It’s hard to say what was truly the first movie ever made. There was filmed footage of a galloping horse created by a British dude named Eadweard Muybridge in 1882, called, appropriately enough, “The Horse in Motion.” Then there was a whopping two-second long feature of some people walking around, filmed in 1888. It’d be easy to dismiss this, due to its brevity, but think about it. 1888. The year that Jack the Ripper was prowling the east End of London. Smack in the heart of the Victorian era. We think of that age as being lost to us, save for the preservation afforded by books and photographs. Yet here is filmed footage of people going about their business. It’s kind of amazing.
Like you can’t definitively say who made the first “movie,” it’s equally hard to say who created the first movie camera. Muybridge met with Thomas Edison, also in 1888, and proposed a partnership; Edison declined, but was resolved to create his own movie camera. The Lumière Brothers of France had one, and inspired fellow Frenchman Georges Melies, a magician and puppeteer, to create his own; more specifically, he modified a film projector so that it would also serve as a recorder. He then went on to become one of the greatest film innovators in cinematic history. Melies’s movies were chock full of Horror; the first recognized Horror flick was one of his: THE HAUNTED CASTLE, aka THE MANOR OF THE DEVIL, was created in 1896 and features a flapping bat turning into a vampire, animated ghosts, skeletons, a devil with a pitchfork, etc. Though obviously some parts of the three-minute feature were intended to be humorous, it contains some genuinely creepy visuals.
Some argue that the seventeen-second THE EXECUTION OF MARY STUART, directed by Alfred Clark in 1895 and produced by Thomas Edison a year before the Melies movie, should be considered the first fright flick, as it depicts a beheading, but others maintain it is an historical drama and not Horror per se.
Edison created his version of FRANKENSTEIN in 1910. A few years later, the likes of Lon Chaney and F.W. Murnau would forever cement the relationship between the budding artform of Cinema and the Horror genre. The point to all this being, as soon as people figured out how to create movies, they wanted to make HORROR movies. No other genre has such a gilded pedigree.