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Spartan Scoop

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Spartan Scoop


Like everything else horror has a rich history if you care to notice.
Tony Hemenway
A photo of the Scream mask and a kitchen knife atop a kitchen counter.

Have you ever wondered what sparked the movement of horror? Everything has a history to it. A genre that has officially been around for over a hundred years, horror catches the eye of a select group of people who can withstand the fright and the gore. Because of it, this genre definitely doesn’t cater to everyone. Certain special days, such as Friday the 13th and Halloween, are often the nights of binge-watching horror movies and dressing out to represent something spooky (if you wish). But where did it all come from? Who do we have to thank for it? Is there anything more to it than that one guy who created a story about a dead body hiding underneath this character’s floorboards?

Horror can be traced as far back as Ancient Greece and Rome, where tragedies and stories of death and demons are first known to be recorded. A popular example of this is the Greek myth of Hippolytus by Euripides. The story tells the tale of how jealousy can lead to tragedy, and it’s credited as horror because of the gore-ish themes. As of 2023, there are no known recorded stories of horror before this point. In more modern times, the first record of written gothic/horror story is The Castle of Otranto, written by Horace Walpole, an English writer. It was first published in 1764, and contains a lot of themes and elements that are typical of a gothic story: the supernatural and fantastical, trapdoors, hidden passages, and characters with evil intentions. This might not be regarded nowadays as super scary, because it was written over 250 years ago, but back then it was a big success all across England. And this story would be considered the first story to set the horror genre as a legitimate literature form.

Moving into the 1800s, the renowned “Father of Horror” was none other than Edgar Allen Poe. His writings are still incredibly famous to this day. He wrote several tales of wickedness and evil, including “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Cask of Amontillado”, and “The Fall of the House of Usher”. His stories were said to have come from an ill mind, as he suffered from many different neurological disorders. These in turn are believed to have influenced his writings. Anyone who has read one of Poe’s writings could probably believe it. He is still considered one of the greatest writers of all time, and his literature works are often used in school English classes to read and dissect.

As technology continued to expand, it would make special effects, graphics, video quality, CGI, and other important additions to movies and shows a lot more accessible.

Even later into the 1890s, after the first films had started to be developed and released, a French man named George Mellies would create what is referred to as the first horror film: “Le Manoir du Diable”. This translates to “The Haunted Castle” or “The House of the Devil” in English. The film is three minutes long, which was typical of the films made around this time in 1896. It had many scary elements, including skeletons, ghosts, and the Devil. And while the intention of Mellies was to make a wondrous film that was unseen before, it would be regarded as the first horror film to date. The movie would be rediscovered for the first time in 1977. And only a few years after its release, going into the 1900s, several more supernatural films would come to follow it.

The genre of horror, by this point, had expanded rapidly from the point of myths in Ancient Greece and Rome to actually seeing the film roll out on a wall. The development of projectors and strips of film carefully photographed or drawn would permanently shift the tide of horror for the following years. And it all would only continue to expand even quicker as the 20th century progressed.

In the second half of the 1900s, a lot of new topics had started to be included into horror films. One of the most popular trends was the development of slasher horror movies. Switching from the typical themes of horror, these slasher films would start to include more and more violence. One of these more notable movies was “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” A list of some of the most popular movies came from this genre of slasher, or around the same time. The film that is regarded as the “scariest” horror movie of all time (as said by Rotten Tomatoes) is The Exorcist, which was released in 1973. Some of the other ones are “Halloween” (1978) and “The Shining” (1980). The lengths of movies in general had also seen an increase, providing a unique environment for those who enjoyed to watch films.

This time had also brought about the DVD and at-home movie-watching system, which meant that people didn’t have to go out in order to watch movies anymore. You could do so in the safety of your own house. This would be a massive step forward for the age of film. This also meant that people could start buying horror movies, which would cause the genre to trend and sales to rise.

Rolling into the 21st century, many new horror movies had become top hits, including “Hereditary” (2018) and “The Conjuring” (2013). As technology continued to expand, it would make special effects, graphics, video quality, CGI, and other important additions to movies and shows a lot more accessible. New films were being created with more opportunities. Streaming services had also become a smashing hit across all families, making it easy to access virtually any movie or television series, including horrors.

After over 200 years, the art of film and writing had developed so much. History is important when it comes to discussing horror movies, as with virtually anything, and it’s easy to see how technology has brought the world strong advancements. Horror has a rich history, one that dates back hundreds of years, and that will continue on.

About the Contributors
Finley Wiseman, Reporter
The only thing keeping me going this year is my paycheck.
Tony Hemenway, Photographer
"How can the Earth be flat if my life is constantly going downhill?" -Tony Hemenway