Classic Science Fiction, Monster and Horror/Thriller/Fantasy Movies
© 2023 Charles Merguerian
Appeal/Social Merits of Sci-Fi Movies
In 1895 both horror The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots - a silent movie that highlighted beheading and the science fiction movie La Charcuterie Mécanique - a silent French movie that highlighted a futuristic robot began shortly after the invention of the motion picture. Starting in 1902 the genre was dominated by stories of rocketry and space travel, undersea adventure, futurism, and almost immediately with depictions of aliens. In this regard, A Trip to the Moon (1902) is worthy of mention (aka Voyage dans la Lune), a silent French movie directed by Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès that featured disappearing lunar aliens. A similar silent movie called A Trip To Mars was made by the Edison Studios in 1910. Later in 1924 the Russian silent movie Aelita, the Queen of Mars (aka Revolt of the Robots; Аэлита) featured an engineer who travels to Mars to meet his dream girl. Understandably, the WW-I and -II eras saw a diminution of science fiction movies with replacement by dominantly horror or fantasy movies of one type or another.
See the Duke 1895-1969 Listing of Legendary Sci-Fi, Monster, and Horror/Fantasy Movies
See the Duke 1924-1987 Listing of Classic Russian Sci-Fi Movies
Public awareness and acceptance of the post-WWII rocketry research that ultimately led to the International Geophysical Year (actually a year and a half from mid-1957 to 31 December 1958) was facilitated by the great multitude of science fiction movies produced during the 1950s. Collectively known as "crappy science fiction movies" by Dukelabs geologist Mickey and many others, these low-budget movies allowed for imaginative scenarios depicting almost exactly what were to become true events in the future and helped the public come to grips with their growing nuclear fear grown during the post WW-II era by the Cold War. Face it, the nuclear stuff was a boon to Japanese film makers! By clicking on the links below, a series of compiled movie listings devoted to the days of black-and-white and early color low-technology film making are available.
The appeal of monster movies for the public involves a complex interplay of experiencing dangerous situations without actually having to get involved, or committed for that matter. The difference is simple, just like an order of ham and eggs from our favorite diner ... the chicken is involved, the pig is committed. The Monster (1903) was the first cinema (also directed by Marie-George-Jean Méliès) to employ a monster, a dervish who dwells at the base of the sphinx. The genre swelled as a secondary to science fiction movies and received a huge boost in the 1950s with the Japanese release of Gojira (1954) which was re-edited with splice-in cinema shots of Raymond Burr and the same Japanese actors from Gojira and was released in the USA in 1956 as Godzilla, King of Monsters. The genre was summarized many years ago by then wife unit Myriam who said, "Oh, those stupid movies you watch, they're all alike. First they annoy the monster who is usually radioactive, then the monster gets mad and kills a lot of people, then they kill the monster at the end." OK, OK, I think there is merit to that summary, come to think of it.
The movies take on a special place for the public and our global culture and involve a complex fullfillment and interplay of experiencing dangerous situations without actually having to get involved, or committed for that matter. The difference is simple, just like an order of ham and eggs from our favorite diner ... the chicken is involved, the pig is committed. Horror/Fantasy movies also start early in the history of fim making with the 1897 release of The Bewitched Inn, a two-minute French short about a haunted inn (also directed by Marie-George-Jean Méliès) and The Haunted Castle (1908).
The Monster (1903) was the first cinema (also directed by Marie-George-Jean Méliès) to emply a monster, a dervish who dwells at the base of the sphinx. The first version of Frankenstein was released in 1910 (an Edison-Dawley production), followed by Der Golem (1915), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and and Drakula halála, an Austrian film released in 1921. Ultimately with the box-office appeal of the Universal horror films of the 30s, 40s and 50s, big budget horror/fantasy movies began production to the present day. Our friend Sally Writes, writes to us about Horror Movies That Derserve More Credit and scribes the following: "Big-budget horror movies can certainly do their job but it is often the little-known horrors which provide the biggest scares. Remember "The Descent?". Caving has never been so scary. Lower budgets often mean a director must compensate by adding a psychological element to the horror or by leaving more to the imagination. Horror can be found in our deepest fears and nightmares. Horror can also be found in our everyday lives as seen by the grief of a widow and her child in The Babadook or by the imaginary monsters created in the minds of the children in Darkness Falls. Movies like Drag Me To Hell or An American Haunting often gain a cult following due to their commentary on real issues and their element of surprise. Which of these 10 modern underrated horror flicks is your favorite?
OTHER FUN LINKS
Duke Master List of Sci-Fi, Horror, and Monster Movies (1895-1969)
Russian Sci-Fi Movie List 1924-1987
List of Sci-Fi Movies Where "We Go There"
List of Sci-Fi Movies Where "They Come Here"
List of Classic pre-1969 Sci-Fi TV Shows
Sci-Fi Webpage Links for Images and Movies
Terrestrial Planetary Timescales
Merguerian's Space Exploration Series Publications (1989a, 1989b, 1989c, 1989d)
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