A History of Horror
1900 - 1930.


Silent Fear.


A lot of the early horror pictures released during the 1900 -1930 era were based on classic novels, such as "Hound of the Baskervilles", "Frankenstein", "Dracula" and "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde". All of these producing numerous adaptations during this early period.


The Cabinet of Dr CaligariThe very first horror film ever made was apparently a French made effort entitled "Le Manoir du Diable" ("The Devil's Manor"). This was a short film about a devil-vampire named Mephistopheles (played by the director Georges Méliès) , and was released in 1896.

The first adaptation of "Frankenstein" appeared in 1910. This was only a sixteen minute short, but was made most notable by the fact that it was produced by the inventor Thomas Edison (the guy they named screw-cap light bulbs after). This year also saw several adaptations of Dr Jekyll and My Hyde starting to appear.

Nosferatu1913's "The Werewolf", directed by Henry MacRae, is made notable only by the fact that it was the first ever werewolf picture, but the most infamous horror title to emerge from this era of silent cinema has to be "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari" which was released in 1919. This was about a mysterious carnival sideshow performer, who goes around killing people in the small German town they're performing at. The film became an instant classic, due to its surreal, hi-art style of photography and expressionism.

The 1920 release of "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", starring John Barrymore, was the first successful screen adaptation of the novel. This was followed by the first successful adaptation of Dracula, from the novel by Bram Stoker, entitled "Nosferatu" which was released in 1922.

London After MidnightThis was a German picture and starred Max Shreck in the title role. However, Bram Stokers widow was not amused by this "Rip-off" and successfully sued the film company for making it without permission. Despite the films success, all prints of the film were ordered to be burned, but fortunately they didn't destroy the original negatives and so the film survived, resurfacing some years later.

Actor Lon Chaney (the man of a thousand faces) found fame during this era, playing the title roles in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in 1923, and "The Phantom of the Opera" in 1925. Chaney then went on to star in the vampire film "London after Midnight" in 1927. Directed by Tod Browning, this became the second most notable vampire pic to emerge from this era, sadly though the last known print of this film was destroyed in a fire at MGM studios in 1967.

1900 - 1930 Silent Fear.
1930 - 1940 Classic Creations.
1940 - 1950 Chills and Chuckles...
1950 - 1960 Sci-fi, B-Movies and Hammer Horror.
1960 - 1970 Psycho's and Zombies.
1970 - 1980 The Birth of the Slasher.
1980 - 1990 Modern Horror Begins.
1990 - 2000 Scream until you like it.