In this article, we’ve got you covered with all the details about the first horror movie. Find out more right here at Bigflix.
From Laughter to Tears: The Inception of Comedy and Drama in Cinema
Film genres have humble beginnings. Comedy started with 1895’s “L’Arroseur Arrosé,” while drama saw its start with 1901’s “Fire!” The first surviving animated film was “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces” in 1906. Douglas Fairbanks donned the Zorro mask in 1920’s “The Mark of Zorro,” marking the superhero genre’s origin.
Horror emerged in 1896 with “Le Manoir du Diable” (The House of the Devil), followed by “Dante’s Inferno” as the first feature-length horror film and “The Terror” as the first all-talking horror feature. Over 128 years, the genre has evolved, featuring notable directors like Dario Argento, Wes Craven, Jennifer Kent, and Jordan Peele.
The Birth of Horror Cinema: ‘The House of the Devil’ Legacy
Directed by Georges Méliès, “The House of the Devil” is a piece of cinematic history. Méliès, known for his iconic 1902 film “A Trip to the Moon,” showcases his innovative camera tricks in this film. It begins with a bat transforming into the Devil and conjuring various visuals.
While not particularly scary, the film uses camera techniques to amaze viewers. Originally thought to be lost, the film has resurfaced, featuring elements of horror with bats, skeletons, and the Devil.
Dante’s Journey into Horror: The First Feature-Length Horror Film
“The House of the Devil” may have been brief, limiting its horror impact. The first true feature-length horror film, “Dante’s Inferno” (or L’Inferno), ran for a remarkable 71 minutes. Unlike its predecessors, it benefited from technological advances.
Based on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy’s “Inferno,” it vividly portrays the Nine Circles of Hell with gore, violence, nudity, and a clear intent to both terrify and inspire piety. Directed by Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan, and Giuseppe de Liguoro, it premiered in 1911, becoming a major international success.
A Horror Milestone: ‘The Terror’ as the Pioneer of Talking Horror Films
In 1928, Warner Bros. released “The Terror,” marking the first talking horror film and the second all-talking movie from the studio.
Set in an old English country inn, the film introduces guests like spiritualist Mrs. Elvery and detective Ferdinand Fane, alongside an unknown killer known as “The Terror.” Though savaged by London critics of the time, the film’s legacy remains, despite its lost status, as an important milestone in the evolution of horror cinema.
“Censorship in Horror: The Hays Code’s Influence
The mature, boundary-pushing, often hedonistic and violent content of early films led to the strict prohibitions of the 1930 Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code. This code severely restricted profanity, nudity, crime, morality, and graphic violence. However, some filmmakers creatively worked around these limitations.
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece, Psycho, delivered the final blow to the Hays Code, marking the birth of modern horror cinema. Today’s horror films owe their existence to these pioneering moments in the genre’s history.
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