A girl runs frantically through the woods trying to escape an axe wielding villain. The defenseless victim suddenly trips and collapses to the ground. The villain laughs wickedly as he lifts the axe above his head. The girl releases a final scream as the weapon quickly ends her life, causing the audience to go silent as they watch the villain drag away the lifeless body. Death, blood, guts, suspense, screaming, and terror are all just a few things to expect when watching a modern day horror film. What is horror? Horror can be defined as an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust. (Wilson) The description of horror is not very pleasant, but for some reason horror films are extremely popular. Why is this so? People are addicted to the synthetic feeling of being terrified.
Modern day horror films are very different from the first horror films which date back to the late nineteenth century, but the goal of shocking the audience is still the same. Over the course of its existence, the horror industry has had to innovate new ways to keep its viewers on the edge of their seats. Horror films are frightening films created solely to ignite anxiety and panic within the viewers. Dread and alarm summon deep fears by captivating the audience with a shocking, terrifying, and unpredictable finale that leaves the viewer stunned. (Horror Films)
During the late 1800’s there were two extremely short silent films that began the addiction of gothic horror. The earlier of the two was an eighteen second long film entitled The Execution of Mary Stuart which was produced by Thomas Edison in 1895. There much debate over the matter of this film actually classifying as the first horror movie because of its short duration. (Trick Films) The second horror film of this century was produced by Georges Melies in 1896. The name of this two minute long film was Le Mannoir du Diable which translates to “The Devil’s Castle”. This film featured Mephistopheles summoning ghosts and demons, and it contained a crucifix to banish evil. (Horror Films) Both of these creations helped inspire the basis of future horror movies.
Silent horror films continued throughout the early 20th century. Some of the most famous horror films of this era included; The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), The Golem (1920), and Nosferatu (1920). These films feature a mad doctor, a vampire, and a monster that is never seen. (Wilson) These monsters were some of the very first to be introduced to horror but certainly not the last.
In 1928 ground-breaking technology made it possible for movies to have sound. This revolutionized horror films because sound gave an extra dimension to terror. Noise built suspense and signaled the presence of a threat. (Wilson) Instead of a monster suddenly making an appearance without warning, music would signal that they were near. Growls, Snarls, footsteps, and screams allowed the audience members to feel like the victims of the movie.
“By the early 1930s, horror entered into...