Halloween conjures up visions of children dressed in costumes, Jack-O-Lanterns, and monsters. Yes, monsters. Many of the early scary movies focused on characters from gothic literature. These “monsters of literature” were the inspiration for terror. The early “horror” movies brought us such classics as Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman.
James Whales’s Frankenstein (1931) monster was the screen version of Mary Shelley’s Gothic 1818 nightmarish novel of the same name. Obsessed scientist, Dr. Henry Frankenstein, experimentally creates an artificial life, which sets about terrorizing a Bavarian countryside after being mistreated by Henry’s assistant.
Dracula’s plotline was taken from Abraham (Bram) Stokers 1897 novel Dracula. When the film finally premiered at the Roxy theatre in New York on February 12, 1931, newspapers reported that members of the audience fainted in shock at the horror on the big screen.
Unlike Frankenstein and Dracula, The Wolf Man was not based on a character from gothic literature. The movie was based on a screenplay by German-born writer Curt Siodmak. The script was so rich and well written that some of the concepts he introduced in the film have taken root in many of our minds as real, old-world werewolf folklore.
In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock introduced the world to another kind of monster and forever changed the shape and tone of screen thrillers. In the movie trailer for Psycho, Hitchcock announces that he will take the audience to places it had never been before. And that he did. The murder of Janet Leigh’s character in the shower is the film’s pivotal scene and one of the best-known scenes in all of cinema history.
Another psychological thriller to grace the big screen has become one of the greatest films of the horror genre and a staple of pop culture. The Shining was the “perfect scary movie” due in part to a proper balance of shock value, suspense, gore, and an all-star cast. “ Heeeeeere’s Johhny!”, will be forever etched in our minds.
So, if you are dying to be entertained this Halloween…rent one of these classic horror films.