes Craven (Director of Nightmare On Elm Street and Scream) and R.I.P. Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates in the Psycho franchise)


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What Guys Said 13

  • 2mo

    Good take :)
    Though I prefer the original book IT

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  • 2mo

    I was with you until you recommended exploitation films. Most of them are just cheap attempts at trying to create artistic porn under the veil of "horror." Granted, every once in a while you might run into a really valuable film or two, but it is very difficult. I personally prefer the foreign market. I think that Asia and particularly Japan has put out a lot of better horror films in recent times. Even their Americanized counterparts like "The Eye" are better than 90% of films out there.

    Furthermore, how can you not mention Richard Matheson and his famous book "I am Legend"? It singlehandedly created the zombie genre, inspiring even George A. Romero. It was the first book to actually isolate vampirism from the supernatural, effectively creating zombies. Truly groundbreaking. He also wrote scripts for some of the most famous and influential episodes of "The Twilight Zone." It truly is a shame how underrated Richard Matheson is. I was genuinely saddened at his death about 4 years ago. The man was a legend, yet he does not receive the credit that he deserved.

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    • 2mo

      I agree with you on the Asian horror films. I have seen a lot and wow! They sure are cool and yet they have this creepy feeling about them too. Its awesome.

  • 3mo

    Very nice!

    For some reason, humans can find fear very entertaining. :P I like certain horror movies but only the ones that are well done; I'm not interested in gore for the sake of gore. That's just a cheap way to get a reaction. The true horror masters knew how to frighten the hell out of you, and understood that your imagination can conjure things a hundred times worse than whatever the director can put on the screen.

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    • 3mo

      Its true although I have never been terrified by a horror film, probably why now I am searching for an intense exploitation one. I think too much gore is the easy way out. If you have a great story to back it up thats great but having blood just to have blood? Lol oh no..

  • 2mo

    Man ima be khal drogo on Halloween

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  • 2mo

    I think you'll find fear is one of the greatest human motivators and is used to control people throughout history (via media, government). These films have to a large extent de-sensitized people. Think of some of the Vietnam bombing stories on TV that horrified people... then what we see on media today, and turn a blind eye to?

    I didn't read the date, but looked at the pictures:) I watched so many horror movies in the 80's.. Probably several hundred... my dad was a horror fanatic and we got pre release versions that were often very grainy and would flicker, but it was fun.

    Greatest lessons... when you gotta run, run and PLEASE... do not fall down ladies... ugh... that made me so mad to see girls fall down all the time when someone was chasing them! To this day it bubs me to see women in heels cause I know they can't run if they need to... LOL. don't split up in the haunted house... why did they always do that? no swimming in any water cause there might be a shark in it.

    I think there is great horror in real life, so I don't watch it anymore. Just watch real life.
    No I wouldn't buy the amityville house just in case:)

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  • 2mo

    Horror films to you are martial arts films for me.

    Though there is one movie that brings the two together: I Saw The Devil.

    Classified as a psychological horror film, it's about an NIS agent hunting down a serial killer that murdered his wife. While your tastes of the horror genre are more refined, it's one of the few horror films I've enjoyed, mostly because the few fight scenes are good, and really suspensful. Hell I didn't even know it was clasifted as a horror film until I looked it up after watching it.

    Another good one is The Man from Nowhere. Not a horror film per se, but it's definitely a thriller, with great fight choreography, and some disturbing scenes haha.

    What got me into martial art films: ironically The Bourne Supremacy. Having bully issues around 11 years old and watching a guy fight prole that won't leave him alone after saying "leave me alone" is certainly relatable lol. Fun fact: The Bourne Supremacy is best known for the shaky cam technique. It felt like you were actually in the fight, from the perspective of Bourne or his rival. Of course everyone took it and now it's hated lol. It was used a few times before that as well. The thing I like about the series the most is there is no. CGI. All of the explosions and car chase scenes are real. I've watched the behind the scenes videos. so. many times lol.

    Point is, as you state horror movies " stay out of the water, never trust someone you barely you know, if your friend is trying to tell you something please listen no matter how crazy it is, stay away from camp and don't drink or do drugs" martial art films taught me to stay in shape and train hard/well, as well as knowing how to carry yourself in general.

    Great read, really interesting, have to check out some of the movies you've mentioned.

    P. S. my buddy in the army modeled himself after Patrick Bateman

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  • 2mo

    Great Take, Horror is my favorite movie genre :D

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  • 2mo

    No mention of J-horror? At all?

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    • 2mo

      Not this time around lol. I have seen a few but I almost think they need their own take.

  • 2mo

    If you like Cannibal Holocaust, you should check out more Italian horror movies like Zombie, Suspiria, The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue, The Beyond and others. I've been watching a ton of those over the years. There's also a ton of cheesy ones that are so bad, they're great.

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  • 2mo

    Its not a coincident that you choose mostly old school films. Horror today sucks. This genre was amazing back in the day

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    • 2mo

      Old school rules. Films today are remakes or they lack story, the characters suck, the acting is bad, the CGI effects... Its all horrible.

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    • 2mo

      Mm interesting

      Have you also read any of the books?

    • 2mo

      I read Carrie but it was awhile ago.

  • 2mo

    Michael Myers is a classic.

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    • 2mo

      However if you want to get really disturbed watch Salo or the 120 days of sodom, it's boring but disturbing.

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    • 2mo

      Also you could check out Men behind the sun probably the most disturbing of all because of the fact that all you see in that movie happened for real unlike the others.

    • 2mo

      Hmmm I will have to check it out.

  • 3mo

    The movies you mentioned all suck, except for maybe C Massacre and Exorcist.

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    • 3mo

      Have you seen any of the horror films mentioned? I mention quite a few.

  • 3mo

    Good! But no true horror fan would ever explain or feel the need to justify why they love horror!
    Would just give a big f**k you to whoever didn't like it :P

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    • 3mo

      Oh trust me I do. When you are the only kid in class watching horror films you tend to be singled out quickly. I didn't care. While others watched Dude Wheres My Car I was watching Jeepers Creepers lol.

    • 3mo

      That's really cool :D

What Girls Said 3

  • 2mo

    I love some of these.
    Cannibal Holocaust - the stupidest and most pointless movie I've seen in my life... It's sole purpose is to just be gorey and gross.

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  • 2mo

    Cool, my favorite Horror villains in the picture on top, very good myTake ;)

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  • 2mo

    I am all about indie horrors yet have seen a lot of the commercial ones also.
    Many others you mentioned here I am yet to watch.

    Great post... it made me stay and read everything when I was initially just scrolling.

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