It is appropriate as Halloween approaches that scary movies are as much a part of the holiday as ghosts and goblins and tricks and treats.  Historian W. Scott Poole gives us a treat with a new book,   Wasteland:  The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror.

It’s one of those things that is not exactly a new thought; there are several examples of those, who it has been suggested, carried their experiences of the Great War into their works.  One of the best known are certain scenes of Middlearth described by J.R.R. Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

It is all too easy to forget that many of those who were active in the movie industry–in any country–were very much a part of the Great War, and it is not hard to imagine that their works were influenced by those experiences.  Consider, as the attached article mentions, that films such as J’accuse (1919), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), and Nosferatu (1922) came out in the years following the war.  Filmmakers such as Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, Albin Grau, Tod Browning, and James Whale survived the war to make horror films that remain classics nearly 100 years later.

Please see the attached article, and you can come up with your own opinion:


Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.