The most influential horror movies

By: Teah Henry

It’s October! This is the month of Halloween, which means candy, spooky decorations, and of course horror movies. Many people spend this month watching scary films, and if you were looking for any suggestions then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the most influential horror films that have ever been made. Let’s start with:

‘Psycho’ (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) 

Psycho’ is one of the most well known movies; even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve surely seen references, heard the score, or at least seen the famous shower scene. There’s also the well known prequel series, ‘Bates Motel’. 

At its release, it shocked most American audiences. Alfred Hitchcock had trouble with funding due to the horrific nature of the film, and had to put his own money into the making of it. It was filmed and released during the “Hays Code Era of Hollywood”. The code prohibited many things from being in movies. Only “correct standards of life” could be shown in a movie, and things like crime could not be shown unless the criminal was punished. This meant many movies did not show anything like the terror in ‘Psycho’, and Hitchcock’s clever avoidance of the censors and masterful filmmaking helped create one of the most well known horror films of all time. 

It was also the first Hollywood film to show a toilet on screen! 

‘The Exorcist’ (dir. William Friedkin, 1973)

‘The Exorcist’ did not have a good start. Many major stars turned down the request to be in it, sets had burned down, and it had to double the budget to finish filming. Not only that, but it had gotten mixed reviews from critics when it finally released.

Despite its problems, audiences loved it. Long lines formed to buy tickets, people waited outside in the cold to see it, and it gained notoriety for being absolutely horrifying. Many people fainted, threw up, and there were even heart attacks. Ozzy Osbourne said the movie inspired him and Black Sabbath to write even scarier music. 

It was the highest grossing horror movie until ‘It: Chapter One’s’ release in 2017. ‘The Exorcist’ was also the first horror movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. It’s a movie that everyone remembers after viewing, and it’s influence on horror and our culture is undeniable. 

‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (dir. Tobe Hooper, 1974)

Similar to ‘The Exorcist’, ‘Texas Chainsaw’ caused a huge reaction among audiences. The violence in the film stirred a controversy. Many theaters refused to show it, and Hooper had trouble even finding a studio to distribute the movie.

It did make a lot of money however, and helped boost common horror tropes to the mainstream. It used the “based on the true story” tactic that is seen often now (such as in ‘The Conjuring’ franchise). Even though it is not really based on real events, it is loosely inspired by serial killer Ed Gein. 

‘Texas Chainsaw’ is cited as the movie starting many slasher movie tropes, and it is safe to say that the genre would not be the same if this film had not been released. 

Those are some of the most influential horror movies ever made, and if you’re looking for a spooky movie to watch this season, it wouldn’t hurt to check any of these three movies out.

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