Best Horror Films From The 1896 To The 1909

By RodneyHatfieldJr for Movies

We are beginning a series of Best Horror Films of each decade.  I’m combining the first 2 decades because some of them, even though very important milestones in horror(and cinema in general), they are on the short side.  We start off in the infancy of not just horror but cinema.  The first real film shown to the public was in 1895.  And the first horror film was made just 6 months later in January 1986.  So let’s look at some of the silent gems of a bygone era.  Sorry but the list is short, because movies were new, and not readily available. So the list is small.  But their popularity was such, everyone wanted to see this new invention. In the later part of 1900‘s the world saw the wide-spread of theatres who showed the incredible discovery of moving pictures.  So lets dive right in.

The House of the Devil 1896


A bat flies into an ancient castle and transforms itself into Mephistopheles(Faust’s demon, not the Marvel character). Producing a cauldron, Mephistopheles conjures up a girl and various supernatural creatures, one of which brandishes a crucifix to force the devil to vanish. 
The first horror film. It was also the first horror film to have people leave the theater because it was too scary.  Then people protested it against it to be shown again.  So right from the beginning, horror has been a controversial topic.

The Bewitched Inn 1897

A weary traveler stops at an inn along the way to get a good night's sleep, but his rest is interrupted by odd happenings when he gets to his room. 
This is the very first haunted house movie made.  And aspects are still being used today. 

A Trip to the Moon 1898

An astronomer falls asleep and has a strange dream involving a fairy queen and the Moon.   This is the first true dream/nightmare film.  The whole thing is in the astronomer’s sleep.
This is a real trippy film.  It is like whoever wrote this was high on opium or something, which is possible since at the time, opium was a medicine sold at the corner store.  Have a cough, drink a bottle of opium and sugar-water.  Good times!

Cleopatra's Tomb 1899

A man digging inside an Egyptian tomb chops up a mummy, then resurrects the woman inside it. 
This is the first mummy film, plus it also reflected the current discoveries happening in Egypt at the time. Sorry Egyptologists but this is a lost film.  Only the transcripts have survived.

The Haunted Curiosity Shop 1901

An elderly curio dealer alarmed by various apparitions that appear in his shop. 
This built on The Bewitched Inn with all the standby tricks in any haunted house movie. This also has a claim to be the first movie that wouldn't allow anyone under 12 to watch.  So this was the first PG-13, ok PG-12 movie.  Now that I think about it, it would be a NC-12 film.  Owell close enough.

The 400 Tricks of the Devil 1906

Two travelers are tormented by Satan from inn to inn and eventually experience a buggy ride through the heavens courtesy of the Devil. He then takes one of them down to Hell and roasts him on a spit. 
This is a true treasure. Remember this was made almost exactly 10 years after the first public screened film. They hand colored and tented the film to give us the first colored horror film.  Plus the effects are nice for such an early film.  I particularly like the horse and carriage. 

The Sealed Room 1909

Re-imaging of Poe's ‘A Cask of Amontillado’, The king constructs a cozy, windowless love-nest for himself and his concubine.  
The first Poe inspired film.  With this movies success, the floodgates opened for all the other horror/macabre tales popular at the time. Plus it has an early appearance of a young 17-year-old Mary Pickford as one of the maids in waiting.

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