The History of Horror

The horror genre

It is extremely likely that people have been telling sinister stories way before any literature and films were created. But the horror didn’t become a legitimate genre form for literature or film until the 18th century. Horace Walpole is the man who presented the genre of horror to the world. He did this through literature and published the story ‘Castle of Otranto’ in 1765. This story tells the spooky tale of a haunted castle. The supernatural theme is presented through moving picture frames, loud slams and whispering throughout the corridors. It’s a spine-chilling novel that progresses to get more and more frightening throughout.

After ‘Castle of Otranto’ more writers began to write novels inspired by the theme of horror. Eventually, it was named ‘Gothic Literature’ which is a mix of horror and romanticism. Gothic literature became hugely popular during these times and the sales of these novels and tales kept on rising. There are many famous and well-known gothic literature novels from the 18th century that are still studied today. Such as ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ (Ann Radcliff), ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ (Robert Louis Stevenson), ‘Vathek’ (William Beckford)Edgar Huntly (Charles Brockden Brown) and so many more. All these stories include tales of either ill-rated romance, supernatural terror, death and deceit or anything horror-related. They inspired many writers or filmmakers to choose horror as the genre behind their creative work. And significantly impacted and moulded the horror genre at the present day.

What is horror?

Horror is a type of genre that aims to create fear in the audience (whether its through film or literature). They aim to create narratives that will induce suspense, terror and dread amongst audiences for entertainment value (sounds fun, eh?). Some people love the adrenaline that horror stories give them and some people can’t bear to watch. It all depends on your preference. Horror is presented in so many different ways through literature and film. Whether its supernatural horror, non-supernatural horror or gothic horror.

Horror in films

The genre of horror started in literature but was introduced to the film industry over a century ago. Since then there have been many releases and horror has become one of the most popular genres of the modern-day. A horror film should seek to produce a sense of terror and fear. The first horror movie ever made was in 1896 by the Fresh filmmaker, George Melies. The film is called ‘Le Manoir Du Diable’ (The Devils Castle) and it tells the story of a haunted castle. The supernatural presence in very strong in this film, and despite it only a short 2 minutes long, it’s truly spine-chilling.

Many filmmakers decided to follow in Melies footsteps and created their own horror movies. There are now countless horror movies available at the click of the button today. And so many award-winning famous titles out there. Such as, ‘Night of the Living Dead’, ‘The Haunting’, ‘Alien’, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, Halloween’, ‘Psycho’, ‘The Shining’ and The Exorcist’. Even if you haven’t watched these films, it is very likely you have heard of them. So whether it’s zombies, ghosts, witches, demons, the supernatural, evil forces or skeletons, there’s a horror film out there for everyone.

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