Though the horror-film genre has often had narrow, if enthusiastic, audiences, through the years, a number of horror films have broken through and become some of the biggest box office hits of their era. "The Phantom of the Opera" (1925) was a huge hit in the silent era, making the equivalent of more than $100 million in today's dollars. The film starred Lon Chaney, the "Man of a Thousand Faces," and Mary Philbin.
Universal Pictures built its success on horror films in the '30s and '40s. One of the biggest hits of 1931 was a now-classic version of "Frankenstein." The film stars Boris Karloff, left, as the monster.
Another of Universal's big 1931 hits was "Dracula," which stars Bela Lugosi as the vampire in the role that made him famous -- and stereotyped him for the rest of his life.
"House of Wax," from 1953, was the first color 3-D film from a major studio. It became one of the highest-grossing films of the year. Vincent Price stars as a sculptor who populates his wax museum with corpses.
The gripping "Psycho" (1960) may have been the closest director Alfred Hitchcock came to pure horror. The film's shower scene, starring Janet Leigh, still has the power to shock, and motel manager Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) remains one of cinema's creepiest villains.
Director Roman Polanski's 1968 film version of "Rosemary's Baby" stars Mia Farrow as an upscale New Yorker impregnated by Satan.
George Romero's 1968 film "Night of the Living Dead" was made for just over $100,000 and grossed more than $30 million worldwide. It also invented the modern zombie movie, with brain-eating undead ghouls threatening the human population.