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The History of Horror Movies: 15 Films that Defined the Horror Genre

Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock did some beautiful things with film, and those beautiful things were not limited to Psycho, alone. The Birds, Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest and Frenzy are a few of Hitchcock’s other features to showcase legitimately amazing sequences, many of those sequences producing iconic imagery, long associated with the genre. But iconic images don’t mean all too much when you accomplish what Hitchcock accomplished with Psycho, a film that many will cite as the flick that launched the slasher sub-genre. It certainly transcends the very idea of iconic imagery; Psycho is the kind of film that lives forever, and at this point, nearly 60 years after arriving, it’s obvious that the film’s impression stems so far beyond a few memorable shots that it’s almost unbelievable.

Crammed full of downright taboo content, including a pronounced allusion to incest, necrophilia, extreme voyeurism and of course, cold blooded and blatantly savage murder, Psycho was decades ahead of its time. Now, all of the film’s shocking maneuvers fit comfortably into a contemporary picture frame, but today is not 1960. Not even close. In 1960, filmmakers dare not touch the kind of ideas that Hitchcock brought to life, all inspired by a brilliant yet somehow underrated novel (yes, it’s every bit as depraved as the film, and yes, somehow “fans” still fail to realize that Hitchcock’s Psycho was even based on an absurdly disconcerting novel) from the great Robert Bloch. Hitchcock, it should be noted, wasn’t your average director, and despite a few career misfires his material was generally astounding enough to enthrall those within the Hollywood ranks as well as the countless fans who hoisted the man up onto a nearly untouchable pedestal. Hitchcock deserved that love, as Psycho crushed walls and opened up a can of worms that would eventually lead to a near collapse from censors.

Psycho changed the game. In order to be created, films like Black Christmas and Halloween needed a piece like Psycho to begin laying the groundwork. It did just that, and still to this day it is respected to an almost unfathomable extent, and the image still looks marvelous, especially on Blu-ray. Psycho, and Hitchcock, of course, have earned all the love given, and then some.

Continue the countdown of the 15 films that defined the horror genre on the next page!

About The Overseer (2283 Articles)
Author of Say No to Drugs, writer for Blumhouse, Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

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