A history of hair-raising horrors

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

If humour is a litmus test of the human experience, horror can't be far behind.

For example, while I remember lying in bed at night after The Exorcist feeling for the slightest shake (good thing I didn't grow up in LA), others were literally unmoved. One friend of mine doesn't believe in anything supernatural, but gets his chills from any plausible horror - like psychopaths.

For All-Hallows Eve 2012, we've divided the history of horror movies into categories - starting with the unholy trinity of Vampires, Zombies and Werewolves. You decide what flips your id.

Sorry, no Twilight movies on this list. No Underworld movies either. Just 'cause.

WEREWOLVES - Arguably the oldest monster in human culture (going back loosely to ancient Greece and Sumeria). Does it trigger fears of our recent divorce from "the wild?"

Films: Werewolf of London (1935), The Wolfman (1941), The Howling (1981), An American Werewolf In London (1981), Wolfen (1981) The Company Of Wolves (1984), Wolf (1994). Dog Soldiers (2002). Canadian contribution: Ginger Snaps (2004).

VAMPIRES - Historically, it could have something to do with premature burials, or receding gums making corpses' teeth more prominent. Sex has always been in the mix (legends have vamps returning to have sex with their widows). The current canon, though, mostly comes from Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Films: Nosferatu (1922), Dracula (1931), Horror Of Dracula (1958), The Night Stalker (TV, 1972), Martin (1977), Salem's Lot (TV, 1979), Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979), The Hunger (1983), The Lost Boys (1987), Near Dark (1987), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Interview With The Vampire (1994). Let The Right One In (2008), Daybreakers (2009). Canadian contibutions: Rabid (1977), Blood and Donuts (1995), Suck (2010).

ZOMBIES - No monster has changed as much in our lifetime. Once all about voodoo (fears of our free will falling under evil control) zombies became another adjunct of the general fear of dead things coming to life (courtesy of George Romero's Living Dead series).

Films: White Zombie (1932), I Walked With A Zombie (1943), Night Of The Living Dead (1968), Dawn Of The Dead (1978), The Return Of The Living Dead (1985), Dead Alive (1982), Shaun Of The Dead (2004), Dawn Of The Dead (2004, and not just because I'm a zombie extra in it), Dead Snow (2009), Zombieland (2009). Canadian contributions: Fido (2006), Pontypool (2008)

ALIENS - Yeah, the Spielbergs of the world consider them friends we haven't met yet (ET, Close Encounters). But technologically advanced civilizations have had first encounters on Earth before. Aboriginals can tell you how that worked out.

Films: It Came From Outer Space (1953), The War Of The Worlds (1953), This Island Earth (1955), Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956), Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956), Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978), They Live (1988), Independence Day (1996), Mars Attacks! (1996), The Arrival (1996), Signs (2002), Battlefield Los Angeles (2011). Canadian contribution: Starship Invasions (1977).

MAN MADE MONSTERS/DISEASES/DISASTERS - Screw you, science! Okay, you helped us beat all those aliens"¦ but look what else you did!

Films: Metropolis (1927), Frankenstein (1931), Godzilla (1954), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Andromeda Strain (1971), Demon Seed (1977), The Terminator (1984), Jurassic Park (1993), 28 Days Later (2002, yeah, I know, some people consider it a zombie film), The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Contagion (2011), Canadian contribution: Splice

OCCULT/DEMONS/GHOSTS - Thank God for the Book of Revelation, and for fallen angels in general. Without them, we wouldn't have had all those pseudo Biblical scarefests like Rosemary's Baby (1968), The Exorcist (1973), The Omen (1976), End Of Days (1999, Arnold beats up Satan), Legion (2009).

And then there's every other hoary bad-boy of the netherworld, like Omius, Moloch and Samael of the Paranormal Activity movies (though we like Toby, the demon name in the original), Bughuul from the current flick Sinister, and the various Canderian demons in the Evil Dead series. (And did you know the Blair Witch's actual name in the movie was Elly Kedward? Scary!) Canadian contribution: Cell 213 (2010), in which a prison turns out to be the gateway to Hell.

And then there are plain, ordinary ghosts, including The House On Haunted Hill (1959), 13 Ghosts (1960) The Haunting (1963), Poltergeist (1982), The Woman In Black (2012) and many more (and their remakes).

NATURE RUN AMOK - Hey, it's not always our fault. Nature's just cruel sometimes.

Films: The Birds (1963), Jaws (1975), Orca (1977), Piranha (1978, 2010), The Ghost And The Darkness (1996), Lake Placid (1999), The Grey (2011). Canadian contribution: Though an American movie, The Edge (1997), in which Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins fight Bart The Bear (and each other) in the wilderness, was shot in Alberta.

PSYCHOPATHS - They're the real workhorses of the horror genre, the guys who kill because that's how they're wired, and who support franchises that likewise can't be killed. Friday the 13th's Jason, Halloween's Michael Myers, Nightmare On Elm Street's Freddy Krueger, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Leatherface - they take a licking and keep on stabbing, slicing, etc.


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