A Monster Timeline of Horror and Sci-fi Media

This list isn't about births or deaths; I'm only addressing works that constitute a contribution to the genre(s).  In many cases, multiple events result from one another (e.g., a book is adapted into a movie, a movie spawns sequels or a tv series).  In those cases, I sometimes only note the more influential event (e.g., the Kubrick adaptation vs. King's novel The Shining), though other times both are remarked upon.

1308-1321: A Vision of Hell (aka Dante's Inferno) by Dante Alighieri is published.  Featuring several horrific scenes (and growing ever worse as Dante descends to the lowest circle), it was the inspiration for much artwork including (most famously) the illustrations by Gustave Doré.

1819: The short story The Vampyre by John William Polidori is published.  It is the first work that successfully synthesizes many mythic elements into what we would recognize as the modern vampire.

1820: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving is published.  The original telling of the story of the Headless Horseman that goes on to feature in film and on tv for the next two hundred years and counting.

1823: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley is published.  Regarded as the first science fiction novel, it has spawned numerous adaptations (plays, films) both before and after the iconic 1931 film version starring Boris Karloff as well as a great many unofficial adaptations that use the premise as their inspiration.

1831: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo is published.  The story is adapted numerous times (even in animated form and as a musical).

1843: Three of Edgar Allan Poe's most famous stories are published: The Black Cat, The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Tell-Tale Heart, which set a tone that inspires countless other authors including, most famously, H.P. Lovecraft.  These stores follow only a couple years after the publication of "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" which is noteworthy as both a tale of horror and a detective story, and in fact the latter genre is generally considered to have begun with this work.

1886: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson is published.  This mix of multiple personalities and science makes for a classic premise that is copied in many, many forms, and the story itself has been adapted countless times in every medium.

1891: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is published.  Though it is one of the least-adapted of the classic horror novels, the tale is an original blend of themes found in Dracula and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

1895: Edvard Munch creates his most famous version The Scream, one of the most iconic pieces of art in the world.  The "ghost face" mask in the appropriately-titled Scream movies by Wes Craven drew inspiration from the painting.

1896: The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells is published.  It is adapted for film several times, including the classic Island of Lost Souls (1932) with Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi.

1897: Dracula by Bram Stoker is published.  It pulls together the many disparate facets of vampiric folklore into one unforgettable character.  It serves as the basis of the Nosferatu (1922) and is adapted for the stage as well.  Bela Lugosi reprises his role when the film version (1931) of the play is directed by Tod Browning.

1897: The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells is published.  It is later adapted into a film by Universal.  The premise to the story is copied in countless forms over the next century and change.  It is inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2008.

1898: War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is published.  Its adaptation (1938) as a radio drama by Orson Welles has such realism that many listeners believe the events depicted are breaking news broadcasts.

1902: The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs is published.  It is one of the most widely printed stories in short story anthologies and includes an ironic punishment, a technique mastered in Rod Serling's scripts for tv and the movies.

1909-1911: Le Fantôme de l'Opéra (The Phantom of the Opera) by Gaston Leroux is published.  The story is subsequently adapted to film many, many times and even as several musicals.

1915: Franz Kafka's "Die Verwandlung" ("The Metamorphosis") is published.  Perhaps the most horrific of all the author's works in a bibliography already filled with paranoia and depair.

1920: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is released.  The expressionist style of this silent film influences the direction and production design of the genre henceforth, perhaps mostly recognizably in the work of Tim Burton, for example.

1922: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens is released.  Stoker's widow sued for this unauthorized adaptation of her late husband's novel, but thankfully a copy survives of this most horrific of vampires.

1923: The Hunchback of Notre Dame is released.  Perhaps the most famous cinematic depiction of the title character remains this one by Lon Chaney, Sr. in the role.

1925: The Phantom of the Opera is released.  Lon Chaney demonstrates the versatility of stage makeup in realizing the disfigured title character onscreen.  Universal remakes the film in 1943 with Claude Rains in the title role.  Many other remakes follow.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1998.

1927: H.P. Lovecraft publishes his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature which surveys the history of the genre and examines the elements within it.  It continues to be a highly-regarded overview of the field up to that point.

1927: Fritz Lang's Metropolis is released.  It is undeniably epic in scale and advances a dystopian vision of the future and, most notably, an influential depiction of a robot woman which later inspires the appearance of C-3PO in Star Wars.

1928: The short story The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft is published.  It is his most famous work and contains the most dramatic appearance of its titular creation in all the author's works.  The story becomes the centerpiece in Lovecraft's mythology of inter-connected stories, and it inspires tales from many, many others, including modern authors such as Neil Gaimen as well as role-playing games and countless films (most of them not very good, admittedly).

1931: Dracula is released staring Bela Lugosi, who originated the title role in the stage production.  He is forever associated with the role, and he is ultimately burried in one of the capes he wore in the film.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2000.

1931: Frankenstein is released.  Though other adaptations have been filmed or performed on stage, this one, directed by James Whale, becomes a blockbuster.  The relatively unknown Boris Karloff is catapulted to stardom.  Jack Pierce's makeup becomes an iconic image synonymous with the monster, and the character becomes a cornerstone of the Universal monsters, starring in at least a half-dozen sequels and spin-offs.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1991.

1932: The Mummy is released.  The film confirms Karloff's stardom and cements his place in the emerging Universal monster pantheon for a second time.

1933: King Kong is released.  Its use of stop-motion animation with miniatures is ground-breaking (and ultimately Oscar-winning).  Often overlooked is the volume of optical printing employed to combine elements in the same frame, a technique that would come to overshadow effects to a far greater extent than stop-motion.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1991.

1933: The Invisible Man directed by James Whale is released starring Claude Rains in the title role.  Several sequels/spin-offs follow.

1935: Bride of Frankenstein directed by James Whale is released, a rare case where a sequel is on par with the original, and it introduces (albeit briefly but unforgettably) virtually the only female Universal monster.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1998.

1936: The novella At the Mountains of Madness by HP Lovecraft is published.  It is arguably the best and most famous of the author's longer works and gives a lengthy chronology of prehistoric events in the Cthulhu Mythos.

1936: The first Flash Gordon movie serial is released, based on the popular comic strip (1934).  Two more serials follow.  George Lucas is inspired by the tone and style of these to make Star Wars (1977) (originally planned as a straight remake, only to be abandoned due to insufficient funds to afford the rights), the success of which ironically leads to a modern remake of the serials (1980).  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1996.

1937: War Of The Worlds is adapted for radio by Orson Wells (no relation to the source novel's author H.G. Wells).  The radio episode is broadcast as the Halloween episode of "The Mercury Theatre on the Air," confusing some listeners into believing that Earth was actually being invaded.

1939: Arkham House is founded by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei to keep author HP Lovecraft's works in print (after having no luck generating sufficient interest by other publishing houses).  The publisher keeps Lovecraft's stories in the public consciousness and becomes a cornerstone of scholarship around the author and related works (i.e., by other authors within the Cthulhu Mythos).

1941: The Wolf Man is released.  Jack Pierce's make-up (originally rejected from Werewolf in London, 1935) and the transformation scenes are like nothing an any audience has seen up to this point.  Additionally, many elements of the werewolf mythos are invented for this picture and carry though to this day as though they were hundreds of years old.  The film boosts Lon Chaney, Jr. to stardom, and he becomes a staple of monster movies in general, going on to play Dracula (or a least the "Son of"), Frankenstein, and the Mummy in several sequels. 

1948: Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein is released, kicking off a string of "meetings" with classic monsters.  This is an early contributor to the eventual monster craze of the '50s and '60s.  Followed by (among others): Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949), Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951), Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953), and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955).  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2001.

1949: George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is published.  Though it is political commentary, the novel's bleak tone and its ability to instill an unrelenting sense of paranoia (and ubiquitous watchers) inform many subsequent re-tellings, most notably Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985).

1950: EC Comics begins publishing several influential classic horror titles including Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear.  The titles are canceled within five years after pressure from censors and even Senate hearings.  However, the works have been reprinted numerous times over the years, and the Tales from the Crypt comic was later spun off into the HBO series of the same name and a couple of theatrical films.

1951: The Day The Earth Stood Still is released.  The robot Gort is widely remembered in his confrontation with the military.  The film holds up surprisingly well and is among the best-regarded of its kind from this era, even inspiring a big-budget (though mediocre-quality) remake (2008).  It is the #5 film in the AFI's Top 10 science fiction movies and was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1995.

1953: Arthur Miller's play The Crucible premiers.  Ostensibly a story about the Salem witch trials, it is usually read as an allegory of McCarthyism.

1953: War of the Worlds is released, an adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel.  It was nominated for several Academy Awards, and is now in the Library of Congress National Film Registry.  Forrest J Ackerman once owned one of the model Martian spacecraft used in the film.

1954: The Creature from the Black Lagoon is released (in 3D no less!).  The title creature's costume(s; there were two used in the filming) are still considered among the best ever to appear on film.  Two sequels follow.

1954: Them! is released.  Regarded as one of the best of the '50s "giant monster" movies (among others such as Tarantula, The Giant Gila Monster, etc.), its action sequences still hold up fairly well.

1954: Godzilla is released.  More than two-dozen sequels (and re-boots) follow, plus several tv series, comic books, toys and models, etc.  The idea of an epic/giant monster is copied countless times on film.

1954: The Vampira Show premiers.  It is the first horror host series, and it sets the standard most others have since followed (albeit usually with more of a comedic slant).  Many see a direct lineage to Elvira's Movie Macabre (1981), although Elvira has said she never saw the series (which is likely true, considering it was only broadcast around the LA area and has never been re-run).

1955: The Quatermass Experiment is released.  The success of this Hammer Films production helps edge the company toward the sci-fi and horror fare it was to become known for.

1955: This Island Earth is released.  Produced in full color with breath-taking effects for its day, it also features the infamous Metaluna Mutants, which influenced the design of a number of aliens in later sci-fi films.

1955: Alfred Hitchcock Presents premiers.  The series returns in 1985.

1956: King Kong was sold to television after the conclusion of the 1956 re-release.  One channel in New York showed the film seventeen times in a single week, with each showing topping the ratings.  It is likely this unexpected popularity either inspired or at least fueled the Shock Theater package of Universal monster movies for tv the following year.

1956: Forbidden Planet is released.  A science fiction retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, it is also vaguely reminiscent of Lovecraft's "Dunwich Horror" set in space.  It is a visual masterpiece.  The character/prop Robby the Robot and other elements of the production will go on to appear elsewhere, especially in episodes of The Twilight Zone.

1956: Invasion of the Body Snatchers is released, serving as an allegory for the Red Menace of communism.  Several remakes follow over the years, including a well-regarded one in 1978.  The original is the #9 film in the AFI's Top 10 science fiction movies and was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1994.

1957: Curse of Frankenstein is released.  Starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, it is the first of the Hammer Films to revisit the classic monsters pioneered by Universal.  Later films (many featuring one or both of these actors) explore Dracula (1958), the Mummy (1959), and the Wolf Man (1961).

1957: Invasion of the Saucer Men is released.  Though by no means a "classic" or a great film, it demonstrates that sci-fi/horror can also be humorous at the same time.  The title aliens are also among the more iconic creatures of this era.

1957: Shock Theater premiers on tv showing classic Universal monster movies.  A whole new generation sees these films for the first time, kicking off a "monster craze" over the coming decade.  This also ushers in the golden era of horror hosts such as Zacherley (originally known as Roland... accent on the 2nd syllable).

1958: Famous Monsters of Filmland, the original monster magazine started by the legendary Forrest J Ackerman publishes its first issue.  The witty text and fun images help introduce kids to classic monster movies and encourage them to explore costumes and make-up effects through costume contests and promotions.  The publication runs until 1983, but has been resurrected a couple times since then and continues to this day.

1958: The Blob is released. 

1958: The single "Dinner With Drac" by Zacherley is released.  The novelty single spawns a series of horror-themed albums and additional singles by the horror host, as well as a couple anthologies of horror short stories.

1958: The Fly is released.  A sequel follows.  Years later a remake updates the classic.

1959: House on Haunted Hill directed by William Castle and starring Vincent Price is released.  The theatrical release was accompanied by one of the first trademark Castle gimmicks called "Emergo" in which, when the skeleton rises from the acid vat in the film, a lighted plastic skeleton on a wire appeared from a black box next to the screen to swoop over the heads of the audience.

1959: On the Beach is released.  Based on the end-of-the-world novel by Nevil Shute, it tells of the aftermath of a nuclear war.

1959: Plan 9 From Outer Space is finally released.  Starring Vampira and wrestler Tor Johnson, and almost starring Bela Lugosi.  Directed by the so-called "world's worst director" Ed Wood, the film is often cited as the "world's worst film."  Tim Burton's biopic (1994) of the director extensively features the making of this film.

1959: The Twilight Zone premiers on television.  Rod Serling writes the majority of the episodes and hosts the series, now considered a classic.  It goes on to be revived several times (1985, 2002) as well as inspiring a feature film (1983).

1960: Psycho is released, Hitchcock's adaptation of the novel by Robert Bloch.  The film was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1992.  It is a critical success and remains in the IMDb's Top 250 (#30 as of this writing).

1960: House of Usher is released, the first of a series of loose adaptations of Poe stories directed by Roger Corman and starring Vincent Price.  Others include Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Raven (1963), The Tomb of Ligeia (1964), and Masque of the Red Death (1964)

1960: The Time Machine is released, an adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells novel. 

1960: Village Of The Damned is released. 

1961: Aurora Models creates the first of its monster model kits: Frankenstein.  Over the next five years, a whole series of monster kits followed: Dracula and The Wolf Man in 1962; The Mummy, The Creature, and The Phantom of the Opera in 1963; The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Jekyll as Mr. Hyde, King Kong, and Godzilla plus The Salem Witch and Bride of Frankenstein 1964; then The Forgotten Prisoner in 1966.  The box artwork itself is classic, and the kits are still sought after and re-issued today.  A very informative overview can be found here: http://www.professorplastik.com/monster_site/proscenium/kits/auroramonsterkithistory.htm

1962: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury is published.  It is among his most famous works and was adapted as a film in 1983.

1962: The Day of the Triffids is released. 

1962: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is released. 

1962: The Monster Mash by Bobby "Boris" Pickett is released.  It goes on to become the unofficial anthem of Halloween.  Over the years several other Halloween/monster-themed versions/sequels to this song follow, though none experience the same success.

1963: Don Post Masks becomes the first Universal Monsters licensee with its Frankenstein mask.  These were often advertised in Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and are frequently remembered in conjunction with that publication.  Post is dubbed by many as "The Godfather of Halloween."  In addition to the obvious connection to the holiday, there is also the fact that his William Shatner mask became the infamous Michael Myers mask in Halloween (1978).

1963: The Birds, another Hitchcock horror thriller is released. 

1963: The Haunting is released.  It is later remade as a big-budget (though unsatisfying) film in 1999.

1963: Doctor Who premiers.  The long-running series (later resurrected to continue a little after the original left off) features scores of robots, monsters, and aliens throughout space and time.

1963: The Outer Limits premiers on television.  The anthology series is often compared to The Twilight Zone, but has a very different style and focus: emphasizing the role of technology and our place in the universe, usually featuring interesting aliens and/or mutations in the process.

1964: The first issue of the horror magazine Creepy is published by Warren.  It runs until 1983, but is resurrected in 2009.  Its sister publication, Eerie, is begun a couple years later in 1966.

1964: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is released at nearly the same time as the similarly-themed (though purely dramatic) Fail-Safe.   The former is inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1989.

1964: Addams Family premiers on tv.  Charles Addams' comic characters come to life very memorably.  The series runs for two seasons (and re-runs are syndicated to this day) plus a one-shot special years later.  The show goes on to produce cartoons, theatrical movies, a rebooted series, and even a Broadway musical.  There have even been cross-overs with Scooby Doo.  Tim Burton, appropriately enough, is supposedly at work on yet another incarnation of the characters.

1964: Bewitched premiers on television.  I Dream of Jeannie (a show with parallel themes) premiers the following year.

1964: The animated series Johnny Quest premiers on television.  It blends science fiction and action in a way unprecedented in the cartoon medium.

1964: The Munsters premiers on tv.  The characters are a reflection of the resurgence in popularity of the classic Universal Monsters.  The series lasts only two seasons (though at 70 episodes, it feels like a lot more), but was later appeared as a couple movies with the original cast (well, not Eddie or Marilyn in the latter case) and even was resurrected as The Munsters Today from 1988 to 1991, and as Mockingbird Lane (2012; see below).

1965: Frank Herbert's novel Dune is published.  It begins a trilogy, then an entire saga (which continues running long after the author's death, continued by his son).  The film is eventually adapted by David Lynch, but an earlier (1973) attempt to adapt it brought together many talents (including HR Giger) which led in part to the production of the film Alien (1979) and the comic book series The Incal (by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius).

1966: Fantastic Voyage is released. 

1966: Star Trek premiers.  Gene Roddenberry's optimistic vision of the future only lasts three seasons, but fan interest snowballs after its cancellation.  What follows are six television series (including an animated continuation of the original), a dozen movies, countless novels and comic books, and an incalculable influence on the genre of science fiction and fact (even having a space shuttle named by fans of the series).

1966: The Peanuts' It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Halloween special premiers.  It is shown annually from that date to the present, becoming a Halloween tradition unto itself.

1968: 2001: A Space Odyssey is released, featuring amazing prosthetic makeup work and special effects throughout, imagining mankind's future in space and his place in the universe.  It is the #1 film in the AFI's Top 10 science fiction movies and was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1991.

1968: Night of the Living Dead directed by George Romero is released.  Informed by the attrocities of the Vietnam War, it reimagines the concept of zombies in a form that continues to reverberate into all subsequent depictions.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1999.

1968: Planet of the Apes is released.  Rod Serling writes a signature twist at the end.  It leads to a number of sequels, a re-boot, and even a modern prequel.  The original film is inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2001.

1968: Rosemary's Baby is released. 

1969: Disney's Haunted Mansion opens at Disney Land after years of planning and development to get the right combination of scares and humor appropriate for all ages.  It features the song "Grim Grinning Ghosts (The Screaming Song)" sung by Thurl Ravenscroft.  The Disney World version of the attraction opens two years later.

1969: The original Vampirella series staring the iconic sexy anti-hero begins publication.  The magazine runs until 1983 but the character is ressurected from 1991-onward in comics.

1969: Rod Serling's series Night Gallery premiers, an "updating" of his earlier Twilight Zone.

1969: Scooby Doo, Where Are You? premiers on tv.  Various incarnations of the series have been produced almost continuously ever since, including several live-action movies.

1971: General Mills' monster cereals debut first with Count Chocula and Frankenberry, followed by Boo Berry (1973), all based on impressions of Lugosi, Karloff, and Peter Lore, respectively.  They are joined temporarily by Fruit Brute (1975-84) and Fruity Yummy Mummy (1987-93).  All five were released at the same time (for the first time ever) in 2013.

1971: A Clockwork Orange is released.  It is the #4 film in the AFI's Top 10 science fiction movies.

1972: Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show musical premiers, which references parodies elements of several sci-fi and horror films.  In a short time the production gains such popularity that it is frequented by several hip celebs and moves to ever-larger venues.

1973: Soylent Green is released based on the novel Make Room! Make Room! (1966) by Harry Harrison.  Along with Planet of the Apes and Omega Man, it represents a trilogy of Charlton Heston-in-the-frightening-future movies.

1973: The Exorcist is released and is still considered "the scariest movie of all time" by most.  Quite a few films about the devil and demonic possession follow.   It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2010.

1973: The Wicker Man is released.  The cult film is among star Christopher Lee's favorites and was remade (badly) in 2006.

1974: The original Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game is published.  It not only invents and establishes role-playing games as a genre, it also gradually pushes the envelop beyond the Tolkien-influence and ren-faire atmosphere to encompass a great many monsters and mythologies, both traditional and invented.  Many, many editions and expansions of the original game follow, and countless variants including in the realms that are exclusively horror (e.g., Lovecraft-based games) or sci-fi.

1974: Carrie, Stephen King's first novel, is published.  It is adapted in 1976 as a critically-praised film famous for its climax and the performance of young star Sissy Spacek.

1974: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is released.  One of the most influential and ground-breaking horror films.  Sequels and remakes naturally follow over the years, but more importantly other elements are borrowed, notably the low-budget independent spirit which drove the filmmakers.

1974: Young Frankenstein is released.  This Mel Brooks parody of classic Universal monster movies is proof-of-concept that horror can be blended with comedy.  It is later adapted into a musical (2007).  The film is inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2003.

1974: Kolchak: The Night Stalker premiers, following two made-for-tv movies establishing the character.  The premise of a true-believer journalist who solves supernatural mysteries is revisited in later ideas such as The X-Files (1993) and the comic book Hellblazer (1988, later adapted as Constantine (2005)).

1974: Dr. Demento's radio show is syndicated nationally, spotlighting novelty songs and has kept many obscure tracks in the public consciousness, including many Halloween-related cuts.

1975: Jaws is released.  Its accidental approach of "never show the monster" turns out to be the best suspense-building device, and establishes Steven Spielberg as a blockbuster director.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2001.

1975: Rocky Horror Picture Show is released, an adaptation of the musical.  Though bombing in its original release, the film becomes a cult phenomenon that incorporates audience participation that still gets audiences into (and out of) their seats at regular midnight showings.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2005.

1975: The Stepford Wives is released, one of a string of paranoia-inducing horror films of the era. 

1975: Alice Cooper's concept album Welcome to My Nightmare is released.  It is his first solo record (though he had several hits on his previous eight albums with his band) and features Vincent Price providing the introduction monologue on the song "The Black Widow."  The album also gives rise to a tv special.

1976: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice is published, the first of her Vampire Chronicles.  The novels are highly influential, and elements in many subsequent vampire stories can be traced back to this series.  The novels are later adapted for film.

1976: The Omen is released. 

1976: The band The Cramps forms.  They invent the term psychobilly and play in a style that subsequent bands develop into a sub-genre.  Their songs draw heavily from B-movie themes throughout their career.

1977: The novel Amityville by Jay Anson is published.  Presented as a factual account of a real haunted house, the story is adapted as a film (1979), followed by a series of loosely-connected sequels, and the original has even been remade (2005).

1977: Heavy Metal magazine is launched in the United States featuring some of the best cutting-edge comics art of its day, including a number of works by artist Moebius.

1977: Close Encounters of the Third Kind is released.   Considered one of the best science fiction films ever thanks in part to special effects by Douglas Trumbull, it was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2003.

1977: Star Wars is released.  This leads to a whole new crop of big-budget sci-fi films drawing on similar style and approach such as Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, The Black Hole, Flash Gordon, and changes the movie industry forever, including the way and scale with which films are licensed for merchandise.  It is the #2 film in the AFI's Top 10 science fiction movies and was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1989.

1977: Suspiria is released.  Easily the best known film by director Dario Argento, it lacks much in the way of a plot, but makes up for it with atmospheric lighting and its equally over-the-top musical score.

1977: The Hills Have Eyes is released. 

1977: The Misfits band forms.  Within a short time, they become synonymous with the "horror punk" sub-genre they created.  Their songs have consistently used horror and sci-fi movies for their inspiration, and all associated imagery (i.e., logo, album covers, instruments, costumes, etc.) follow suit to the exclusion of all other influences.

1978: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is produced as a radio series.  It blends comedy into sci-fi in ways no one had every done as successfully before or since.  Author Douglas Adams goes on to novelize his scripts (with significant differences from the source material), which then becomes a trilogy of five novels (nearly six), a tv series adapting the first three novels, and a feature film.

1978: The Stand by Stephen King is published.  Other, longer (aka uncut) editions are published in 1990.  The novel is later adapted for television and as a lengthy graphic novel.  A feature film version has been in the works for years.

1978: Dawn of the Dead directed by George Romero is released, the second of his "Dead" movies.  This one cleverly parodies consumer culture while still serving up scares.  Tom Savini does the makeup, and even acts in the remake of the film (2004) by Zach Snyder.

1978: Halloween is released.  It is directed by John Carpenter who also composed its theme music, among the most recognizable movie themes in history and a permanent staple of Halloween.  It spawned many sequels and imitators, being the first of what would come to be known as the "slasher" movies.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2006.

1978: I Spit on Your Grave is released.  It is vehemently disliked by critics, most famously by Roger Ebert.  The message of its brutality continues to be debated to this day, but few will deny it is powerfully horrific.

1979: The first issue of Fangoria is published.  This long-running magazine is probably the best-known publication about horror movies, and picks up where Famous Monsters was beginning to trail off.

1979: Alien is released, one of the best attempts to blend horror and sci-fi.  H.R. Giger wins the Academy Award for Best Achievement for Visual Effects for his design work on the film.  Many low-budget copycat films follow throughout the '80s, then the sequel revisits and expands the universe in 1986.  Its influence continues, and films like Pitch Black (2000) can trace their lineage back to the original Alien film.  It is the #7 film in the AFI's Top 10 science fiction movies and was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2002.

1979: Phantasm is released.  The low-budget film is very effective in giving an unexpected sci-fi twist to a gothic horror story.  It becomes a cult favorite and leads to several sequels many years down the line.

1979: Svengoolie begins what is probably the longest-running horror hosting career (albeit with a lengthy hiatus) in Chicago.  He later goes national.

1980: Dean Koontz's novel Whispers is published.  It is later adapted as a film, but its popularity launches his writing career into the best-selling territory, which results in several more film adaptations.

1980: Epic Illustrated begins publication.  The anthology magazine is along the lines of Heavy Metal, but draws on established comics creators.  By its end in 1986, Epic had become an imprint of Marvel which was allowed to explore more adult content including series based on Clive Barker's Hellraiser and Nightbreed universes.

1980: Friday the 13th is released.  The story of a serial killer massacring teens at a summer camp launches dozens of cheap imitation slasher films, including nearly a dozen sequels (and a remake).  Halloween is already taken, but countless copycat films exploit the entire calendar's range of holidays as their premise (e.g., My Bloody Valentine (1981), April Fool's Day (1986), etc.).

1980: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back is released.  Arguably the best of the series, the story has several great twists and revelations as well as considerably advancing special effects of the day.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2010.

1980: The Changeling starring George C. Scott is released.  Though largely overlooked today, this very dramatic "haunted house" story does not rely much on special effects to get its scares across, yet it is wonderfully effective.  Movies like The Ring (2002) borrow from its imagery many years later.

1980: The Shining is released, somewhat loosely based on Stephen King's novel and directed by Stanley Kubrick.  Its iconic image of Jack Nicholson (you know the one) is a standard reference to horror to this day, and the film is cited as among the all-time greatest in the horror genre.

1981: An American Werewolf in London reinvents the werewolf film with the biggest leap forward since The Wolf Man (1941).  Rick Baker's amazing practical effects in depicting the transformation hold up even in the post-CGI era.

1981: Red Dragon by Thomas Harris is published.  The novel introduces the character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  The book is adapted as the film Manhunter (1986), then remade (2002) when after The Silence of the Lambs (1988) is published then the film (1991) becomes a blockbuster.  Other books and films follow.

1981: Elvira begins hosting Movie Macabre.  It is in syndication around the country and grows in popularity.  Even after the series ends, Elvira continues to be a highly-visible media personality, appearing on compilation albums, in commercials, on tv shows (even a pilot for her own sitcom), and even staring in several movies: Mistress of the Dark (1988) and Elvira's Haunted Hills (2001).  She began hosting a new set of movies for a revamped Movie Macabre in 2010.

1982: Blade Runner is released, very loosely based on a Phillip K. Dick novel and directed by Ridley Scott.  It is stylistically one of the most influential films of all time, thanks in part to special effects by Douglas Trumbull and a small army of designers including Syd Mead and Moebius (Note: the latter's designs were an influence, though he didn't work on the film directly).  It is the #6 film in the AFI's Top 10 science fiction movies and was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2003.

1982: E.T. is released.  Steven Spielberg's tale of a friendly alien cared for by children is a reversal of Close Encounters (1977) in many ways, but it continues themes begun in that film.  The film goes on to be the highest grossing in history (for a time), and its story is copied quite frequently over the next decade.  It is the #3 film in the AFI's Top 10 science fiction movies and was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1994.

1982: Poltergeist is released, directed by Tobe Hooper and/or Steven Spielberg.  It is one of the stand-out stories in a long line of haunted house movies for its special effects and grounded story-telling.

1982: Star Trek II is released.  It proves that Trek can be exciting and not simply awe-inspiring as a vision for the future, informing even the re-booted film series decades later.

1982: The Evil Dead is released.  The low-budget early film by Sam Raimi goes on to be a cult classic, launching a trilogy and remake, and makes Bruce Campbell a B-movie legend.

1982: The Thing is released.  This remake of The Thing from Another World (1951) takes it far, far beyond the original in terms of tension and horror, and the special effects are frequently cited as some of the most intense in the history of cinema.

1982: Tron is released.  It blends early CGI with live action, anticipating what will become the norm by the next decade.  A big-budget sequel is made in 2010 taking advantage of the maturation of the technology (including an electronica score) in the interim.

1982: The Swamp Thing is released.  Wes Craven directs.  The film is considered decent, and it leads to a tremendous chain of events: Renewed interest in the character leads to a new comic book.  When Alan Moore takes a stab at the character, he reinvents it rather successfully.  His success leads to management giving him free-reign to write more adult-oriented material, leading to his greatest and best-known work such as The Watchmen (1987) and V For Vendetta (1982).

1983: Twilight Zone: The Movie is released, though it is unfortunately remembered more for the on-set tragedy than continuing the story-telling traditions of the original series while updating the role of special effects in those stories.

1983: Michael Jackson's Thriller is released.  The title track features a "rap" by Vincent Price, and an elaborate music video is directed by John Landis and featuring makeup by Rick Baker.  The album remains the highest-selling of all time, and the video goes on to be the "most successful music video" of all time according to Guinness World Records.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2009.

1983: Tales from the Darkside premiers.  The anthology series is produced by George Romero and features many adaptations of horror and fantasy stories by notable authors, including an early piece by Clive Barker.  It runs for four full seasons, followed by a number of movies.

1983: V premiers first as a mini-series before leading into a full series the following year.  The allegorical retelling of the rise of the Nazis as modern-day alien "visitors" earns a cult following.  The series is rebooted in 2009, but the original remains far superior by every measure.

1984: Volume One of Clive Barker's Books of Blood is published, the first of a total of six collections.  They make Barker an overnight success with Stephen King famously calling the author "the future of horror."  Several stories within the series are adapted as films or in other media including on tv and in comic books.

1984: Children of the Corn is released, an adaptation of a Stephen King story.

1984: David Lynch's adaptation of Dune is released.  Though too dense to ever find a popular audience, it gains cult status, likely in part due to its increased focus on the horrifying Harkonnen family compared to the novel.

1984: Nightmare on Elm Street is released.  The surprise hit by Wes Craven introduces Freddy Kruger, a new supernatural monster that elevates the film above merely a slasher picture.  Six sequels and a tv series follow as well as a remake.

1984: The Terminator is released.  Stan Winston's effects help realize unforgettable scenes of a cyborg killer plucking out his damaged eye and operating on his flesh-covered robotic arm that help make the film an unexpected success, leading to a series of sequels and a tv series.  It was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2008.

1984: Ghostbusters is released.  It turns out to be a blockbuster that skillfully balances comedy and horror elements, actually becoming the highest-grossing comedy up to that time.  The movie leads to a sequel and cartoon series.

1985: Back to the Future is released.  It updates H.G. Wells with undeniably the coolest time machine ever (No, a police box cannot compete with a Delorian) while exploring (however humorously) issues of identity not addressed as powerfully since Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966).  It is the #10 film in the AFI's Top 10 science fiction movies and was inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2007.

1985: Brazil is released after months of campaigning/protesting the studio by director Terry Gilliam.  This bizarre re-telling of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four explores fantasy territory alongside his take on the core story of isolated rebellion against an oppressive government.

1985: Re-Animator is released.  This tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the Lovecraft story brilliantly updates the tale in every way, particularly in its over-the-top tone.  Expertly directed by Stuart Gordon.  A pair of sequels follow.

1985: Return of the Living Dead is released.  It revisits George Romero's zombie apocalypse with a sense of humor, long before films such as Zombieland (2009) or Shaun of the Dead (2004) are conceived.

1985: Danny Elfman scores Tim Burton's film Pee-wee's Big Adventure.  It is the first pairing of the two artists, and Elfman goes on to score nearly all Burton's subsequent films.

1986: Aliens is released.  The sequel takes the original concept and both multiplies and magnifies it by introducing the heroine to both swarms and queen.  Further, it successfully adds action to the horror/sci-fi genre-balancing achievement of the original.

1986: The Fly remake by director David Cronenberg is released.  It handily surpasses the original by updating it with gruesome specificity and a more solid scientific premise, and is considered the director's masterpiece in a career of many notable works in overlapping horror and sci-fi genres.

1986: Morgus the Magnificent returns to the airwaves hosting new films as he once did beginning in the late '50s.  These new episodes are re-run for years, even re-edited so that he is hosting a different set of films with the same footage!

1987: Communion by Whitley Strieber is published.  Though he had previously published other horror novels, he manages to make aliens into creepy date rapists rather than the friendly-but-aloof musicians from Spielberg's Close Encounters (1979).

1987: Misery by Stephen King is published.  It leads to one of the most successful and best-remembered adaptations of the author's works, winning Kathy Bates an Academy Award for her portrayal of Annie Wilkes, who placed #17 on the AFI's list of the Top Villains.

1987: Hellraiser is released.  To date it is the most successful and compelling adaptation of a Clive Barker work, directed by Barker himself, based on his novella The Hellbound Heart (1986).  It introduces the iconic character Pinhead, and spawns a string of sequels (many having little to do with the original premise, admittedly) as well as much merchandising (e.g., action figures, comics, Halloween costumes, and of course the iconic puzzle box).

1987: Max Headroom premiers.  Set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian (20 minutes into the) future, the series blended early CGI with steampunk before either were widely employed.

1987: Star Trek: The Next Generation premiers.  This greatly expands the scope of the Trek universe, leading to additional tv series and eventually transitioning into movies that continue the cinematic series.

1988: Cabal by Clive Barker is published, a collection of shorter works.  The title story is later adapted as the film Nightbreed (1990) which Barker directs.

1988: Akira is released, an adaptation of the lengthy graphic novel. 

1988: Child's Play is released.  The film about a doll possessed by a killer leads to several sequels.

1988: Mystery Science Theater 3000 (aka MST3K) premiers.  The show successfully brings viewers around to watching a lot of forgotten films by updating the viewing experience into the post-modern era.  Instead of merely hosting the films as past horror hosts had done, the characters continuously comment on the feature as it plays, almost like Zacherley permanently inserted into the film with Elvira's classic snark.  The series runs for years and even had its own feature film ridiculing This Island Earth.

1989: The Abyss is released.  The story of underwater "close encounters" features what most cite as the first effective use of CG character animation.

1990: Twin Peaks premiers.  David Lynch's drama centers on the murder of an ostensibly wholesome teen girl in a small town.  Its cast of characters and suggestions of underlying supernatural elements in their lives influence a number of tv shows and movies that follow.

1990: The Simpsons present their first "Treehouse of Horror" special, a series of three short horror/sci-fi stories.  The tradition continues for every year since the show has been on.

1990: An adaptation of Stephen King's It premiers.  Tim Curry's performance as Pennywise ensures adults will never find clowns anything other than creepy.

1991: Terminator 2: Judgment Day is released.  Stan Winston receives two Oscars for the ground-breaking effects that push CGI into new territory of photorealism.  It is the #8 film in the AFI's Top 10 science fiction movies.

1991: The Silence of the Lambs is released.  The film introduces Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter and sweeps the major categories at the Academy Awards, leading to remakes and sequels featuring the character.  The film is inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2011.

1992: R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series of kids books begins.  He ultimately goes on to out-sell Stephen King, at least in terms of the number of copies in print.  In addition to this series, he also pens several other series of novels, such as Horrorland and the Fear Street books (aimed at older kids) as well as his stories being adapted as a tv series and later a theatrical movie.

1992: Army of Darkness is released.  It is the third Evil Dead film, but expands outward far beyond the original premise.  Bruce Campbell's place in horror history is cemented by some of the most quotable lines ever uttered on celluloid.

1992: White Zombie's album La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1 is their first to get heavy notation on the radio and Mtv.  The band's music focuses primarily on horror movie subjects and even samples bits of dialog (or just screams) from the films themselves.  Lead singer Rob Zombie eventually goes solo, but continues in the same direction as well as moving into writing and directing horror films.

1993: Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton is published, the first book in the series of Anita Blake novels about "a professional zombie raiser, vampire executioner and supernatural consultant for the police."

1993: The first Doom game is released.  The premise seamlessly incorporates combat, sci-fi, and horror/supernatural elements into a hugely-influential first-person 3D shooter.  Two sequels follow (as well as many spin-offs), and the game is later adapted as a film.

1993: Jurassic Park is released.  Though CGI is nothing new at this point, the level of what can be achieved photo-realistically is raised appreciably.  The film takes advantage of this to elicit awe and terror.  Whereas the scares in Jaws (1975) were enhanced by not showing the shark, the opposite effect is acheived by realized with velociraptors.

1993: The Nightmare Before Christmas is released.  It becomes a new Halloween/Xmas classic and is subsequently re-released in 3D.  Jack Skellington becomes as recognizable a character as Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and the Grinch.  Disneyland's Haunted Mansion is modified annually to incorporate characters, music, and other elements from the film into the attraction.

1993: The X-Files premiers.  The show exploits urban legends about monsters and aliens.  A couple movies follow, neither of them very good.  The series was ressurected briefly in 2015.

1995: Se7en is released.  It establishes David Fincher as an A-list director, and the film serves as the inspiration for many of the so-called "torture porn" genre of gruesome ironic punishment films that follow, such as Hostel (2005) and the Saw series (2004-2010).

1995: The Outer Limits series is re-booted for cable.  The show occasionally revisits stories from the original series, but it also draws from the pool of established sci-fi authors to create a body of work that surpasses the original show several times over.

1996: From Dusk Till Dawn is released.  Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez, it is something of a schlock B-movie in the vein of films from the '70s that the two creators grew up watching.  They produce two pre/sequels to the original film, and eventually go on to make Grindhouse (2007) which continues the thread begun here.

1996: The first Resident Evil game is released in a franchise that consists (as of this writing) of two dozen games and seven films.

1997: Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiers.  The little-noticed movie (1992) is adapted for tv to rave reviews.  It develops an enthusiastic following, runs for seven seasons, and even gets a spin-off series.

1998: Blade is released, an adaptation of the Marvel comic book character.  Most importantly, it reinvents vampires in a modern context as well as updating the arsenal a vampire hunter should be packing.

1999: The Blair Witch Project is released.  The extremely low-budget film is inventively developed out of improvisation and goes on to be one of the most profitable movies in history.  Its POV cinematography influences many subsequent projects in the horror and sci-fi genres especially, normalizing the "found footage" gimmick.

1999: The first Silent Hill video game debuts.  Numerous installments follow as well as two feature films based on the game.

1999: The Matrix is released.  The blend of comic book aesthetics and virtual reality plus inventive new photography techniques like "bullet-time" make for a very cool movie.  Two sequels round out a trilogy, plus the universe is expanded through spin-off projects, including a massive on-line game and comics.  The original film is inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2012.

1999: The Sixth Sense is released.  Even though M. Night Shyamalan's track record grew ever worse from there (though I think Signs (2002) is hands-down the worst movie ever made), the premise and desire for a "twist" is a pervasive influence for years afterward.

1999: Farscape premiers.  The look of the series informs many other sci-fi projects, as the effects and creatures are developed by Jim Henson's workshop.  On a personal note, it remains one of my all-time favorite series and one of the most satisfying endings.

2001: Dead Until Dark (the first book in The Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as The Sookie Stackhouse Novels) by Charlaine Harris is published.  The books later serve as the source material (well, loosely) for the HBO television series True Blood (2008).

2002: Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk is published.  It is his first foray into supernatural fiction, and it becomes the first novel of his so-called "horror trilogy," which are actually unrelated novels within the genre (Diary (2003) and Haunted (2005) follow).

2002: 28 Days Later is released.  It presents a cohesive reinvention of the zombie mythology from shambling supernatural creatures to raging infected hoards disseminating a rapidly-spread virus.  Many subsequent zombie stories pick up on both these points.

2002: The Ring is released, an adaptation of a Japanese horror film.  This prompts a string of remakes from Japan.

2002: Firefly premiers.  It only lasts a season but develops a cult following and is resurrected as the movie Serenity (2005).

2003: The Walking Dead by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore is first published.  The comic book series serves as the basis of a critically-acclaimed but actually mediocre tv series (2010) of the same name.

2004: Dawn of the Dead (remake) is released, ushering in many more zombie films on a respectable budget.  Zack Snyder directs, then goes on to make loads of mostly mediocre super hero movies.

2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is released.  Director Michel Gondry and writer Charlie Kaufman's exploration of memory and identity borders on the surreal.  It is a critical success and remains in the IMDb's Top 250 (#84 as of this writing).

2004: Saw is released.  It kicks off a lengthy series of sequels, plus continues the string of copycat "torture porn" horror films.  Its Jigsaw villain can be seen in some form somewhere every Halloween ever since.

2004: Shaun of the Dead is released.  It is the first really self-aware comedy that dissects (so to speak) the zombie genre, spawning similar projects such as Zombieland (2009).

2004: Battlestar Galactica (re-boot) premiers.  The series proves (especially when contrasted with the source material) that sci-fi has the potential to tell gritty, adult stories rather than simply to showcase special effects.

2005: Doctor Who (re-boot) premiers, revitalizing the brand.  It also leads to several spin-off series, most notably Torchwood (2006).

2005: Supernatural premiers.  What begins as a monster-of-the-week show along the lines of X-Files eventually grows into an expansive story about the fate of the world, followed regularly by a huge fanbase.

2006: Dexter premiers.  An adaptation of the series of novels by Jeff Lindsay, the story of a serial killer using his instinct/addiction as a vigilante.

2007: Grindhouse (a double-feature of Planet Terror and Deathproof) is released.  Tarantino and Rodriguez team up again to blatantly pay homage to B-movie cinema right down to fake exploitation trailers.  One of these is later spun off into its own B-movie: Machete (2010; and then sequel, 2013).

2007: Paranormal Activity is released.  Much like The Blair Witch Project (1999), the low-budget approach combined with atmosphere and suspense yields an astronomic profit ratio.  More POV handicam films follow, including several sequels.

2008: True Blood premiers on HBO, part of a wave of vampire series.

2009: Avatar is released.  It makes extensive use of motion capture and is rendered in 3D.  It goes on to be the top-grossing film of all time.

2009: District 9 is released.  The richly plotted sci-fi story is nominated for Best Picture.

2009: Slender Man becomes an internet phenomenon that eventually works its way into movies and video games.

2009: Star Trek is released, a reboot of the series from before the point where the tv series began. 

2010: Inception is released, Christopher Nolan's mind-bending thriller.  It ranks among virtually all best-of lists from that point forward.

2010: The Walking Dead premiers, adapted from the comic book series of the same name.  The show is tremendously popular, even though later seasons suffer from poor pacing and a decent into soap opera melodrama.

2011: Damned by Chuck Palahniuk is published.  It is a comic blend of Judy Blume meets Dante Alighieri.  The sequel Doomed (2013) follows.

2011: Svengoolie goes national on Me-TV.  He is one of only a handful of horror hosts to have done so with the show available to 89% of the country by 2013.

2012: Prometheus is released.  The "prequel" explains some of the mystery surrounding the events depicted in the first Alien film, but it leaves many more questions to be answered at a later juncture.

2012: The Mockingbird Lane pilot is broadcast.  It is an attempt to reboot The Munsters.  Written by Bryan Fuller and directed by Bryan Singer, and starring Jerry O'Connell, Portia de Rossi, and Eddie Izzard.  It is brilliant and clever, so naturally last-place NBC fails to see the potential and thus passes on the pilot.


Plenty of horror and sci-fi films and tv series and literature were intentionally left off this chronology.  Those titles that remain are ones that were deemed influential or noteworthy, and even some I would have liked to include were cut to keep this page of reasonable length.  However, check out these lists:


Copyright 2014 the Ale[x]orcist.  Some additions/edits 2017.