For this section of our journey through the month, we will be heading back in time to the s. You may be wondering why I picked the s and not any time earlier. Jekyll and Mr. That era however is hampered by a number of factors.
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Lost to neglect, lost to fire, lost to war. Secondly, it was a transitional period from when the typical film was only a single reel, maybe two to the feature length that we know today. That being said, it is the era where we started to see the release of the first horror classic films. How well they hold up is obviously going to be a matter of opinion. The Cabinet of Dr. He would go on to be one of the preeminent horror actors of the s, serving largely however as a character actor, able to disappear under his marvelous and frequently grotesque makeup and prosthetic work.
One advantage of the silent era, at least for foreign distributors, was that there was no worry about the language barrier. Every film instantly crossed borders with a few translated title cards. We also got the start of the famed Universal Horror movement. It may have really hit its stride and style in the s, but the roots were planted here. It was the first proper feature length version however and along with the version starring Charles Laughton, is generally considered the definitive adaptation of the work.
There are no camera negative remaining as most were destroyed by the studio with the rest lost to time, but direct copies of the negative still exist which is what Flicker Allery used on their recent restoration. The focus of the film, however, is a romantic drama to the shock of no one who is familiar with the story.
Quasimodo is sent by Jehan who treats him as a slave to kidnap Esmeralda and is stopped by Captain Phoebus. The two start a romance which brings the ire of others while Quasimodo is brutally whipped in front of the public, left chained up and begging for water before a passing by and pitying Esmeralda brings him water. It all heads towards a tragic and yet inevitable feeling conclusion.
In fact, the most exaggerated acting was reserved for Chaney who let it feel like an essential part of the character. Along with the production design, he makes the film essential, but the easy to follow romantic tragedy imbues the lengthy for the time with a satisfying enough story. The honor of official first film watched of the season was actually given to this title from Cannon Film Group.
Getting horror legends Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and John Carradine together for one film is a heck of a coup as the four of them are always such a dependable force onscreen. Controversial and often censored upon release, it remains an affecting film, and one of the best of its genre, topped only by its first sequel.
The rare sequel that surpasses the original, The Bride Of Frankenstein found a returning, confident Whale pushing his visual sensibility further while introducing a strain of humor largely absent from the first film. In , the studio introduced another of its most enduring characters: The Wolf Man.
Intermediate work Though it was more dark, romantic fantasia than horror film, The Mummy followed fast on the heels of Dracula and Frankenstein in Chaney plays a masked, mysterious music lover who threatens violence against those who would keep the woman he adores from becoming a star. But Rains is a different kind of monster here: erudite, witty, and kind of bitchy.
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Even with his face completely obscured, Rains is a delight as a chemist who makes himself invisible and then takes advantage of his condition to wreak havoc, just to be a jerk. In keeping with the tone of the original, the sequels are lighter than most Universal horror features. Lee, is a visually ambitious story about how the sins of one generation get passed on to the next.
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Basil Rathbone plays the titular son of Dr. Frankenstein, Karloff returns—for the last time—as the Monster, and Bela Lugosi delivers a twisted performance as Ygor. By the end of that decade, Universal had just about exhausted all the sequel possibilities for its major monsters, but the studio found a new formula when it put its dimming comedy stars Bud Abbott and Lou Costello alongside its dimming horror stars, finding enough brightness among the lot to attract some paying customers.
Universal was able to recruit two of its original monster actors to return: Lon Chaney Jr. Advanced studies The earliest Universal monster movies arrived before the enforcement of the Hays code and, boy, do some of them show that. Director Robert Florey landed this film after losing Frankenstein and, working with cinematographer Karl Freund, he fills it with disturbing ideas inspired by German Expressionism. Cult-favorite director Edgar G. Ulmer delivered The Black Cat , another loose Poe adaptation, two years later, just before the Hays crackdown began in earnest. Otherwise, the film might never have featured such a lurid mix of torture, satanic ritual, and other unsavory elements.