horror genre

6 Horror Films That Changed the Genre Forever

nosferatu

Each year, new horror films are released in hopes that they’ll scare audiences enough to tell their friends all about it. Of all the film genres out there, perhaps horror is the one that survives the most on word of mouth. But out of the thousands upon thousands of scary films now available, a few stand out from the rest as having revolutionized the genre by providing new, innovative ways of keeping viewers completely terrified.

Based on both opinion and film history, here’s our list of the most industry-shaking horror films of all time (spoiler alerts!):

1. “Psycho” (1960)

Why: Killing Off Protagonist Early

Bates_Motel

This film left audiences stunned for doing a number of things that no one else had ever dared, including showing more violence and sexuality. But if there’s one thing that made “Psycho” such an impactful film, it was doing something that was unheard of at the time — killing a main character early.

Just when viewers were getting familiar with the heroine of the film, Hitchcock has her murdered in the iconic shower scene that to this day inspires other horror movies. The scene alone was a masterpiece, filling audiences with fright by never actually seeing the killer or knife penetrate the skin. Instead, the violence is left to the viewer’s imagination – a powerful effect amplified by the fact that audiences now felt a new, disturbing reality that no one in the movie was safe.

2. “The Exorcist” (1973)

Why: Demonic Possession / Evil Children

These days, movies featuring evil children and demons are a dime a dozen. But back in the early ‘70s, these controversial subjects were taboo. That is, until William Friedkin released “The Exorcist,” a movie that had religious institutions enraged and audience members fainting.

The idea of seeing someone possessed by a demon was enough to shock people at the time, while the fact that it happened to a young girl was enough to fill viewers with complete dread. Roger Ebert gave it a 4-out-of-4 star review, which ended with the following: “I am not sure exactly what reasons people will have for seeing this movie … Are people so numb they need movies of this intensity in order to feel anything at all?”

3. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (1974)

Why: Claustrophobic Atmosphere

Chain_Saw_Massacre_House3

Of all the films on this list, none clearly influenced all the horror films to come as much as this one. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” introduces countless elements that would become staples in the horror genre. This includes the idea of a scary masked killer and the Final Girl trope, where all but one character is left in the end to fight the antagonist.

But despite the name and premise, Tobe Hooper’s film isn’t remembered for gore or violence — in fact, there’s very little of it. Instead, it overwhelmed audiences with a claustrophobic feeling by building up a place that felt both terrifying and inescapable. The superb documentary-style approach made viewers feel as though they too were trapped and in mortal peril.

4. “Halloween” (1978)

Why: Terrifying Killer

This list wouldn’t be complete without arguably one of the top horror films of all time. Despite releasing almost 40 years ago, you can still see the influence of “Halloween” in the horror genre today. John Carpenter and his team did an amazing job of taking the best elements from previous horror films and finding ways to make them even scarier for the audience.

Of course, “Halloween” made its greatest impact by introducing us to one of the most iconic horror villains of all time. The audience felt both dread and paranoia each time Michael Myers appeared, whether behind an unsuspecting character or barely visible in the distance. His ability to take heavy damage and still relentlessly continue his hunt also made viewers feel, just like the films’ characters, he will probably get his kill sooner or later.

5. “Night of the Living Dead” (1968)

Why: Introduced Zombies

Ben_giving_Barbra_slippers_in_Night_of_the_Living_Dead_bw

Much like in this movie, it’s impossible for the modern person to escape zombies. Whether you’re into video games, movies, or TV shows, there are more than plenty of entertainment options that involve the living dead. But had “Night of the Living Dead” never been, things might have been very different.

George Romero’s legendary zombie movie is what put the idea on the map in the first place. Never before had viewers imagined the idea of living corpses hell-bent on tearing your flesh off and eating it. The film also made waves with its African-American protagonist and shock ending. Not bad for a movie with a budget of about $114,000.

6. “Nosferatu” (1922)

Why: Introduced Vampires

If you’ve never seen this unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stroker’s Dracula, you’ve missed the birth of one of the most immortal horror creatures on screen: the vampire. Films from “Interview with a Vampire” to “Twlight,” and TV series from “True Blood” to “Vampire Diaries” would not exist without this silent film.

W. Murnau’s German Expressionist masterpiece “Nosferatu” boasts powerful performances and an otherworldly, surreal aesthetic. Audiences to this day are fascinated by the disturbing blend of sensuality, death, and suspense that have defined one of the most popular sub-genres of all time. Vampires had never been seen before – and still, to this day, the monster in “Nosferatu” remains iconic.

What do you think are the most influential horror films of all time? Let us know in the comments below!

Horror Games And Genre Revival: Why People Want Scary Games

distraught game character in helmet

We have more games to enjoy than ever before thanks to the indie renaissance that our industry is currently experiencing. This is especially true in the number of and variety of games available on digital stores such as the App Store, Steam, and Xbox One Store. While the big budget developers continue making games that fit whatever their investors and publishers consider “safe”, small devs are taking risks by working with all kinds of genres and ideas.

One such genre is horror. While horror games were never completely dead, the last decade or so saw a shortage of quality examples while others genres (like first-person shooters) rose to the top. However, thanks to the indie scene, gamers who love horror games have plenty to choose from these days. In fact, they’ve become one of the most popular type of games among players and YouTubers across the globe.

The following are a few reasons why horror genre, like a zombie in Resident Evil, is back and stronger than ever.

They Offer Something Unique

One reason games group into genres is because different genres offer different types of gameplay experiences. If you want to test your ability to plan strategies and execute tactics, jump into a real-time strategy game. Those who enjoy pushing their reflexes may like a 2D platformer (which is another genre that’s also seen a huge revival in recent years). Whatever your taste is, there’s something out there for you.

Much like their movie and tv counterparts, horror games are enjoyable because they shock us and give us a rush of adrenaline. There’s nothing quite like being chased by supernatural demons or stealthing down a dark corridor where you know something may leap out at any second. That is why these games tend to put the player in a vulnerable state, be it low ammo, overly strong monsters, etc. The first few Resident Evil games are a prime example of this.

Anyone Can Enjoy Them

Horror games typically are accessible by players of any skill level. The same can’t really be said for other game genres like fighting games (that typically require being able to execute complex button sequences rapidly), or Madden NFL games which require real knowledge of football. If you can handle the basics of a controller, you’re ready to play a horror game.

Springtrap

This accessibility has allowed people who never considered themselves gamers to finally give a video game a try. Because of that developers are breaking new ground figuring out how to make horror games accessible but not boring. In Five Nights at Freddy’s, all you really do is watch security cameras and make sure the electricity doesn’t run out. As simple as it sounds, the 2014 indie hit is considered one of the best horror games made in recent years.

They Often Have Good Stories

If Aristotle were alive today, the horror genre might be his favorite. He believed that the most important element of a story is the characters. Without interesting characters in conflct there cannot be an engaging plot. Horror games’ strength is that their stories often revolve around on the character’s survival and development as unexpected revelations come about.

Dead Space, for example, seems like it has a familiar plot at first. The main character, Isaac Clarke, finds himself stuck on a spaceship where all the crew has been slaughtered by people infected with an alien virus. Aside from the amazing sound and level design, what keeps players hooked is the unfolding story of how the Church of Unitology and the mysterious Marker relic are central to this epidemic. Near the end of the game, players are shocked to discover that the Marker was influencing Isaac the entire time in ways few could have expected.

Learn the skills you need to succeed as a game designer at the Game Design School at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.