Horror movies have come a long way since Le Manoir du diable in 1896. For one, now they have sound! And let’s face it, Nosferatu looks less like a vampire and more like a rat-elf hybrid. But these movies helped lay the groundwork for bigger and better things, and the horror genre has evolved considerably since.

The Early Years

Universal Studios made some of the earliest popular horror movies, including Dracula and Frankenstein both in 1931, which turned the names Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff into household names. Several sequels spawned from these two movies, as well as The Mummy (starring Boris Karloff again) and the Wolf Man. The Wolf Man starred Lon Chaney, Jr, son of the first true horror movie star, Lon Chaney.

You can even watch Dracula On Demand!

Of course, with a face like that, what else can you do?

Horror movies stayed within the familiar gothic monster movie formula for quite a while. Alfred Hitchcock mixed things up when he released Psycho, a mix of thriller and horror that was groundbreaking for its time and still holds up today. Then of course, George Romero released Night of the Living Dead in 1968, which started the zombie movie surge  that has taken center stage in more recent years.

Watch Psycho On Demand Now!

Which eventually led to the short lived Sesame Street character, Braaaaaaaaains.

Post 60’s

The 70’s is the era where shock horror and gore porn became more common, especially with the release of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This is also the decade that saw the first Stephen King novel come to life, in Carrie.

Watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre On Demand now!

Unfortunately, not every Stephen King movie is a classic

Of course, this is also the era which saw the rise of the “evil child” theme, immortalized in The Exorcist, which brought Satanic possession and vomiting pea soup to new levels. What an excellent use of Technicolor! Plus, The Exorcist Head Knocker is one of our favorite toys!

This is also the era that brought us the Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street series for a combined total of infinite movies between them. We also got the seminal killer shark movie based on the terrible book, Jaws, which to this day has not been surpassed in the giant-fish eating people sub-genre. Especially by it’s terrible sequels.

Did someone say Jaws 3D?

Lots of other great series and movies came out as well. The Lost Boys (the best vampire movie ever), Alien (not so great but its sequel was amazing!), and of course, the Evil Dead Trilogy (Sam Raimi’s awesome in a terrible way series of movies).

90’s and Beyond

The 90’s saw a downturn in great horror as studios sought to cash in on cheap thrills and established franchises. Plenty of sequels came out, but not many original franchises worth talking about. Interview With A Vampire, the movie that turned vampires gender neutral, was released in the 90’s. The Scream series came out to much fanfare, and then somehow turned into even more of a mockery of itself than it originally was.

Wes Craven totally plagiarized Van Gogh

It wasn’t all bad. We did get the Saw franchise, which seems to be harder to kill off than the bastard offspring of Jason and Freddy. And this is also the time period that saw heavy metal star Rob Zombie reignite slash horror with House of 1,000 Corpses.

So what does the future hold?

Probably more remakes of popular franchises and sequelitis. But that’s the nature of Hollywood, and sooner or later, someone will bring something fresh to the table and start a whole new revolution in horror movies.

The Horror Genre Toy Hall of Fame

Some of our favorite toys come from classic Horror films. Check them out below: