The very first horror flicks were the silent short films of the late 19th
and early 20th centuries – the first was Le Manoir du Diable, a two minute
long vampire film released in 1896. Chock full of demons and other dastardly
characters, these original scary movies attracted audiences in droves and
led to the eventual development of today's horror film genre.
Why do People Need to be Scared?
Our relatively easy modern lives have eliminated many of the fear-generating
challenges that our ancestors faced on a regular basis. Most of us have safe
places to live and make our way through everyday life without having to worry
about getting home alive. As a result, we need to manufacture opportunities
(i.e. scary movies and roller coasters) to experience extreme levels of anxiety
and fear and then gain control of those feelings. We allow ourselves to be
challenged within a controlled environment and survive.
The Psychological Scare
Some horror film aficionados believe that a truly scary movie shows very little
gore and very few shots of the “bad guy”. Instead, the mood is set with the
appropriate music and lighting and audience is given just enough information
to create the worst possible scenarios all on their own. Of course, the imagination
can come up with horrors that no director or scriptwriter ever could. Examples
of psychologically scary movies are Psycho (1960), The Haunting (1963), Rosemary's
Baby (1968), The Exorcist (1973), Jaws (1975) and Alien (1979).
The Gore-Filled Scare
For some moviegoers, blood and gore make scary movies worth seeing. They want
their villains visible and slashing. They want their victims screaming and
bleeding. Some classic examples of this type of scary movie are: Night of
the Living Dead (1968), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Halloween (1978),
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Hellraiser (1987), Silence of the Lambs
(1991), Seven (1995), Scream (1996) and Hannibal (2001).