What Was the First Popular Scary Movie?

Movies have been around for over a century. From comedies to dramas, the film industry has produced countless genres that cater to all kinds of audiences.

Among these genres, horror stands out as one of the most popular. But what was the first ever popular scary movie? Let’s find out!

Early Horror Films

Horror movies date back to the early years of cinema. In fact, one of the earliest films ever made was a horror film called “Le Manoir du Diable” or “The Haunted Castle” in English.

It was a French short film released in 1896 and directed by Georges Méliès. The film featured bats, ghosts, and demons – elements that would later become staples of the horror genre.

The Birth of Popular Scary Movies

The first popular scary movie is often credited to be “Nosferatu”, a German Expressionist film released in 1922 and directed by F.W. Murnau.

The film was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula”. However, due to copyright issues, the names and places were changed in the film.

Despite the changes made in the story, “Nosferatu” became a huge success and is still considered a classic horror movie today. The film’s eerie atmosphere, haunting music score, and Max Schreck’s unforgettable portrayal of Count Orlok made it a memorable cinematic experience.

Other Early Horror Classics

After “Nosferatu”, more horror films began to emerge as a new subgenre of cinema. One notable example is James Whale’s “Frankenstein”, released in 1931. This adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel starred Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster and became an instant classic.

Another early horror classic is Tod Browning’s “Dracula” (1931), which starred Bela Lugosi as the titular character. The film was a huge box office success and made Lugosi an overnight sensation.


In conclusion, “Nosferatu” is widely regarded as the first popular scary movie. However, it’s important to note that horror films existed long before “Nosferatu” and continue to be a popular genre today. From the classics like “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” to modern-day horror movies, this genre has captivated audiences for over a century with its ability to scare and thrill viewers.