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Tropical Mary of MoviePilot.com poses an interesting question: "What was the first horror movie ever made?"

The answer hinges on whether or not we count the 17-second silent film The Execution of Mary Stuart from 1895 (directed by Alfred Clark and produced by Thomas Edison) as horror or historical drama.



Here is Tropical Mary's argument: "A fundamental aspect of a horror is shock value and its ability to terrify the audience. A modern audience's opinion on what is scary has changed drastically in 120 years, and though it was based on an historical event, the Clark film was not made to be a documentary or a simple re-enactment. At a time when motion pictures themselves were a wondrous new invention (without sound or music), watching a woman being beheaded, regardless of our modern day propensity for of blood and gore, it would have been horrific to an audience in 1895."

What do you think?



If you don't buy the idea that The Execution of Mary Stuart is the first horror movie, then your best bet for the honor would be the three-minute, eighteen-second Le Manoir de Diable (The House of the Devil) by Georges Méliès in 1896.

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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
sittingduck1313
Oct. 11th, 2016 12:25 pm (UTC)
Count me among those who don't buy it. Shock value alone does not make a horror movie. Plus it's only seventeen seconds. That would equivalent to describing a clip of a guy getting whacked in the junk as a comedy movie.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 13th, 2016 01:57 pm (UTC)
Good point about the seventeen seconds, although then again, at the time, a five-minute movie was the equivalent of a feature-length film. I do find it ironic that we grumble about society's fascination with and desensitivity to violence today, but what did people do the moment they had moving pictures? They staged mock executions!
jan_u_wine
Oct. 11th, 2016 12:44 pm (UTC)
TM's point is well taken. I could only wish that someone who viewed this movie in a contemporaneous manner was still alive to give their opinion on where this falls, since over a 100 years have since passed, 100+ years of the world changing in ways that we cannot even really fully know, stuck in our own little portion of the time-stream.

In 1895, there were likely no such tags as 'horror movie'. But people may very well have considered it one, without having the words to label it.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 13th, 2016 01:59 pm (UTC)
I could only wish that someone who viewed this movie in a contemporaneous manner was still alive to give their opinion on where this falls,

Yes! This!

Considering that people reportedly were freaked out by seeing a moving train coming not at them but sort of generally towards them on film, I have to imagine this scene would've been pretty intense for them.
jan_u_wine
Oct. 16th, 2016 04:20 pm (UTC)
hopefully there was alcohol available at the ahem concession stand......
morfin
Oct. 11th, 2016 05:12 pm (UTC)
It would be quite horrific if they ever showed how the execution of Mary really went. It took several strokes of the axe, with her gasping after the first stroke, before they could sever her head. Then when they picked her head up by her hair, it was revealed she was wearing a wig, with her head falling to the ground.
sittingduck1313
Oct. 12th, 2016 05:01 pm (UTC)
That last bit could make it qualify as a black comedy.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 13th, 2016 02:00 pm (UTC)
Talk about a horror show! ::shudders::
homespunheart
Oct. 12th, 2016 10:26 pm (UTC)
Mary Stuart not so much but The House of the Devil is good considering 1896! That works for me as horror.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 13th, 2016 02:01 pm (UTC)
Me, too!

I highly approve of the obviously long-lived cinema infatuation with fake rubber bats flapping around in the corners of the screen. Everything is better with bats!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )