Horror in films can be traced back to the mid 1890s by George Mellies who made the first horror film in 1898. This film consisted of cauldrons, animated skeletons, ghosts, transforming bats and even an incarnation of the Devil. The genre of Horror as we know it today had its start in the 1930s in such monster films such as Frankenstein, The Mummy and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the 1940s-50s, horror films seemed to be focused on nuclear fallout in films such as Godzilla.
The 1970s-80s horror genre revolved around the theme of the supernatural and kids being possessed by the devil in films such as The Exorcist, The Omen, Carrie and The Shining. Horror films soon moved into slasher films with classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. All these movies were so successful in horror that they became long-running horror franchises and are still popular to this day.
The reason why horror films range between so many different genres has to deal with what people fear the most and what’s going on in the real world.
The early 2000s originated with classic horror films, such as those centered around post-apocalyptic themes, some of them in zombie movies. Films such as Resident Evil, 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead and I Am Legend are examples.
I have always loved horror, but it took me a while to get into horror films when I was young because I was always scared of watching scary movies. The reason why horror films have evolved so much is because horror is about what people fear the most, and people love the feeling of being scared in addition to the thrill of horror movies themselves.
But why were horror films about the Devil in the 1970s? This time was called “the golden age of horror.” People were excited for occult satanic stories during the time of nuclear war and annihilation, the idea that Satan was lurking in the shadows causing panic.
At beginning of the early 2000s, people were afraid of the end of the world because we experienced 9/11 early on in the millennium. Then we had the film 2012 about the Mayan calendar expiring and the world falling into peril, which didn’t end up happening. The fear of the end of the world is what terrified people the most in the early 2000s.
Horror movies represent what people fear the most during the time in which they live in. The themes of the horror genre will always be tied to our deepest and darkest fears. As the years go on and as horror continues to evolve and thrive, its central themes will continue to change.