Halloween Family Tree

Horror films today bear a lot of influence from the workings of those before them. While there are much more than just five films that set precedents to horror filmmaking today, these are 5 of that I think branch from the previous in such a way that form a pretty interesting family tree. Plus, I’m just way too scared to ever watch  The Exorcist  again.

Horror films today bear a lot of influence from the workings of those before them. While there are much more than just five films that set precedents to horror filmmaking today, these are 5 of that I think branch from the previous in such a way that form a pretty interesting family tree. Plus, I’m just way too scared to ever watch The Exorcist again.

LES DIABOLIQUES

— 1955 —

I wanna start this film off with  Les Diaboliques  because it really has such an important impact on horror films today as we know it. It’s a French horror film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot about the wife and mistress of a prep school principal who decide to murder their lover and dump his body in the school pool. All hell breaks loose when his body is gone and the clothes he died in reappear back in the school completely dry. This film’s real importance in the tracing of today’s horror influence lies behind the scenes. The rights to the book this film was adapted into, was savagely pursued by Alfred Hitchcock. He actually came very close to making it before Clouzot decided to pursue the venture himself. Since Hitch couldn’t get his hands on  Les Diaboliques , it fueled him to pursue what would become the defining horror film for all future audiences:  Psycho .

I wanna start this film off with Les Diaboliques because it really has such an important impact on horror films today as we know it. It’s a French horror film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot about the wife and mistress of a prep school principal who decide to murder their lover and dump his body in the school pool. All hell breaks loose when his body is gone and the clothes he died in reappear back in the school completely dry. This film’s real importance in the tracing of today’s horror influence lies behind the scenes. The rights to the book this film was adapted into, was savagely pursued by Alfred Hitchcock. He actually came very close to making it before Clouzot decided to pursue the venture himself. Since Hitch couldn’t get his hands on Les Diaboliques, it fueled him to pursue what would become the defining horror film for all future audiences: Psycho.

PSYCHO

— 1960 —

Hitchcock disregarded and surpassed so many boundaries with  Psycho , that even if you haven’t seen the film, you know the horrifying shower scene with the shrieking strings pulsating behind the knife stabs. For a horror film, there isn’t any real gore or much violence shown at all. This is something that a lot of directors took note of in the following years. Think about how long it takes to finally see an alien in  Alien  or how sparingly you see Jaws until the end. It’s a constant fear of knowing something’s there, but not knowing exactly what. That’s what Hitchcock pushes in  Psycho . The violence of the shower scene is displayed so sparingly due to the cutting of it, that it leaves so much up to the imagination that we can’t help but freak ourselves out to the nth degree. Hitchcock broke all the rules of storytelling in the genre too after killing off the film’s star in the first 45 minutes.  Psycho  drastically expanded the relatively tight headspace horror films were stuck in.

Hitchcock disregarded and surpassed so many boundaries with Psycho, that even if you haven’t seen the film, you know the horrifying shower scene with the shrieking strings pulsating behind the knife stabs. For a horror film, there isn’t any real gore or much violence shown at all. This is something that a lot of directors took note of in the following years. Think about how long it takes to finally see an alien in Alien or how sparingly you see Jaws until the end. It’s a constant fear of knowing something’s there, but not knowing exactly what. That’s what Hitchcock pushes in Psycho. The violence of the shower scene is displayed so sparingly due to the cutting of it, that it leaves so much up to the imagination that we can’t help but freak ourselves out to the nth degree. Hitchcock broke all the rules of storytelling in the genre too after killing off the film’s star in the first 45 minutes. Psycho drastically expanded the relatively tight headspace horror films were stuck in.

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE

— 1974 —

The next stop on this horror-family tree arrives at the  Texas Chainsaw Massacre . Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece is an integral part in the formation of the new wave of horror films that would set the tone for all future films of the genre. Stylistically,  Texas   Chainsaw  borrows a lot from European directors such as Antonioni and Truffaut to give more of a documentary and almost literary feel to the film. It also took some notes out from  Psycho  by not actually showing much of the gore itself in the film, allowing all the violence to be left up to the audience’s imagination after they see only glimpses or finished results. This film also helped create and establish the norm of the masked killer in slasher flicks. The concept of having some kids get lost in the middle of nowhere as they’re tormented by a masked villain wasn’t a concept as heavily relied upon in horror back then as it is today. Without Leatherface, there might not have been many other important horror figures like Michael Myers.

The next stop on this horror-family tree arrives at the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece is an integral part in the formation of the new wave of horror films that would set the tone for all future films of the genre. Stylistically, Texas Chainsaw borrows a lot from European directors such as Antonioni and Truffaut to give more of a documentary and almost literary feel to the film. It also took some notes out from Psycho by not actually showing much of the gore itself in the film, allowing all the violence to be left up to the audience’s imagination after they see only glimpses or finished results. This film also helped create and establish the norm of the masked killer in slasher flicks. The concept of having some kids get lost in the middle of nowhere as they’re tormented by a masked villain wasn’t a concept as heavily relied upon in horror back then as it is today. Without Leatherface, there might not have been many other important horror figures like Michael Myers.

HALLOWEEN

— 1978 —

John Carpenter’s  Halloween  is such an important part of horror cinema, that I don’t think you’ll be able to find a single list or article online about Halloween that this film won’t be on. It’s obvious that John Carpenter took a lot of influence from some of his favorite horror movies to create his debut. He pays homage to  Psycho , not only by naming the doctor after Sam Loomis, but by also casting Jamie Lee Curtis in the lead role, who is actually Janet Leigh’s daughter, the leading lady in  Psycho . He also has a lengthy inclusion of Howard Hawk’s  The   Thing  which Carpenter would then remake 4 years later.  Halloween  took what  Texas Chainsaw  did with leatherface and popularized the masked slasher with Michael Myers. This was the birth of future slasher killers like Jason Voorhies or Freddy Krueger. While Leatherface started this trend, Michael Myers popularized it.

John Carpenter’s Halloween is such an important part of horror cinema, that I don’t think you’ll be able to find a single list or article online about Halloween that this film won’t be on. It’s obvious that John Carpenter took a lot of influence from some of his favorite horror movies to create his debut. He pays homage to Psycho, not only by naming the doctor after Sam Loomis, but by also casting Jamie Lee Curtis in the lead role, who is actually Janet Leigh’s daughter, the leading lady in Psycho. He also has a lengthy inclusion of Howard Hawk’s The Thing which Carpenter would then remake 4 years later. Halloween took what Texas Chainsaw did with leatherface and popularized the masked slasher with Michael Myers. This was the birth of future slasher killers like Jason Voorhies or Freddy Krueger. While Leatherface started this trend, Michael Myers popularized it.

THE SHINING

— 1980 —

The Shining  is the last stop on this Magic School Bus ride through the lineage of horror films. Not only is it considered one of the greatest horror films ever made, it might be one of the greatest films ever constructed, period. Filmmaking guru, Stanley Kubrick adapted Stephen King’s novel, but took his own approach (which Stephen King fucking hated). Kubrick created a psychological maze. Not only are the Torrance’s trapped inside the hotel, but so is the audience. Every last inch of the frame is strategically set to subliminally trigger and fuck with you.  The Shining  also shows that horror doesn’t always lie in the dark or on Halloween. Most of the truly terrifying sequences in  The Shining  take place I very well lit rooms or hallways or in broad daylight. Kubrick’s execution of the psychological and fairytale aspect of the film opened up the dimensions to horror films that have become textbook for all the aspiring Jordan Peele’s and M. Night Shamlyamadingdong’s out there.

The Shining is the last stop on this Magic School Bus ride through the lineage of horror films. Not only is it considered one of the greatest horror films ever made, it might be one of the greatest films ever constructed, period. Filmmaking guru, Stanley Kubrick adapted Stephen King’s novel, but took his own approach (which Stephen King fucking hated). Kubrick created a psychological maze. Not only are the Torrance’s trapped inside the hotel, but so is the audience. Every last inch of the frame is strategically set to subliminally trigger and fuck with you. The Shining also shows that horror doesn’t always lie in the dark or on Halloween. Most of the truly terrifying sequences in The Shining take place I very well lit rooms or hallways or in broad daylight. Kubrick’s execution of the psychological and fairytale aspect of the film opened up the dimensions to horror films that have become textbook for all the aspiring Jordan Peele’s and M. Night Shamlyamadingdong’s out there.