The Falconer

Horrifying history

Maxwell Hoover and Nicolas Spickelmier

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Halloween is coming up quick, and with Halloween comes horror movies. Whether you like the genre or not, it’s a big part of cinema history. The movies come in many different forms such as psychological horror, slasher movies and more.

Horror movies have been around about as long as film has been popular. In 1896, “The Haunted Castle” hit American theaters. The movie goes by different names in different countries, but the story stays the same. It’s only a few minutes long because of the technical limitations of the time, and it’s definitely not scary, but at the time, it was new and interesting. It resembled a lot of slapstick comedy of the time even though it was meant to be scary.

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Later in the 1920s and 1930s, the monster movie era took the film industry by storm. Movies like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Dracula” were extremely popular. The genre continued to increase well into the 1950s with movies such as “House of Wax” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” We had these monster movies because, at the time, WWI, the Great Depression, WWII and the Cold War were hot on the minds of Americans and Europeans, so these sensationalized monsters were a way of escaping from the real threats of the time. Instead of worrying about getting nuked, people could worry about a spooky lagoon monster.

In the 1960s, the horror genre became bloodier. Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” was the inspiration for most of the slasher films to come in the following years. Slasher films of the late 1970s and the 1980s mostly took place in heavily wooded areas with teens doing illegal or frowned-upon things. “Black Christmas” was arguably the first slasher movie, but due to its setting and pacing, many believe it to be less in the genre and more of an inspiration like “Psycho” was. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” came out before “Black Christmas” and is thought by most people to be a slasher film, but it isn’t because of the lack of the masked killer and first victim seen in popular slasher films. In 1978, “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” marked the full-force switch from monster movies to slasher flicks. During this time, technology was rapidly improving, so more people were indoors more of the time. The woods were becoming more and more unknown by the average moviegoer. The fear of the unknown was the reason these movies became scary.

In 1999, the film “The Blair Witch Project,” a small indie horror movie, blew up the box office, creating a whole new type of horror. Found footage movies became extremely popular after this. It became the horror movie genre of the 2000s, “Cloverfield” and “Paranormal Activity” being some of the most popular. The reason this type of movie became popular was that at the time, video cameras and phones with cameras were becoming commonplace, so having a recording of how something happened from the first-person perspective became an easy way for screenwriters to make the audience feel a sense of mystery. Also in found footage movies, the first-person perspective makes the main characters seem more real. 

With “Scary Movie” and “Shaun of the Dead,” horror comedies were also becoming popular during the 1990s and 2000s. Many people don’t know this, but “Scream” was originally intended to be a horror comedy until the writers made the decision to lean more to the horror side, and some viewers were left shaking in their boots after the movie.

Now horror movies are just whatever they want to be. If a writer wants to make a slasher, they make a slasher. Writers have a lot of creative liberty with what they can make now, yet most still think remakes and reboots are the way to success. It will be interesting to see what the next era of horror movies has in store for its fans. 

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