Horror Movies that Shifted the Landscape

This was mildly inspired by a recent Kill Count from Dead Meat on the movie 28 Days Later. It was something that was mentioned about how this movie changed the “undead” or zombie genre, even though it isn’t a zombie film but the antagonists were able to RUN. Zombies, walkers, the undead, they don’t run. These affected by the “rage” virus, were FAST. And in turn, kinda revitalized the zombie genre like with 2004’s Dawn of the Dead remake and now we have The Walking Dead, Warm Bodies, other movies under the Living Dead umbrella, Shaun of the Dead, Planet Terror, Zombieland and so on and so forth.

And so I thought, this is true, once we saw the running in 28 Days Later, watching Dawn of the Dead in theaters and how fast and “aware” the zombies were, was quite terrifying. Ohhh, movie theater memories, it was packed during that movie and people were leaving during the end credits before it really hits in with them getting to the island and it is overrun with zombies! And then “Down with the Sickness” blasted through the speakers. I love that movie.


It got me to think about all the movies I’ve seen that have that same kind of trickle effect. So what horror movies shifted the landscape…?


The 1800s is what I would consider to be where the horror genre/movie began and we should recognize The House of the Devil (1898), a very early adaptation of Frankenstein (1910) but if we are talking about a big starter, we have to mention 1922’s Nosferatu. This is a loose adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) and it’s a beautiful and creepy silent movie despite being unauthorized by Stoker’s estate. There was a whole thing with the film being sued and copies of the film being destroyed but thankfully some remained. dracula_1931_7

But that trickles down into Universal Pictures and/or Studios and creates Universal Horror essentially down the road. I’m sure that Universal did not have plans to make a “universe” where these classic monsters are grouped under but it’s a very lucrative happy accident. And in that we get an official Dracula adaptation in 1931 but it was also a Broadway play at one point, also starring Bela Lugosi so if you haven’t seen it or the other film released that year, Frankenstein, you probably should get on that.

Freaks (1933), another Tod Browning film (Dracula being the first) is one that would also throw into this category. This movie in of itself is quite groundbreaking and controversial for that time period. Also, it’s a film pre-code which also makes it cooler in my book.

A lot of classic horror horror around this time is quite influential in its own right. Like these are the foundations of the genre. Your favorites would not have existed if it wasn’t for these movies. They have THAT kind of energy.

But let’s go into something more… modern. psycho2

I’ll put it out there: Psycho (1960). Everyone would put it on their list, even if they aren’t a big fan of that movie but it’s true. Whether you think this film is overrated or not, recognize that Psycho did A LOT for the genre.

But one that did an equal amount of groundwork for future horror movies that I think is worth talking about is 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. This is one of my favorite horror movies ever. And without this movie, I don’t think the zombie genre would be where it is now. There’s a lot of major influence that this movie and Romero bring to the table. Yes, we have our first lead as a black actor in a role that wasn’t just help or a background character (unless you were Sidney Poitier) and Duane Jones was a great actor for said part. I believe Romero himself said something like we set out to find the best actor for the role and it happened to be Duane Jones and in turn, that propelled the movie further. Plus, with the news of MLK Jr’s assassination, civil rights movement, it feels as if this movie was meant to solidify as a big moment.  deepred_8

Sighs. But here’s where I think I’m very picky. Halloween (1978), A Bay of Blood (1971), Black Christmas (1974) and Deep Red (1975) (Profondo Rosso) are grouped together in my mind and I feel like 3 of them work together in the same way whereas there is an outsider but influenced something else. Halloween, A Bay of Blood and Black Christmas to me did a big switch up for slasher and also having a POV of the killer. I really took note of it when I watched A Bay of Blood and with the film partially taking place on a lake, I saw what Friday the 13th (1980) would become but no one talks about A Bay of Blood and it’s a deep cut. But Deep Red is something very special. Giallo is very special. I don’t think we give enough credit to Italian horror as we do to Japanese or Spanish horror. There’s something so striking and brand new about them and Deep Red was more influential towards western horror. 

Scream (1996) is the reason why teen horror became popular. Wes Craven is the master at reinventing the wheel. Though lowkey, I think if it wasn’t for Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) was the blueprint to Scream but that’s just me.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) proved that found footage horror can be marketable and successful. Yes, Cannibal Holocaust (1980) can be a found footage movie but the infamy of that movie isn’t on the same level as Blair Witch. I believed that these 3 students went missing, there was a whole witch and everything! Oh the internet was so young then, there was a website too. I wonder if that webpage still exists… getout_7

As for the current state of horror, I’ll have to add in It Follows (2014), Get Out (2017) and Midsommar (2019). It Follows was something brand new, it felt more modern and more “clean” as in how it was shot and visually very cool looking. I hate when people use this term but “elevated” horror comes into mind and I think that comes down to horror looking, feeling, being more polished and that can also be attributed to talent. Talent in acting, directing, the writing, the equipment, everything is updated and thus takes the movie into a glossier feel. 

And I think the success of those three is where we are now with horror which is bigger, more acceptable, makes a lot of money at the box office with returns but the biggest is having more original ideas. In this world of remakes and reboots which are heavy in horror, you also get new IPs like M3GAN, Five Nights at Freddy’s, Smile, X which goes into Pearl, The Menu, The Black Phone, The Invitation, Skinamarink, and I could list more and more but these are what came into mind.

There are so many more movies that we can add or take away of importance but these are my choices. What would you add in? Or take out? What do you think contributes to an influential movie?

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