Humans have been telling horror stories and folklore for thousands of years, through oral history, literature, and, finally, film. One film genre that has evolved drastically since being introduced in the 1920s is horror.
Come with us on a little trip down memory lane, and find out why we love horror films so much
At the start of the genre, in the 1920s and 30s, literary classics brought us the first horror films, like Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and The Werewolf. As they started to develop beyond that many viewers became unnerved and heavy censoring took place.
Then came the slasher genre in the 1940s, thanks to Alfred Hitchcock with Psycho closely followed by the theme of radioactive mutation. As war was ravaging Europe and fears of nuclear fallout were high, horror introduced us to Godzilla, The War of the Worlds, and The Incredible Shrinking Man.
The 1950s and 60s were seen as the ‘gimmicky’ years, with 3D glasses, electric buzzers, and paid stooges performing in the audience. These gimmicks, unfortunately, cost a lot of money and led the movies themselves being low budget.
The late 1960s saw an American appetite for gore and the arrival of zombie movies, the most popular one to note being Night of the Living Dead.
The 1970s and 80s took a turn towards the occult, most particularly featuring houses and children possessed by the devil, think The Exorcist and The Omen. This is also when supernatural horror films based on literature makes a comeback – with Stephen King novels entering with Carrie and The Shining.
The slasher genre reared its head again in the 1980s. If you were a bunch of kids, a relentless antagonist was hunting you down. Most popular, at the time, was The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The 1990s was a particularly poor time for horror; computer-generated special effects were making an appearance and brought with it uninspiring monster movies such as Anaconda and Deep Rising. Luckily there were a few comedy horrors in this time that were enjoyable such as Scream and Braindead.
The 2000s too were quite disappointing, only with the zombie subgenre bringing some intrigue with 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, and I Am Legend.
We are now seeing extremely original horror films emerging, giving us hope that the genre will continue to offer new intrigue for those who love a little fright with their Friday night movies. With releases like Insidious, Cabin in the Woods, and It Follows it seems as though the genre is moving into a very creative space.
Fear on Demand
If you’re looking to find the best genre titles the world has to offer, head off to frightfan.tv. This is a progressive website application which means that you can watch films on your pc, laptop or mobile device (Android and Apple devices running iOS9.3 or higher) without having to download an app.
Each film is available on the service for 60 days, with new additions every week. If you can’t find it here, request it, and we will do our best to get it. R25,00 / US$1,70 per rental. Watch the film as many times as you like in 48 hours.
Enjoy our other blogs about cinema, South African filmmakers, movies and retro vibes from Retro Afrika Bioscope.