Editorial

The earliest horror movies to give you chills 

We’ve enjoyed being scared since the beginning of time. It could actually be coded into our DNA. Research published in the Science Nordic found that ancestors who were hunter-gatherers used to protect themselves against the risk of predators by training their reactions to stressful situations. So, when we watch a scary movie, we’re actually doing what our ancestors did – we’re preparing ourselves against danger. If you love watching horror movies, grab some popcorn and take a trip back in time to when these classic scary movies were made

Le Manoir du diable (1896) 

This is known as the world’s first horror movie but was only three minutes long! Interestingly, it was lost until the New Zealand Film Archive found a copy of it in 1988. Le Manoir du Diable, or The House Of The Devil, is basically a series of sketches. It features a bat that transforms into a worker of the devil known as Mephistopheles. He summons a variety of demonic beings from his cauldron, then pranks men who are in his castle with them. So, even in the first horror film, house hauntings were making an appearance, which is interesting because now they feature in so many modern-day movies.

 

Une Nuit Terrible (1896)

In the same year, and made by the same person who created La Manoir du Diable, GeorgesMéliès, Une Nuit Terrible (A Terrible Night) is perfect for arachnophobic people. In the movie, the man sees a huge spider climbing up the wall. He gets a broom to kill it, then battles to sleep afterwards. However, as in the case of some early horrors, the attempt to be scary becomes a bit comedic, with the spider being nothing more than a prop controlled by wire. Still, everyone who’s afraid of hairy spiders can relate to the fear of not being able to sleep after seeing them in the house and even killing them.

The Golem (1915) 

This is considered to be the first monster movie. It features a clay man that comes to life thanks to a rabbi who loves magic, and is based on a Jewish legend of the same story. He brings the clay man to life to protect the Jews in Prague from prosecution. However, the clay being has an agenda of its own as it goes on a murderous rampage. The movie stars Paul Wegener, who adapted the legend into a script which he co-wrote. Not just known as one of the first actors, Wegener was respected for his role in expressionist cinema. The movie was first created in 1915 but then got re-released five years later, which featured an antique dealer who finds a golem and uses it as his personal servant. Weirdly, this then inspired the production of a comedy called The Golem And The Dancing Girl in 1917, as well as a prequel a few years later. The original movie of 1915, however, has inspired many other movies thanks to its paranormal angle, such as Frankenstein’s Monster.

The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1919) 

This movie is known as the grandfather of horror movies because it explores the mind of a madman. In the movie, an evil doctor fights against a hero who’s been erroneously put into an asylum. What makes the movie so intriguing and haunting is that the audience can never be sure which of the characters are sane and which are mad. It’s not just the characters who are unreliable, though – even the German town in which the movie is set plays with viewers’ heads. Places and things in the town start to look foreboding and unreal. During the early 1900s, movies were made in a documentary style of filming, but this movie challenged that norm by offering a twist on reality. It has inspired movie producers such as Tim Burton’s fantastical works.

There’s nothing like watching a really good scary movie, and it’s interesting to see how the horror genre has been around for hundreds of years. From three-minute movies to sketches, the foundation of horror movies has inspired our modern-day chill flicks – with many more to come.

-Sally Writes 

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