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Horror Themes Essay

4842 words - 20 pages

A famous scene from one of the first notable horror films, Nosferatu (1922)
Horror is a film genre seeking to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's primal fears. Horror films often feature scenes that startle the viewer; the macabre and the supernatural are frequent themes. Thus they may overlap with the fantasy, supernatural, and thriller genres.[1]
Horror films often deal with the viewer's nightmares, hidden fears, revulsions and terror of the unknown. Plots within the horror genre often involve the intrusion of an evil force, event, or personage, commonly of supernatural origin, into the everyday world. Prevalent elements include ghosts, aliens, ...view middle of the document...

[4] In 1910, Edison Studios produced the first film version of Frankenstein, which was thought lost for many years.[5]
The second monster appeared in a horror film: Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre-Dame, who had appeared in Victor Hugo's novel, Notre-Dame de Paris (1831). Films featuring Quasimodo included Alice Guy's Esmeralda (1906), The Hunchback (1909), The Love of a Hunchback (1910) and Notre-Dame de Paris (1911).[6]
German Expressionist film makers, during the Weimar Republic era and slightly earlier, would significantly influence later films, not only those in the horror genre. Paul Wegener's The Golem (1920) and Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (also 1920) had a particular impact. The first vampire-themed movie was made during this time: F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922), an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula.[7]
Hollywood dramas used horror themes, including versions of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Monster (1925) both starring Lon Chaney, the first American horror movie star. Other films of the 1920s include Dr. Jekyll And Mr Hyde (1920), The Phantom Carriage (Sweden, 1920), The Lost World (1925), The Phantom Of The Opera (1925), Waxworks (Germany 1924), and Tod Browning's (lost) London After Midnight (1927) with Chaney.
See also: List of horror films of the 1930s, List of horror films of the 1940s, and Universal Monsters

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster
in Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
During the early period of talking pictures, the American Movie studio Universal Pictures began a successful Gothic horror film series. Tod Browning's Dracula (1931), with Bela Lugosi, was quickly followed by James Whale's Frankenstein (also 1931). Some of these blended science fiction films with Gothic horror, such as The Invisible Man (1933) and, mirroring the earlier German films, featured a mad scientist. These films, while designed to thrill, also incorporated more serious elements. Frankenstein was the first in a series which lasted for many years, although Karloff only featured as the monster in Bride of Frankenstein (1935), again directed by Whale, and Son of Frankenstein (1939). The Mummy (1932) introduced Egyptology as a theme for the genre. Make-up artist Jack Pierce was responsible for the iconic image of the monster, and others in the series. Universal's horror cycle continued into the 1940s, these included The Wolf Man (1941), not the first werewolf film, but certainly the most influential, as well as a number of films uniting several of their monsters.
Other studios followed Universal's lead. Tod Browning made the once controversial Freaks (1932) for MGM, based on "Spurs", a short story by Cintia Gomez, about a band of circus freaks. The studio disowned the completed film after cutting about 30 minutes; it was unreleased in the United Kingdom for thirty years.[8] Rouben Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Paramount, 1931), remembered for its use of color filters to...

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