TLW's Horrorscope™ (Horror Historyscope)
By T.L. Winslow (TLW), the Historyscoper™
© Copyright by T.L. Winslow. All Rights Reserved.
Original Pub. Date: May 19, 2017. Last Update: Mar. 30, 2018.
Westerners are not only known as history ignoramuses, but double dumbass history ignoramuses when it comes to horror history, incl. Horror fiction and Horror movies. Since I'm the one-and-only Historyscoper (tm), let me quickly bring you up to speed before you dive into my Master Historyscope.
In 1764 London-born Horace (Horatio) Walpole (1717-97) (son of Robert Walpole) pub. the Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto, founding the field of Gothic (supernatural) romance, set in a ruined haunted Gothic castle or abbey filled with secret passages and stairways.
In 1777 Ipswitch-born Clara Reeve (1729-1807) pub. the Gothic romance The Champion of Virtue (The Old English Baron); competition for Horace Walpole's "Castle of Otranto"; influences Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein".
In 1789 London-born Gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823) pub. her first novel The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne - not in my house? In 1790 she pub. A Sicilian Romance. In 1792 she pub. The Romance of the Forest.
In 1800 Anglo-Irish Gothic novelist Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849) pub. her first novel Castle Rackrent, becoming the first historical novel, the first regional novel in England, the first Anglo-Irishnovel, the first Big House novel, the first saga novel, and the first to use the device of an unreliable narrator. In 1817 she pub. Ormond.
In 1800 Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) of Italy makes the shocking discovery of the Voltaic Pile; the first one is made of zinc and copper metal plates and wet cardboard soaked in salt solution, and he later substitutes silver for copper and cloth for cardboard to build bigger piles from which he can draw sparks and shocks, amazing the world and causing a sensation; in May W. Nicholson and A. Carlile use a voltaic pile to decompose water, observing oxygen appearing at one pile and hydrogen at the other, adding to the sensationalism with the idea that atoms are held together by electricity - and hence immortality is just around the corner? In 1818 London-born Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851) pub. the Gothic romance novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, about a mad scientist who makes a corpse live again via electricity; she got the idea while in a trance based on the writings of alchemists about creating a homunculus in a test tube, "a pale student of the unhallowed arts [grave-robbing] kneeling beside the thing he had put together"; "I beheld the wrath of the miserable monster whom I had created"; "I curse (although I curse myself) the hands that formed you" - could it have really been based on her hubby Percy's anatomy?
In 1807 Dublin-born Gothic novelist Charles Robert Maturin (1782-1824) (who pub. under the alias Dennis Jasper Murphy) pub. his first novel The Fatal Revenge; or The Family of Montorio. In 1807 he pub. The Wild Irish Boy. In 1813 he pub. The Milesian Chief. In 1820 he pub. Melmoth the Wanderer; the sequel Melmoth Reconciled to the Church is written by Honore de Balzac in tribute after his death.
On Apr. 10, 1815 Mt. Tambora on Sumbawa Island in Indonesia erupts with a force 100x times Mt. St. Helens (most powerful recorded volcanic explosion in history), killing 90K, mostly from starvation after it destroys the crops; it affects the weather as far away as England, blackening skies around the globe and blocking sunlight for three years, triggering a blizzard in Upstate New York in June 1816 and killer frosts in New England in July-Aug. 1816, making 1816 "the year without a summer", causing a new genre of Gothic fiction incl. Frankenstein and human vampires to emerge?
On May 26, 1897 Fairview, Ireland-born Abraham "Bram" Stoker (1847-1912) (distant relation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) pub. Dracula; original title "The Undead"; written after eight years of research on vampire lit. incl. William Wilkinson's "An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia" and visits to Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and the Church of St. John the Baptist in Fairview, Ireland; inspired by Vlad III Dracula the Impaler (1428-77); Dracula leaves his castle in Transylvania and the Three Sisters to go to Victorian London on the Russian ship Demeter along with 50 boxes of dirt to find fresh blood, and is taken on by Prof. Abraham Van Helsing; Jonathan Harker, Arthur Holmwood, and victim Lucy Westenra, who "went to the window and looked out, but could see nothing, except a big bat"; spawns a series of films, starting with "Dracula" (1931), dir. by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi. In 1914 his widow Florence Stoker (1858-1937) pub. Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories.
In 1904 Goonestone, Kent-born Montague Rhodes "M.R." James (1862-1936) pub. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, launching the genre of the antiquarian ghost story. In 1911 he pub. More Ghost Stories. In 1919 he pub. A Thin Ghost and Others. In 1925 he pub. A Warning to the Curious and Other Ghost Stories.
On Mar. 18, 1910 J. Searle Dawley's Frankenstein by Edison Studios debuts, becoming the first film version of the 1818 Mary Shelley novel, starring Augustus Phillips as Dr. Frankenstein, Mary Claire Fuller (1888-1973) as his fiancee, and Charles Ogle as the monster; Fuller goes on to become a top film star, but in 1916 starts to tank, and by 1917 is kaput, ending up having two nervous breakdowns and living in a hospital for the last 25 years of her life.
On Mar. 4, 1922 Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror) (Prana Film) (Gr. "nosophoros" = plague carrier) debuts, filmed in Bremen, Bavaria, starring Max Schreck as Count Orlok, becoming the first film to feature vampires; too bad, they make the mistake of advertising it as "freely adapted from Bram Stoker's Dracula", pissing-off his widow Florence Balcombe Stoker (1858-1937), who tries to get all the prints destroyed, winning her copyright lawsuit in July 1925; luckily some prints survive and the first U.S. screenings take place on June 3, 1929 - so who's under the red light of doom next?
On Feb. 12, 1931 Tod Browning's Dracula (Universal Pictures) debuts, based on the 1898 Bram Stoker novel, launching Hungarian-born Bela Lugosi (1882-1957) into film immortality, with trademark accent and the immortal soundbyte: "Listen to them, children of the night - what music they make"; also makes a star of dir. Tod Browning (Charles Albert Browning Jr.) (1880-1962); too bad, all of the Dracula stuff is censored by the govt. of Transylvania (Romania) until 1992.
On Nov. 21, 1931 James Whale's Frankenstein (Universal Pictures), based on the 1818 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly novel and dir. by gay sockhusker James Whale (1889-1957) (sperm whale?) makes a monster star of English actor Boris Karloff (1887-1969) (makeup by Jack Pierce); English actor Colin Clive (1900-37) (descendant of Baron Robert Clive, founder of the British Indian Empire) plays Dr. Henry Frankenstein (in the novel it was Dr. Victor Frankenstein); Am. actor Dwight Frye (1899-1943) ("the Man with the Thousand-Watt Stare") plays hunchbacked lab asst. Fritz; does $12M box office on a $262K budget; "The monster was the best friend I ever had" (Karloff); "It's alive! It's alive!" (Clive); "When I was nine I played the demon king in Cinderella and it launched me on a long and happy life of being a monster" (Karloff); "His eyes mirrored the suffering we needed" (producer Carl Laemmle Jr.); "His face fascinated me. I made drawings of his head, adding sharp bony ridges where I imagined the skull might have joined" (James Whale); Frankenstein sideshows become the rage in the U.K. and U.S.
On July 28, 1932 Victor Halperin's White Zombie (United Artists) debuts, based on William Seabrook's 1929 novel "The Magic Island and set in Haiti, starring Bela Lugosi as voodoo master Murder Legendre preying on Madeleine Short Parker (Madge Bellamy) in the first feature length zombie film; the sequel is "Revolt of the Zombies" (1936); "With these zombie eyes he rendered her powerless. With this zombie grip he made her perform his every desire."
On Aug. 3, 1932 Michael Curtiz' Doctor X (First Nat. Pictures) debuts, based on the 1931 play "The Terror" by Howard W. Comstock and Allen C. Miller, starring Lionel Atwill as Dr. Jerry Xavier, Fay Wray as his daughter Joan Xaver, Lee Tracy as reporter Lee Taylor, and Preston Foster as surgeon slash cannibal monster Dr. Wells.
On Oct. 20, 1932 James Whale's The Old Dark House (Universal Pictures) debuts, based on the 1927 J.B. Priestley novel "Benighted", a horror comedy film about the haunted Welsh mansion of the Femm family incl. Horace, Rebecca, and Saul, starring Boris Karloff as mute alcoholic butler Morgan, Malvin Douglas as Roger Penderel, Charles Laughton as Sir William Porterhouse, Lilian Bond as Gladys DuCane Perkins, Raymond Massey as Philip Waverton, and Gloria Stuart as his wife Margaret; it's a flop in the U.S. but a big hit in England; Elspeth Dudgeon (billed as John Dudgeon) is the only actor who looks old enough to play the 102-y.-o. Femm family patriarch Sir Roderick Femm.
In 1936 Rondo Hatton (1894-1946), whose grotesque acromegalic face makes him the perfect horror star is invited to Hollywood by dir. Henry King, and goes on to a short distinguished career freaking viewers out.
On Dec. 12, 1941 George Waggner's The Wolf Man (Universal Pictures) debuts, starring Lon Chaney Jr. (Creighton Till Chaney) (1906-73), who is bitten by werewolf Bela Lugosi, and becomes one; features Maria Ouspenskaya as a gypsy; the plants on the Universal set have no roots?; "Night monster with the blood lust of a savage beast!"
In Oct. 1950 the bimonthly horror comic book anthology series Tales from the Crypt by EC (DC) Comics debuts (until Mar. 1955), becoming a victim of the Comics Code.
On Apr. 10, 1953 Andre De Toth's House of Wax (Warner Bros.) debuts, starring Vincent Price as disfigured sculptor Prof. Henry Jarrod, who murders people and turns the corpses into displays, becoming the first 3-D horror movie; does $23.75M box office on a $1M budget.
On Feb. 12, 1954 Jack Arnold's Creature from the Black Lagoon (Universal Pictures) debuts, based on a Maurice Zimm Story, a 3-D horror film starring Ricou Browning as the Gill Man, an Amazon fish monster who likes science coeds in bathing suits (Julie Adams); spawns "Revenge of the Creature" (1955) and "The Creature Walks Among Us" (1956); does $1.3M box office, single-handedly rescuing Universal Studios from bankruptcy.
On Oct. 2, 1955 the horror-thriller-mystery anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents debuts on CBS-TV for 360 episodes (until June 26,1965) after switching to NBC-TV in 1960-2 and 1964, starting out at 30 min. per episode until 1962, when it expands to 60 min. per episode under the title "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour"; the theme music is Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette", with the title sequence starting out with a line-drawing caricature of Hitchcock's rotund profile, ending with him walking to the center of the screen and saying "Good evening".
On Feb. 10, 1957 Roger Corman's B&W Attack of the Crab Monsters debuts, pioneering sci-fi horror humor; brings in $1M on a $70K budget.
On Feb. 10, 1957 Roger Corman's B&W Not of This Earth debuts, about strange sunglasses-wearing Paul Johnson (Paul Birch), survivor of the dying planet Davanna, who comes to Earth to check out human blood for transport; part of a double feature with "Attack of the Crab Monsters".
On Nov. 16, 1957 police search the property of Edward Theodore "Ed" Gein (1906-84) in Plainfield, Wisc., and discover his little habit of murder, grave-robbing, and human taxidermy, incl. "woman suits" made out of tanned skin; he is found not guilty by reason of insanity, and "the Butcher of Plainfield" spends the rest of his life in the Mendota Mental Health Inst. in Madison, Wisc., his life spawning a whole genre of horror movies incl. "Psycho" (1960), "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974), and "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991).
On Aug. 29, 1958 Kurt Neumann's The Fly debuts, starring Vincent Price as Francois, the brother of mad scientist Andre Delambre (David Hedison), who turns himself into a fly, but not quite, only his head, while his human head gets transplanted to a white-headed fly in the most shocking and sensational horror scene in 1950s film history?; Patricia Owens plays Andre's wife Helen; does $3M box office on a $495K budget; followed by "Return of the Fly" (1959) and "Curse of the Fly" (1965); remade in 1986 by David Cronenberg; "Once it was human - even as you and I."
On Oct. 2, 1959 (Fri.) U.S. commercial TV deviates from its usual vapidity with the debut of The Twilight Zone (B&W), narrated by sterling silver genius Rod Serling (1924-75) for 156 episodes (until June 19, 1964); the cool Twilight Zone Theme was composed by Romanian-born French composer Marius Constant (1925-2004); the first episode is Where Is Everybody?, starring Earl Holliman; on Nov. 20 episode #8 Time Enough At Last debuts, based on a 1953 short story by Lyn Venable, starring Burgess Meredith as nearsighted bookworm Henry Bemis; on Jan. 22, 1960 episode #16 The Hitch-Hiker debuts, starring Inger Stevens as Nan Adams, and creepy Leonard Strong as the hitchhiker.
In 1959 San Francisco, Calif.-born Shirley Hardie Jackson (1916-65) pub. the novel The Haunting of Hill House, about an 80-y.-o. mansion built by deceased Hugh Crain, where Dr. John Montague hopes to find scientific evidence of the supernatural, renting it for the summer and invisting guests Eleanor Vance, Theodora, and Luke Sanderson, the young heir to the house; filmed in 1963 and 1999; "No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone."
On May 16, 1960 Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (Anglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors) debuts, a horror film written by Leo Marks starring Carl Boehm as Mark Lewis, who murders women to observe their faces while he films them, and Anna Massey as his next victim, his fiancee Helen Stephens; Powell plays Boehm's daddy, who got him started; too bad, it's too good, and so freaks the moviegoers that it ruins Powell's dir. career in the U.K.; in the 1970s it gains a cult following, causing Powell to write the soundbyte: "I make a film that nobody wants to see and then, thirty years later, everybody has either seen it or wants to see it"; watch trailer.
On June 16, 1960 Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (Paramount Pictures) (his last B&W film) debuts,, based on the 1959 novel by horror writer Robert Bloch (1917-94) based on an actual murder, starring Anthony Perkins as bird-taxidermy-loving momma's boy Norman Bates (based on real-life serial killer Ed Gein), owner of the 12-room Bates Motel (15 mi. from Fairvale), where fleeing (Fri., Dec. 11) Phoenix, Ariz. thief Marie Samuels, er, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) (license plate #NFB-418) (who stole $40K from 'her real estate employer of 10 years) checks into room #1 and receives a bloody shower death at the hands of a mad slasher grandma in the classic Psycho Shower Scene; first Hollywood film to show a flushing toilet; Bernard Hermann's scary music uses only strings; "She's as harmless as one of those stuffed birds" (Norman); also stars John Gavin as Leigh's beau Sam, Vera Miles as her sister Lila, and Martin Balsam as detective Arbogast; theater owners are told not to allow seating after the movie begins; shot on a low budget in only 1 mo.; uses chocolate sauce for blood in the 45-sec. 78-frame 70-camera-setup shower scene, which occurs 30 min. into the film, and changes the horror movie genre forever; a double is used for Perkins to make it harder to guess who it is; "A boy's best friend is his mother"; when an angry father writes to Hitchcock that his daughter quit bathing after the 1954 French film "Les Diaboliques", and now won't shower, he replies "Send her to the dry cleaners"; NYT film critic Bosley Crowther calls the film "a blot on an otherwise honorable career."
On June 18, 1960 Roger Corman's House of Usher (AIP) debuts, based on the 1893 Edgar Allan Poe story "The Fall of the House of Usher", starring Mark Damon as Philip Winthrop, who visits the Usher Mansion to see his babe Madeline Usher (Myrna Fahey), and discovers that she and her brother Roderick Usher (Vincent Price) have a mysterious illness based on a family curse; does $1.45M box office, causing Corman to go into the Poe horror movie biz, incl. "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1961), "The Premature Burial" (1962), "Tales of Terror" (1962), "The Raven" (1963), "The Haunted Palace" (1963), "The Masque of the Red Death" (1964), "The Tomb of Ligeia" (1965).
On Aug. 12, 1961 Roger Corman's The Pit and the Pendulum (AIP) debuts, based on the 1842 Edgar Allan Poe story set in 16th cent. Spain, starring Vincent Price as Sebastian Medina, who is visited by his brother-in-law Nicholas to investigate his sister's mysterious death, and ends up strapped in amid maniacal laughs; does $2M U.S. box office on a $300K budget, becoming Am. Internat. Pictures' biggest hit.
On Sept. 18, 1964 (Fri.) the B&W series The Addams Family, created by David Levy (1913-2000) based on The New Yorker cartoons of Charles Samuel "Chas" Addams (1912-88) about a socially superior family of ghouls debuts on ABC-TV for 64 episodes (until Sept. 2, 1966), starring mustachioed cheeky-grinning John Allen Astin (1930-) as Gomez Addams, Carolyn Sue Jones (1930-83) as his wife Morticia, Kenneth Patrick "Ken" Weatherwax (1955-) as pudgy son Pugsley, Lisa Loring (1958-) as daughter Wednesday, former child star John Leslie "Jackie" Coogan (1914-84) as Uncle Fester (known for lighting lightbulbs by putting them in his mouth), Blossom Rock (1895-1978) (Edith Marie Blossom MacDonald) as Grandmama, 6'9" Theodore Crawford "Ted" Cassidy (1932-79) as harpsichord-playing butler Lurch (known for the soundbyte "You rang"), and Felix Anthony Silla (1937-) as Cousin Itt, who all live at 0001 Cemetery Lane (inspired by Westfield, N.J.); while the series is running, the snooty New Yorker mag. refuses to pub. any new Addams Family cartoons; not to be outdone in the Baby Boomer prime time horror comedy market, on Sept. 24 CBS-TV debuts an alternate blue-collar B&W version, The Munsters for 70 episodes (until May 12, 1966), starring Frederick Hubbard "Fred" Gwynne (1926-93) as Frankenstein lookalike Fred Munster, Yvonne De Carlo (1922-2007) as his catatonic wife Lily Munster, Al Lewis (1923-2006) as aging vampire Grandpa, Butch Patrick (Patrick Alan Lilley) (1953-) as the son Eddie, Beverley Owen (nee Ogg) (1937-) (for the first 13 episodes, after which she leaves to get married), and Patricia Ann "Pat" Priest (1936-) as "ugly" (beautiful) daughter Marilyn, who all live at spooky 1313 Mockingbird Lane, and think they're as normal as everybody else.
On Oct. 3, 1965 Roman Polanski's B&W Repulsion (Compton Films) (Royal Films Internat.) debuts, a horror film starring Catherine Deneuve as Belgian manicurist Carole Ledoux, who is left alone at her vacationing sister's apt. in Kensington, London, and is obsessed with fantasies of being seduced and/or raped, murdering any man who tries it; #1 in Polanski's Apartment Trilogy, incl. "Rosemary's Baby" (1968) and "The Tenant" (1976); does $3.1M box office on a £65K budget; watch movie.
On June 27, 1966 the campy daytime Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows debuts on ABC-TV for 1,225 episodes (until Apr. 2, 1971), starring Joan Geraldie Bennett (1910-90) as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, and Canadian actor Jonathan Frid (1924-) as vampire hero Barnabas Collins.
On Mar. 12, 1967 New York city-born Ira Marvin Levin (1929-2007) pub. his bestselling (4M copies) novel Rosemary's Baby, about Baby 666, born on June 6, 1966 in Jew York City; launches the contemporary horror genre; filmed in 1968.
On June 12, 1968 Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby (June 12 = 6, 6+6) (Paramount Pictures) debuts, based on the 1967 Ira Levin novel, becoming the first U.S. film for Polish dir. Roman Polanski (Rajmund Roman Thierry Polanski) (Liebling) (1933-); stars Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse, mother of baby 666, John Cassavetes as her Faustian actor hubby Guy Woodhouse, Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon as their warlock-witch neighbors Roman Castevet (really Steven Marcato, son of warlock Adrian Marcato) and Minnie Castevet, Charles Grodin as Dr. Hill, Ralph Bellamy as Dr. Abraham Sapirstein, and Tony Curtis as the voice of actor Donald Baumgart, who is blinded so that Guy can get his big break to seal the deal; the film debut of Charles Grodin (1935-); does $33.4M box office on a $3.2M budget; Vidal Sassoon does Farrow's hair for $5K; filmed in the Dakota in New York City's Upper West Side on W 72nd St. (later made famous by John Lennon and Yoko Ono) and called the "Black Bramford"; "He has his father's eyes"; "Satan is his father, not Guy. He came up from Hell and begat a son of mortal woman. Satan is his father and his name is Adrian. He shall overthrow the mighty and lay waste their temples. He shall redeem the despised and wreak vengeance in the name of the burned and the tortured. Hail, Adrian! Hail, Satan!"; "God is dead! Satan lives! The year is One! The year is one! God is dead!"; the name Adrian comes from the Latin "man from Hadria", a town in N Italy that gave us 2nd cent. C.E. Roman emperor Hadrian, but could be Hades?; part of a trilogy by Polanski on the horrors of apt.-dwelling incl. "Repulsion" (1965), and "The Tenant" (1976); "Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby" (1976) is made for TV; "Son of Rosemary" is written in 1997, and filmed in ?
On Oct. 1, 1968 George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead (Walter Reade Org.) debuts at Fulton Theater in dreary Pittsburgh, Penn., a horror movie set in rural W Penn. that's so bad it's great, starring Duane Jones and Judith O'Dea as humans Ben and Barbra, who hole-up in a farmhouse fighting hordes of zombies brought back to life by radiation; #6 grossing film of 1968 ($12M U.S. and $18M worldwide box office on a $114K budget); spawns sequels "Dawn of the Dead" (1979), "Day of the Dead" (1985).
On Aug. 30, 1972 Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left (Hallmark Releasing) debuts, produced by Sean S. Cunningham, about two teenie girls who are taken into the words and tortured by a gang of murderous thugs, based oo Ingmar Bergman's 1960 film "The Virgin Spring", becoming the dir. debut of Cleveland, Ohio-born Wesley Earl "Wes" Craven (1939-2015); grosses $3M box office on an $87K budget; remade in 2009.
On Oct. 16, 1973 Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now (British Lion Films) debuts, a Gothic horror film set based on a Daphne du Maurier short story, starring Donald Sutherland and Julia Christie as married couple John and Laura Baxter, who lose their daughter Christine in a drowning in England, and go to Venice, where they meet blind psychic Heather (Hilary Mason), who claims to be able to see her, after which they begin seeing a mysterious childlike figure wearing a red coat; a daring sex scene by Sutherland and Christie causes the film to be rated X in Britain and R in the U.S., and is so explicit that it causes rumors that it wasn't faked.
On Oct. 16, 1973 Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man (British Lion Films) debuts, written by Anthony Shaffer based on the 1967 David Pinner novel "Ritual" and with a soundtrack by Paul Giovanni, starring "The Equalizer" Edward Woodward as Anglican Police Sgt. Neil Howie, who investigates the disappearance of young Rowan Morrison (Gael. "rowan" = sacred tree) on the remote island of Summerisle in the Hebrides, where the owner Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee) runs a neo-pagan Sun-fertility cult suspected of human sacrifice; after discovering the delights of nubile Willow (Britt Ekland), he attends the May Day festival disguised as Punch, then finds that Rowan is alive and he is the real human sacrifice, getting put in a wicker statue of a man and set ablaze, reciting Psalm 23 while they sing "Sumer Is Icumen In" in a study of a 20th cent. Christian-pagan confrontation; initially released in a cut-down form and doing only $58K box office, a "Cinefantastique" issue calling it "the Citizen Kane of horror movies" gets it rereleased in full form in 1979.
On Dec. 26, 1973 William Friedkin's The Exorcist debuts, based on the 1971 William Peter Blatty novel, starring Linda Denise Blair (1959-) as devil-possessed, green-pea-soup-puking girl Regan Teresa MacNeil, and is given an R-rating, becoming the Jesuits' Deep Throat, causing mass hysteria in some theaters as it draws on all 2K years of Catholic superstition, incl. the ancient god Pazuzu (voiced by Mercedes McCambridge, with the face of Eileen Dietz), aided by special effects by Dick Smith, and spooky music by Mike Oldfield; #1 film of 1973, grossing $232.6M domestic and $402.5M worldwide by 2010, passing "The Godfather" standing still; Ellen Burstyn plays actress mommy Chris MacNeil, Jason Miller plays Father Damien Karras (whose body double tumbles down the Exorcist Steps at the end of M St. in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.), Max von Sydow (who once played Jesus) plays Father Lankester Merrin; an avg. of 3 men and 2 women faint during each showing; six people die during the making of the film, causing rumors that it's cursed; "The power of Christ compels you."
In 1973 the Saturn Award (Golden Scroll) is established by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.
On Oct. 1, 1974 Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Bryanston Pictures) debuts, loosely based on the true story of necrophiliac murderer Ed Gein (1906-84), thrilling movie audiences with its new anti-hero Leatherface (played by Gunnar Hansen), pioneering the use of power tools in the slasher gentre; so gross it's good, getting banned in the U.K. and Germany, making it more popular?; #10 grossing film of 1974 ($30.8M); spawns a franchise incl. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" (1986), "Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III" (1990), "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation" (1994), "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2003), "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" (2006), "Texas Chainsaw 3D" (2013), "Leatherface" (2018?) - fear of the German sausage-making lobby?
On Dec. 15, 1974 Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein debuts, a comic sendup of the 1818 Mary Shelley novel, starring Gene Wilder as Dr. Baron Friedrich von Frankenstein (that's pronounced "frankenstien"), Marty Feldman as his pop-eyed asst. Igor, Teri Garr as his babe Inga, Cloris Leachman as Frau Blucher, Kenneth Mars as Inspector Kemp, and Peter Boyle as the Creature, who helps Wilder do a great rendition of the Irving Berlin classic Puttin' on the Ritz; #4 grossing film of 1974 ($86.3M).
On June 20, 1975 Steven Spielberg's horror-thriller film Jaws (Universal Pictures) debuts, based on the 1974 Peter Benchley novel, starring Roy Scheider as Police Chief Martin Brody, Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint, and Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper, with an ominous shark theme composed by John Williams, becoming Hollywood's first $100M blockbuster ($133.4M U.S. and $470.7M worldwide box office on a $9M budget), and highest-grossing film until "Star Wars" (1977); spawns three sequels, all flops; the robot shark is named Bruce after Spielberg's atty.; "You're gonna need a bigger boat" (Brody); the book and the movie are based on real-life shark fisherman Frank Mundus (1925-2008), skipper of Cricket II; Universal Studios sets up a Jaws exhibit featuring a mechanical shark that menaces the tour bus.
On June 6, 1976 Richard Donner's The Omen (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, based on the David Seltzer novel, starring Harvey Stephens as young 666-birthmarked kid Damien the Antichrist, and Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as his clueless adoptive parents Ambassador Robert and Katherine Thorn; features the theme song Ave Satani by Jerry Goldsmith; #5 grossing film of 1976 ($54.6M U.S. and $60.9M worldwide box office on a $2.8M budget); spawns sequels "Damien: Omen 2" (1978), "The Final Conflict" (1981), and made-for-TV "Omen 4: The Awakening" (1991); remade in 2006 starring Liev Schreiber.
On July 22, 1977 Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes debuts, starring creepy bald pointy-headed John Berryman as Pluto, James Whitworth as Papa Jupiter, Cordy Clark as Mama, Lance Gordon as Mars, and Arthur King as Mercury, a family of deranged cannibals who attack the Carter family at Fred's Oasis en route from Ohio to Los Angeles, incl. Brenda Carter (Susan Lanier), Bobby Carter (Robert Houson), Lynne Wood (Dee Wallace); John Steadman plays Fred; does $25M box office on a $230K budget.
On Oct. 25, 1978 John Carpenter's Halloween (Compass Internat.) debuts, a scare flick featuring screaming Jamie Lee "the Body" Curtis as Laurie Strode, and an apocalyptic Donald Pleasance as Dr. Sam Loomis taking on white-masked Michael Myers (b. 1957) (Will Sandin/Tony Moran/Nick Castle) in the most successful independent motion picture to date, costing only $325K to make and becoming the #9 grossing film of 1978 ($47M box office in the U.S. and $70M worldwide).
On May 25, 1979 Ridley Scott's Alien (20th Cent. Fox, London) debuts, a quantum leap in sci-fi and horror flicks, starring manly woman Sigourney (Susan Alexander) Weaver (1949-) (who named herself after Sigourney Howard in "The Great Gatsby") as space hero Ripley, taking on the ultimate ET cockroach infestation on the mining ship Nostromo; the scene of the baby alien popping out of John Hurt's chest in the mess hall is a keeper, and the flick is a big hit, spawning three sequels, "Aliens" (1986), "Alien 3" (1992), and "Alien: Resurrection" (1997); "In space no one can hear you scream"; #8 grossing film of 1979 (104.9M U.S. and $203.6M worldwide box office on an $11M budget). On July 18, 1986 James Cameron's Aliens (Brandywine Productions) (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, a sequel to the 1979 hit "Alien" set 57 years later; stars Sigourney Weaver as manly woman Ellen Ripley, who leads a hunter-killer mission to planet LV-426, where they find lone human survivor Rebecca "Newt" Jorden (Carrie Henn), and are then wiped-out by the mean aliens; Michael Biehn plays Cpl. Dwayne Hicks after James Remar leaves during filming; Lance Henriksen plays the android Bishop; Paul Reiser plays company man Carter Burke, who tries to sabotage the mission so he can bring a live specimen back, the dope?; Jenette Goldstein plays manly woman Pvt. Vasquez.
On May 9, 1980 Sean S. Cunningham's Friday the 13th (Paramount Pictures) (Warner Bros.) debuts, introducing undead hockey-masked slasher Jason Vorhees (Ari Lehman) having fun at Camp Crystal Lake in N.J. with six counselors trying to open reopen it 20 years after "accidental" deaths close it; SFX by Tom Savini; does $59.8M box office on a $550K budget; spawns a seemingly endless series of sequels, incl. Part 9: "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday" (1993).
On May 23, 1980 Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (Peregrine Productions) (Hawk Films) (Warner Bros.) debuts, based on the 1977 Stephen King novel about failed writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) getting cabin fever at the secluded Overlook Hotel in Colo. during the winter; features the great climax where he goes after his family with an axe, crying, "Here's Johnny!"; title is inspired by John Lennon's "Instant Karma" and its line "We all shine on"; Joe Turkel plays creepy Joe the Bartender; the disturbing 1967 photograph Identical Twins, Roselle, N.J. of Lisa and Louise Burns (1968-) by Diane Arbus is used for effect; Danny Lloyd plays the psychic kid who talks with his finger and spouts "Redrum!"; bizarrely skinny scarecrow Shelley Duvall plays his freaked wife, and Scatman Crothers plays psychic vacationing chef Dick Hallorann, who returns to get axed; the photo at the end shows the hotel on July 4, 1921 as "Midnight, the Stars, and You" is being played; "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy"; the film contains numerous codes revealing that Kubrick directed a govt.-backed fake Apollo 11 moon landing based on his experience filming "Doctor Strangelove" (1964) and "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968)?; it's no surprise that the record for altitude was 853.8 mi. (1,374.1km) for Gemini 11 on Sept. 14, 1966?
On Aug. 21, 1981 John Landis' An American Werewolf in London (PolyGram Pictures) (Gruber-Peters Co.) (Universal Pictures) debuts,, filmed in Wales and Surrey, England, starring David Naughton as David Kessler, and Griffin Dunne as Jack Goodman, two Yank college students who decide to go on a hike in the Yorkshire Moors and get mixed up with werewolves, who kill Jack and turn David into one, after which he is taken to a London hospital where he hooks up with hot Nurse Alex Price (Jenny Agutter); does $62M box office on a $10M budget; followed by "An American Werewolf in Paris" (1997).
On June 4, 1982 Tobe Harper's Poltergeist debuts, co-written by producer Steven Spielberg, starring Heather O'Rourke (1975-88) as 5-y.-o. as Carol Anne Freeling, who begins communicating with a group of spirits led by the Beast via the static on her TV, allowing them to kidnap her, after which parents Steven and Diane Freeling (Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth William) call in spiritual medium Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein) to help rescue her; grosses $76.6M at the U.S. box office; spawns sequels "Poltergeist II: The Other Side" (1986), and "Poltergeist III" (1988); real human skeletons are used in the swimming pool scene, causing rumors of the Poltergeist Curse on the actors; Heather O'Rourke dies on Feb. 1, 1988 in San Diego, Calif. of heart failure from congenital bowel obstruction and/or Crohn's Disease.
On June 25, 1982 John Carpenter's The Thing (Universal Pictures) deubts, a remake of the 1951 flick based on the John Campbell short story, starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley et al. as scientists in a remote Antarctic outpost facing a shape-shifting people-eating creature from outer space; does $19.6M U.S. box office on a $15M budget, gaining a cult following complete with a 1982 novel, a comic book series from Dark Horse Comics, and the video game sequel in 2002; a prequel film is released on Oct. 14, 2011.
On Nov. 8, 1984 Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (New Line Cinema) debuts, set in fictional Springwood, Ohio, starring Robert Englund as fedora-wearing razor-fingered-glove nightmare slasher Freddy Krueger, becoming a big hit for New Line Cinema, spawning six sequels; does $25.5M box office on a $1.8M budget; the feature film debut of Owensburg, Ky.-born John Christopher "Johnny" Depp II (1963-); "If Nancy doesn't wake up screaming, she won't wake up at all."
In Sept. 1986 Stephen Edwin King (1947-) pub. It, becoming the #1 bestseller in the U.S. in 1986; seven children in Derry, Maine are terrorized by an evil being who appears as Pennywise the Dancing Clown AKA Bob Gray; filmed as a ABC-TV miniseries on Nov. 18-20, 1990 starring Tim Curry as Pennywise.
On Dec. 7, 1990 Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (20th Cent. Fox) debuts, a revisioning of the Frankenstein story, starring Johnny Depp as a freak with you know whats for hands, who finds sympathy from Kim (Winona Ryder) and Peg (Dianne Wiest) before the Am. suburban mob comes with torches; O-Lan Jones plays Esmeralda; does $86M box office on a $20M budget; "The story of an uncommonly gentle man."
On Jan. 30, 1991 Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs (Orion Pictures) debuts, a horror-thriller based on the 1988 Thomas Harris novel, featuring a duel of wits between FBI cadet Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) (Michelle Pfeiffer was originally cast?) and serial killer, psychiatrist, and Renaissance man "Hannibal the Cannibal" Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), who tries to mimic a wildcat with his eyes and body language, models his voice after Truman Capote, Katharine Hepburn, and HAL 9000, and is transported wearing a hockey mask so he can't bite off your face; Ted Levine is perfectly cast as the sexually mixed-up serial murderer Buffalo Bill, which Hannibal helps Clarice catch only after she reveals her inner self to him so he can mess with her mind; #3 movie of 1991 ($131M U.S. and $272.7M worldwide box office on a $19M budget); first horror film to win a Best Picture Oscar, and 3rd to be nominated after "The Exorcist" (1973) and "Jaws" (1975); followed by the sequel "Hannibal" (2001) and the prequels "Red Dragon" (2002) and "Hannibal Rising" (2007); features the Buffalo Bill Dance to the 1988 song "Goodbye Horses" by Q Lazzarus; "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti [slurp slurp slurp]" (Hannibal) - the con bites male flesh?
On Jan. 19, 1996 Robert Rodriguez' From Dusk till Dawn (Dimension Films) debuts, an action horror film written by Quentin Tarantino, starring Tarantino and George Clooney as bank robber brothers Richard "Richie" and Seth Gecko, who kidnap the Fuller family in their RV and force them to drive them to Mexico to the Titty Twister Strip Club, which is run by vampires, resulting in a bloody shootout that lasts you know how long; co-stars Harvey Keitel as Pastor Jacob Fuller, Juliette Lewis as his daughter Katherine; Michae Parks plays Texas Ranger Earl McGraw; Salma Hayek plays Santanico Pandemonium; Cheech Marin plays Chet Pussy; Danny Trejo plays Razor Charlie; Tom Savini plays Sex Machine; does $25.8M box office on a $19 budget, becoming a cult film.
On Dec. 18, 1996 Wes Craven's Scream (original title "Scary Movie") (Dimension Films) debuts, written by Kevin Williamson based on the Gainesville Ripper, starring Neve Campbell as Woodsboro, Calif. h.s. student Sidney Prescott, who is targeted by serial killer Ghostface, satirizing slasher and horror films along the way, becoming a cult film and spawning a series, revitalizing the horror film genre, whose market had been killed by direct-to-video and endless sequels of 1970s-1980s horror flicks; also stars David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Drew Barrymore, and Skeet Ulrich; does $173M box office on a $14M budget, becoming the highest grossing U.S. slasher film; "Someone has taken their love of scary movies one step too far. Solving this mystery is going to be murder"; followed by "Scream 2" (1998), "Scream 3" (2000), "Scream 4" (2011).
On Jan. 25, 1999 Daniel Myrick's and Eduardo Sanchez's The Blair Witch Project (Haxan Films) debuts, starring Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard as student moviemakers who get lost in Oct. 1991 in the woods in the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Md. and disappear, their home video equipment found a year later; home-made for only $22K, but grosses $141.5M in the U.S. and $240.5M worldwide (1:10,931 ratio), becoming the first major motion picture in which the three principal players shot nearly all of the complete film; a good ad for Maryland not?
On Nov. 12, 1999 after the 1996 pilot "The Chicken from Outer Space" is nominated for an Oscar, the Hanna-Barbera animated horror series Courage the Cowardly Dog debuts on Cartoon Network for 52 episodes (until Nov. 22, 2002), about pink fraidy-cat dog Courage (Marty Grabstein), who lives near Nowhere, Kan. with Muriel and Eustace Bagge, fighting horror chars. incl. zombies, demons, monsters, mad scientists, and aliens along with fortune-telling chihuahua Shirley the Medium; watch intro.
On Aug. 24, 2001 the animated series The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy debuts on Cartoon Network for 86 episodes (until Oct. 12, 2008), about children Billy and Mandy, who win a limbo game to save Billy's pet hamster and gain the Grim Reaper as their best friend in eternal servitude and slavery; watch intro.
On Sept. 19, 2003 Len Wiseman's action horror film Underworld (Lakeshore Entertainment) debuts, about the secret war between vampires and lycans (werewolves), with 600-y.-o. vampire Death Dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) hunting lycans while falling for human medical student Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman), who is bitten by a lycan and becomes a hybrid, conflicting her; does $95.7M box office on a $22M budget, spawning the Underworld film series, incl. "Underworld Evolution" (2006), "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" (2009), "Underworld: Awakening" (2012), and "Underworld: Blood Wars" (2016).
On Apr. 6, 2007 Quentin Tarantino's and Robert Rodriguez' Grindhouse (Troublemaker Studios) debuts, a horror double feature consisting of Rodriguez' "Planet Terror" and Tarantino's "Death Proof", bookended with fictional trailers, ads, and in-theater announcements, starring Rose McGowan as machine gun-legged Cherry Darling, Freddy Rodriguez as El Wray, Marley Shelton as Dr. Dakota Block, Michael Biehn as Sheriff Hague, Jeff Fahey as J.T. Hague, Bruce Willis Lt. Muldoon, Kurt Russell, Fergie et al.; does $25.4M box office on a $53M budget.
On Mar. 15, 2010 the supernatural fantasy children's TV series Dead Gorgeous (originally "Dead Normal") debuts on BBC2 for 13 episodes (until Apr. 21), about the Ainsworth sisters Rebecca (Melissa Howard), Sophie (Poppy Lee Friar), and Hazel (Alexandra Coppinger), who died in a carriage crash along with their nanny in Victorian England, are given another chance at life by the ghost council, and return 150 years later as Living Ghosts, becoming baffled by modern life; watch intro.
On Nov. 6, 2010 Troy Nixey's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (Miramax Films) debuts, a remake of the 1973 ABC-TV movie written by Matthew Robbins and Guillermo del Toro based on the book by Nigel McKeand and filmed in the Drusilla Mansion in Mount Macedon, Victoria, Australia, starring Katie Holmes Kim Raphael, Guy Pearce as Alex Hurst, and Bailee Madison as 8-y.-o. Sally Hurst, who move into the 19th cent. Blackwood Manor mansion in Providence County, R.I., where evil creatures begin emerging from a sealed ash pit in the basement; does $36M box office on a $25M budget.
On May 30, 2014 the Slender Man Stabbings see two 12-y.-o. girls in Waukesha, Wisc. stab a 12-y.-o. classmate 19x to become proxies of the Slender Man, an online char. created on June 10, 2009, becoming the first publicized creepypasta (horror-related stories or images copy-pasted around the Internet); they face up to 65 years in prison each.
On June 16, 2017 Johannes Roberts' 47 Meters Down (Entertainment Studios) debuts, starring Mandy Moore and Claire Holt as sisters Lisa and Kate, who go in holiday in Mexico and get suckered into a shark cage dive, only to end up trapped on the ocean floor while being stalked by great whites; does $52M box office on a $5M budget.