Horror’s Impact on Cinema

THE horror genre’s impact on cinema is more profound than what most people think. What was once considered silly movies with monsters in the lead role changed in the 1960s, a period that kicked off a new era for horror. While some still consider it a niche movie genre, there’s no question that horror went into the mainstream, and especially over the last few decades.

To the untrained eye, horror is nothing more than jump scares. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Horror is a deeply profound genre with many qualities to offer. Before we delve into its impact, we must take a look back at its humble beginnings.

The Great Depression

Horror’s beginnings can be traced back to the 1920s or 1930s, also known as the Great Depression era. At that time, most of the films were monster flicks such as Frankenstein by James Whale or Dracula by Karl Freund. They were released in 1931, before King Kong took the screen a couple of years later.

Why monsters as a form of entertainment? At that point, it was viewed as an artistic form of what deeply scared us. Keep in mind that the Great Depression was a particularly hard time for everyone, including film makers. People were scared from what happens next, with fear and societal horror setting in. It was a very hard time, but it managed to spawn a new movie genre and created new icons that are celebrated as jump scare visionaries to this day.

A century later, the situation’s completely different. Horror has invaded every facet of our society, but just the big (or small screens). You’ll find the monsters have creeped in to everything, even in gaming and gambling too. Slots based on movies such as The Invisible Man or Dracula are not uncommon. They are either inspired or directly based on these movies, and can be played with bonuses or real money online. Slot sites with welcome bonus packages are popular these days just as much as any other genre, and even a bit more.

After the Golden Era of horror movies after the Great Depression which spawned from escapism and real-world troubles came an era of exploration. Not geographical exploration, but deeper insight into the darker side of human nature. All throughout the XX century, horror adapted to society. People were still afraid of monsters taking away their freedom, and in the 1950s, the monster era of horror flicks blossomed.

This was the time when movies such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Blob, and The Day The Earth Stood Still were released. Another classic—Invasion of the Body Snatchers—was released in 1958 to critical and fan acclaim. It remains a cult horror movie, and is one of the latest before the horror genre raced into a new and surprising direction.

Of Monsters and Men

Until 1960, horror didn’t exactly explore the dark side of man. It explored the dark side of society, turning societal fears and anxiety to monsters from other dimensions. In the 1960s, there was a cultural mindset shift among Americans. In post-war USA, American feared something else. Societal anxieties during this period gave birth to a whole new genre of horror, spearheaded by Alfred Hitchkock’s Psycho.

Widely hailed as one of the best horror movies of all time, Psycho was a turning period for the genre. Even if you have never watched it, you probably know the iconic scene where Norman Bates stabs Marion Crane to death in the shower. It was something moviegoers never seen before. It changed the whole narrative of horror, breaking up the uncomfortable stagnation of monsters flicks in the 1950s and traded convenience for inconvenient horror that will keep you to the edge of your seat.

It was a real shocker for the audiences. For the first time in history, there were no monsters from another world. The monster was something real – a human. In reality, it essentially turned a mirror on America during that time, showing the audience who the real monster is. Three years later, president Kennedy was assassinated. Anxieties and societal fears became more tangible, and that’s why Psycho was so successful.

Thanks to it, monsters were now humanized. During the 1960s and onward, American has seen its fair share of serial killers. These monsters were people, and the big screen horror flicks now shared the message that the true monster may truly be us. Hitchkock’s new perspective gave birth to movies such as Peeping Tom and The Sadists, while Carnival of Soul went a step further, telling the story of a woman with mental health problems who believed a man was following her.

At that point, horror’s impact on cinema was huge. Everyone rushed to theaters to see Psycho and Peeping Tom. A new cinematic genre was born, and it’ll only get better from there.

A New Genre

A decade later after Hitchcock’s groundbreaking film, a new genre was born out of it – slasher movies. They took horror in an entirely new direction, while paying homage to psycho. No monsters served as the base for these films. The real monster was someone just like the audience – a relative, the quiet person down the block, or their best neighbor Dave.

This took horror to new heights, once again showing that the real monsters are humans. That was a big and drastic change from the horror movies of the past, where radiated abominations destroyed the Earth. It was science fiction of course. The real horrors were much closer.

At that time, movies such as Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Black Christmas brought moviegoers back to cinemas. The audience asked for a ticket more to see blood splattered on screen and deranged lunatics chasing innocent teenagers with their weapon of choice. Of course, movies chasing more money would eventually ruin this horror genre, and it wouldn’t be until Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula in 1992 to bring back the genre from the dead.

For its ever-lasting influence, Dracula made the Library of Congress National Film Registry. It’s a true testament to how good the movie was, and how impactful horror has been on cinema in general.

 

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