Horror in the early 20th century

Early horror cinema

In the first decades of the 20th century, movies gradually became a more mainstream medium, and some of the most famous early cinematic movies were based on the iconic gothic horror stories of the previous century. Thus movies like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1908) and Frankenstein (1910) suddenly brought a new kind of life and fame to these stories. Later on, the Hollywood-based Universal Pictures studies began to systematically adapt classic horror stories from the previous century, resulting in works such as Dracula (1931) and The Invisible Man (1933).

German cinema also had strong influence on the horror genre. A particular highlight here was Nosferatu (1922) – also a (loose) Dracula adaptation – which helped introduce many of the horror devices we still see in movies today, such as long shadows and atmospheric backgrounds. You can watch an English version of Nosferatu here.

It is important to note that these early h...

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