The first horror movie ever created

By Michael Karpienski-Fernanda Karpienski |
Last Updated: November 25, 2023
Good morning! and thanks for joining us this Halloween Season —  where we confront our human fears of death and evil by putting on little masks, running around house-parties, spilling drinks over ourselves, and eating way . . . too . . . much . . . artificial chocolate.
For todays newsletter, we wanted to start by sharing what is considered to be the first horror movie ever made. It’s called,Le Manoir du Diable, or The House of Devil, filmed in 1896 and produced by the Frenchman Georges Méliès,
This little 3 minute silent horror film depicts the human transformation of a bat into the devil. Over the course of the film, Mephistopheles (the devil) produces a cauldron with his assistant and creates a woman. Two cavaliers enter the castle and the devil assistant pokes one of the cavaliers in the back, playing tricks on them and confusing them with its paranormal activity.
Next, one of the cavaliers flies away. The one remaining experiences tricks from the devil assistant, such as the furniture moving round and the appearance of a skeleton, which causes this man to use his sword and fight the strange creatures around him not knowing what is happening. Poltergeist, anyone?
After the cavalier falls to the floor, he wakes up dazed. He finds a beautiful woman created by the devil, who from a fantasy transforms into 4 bats. Finally, The second cavalier returns and decides to confront the devil by bringing a crucifix which causes the devil to vanish. Not so different than The Exorcist, about 70 years later.
This short film was made in the garden of Méliès property in Montreuil, France, and said to be starring his beautiful wife. It was considered as a set of scenes depicted as a pure form of art expression, and the actor who played the devil was also a magician, who later worked with the filmmaker in his future movies such as, A Trip to the Moon.
Méliès film is considered by critics to be the birth of the horror genre. And even though his film seems childish today, his production of character transformations without using visuals was an impressive innovation for his times.
-Fernanda Karpienski, Michael Karpienski, Lucas Castillo, Aleena Zaidi
Watch the first horror film here!