If the first films was shown in France in December 1895, when do you think the first horror film was produced? Right! One year later in 1896. The first horror film was House of the Devil by Georges Melies, the French filmmaker.
If you remember, Georges Melies is the filmmaker portrayed in the movie Hugo. His most famous movie is Trip to the Moon.
But horror films really got spooking in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. The best horror films were made by Universal Studios. Their cast of monsters included this ghoulish crew.
Dracula was played by the actor Bela Lugosi. He played a vampire four times but only Dracula twice. His pets, you guessed it, were Doberman Pinchers and German Shepherds. If Bela Lugosi’s son in real life disobeyed him, he would give him the Dracula stare. Bela Lugosi was buried in his Dracula cape.
The actor Boris Karloff played Frankenstein. He also narrated the cartoon, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The shoes he wore for Frankenstein weighted 11 pounds! Boris Karloff was so excited when his baby girl was born, that he ran to the hospital in his Frankenstein makeup.
Boris Karloff also played The Mummy. The Mummy makeup took longer to put on than the Frankestein. He would be in the makeup chair for eight hours!
The Invisible Man
Hmmm …. I can’t get a picture of him!
Actually, he is wrapped in more bandages than the Mummy so I can.
He’s played by Claude Rains, an actor known for playing sophisticated roles. In his version of The Invisible Man, the Invisible Man goes a bit nuts. The author of the book, The Invisible Man, H.G. Wells, didn’t like that much. He said the film had turned his scientist into a lunatic.
The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera is played by one of the most famous actors of the time, Lon Chaney. He was called a man of a thousand faces because he excelled at makeup and contorting his face and body to become a grotesque character.
In fact, he was first hired as an actor in films because of his skills at applying makeup. In early films, there was no makeup department. To make a villain, an actor would just put on a fake mustache or beard.
For the Phantom, Lon Chaney put wire in his nose to make it point upward. Audiences were said to faint or scream in the scene where the Phantom’s face was revealed behind the mask. Would you?
Here he is in real life with his makeup case. Would you recognize him? Because he was so good at looking like someone else, a popular joke was, “Don’t step on that spider! It might be Lon Chaney!”