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The Defining Horror Film of Every Decade

For ten decades, horror movies haunted movie screens and were one of Hollywood’s longest-running genres alongside the western. Since Nosferatus (one of the first films of its kind) was released in 1922, the blood and gore, the suspenseful and unsettling music, and the iconic creepy villains that followed were historic hallmarks in films that have terrified multiple generations of moviegoers. .


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From silent vampires in castles to make-up clowns scaring tweens, horror film has gone through many phases over the course of a hundred years. Popular among audiences, these creepy favorites not only shaped and seismically influenced the genre, but also defined the decades in which they live.

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1920s: ‘Nosferatu’ (1922)

When Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) is sent to Transylvania to finalize a sale with Count Orlok (Max Schreck), it is soon revealed that Orlok is a vampire who has his sights set on the estate agent’s wife.

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An unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, F.W. Murnauthe silent movie Nosferatus was one of the first horror films to be released with Robert Weinit is The Office of Dr. Caligari. Through his use of shadows and mise-en-scène, Nosferatu also played a big role in defining German Expressionist film during the decade and beyond. Finally, the lack of sound as well as Schreck’s haunting performance added to the creepy nature of the film; which, since its release, has inspired many remakes.

1930s: “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935)

Following the events of 1931 Frankensteinscientist Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) decides to abandon his experiments. However, when The Monster (Boris Karloff) he created kidnaps his wife, Frankenstein is forced to create a new creature to save her.

Picking up where the first left off, the seminal sci-fi horrorBride of Frankensteinwas one of the very first movie sequels to be made. Masterfully crafted by James Whale1935 Bride of Frankenstein told a compellingly rich horror story about loneliness and humanity that was amplified by Karloff’s likable performance as the monster. As a result, the film received rave reviews and, arguably, a 1930s horror cinema all its own.

1940s: ‘The Wolf Man’ (1941)

After being bitten by a wolf in a vicious attack, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) turns into a werewolf. Causing mayhem and mayhem, some villagers set out to hunt the beast as Larry seeks to leave town.

Realized by George Waggner and containing classic atmospheric fog, 1941s The werewolf followed the cycle of universal monster movies that dominated the 1930s. In fact, following the film’s success, it would spawn future sequels that would also populate the 1940s. audiences at the time, The Wolf Man also influenced future filmmakers like John Landis (An American werewolf in London) and Joe Johnson (The werewolfa modern remake of the 1941 film).

1950s: “Them!” (1954)

In 1954, giant ants roamed movie screens in Gordon Douglas‘sci-fi horror Their!. As an army of mutated ants terrorizes the citizens, it’s up to a team of scientists and military to put an end to this uprising before the ants threaten civilization on a global scale.

Widely considered one of the first nuclear monster films of the 1950s, Their! is an entertaining creature feature that is sure to leave any viewer terrified of big bugs. Also featuring Edmund Gwenn (Miracle on 34th Street) as an informative scientist, the film contained one of the most enigmatic opening sequences in sci-fi horror as a little girl wanders the desert alone in shock.

1960s: ‘The Haunting’ (1963)

When paranormal investigator Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) invites two women, Eleanor (Julie Harris) and Theodore (Claire Bloom), at a haunted house, strange events occur that put the lives of everyone involved in grave danger.

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Mysterious and frightening, The haunting was one of the scariest movies audiences saw in the 1960s that left them with one question: Do you believe in ghosts? With inventive, dynamic camerawork and stellar direction from Robert Sage, the supernatural horror film has endured and been scary ever since. Harris’ screams of terror, unsettling sense of dread and chilling use of sound make The haunting effective horror that helped define the decade.

1970s: ‘Halloween’ (1978)

One Night in Haddonfield, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends babysit neighborhood kids while the parents are away. However, unbeknownst to them, a killer is on the loose killing teenagers one by one.

While the 1960spsychology and 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre introduced horror fans to the ingredients of a slasher, John Charpentierthe 1978 classic Halloween was arguably the formal birth of the horror-slasher subgenre. With a hypnotic, catchy and suspenseful score, a terrified final girl, a gang of horny teenagers and a masked killer, Halloween was iconic and defined horror of the 70s (and beyond).

1980s: ‘The Shining’ (1980)

Jack Torance (Jack Nicholson) and his family move to the Overlook Hotel for the winter. But, while living in isolation, Jack begins to go mad, which threatens the safety of his family.

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Containing creepy twins that will haunt viewers’ dreams and striking visuals (including blood dripping from the elevator doors), Stanley Kubrickit is the brilliant was and still is influential. Surprisingly, however, Stephen King was famous for his outspokenness against the film and how much it differs from his novel of the same name. Either way, Kubrick’s psychological horror, for some, helped spawn more 1980s film adaptations of King’s novels, including the popular 1986 hit. support me.

1990s: ‘Scream’ (1996)

After brutally attacking and killing a girl, Ghostface targets Sidney (neve campbell) and his high school friends. Alongside Officer Dewey (David Arquette) and journalist Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), they track down Ghostface who is behind all the murders in Woodsboro.

In 1996, legendary director Wes Craven introduced audiences to the reference-filled slasher-horror Scream. Therefore, the film helped shape the next era of parody films and teen horror movies. From the iconic, memorable, and subversive opening sequence to Campbell’s portrayal of an iconic badass girl finale, Scream proved to be a box office hit and a hit with critics. In fact, it’s proven even more popular with fans of the genre as the film is full of references and nods to horror films of the past, while also innovating the genre in new and interesting ways.

2000s: “Paranormal Activity” (2007)

When Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat) move into a new house, mysterious things start to happen. As the nighttime disturbances begin to intensify, the young couple, who fear that they are in the presence of a demonic spirit, decide to install security cameras.

Injecting an aura of authenticity, paranormal activity terrified audiences when it was released in 2007. Oren PeliThe made film reignited fan interest in the found-footage horror film with its number of tense sequences and chillingly realistic imagery. Causing consequences in the process, paranormal activityThe highly effective and long-lasting marketing campaign made the film a box office phenomenon. Since then, he has marked genre cinema and the 2000s.

2010s: ‘It’ (2017)

After his brother is eaten by Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), a killer clown lurking in the sewers, Bill (Jaeden Martell) and his group of bullied friends band together to track down the clown in order to prevent more pre-teen murders from happening.

Featuring a star-studded cast of teenage actors (Finn Wolfhard, Sophie Lillis, Jack Dylan Grazer among others), This was a smash hit with audiences in 2017. In addition to several spooky, tense Edge-of-Your-Seat sequences, Skarsgard’s spooky performance as Pennywise once again had the clowns scared. Breaking box office records and rightfully earning “iconic” status, Andy Muschiettiit is This also generated a sequel with 2019It: Chapter 2.