There are plenty of fantastic and original movies globally, but only a few can claim to have invented their own genre. The following movies established tropes that would last for years and determine how movies are written, filmed, and edited.
1. Godzilla (1954)
You won’t find many people willing to argue against the original Godzilla kickstarting the Kaiju genre. These movies contain giant monsters that embark on rampages through densely populated urban areas with disastrous results. Military intervention, dubious science, and moral dilemmas also play their part, but the movies are big on action and bombast. Godzilla featured everything you could want from a Kaiju movie, and it spawned endless remakes and imitators, including King Kong.
2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Who doesn’t love a zombie movie? Nowadays, there are almost too many to name, but George Romero’s classic established the genre. Tropes including a plague-like outbreak, the zombie’s propensity to feast on brains, military intervention, the stumbling movements of the undead—it’s all here. If those themes sound familiar, it’s because they’ve appeared in nearly every zombie movie since, from the super-serious The Walking Dead through to the spoof Shaun of the Dead. Romero wasn’t even trying to make a zombie movie, but he nonetheless invented his own genre.
3. Spies (1928)
This movie basically invented the espionage genre that would later be made famous by the James Bond franchise and the Bourne Identity, to name just two. Spy movies are nowadays big business, but back in 1928, the genre was virtually unheard of. Spies features everything that you’ve come to love about the classic spy movie. It included a rugged secret agented (identified by their number, of course), high-tech gadgets, fast cars, and glamorous women. If this all sounds very 007, that’s because it is. The only difference is that James Bond hadn’t set foot on the big screen yet, and wouldn’t do so until Dr. No, many years later.
4. The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Gambling movies mostly follow the same type of story and utilize a similar set of characters. They show tense poker table scenes and often chart the protagonist's rise to prominence and rivalries with other gamblers. As you might expect, glamor plays a big part, too, with sprawling casinos and stunning femme Fatales. The Cincinnati Kid is the earliest example of this. Starring a detached and typically cool Steve McQueen traces a pro gambler's rise to the top of the poker world. This is the movie to watch for anyone with even a passing interest in gambling, and it features some taut scenes.
5. Halloween (1978)
It's a slightly more contentious choice; perhaps, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the slasher genre began. True, some of the tropes were present in Hitchcock movies (especially Psycho) and later horror classics, including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it was actually Halloween that bundled everything together. It featured violence and blood galore, but more importantly, established conventions like “the final girl” (who always survives in these movies). There was a strange sense of morality among the blood-soaked gore, too, which would later be satirized by Cabin in the Woods and Scream.