With the release of Jordan Peele’s Us, the genre of horror has consolidated its position among the masses. Horror movies have been in the business for over a hundred years now. They have branched out into innumerable subtypes such as comedy horror, slasher, science fiction horror,
Psycho was the inception of the slasher genre (though Peeping Tom was the movie which invented the genre). It gave rise to many other slasher characters like Chucky-the Doll, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees,
The movie has its premise set around an isolated motel. A woman named Marion steals money from her boss and meets the motel owner Norman Bates who harbours some dark secrets. Psycho has some of the best endings that cinema has ever witnessed. Other prominent examples from the 1960s are Rosemary’s Baby which has its elements of demons, cults and human paranoia. Night of the Living Dead was a zombie flick released in 1968. It is considered to be the flag bearer of zombie horror movies.
The 70s was when filmmakers began to be more aggressive in their approach of exposing blood and gore to the audience. The Exorcist made history by being the first horror movie to be nominated for Best Picture. It was nominated for 10 Oscars and won 2. The supernatural horror film struck the right chord with the audience and is still considered to be the greatest horror movie ever made.
Directors also started to explore telepathy, weapons and insanity. Another movie which is remembered is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Five friends on a road trip become the targets of a chainsaw-wielding family of cannibals. The instant success of the movie led to the rise of its franchise in the upcoming years. Other famous examples are Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Carrie (1976) which is about a high school girl with telekinetic powers. A disturbing movie that I recently watched was the British mystery movie The Wicker Man (1973). It explored the concepts of cults, pagans and the abandonment of religion.
The decade ended with Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror movie Alien (1979). This film is my personal favourite from the 70s. You are stuck with a terrifying extraterrestrial in space. The movie is popular for its “chestbuster” scene and its horrifying portrayal of an alien. The film’s tagline says :
“In space no one can hear you scream.”
The movie was followed by an a worthy sequel Aliens (1985) directed by James Cameron.
In the 1980s, horror movies established themselves in the film industry. Popular actors made their presence felt in this upcoming genre. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is the best horror movie ever made. The movie is based on elements of insanity, isolation, cabin-fever and supernatural forces. Jack Nicholson plays the role of an aspiring writer who agrees to be the caretaker of an isolated hotel with his family. However, he turns violent and paranoid as the winter progresses. The movie has many ambiguities because of an unreliable narrator.
A Nightmare on Elm Street resurrected the slasher genre. It blurred the boundaries between dreams and reality. Sadly, I have yet to see this film. Kurt Russell took a bold step to star in John Carpenter’s ( of Halloween fame) The Thing (1982). The movie received negative reviews from critics and failed at the box office. However, it has since gained a cult following.
The 80s paved the way for horror movies over the next three decades. Many reboots, remakes and sequels have been made since then. Critics have termed these remakes as unnecessary that undermine the original film. Stay tuned for the next three decades of horror movies.