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If ever there was a niche market of movies, then Horror would be it. Not niche in that fewer people love watching them but niche in its purest form and not with thriller/comedy/drama crossovers. Your Nightmare on Elm Streets, The Birds, It – those movies designed simply to have us looking over our shoulders long after they have ended. But where did our love for horror flicks come from and who pioneered the genre?

The first-ever horror movie was created during the silent era and it ran for just three minutes. Called The Devil's Castle, it came out in 1896 from Georges Méliès, who incidentally is also credited with creating the first Fantasy film, A Trip to the Moon (1902). The Devils Castle is based on an encounter with the Devil and was intended to amuse audiences but when a person transforms into a bat, it didn't so much as make people laugh as it did scare the wits out of them.

As the years progressed, the Horror genre evolved and by the 1930s classics such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were terrifying a new generation of theatergoers. As the decades rolled on, the atomic horror genre was born and the 1950s was packed out with mutants, alien invaders, and robots that were designed to create social fear and make a tonne of money. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1953), The War of the Worlds (1953) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) are prime examples of integrating horrifying situations into everyday life.

Once everybody had had their fill of terrifying alien invasions, a new breed of horror filmmakers came to the fore. The 1960s is lauded for directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski and George Romero. Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), Repulsion (1965) and Night of the Living Dead (1968) are still considered some of the best horror movies ever made.



If the 1960s is known for its psychologically terrifying films then the 70s brought the slashers. The Exorcist (1973), The Wicker Man (1973), The Amityville Horror (1979) and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) packed out cinemas. In fact, Jaws grossed $133,400,000 worldwide, and not far behind it, The Exorcist earned $88,500,000.

It was the highest-grossing R-rated horror film until the 2017 release of It and also became the first horror film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Such is its enduring popularity that The Exorcist has been re-released so many times that it has actually grossed more than $232.6 million. Not bad considering it was made for just $12m!

Of course once the worldwide controversy and success of The Exorcist was fully realised, other studios sat up and began to take notice. Learning from the initial mistake of only releasing the movie in 24 theatres, Jaws opened two years later across 500 theatres. With the audiences sufficiently terrified to ever go into the sea again, Jaws spawned three sequels, and the four films together grossed nearly $800 million worldwide.

Horror movies are continuously in production and generally hit their peak of viewership around Halloween when fans set themselves up for the jumps and scares. However few, with the exception of It, have reached the dizzy box office heights of their predecessors in the 1970s and 1980s. Thankfully, the classics are still going strong with streaming platforms happy to put them front and center of their catalogs.




AppleTV has a large collection of new and classic Horror films. Here you can see the highest rated content from the streaming service.

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Paramount+ has a large collection of new and classic Horror films. Here you can see the highest rated content from the streaming service.