Which was the first horror movie that you’ve watched? The 90’s born would fondly remember the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter and Sam Raimi; probably including them in your very first horror movie collection.
You might have been listening to spooky stories since your childhood, probably from your grandparents or friends. Having its origins from the Supernatural, Horror has delightfully treated us to our realm of deepest nightmares. Horror serves its purpose to evoke terror, the unexplainable and sense of mystery.
Genre-wise, Literature first grabbed the opportunity when epics as old as Beowulf or Homer’s Odyssey provided the base for supernatural horror which included monsters and ghosts. And how about Shakespeare’s Macbeth, i.e., if you remember the ghost of Banquo. The first gothic tale was The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole paving way to legendary and well-known figures of horror like Dracula, Carmilla, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein and more.
Moving on from the likes of legends of Seneca and Edgar Allan Poe, Have you tried watching any horror film in black and white? Initially, I wondered if it was Friedrich Murnau’s 1922 silent film Nosferatu. German Expressionism indeed had a giant role to play in the history of horror cinema. The movement subjected to jagged lines and contorted subjects, Nosferatu had that same eerie feeling and is credited as the first vampire film. It’s predecessor The Golem trilogy was made between 1915-1920 including the infamous and probably the first-ever horror film at its best, the ominous, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). But it was not until the 1925 film The Phantom of the Opera; the proper word “horror” was used to define its kind.
Technically, the first horror film dates way back to 1896. Le Manoir du Diable translated as The House of the Devil, also called The Haunted Castle is a three-minute silent film. Director Georges Méliès is also the man behind one of the first sci-fi picture 1902’s A Trip to the Moon. That also makes him the first one to use special effects in his movies.
Le Manoir du Diable is not exactly a pure horror film; it was intended to tickle funny bones. However, the amusing film involves Faust’s Mephistopheles, a devil and his phantom helpers. He later made Le Chateau hante, also known as The Haunted Castle in 1897 intended to terrify the audience.
Video via Change Before Going Productions
Bonus: Watch the 3-minute short film Le Manoir du Diable.