The Monster Mash

†††††††† One of the most fascinating characteristics of the human race is our infatuation with fear. We love to be scared. The feeling of our heart jumping from the chest is invigorating. People pour into the movie theatres to see the newest horror flick even if Halloween is not around the corner. Out of all of the genres included in film, horror is probably one of the biggest. It has come a long way from the beginning, but those that began it are probably more recognizable to the general public than the countless attempts at recreating their greatness. The start of the horror genre came almost with the start of film, and the genre continues to captivate audiences well into the twenty-first century.

†††††††† Probably the first in a long series of horror films is Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari). The film was released in 1920, directed by Robert Wiene, and revolved around a plot of mental instability, hypnosis, and murder. This was during the silent film period. One of the next horror films to be made was F.W. Maurnauís Nosferatu: a Symphony of Horrors (1922). This film, which used shadows and camera angles to enhance the element of horror when spoken word could not, was loosely adapted from Bram Stokerís novel Dracula. However, Maurnau disregarded copyright laws and made it unaccredited without the permission of Stokerís widow. The lawsuit that ensued brought the movie to the attention of many people over the controversy, but many copies of the film were destroyed, and it went out of circulation. Despite this, the movie set in motion the gears of minds in America. They saw how popular the movie was in Germany and soon had their own version by the time the Ďtalkieí films were brought about. In 1931, Bela Lugosi famed the name of Count Dracula for years to come in the classic film simply named Dracula. This movie was the beginning of the monster movie craze in America, and in the same year, Frankenstein hit the screens. Boris Karloff rendition of the monster became the mindset of the general public even though it was far different from the novel by Mary Shelley. These two films set the trend, and many monster-based films were to follow. Any Halloween costume seen today might have its base in the early monster movie world.

†††††††† Today, more than half a century later, the monster movie and horror genre still flourish. Todayís generation have their own iconic horror names, such as Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees. With the help of todayís technology, the movie magic that we see on the screen is even more convincing. King Kong can be more than a puppet, and Godzilla can be more than a man in a giant lizard suit. The newest movie to add to the monster movie list has been J.J. Abramís Cloverfield, which is almost an Americanized Godzilla flick.

†††††††† Horror movies litter the theatres around the calendar year, even around Christmas time, sometimes even having to do with the holiday itself. Moviemakers try to find anything they can to turn into a horror flick, even remaking ones that have already been made. Why? The genre sells. It does not matter what reviews it gets, who stars in it, or what the plot is, as long as people are sure to jump out of their seats, there will be an audience lined up to see it. As long as there are movies, there will be horror movies. However, probably one of the most fascinating aspects of the genre is the progression that it has made over time. American film makers were, at first, afraid to make a movie based on Dracula because they thought it would be too frightening for the audience. Today, we have films with severed limbs, psychotic killers, and ruthless monsters that seem to have no weak point. What will the future of the horror genre bring us?

Lorrie Veach

Table of Contents