Sunday, April 23, 2006


While doing research on a current project, I looked at several (actually, a heck of lot) of modern horror films. A few films stood out because it appeared they were there first. They are not necessarily the best in each category but they were there first and that counts. This is not a complete list. It will need to be revised as I gather more information but these movies seemed a good place to start.

PSYCHO (1960) -- Hitchcock’s story of a city girl who runs into a serial killer at a small, off-the-highway motel. Think about all movies where the plot revolves around city people who encounter country madmen and killers such as Deliverance, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and The Hills Have Eyes. Countless film killers can trace their roots back to quiet, polite Norman Bates. Oh, yeah, there's that pesky shower scene, too.

THE BIRDS (1963) – Hitchcock again. What would horror films and thrillers be without him? The first nature out-of-control storyline. Jaws may be the best film in this category but Sir Alfred was there before anyone else.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) – While there had been zombie movies back in the ‘30s and ‘40s, this Romero low-budget movie really kicked off the undead plotline and basically established the rules of the genre.

ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) – Think about all the movies where mankind has battled Satan like The Exorcist and The Omen. Rosemary faced him first.

HALLOWEEN (1978) – While Michael is a descendant of Mr. Bates, this started the teen slasher genre. Pick any holiday and you’ll find a let’s-kill-those-darn teenagers storyline. It’s this film’s fault.

ALIEN (1979) – Several movies have had an alien creature in outer space as their monster before this film premiered but this one got it right and the creature never looked like a guy in a rubber suit. Which it wasn't.

Will Hostel be a touchstone film? Haven’t seen it yet. I will. But the basic storyline is college students run into trouble in Europe. First reaction is Psycho country moved to Europe. An American Werewolf in London did that. We’ll see. More later.

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