It wasn't long after the history of cinema began at the dawn of the 20th century that horror movies started to appear on the screen. Like most early films, these short, silent pioneering works were often stagey – a byproduct of their theater origins – and based on established pieces of literature.

But it wasn't long before the genre took on a life of its own, as you'll see in the below list of the Best Horror Movie From Every Year: 1920-2019.

So, even though horror movies existed before 1920, it wasn't until that year they became a viable genre film and expert directors found ways – through lighting, camera angles and even storytelling – to make them infinitely more interesting than their stagey predecessors.

Movies like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu paved the way for Frankenstein, Dracula and Universal's famous monsters in the '30s. From there the genre evolved in steps – first by injecting some social commentary into its narrative and then by taking on subjects like sexuality and psychology as horror films grew up with their audience.

Along the way, demonic possession, alien beings and serial killers found horror in disparate places, whether in the church, outer space or your neighborhood. Themes came and went, but mainstays remain: Vampires and ghosts have been popular subjects ever since the '20s.

No matter what form they take, these films have one thing in common: They want you to jump in your seat, scream, spill your popcorn and soil your pants. Haunting images from 1920's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari remain as frightening as those seen in 2019's Midsommar, as you'll see in the below list of the Best Horror Movie From Every Year: 1920-2019.

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