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Horror film history
Transcript of Horror film history
The advent of sound had greatly impacted the genre by adding an extras dimension of terror. Universal Studios saw great success in the early 30’s, with “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” coming out during an era of the Great Depression and fear, so many viewers could identify with charecters and the emotion portrayed in horror films. More films such as " The Mummy", "Freaks" and "Bride Of Frankenstein" always emerged during the 1930s, leading this decade to also be dubbed 'the golden age of horror film'
The 1940s where dominated by Wartime horror movies with the iconography and legends of the wolf being strongly representitive of Hitler, particularly because various propagandist indentifed Hitler with 'the big bad wolf' from fariy tales. This lead werewolf mytho1s such as "Werewolf Of London" and "The Wolf Man" focusing on an identity crisis, perhaps as a reflection of the confusion the world was in
while on the verge of the outbreak another war.
Over the decades its clear that successful horror films tend to reflect the prevailing social attitude, changes in technology and most importantly the fears brought about by events that had defined the decade.
Horror film history
Dubbed the 'granddaddy of all horror films', The cabinet
of Dr Caligari heavily focuses on the eerie, unusual
mise en scene in order to reflect the psychological state of mind of the characters. This film was a german expressionist film that served as a representation of the confusion and turmoil Germany was going through following the war. Nosferatu (1922) Famously known as the very first vampire movie, heavily based on Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. Count Orlok is represented as grotesque creature of the night with no remorse.
The end of the second world war by an atomic bomb had impacted on the turn the genre took towards 'horrific science' with the introduction of a new breed of monsters, adapted specifically for survival. The outcomes of the second world war made it evidently clear that the more advanced a countries technology, the more powerful the nation. Horror film in this decade arguably reflect the public's weariness over the pase of technological advancment, with a prevailing theme of 'mutant monsters' featured in films such as "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", "Godzilla", and "It Came From Beneath The Sea". These monster movies offered a vision of destruction created by non-humans, with humans representing a force for good. A relevent theme during this decade was a mass yearning for peace, so films such as these provided a period of escapism from the realities of the Cold War.
The 60s saw a huge sexual and social liberation, that changed values, morals and family life. These changes produced its own fears, particularly for those outside of the youth-dominated liberation movement. the general public's fear was derived from radically changing communities, and this was reflected in the horror movie hits of the decade. Films like "Psycho" starring Alfred Hitchcock as 'Norman Bates' explores the 'monster within man' who's so close to 'normal' that he's only reveled to be a monster by the end of the film. "Night of the Living Dead " was one of the most commercially successful horror films of all time. readings have suggested the film is symbolic for the 'American home' being under attack as the narrative follows six refugees who barricade themselves in their house to protect themselves from the undead.
With the introduction of the contraceptive pill and the outbreak of 'Thalidomide babies' the concept of pregnancy and childbirth became one of distaste. This was reflected in the genre with the villain/monster now taking the form of a child. "The Exorcist " follows a possessed twelve year old girl, "The Omen" follows a demonic child with supernatural powers, "Alice, Sweet Alice" follows a sociopathic, murderous little girl and "Halloween" which follows a serial killer that was institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister.
A running theme of 'body horror' dominated the genre in the 80s because the technical advances in the field of animatronics, and liquid and foam latex, allowing the human body to be manipulated and twisted in a detailed, realistic way. This was a decade when spending was encouraged, and the film industry definately followed this ideology with big budget films such as 'Re-Animator' , 'The Fly' and 'The Thing' that all feature gore filled Computer generated graphics from headless zombie characters, a human body transformation to a fly and gigantic teeth ripping through rib cages. However by the end of the decade the pile of gore upon gore had desensitized people to the point where the gore was almost comical.
By the 90s audiences were desensitized to gore, so the genre took an abrupt turn towards serial killers and psychopaths, a dominate 'psychological thiller' phase emerged. 'Silence of the Lambs' follows a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer, 'Seven' is about a sadistic serial killer that plans murders corresponding to the seven deadly sins, and 'Scream' also follows a serial killer who murders teens.
The first decade of
the 21st century
The real beginning for horror films in the most recent decade began with the horrific events of 9/11, that had acted as a turning point for the genre. Films like '21 days later' was set in a post apocalyptic world with deserted city's, clearly reflecting the fear brought about from the events of 9/11. One of the biggest franchises during this decade was 'saw' which had been (almost strategically) released soon after the revelation of the atrocities of prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib