Horror history: Horror films have been one of Hollywood's most popular genres going back to silent movie days.

         Over the years, the horror genre evolved in many directions, always managing to offer whatever kind of scares would best attract moviegoers at the time.

         Today, for instance, supernatural thrillers are the preferred horror flavor – like Warner Bros., New Line Cinema and RatPac-Dune Entertainment's R rated "The Conjuring 2," opening Friday (6/10) at about 3,100 theatres.

         Directed by "The Conjuring" director James Wan, it stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren. In one of their most terrifying paranormal investigations, the couple travels to northern London to help a single mom with four kids in a house plagued by evil spirits.

         Like most horror films, it should play well to younger women, but could also attract adult women. The original "Conjuring" opened July 19, 2013 to $41.9 million and did $137.4 million domestically. It ranks fifth on the all-time domestic supernatural horror hits chart.

         First place goes to "The Sixth Sense," which opened Aug. 6, 1999 to $26.7 million and did $293.5 million. "The Exorcist" is second. It opened at just 26 theatres Dec. 26, 1973 and went on to do $232.9 million, including reissues.

         Placing third is "What Lies Beneath," which opened July 21, 2000 to $29.7 million and did $155.5 million. Number four is "The Blair Witch Project," which opened July 16, 1999 to $1.5 million and did $140.5 million.

         Here's a quick look back at Horror History and how it's varied since Hollywood's earliest days:

Many of the classic horror silent films that moviegoers lined up to see at nickelodeons or early movie houses had prestigious literary roots, which was true of many early dramas, as well. Among those very early horror thrillers are:

         "Frankenstein" (1910), a 16 minute version of Mary Shelley’s novel, directed by J. Searle Dawley and starring Augustus Phillips as Dr. Frankenstein and Charles Ogle as the Monster; Robert Wiene's German Expressionist journey into madness  "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920), starring Werner Krauss and Conrad Veidt;

         Also, John S. Robertson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1920), based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson, starring John Barrymore in both title roles; F.W. Murnau's "Nosferatu" (1922), an unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker's book "Dracula;" and Rupert Julian's "The Phantom of the Opera" (1925), based on the serialized novel by Gaston Leroux, starring Lon Chaney in the title role.

The 1930s brought many monster driven titles that are still very familiar names, including:

 Tod Browning's "Dracula" (1931), starring Bela Lugosi; James Whale's "Frankenstein" (1931), starring Boris Karloff; Karl Freund's "The Mummy" (1932), starring Boris Karloff; James Whale's "The Invisible Man" (1933), staring Claude Rains; and Michael Curtiz's "The Walking Dead" (1936), starring Boris Karloff.

The 1940s brought a similar string of horror hits revolving around monsters, including:

Jean Yarbrough's "The Devil Bat" (1940), starring Bela Lugosi; Albert Rogell's "The Black Cat" (1941), starring Basil Rathbone; George Waggner's "The Wolf Man" (1941), starring Lon Chaney, Jr.; Lew Landers' "The Return of the Vampire" (1943), starring Bela Lugosi; and Leslie Goodwins' "The Mummy's Curse" (1944), starring Lon Chaney, Jr.

By the 1950s, many horror films revolved around terrifying creatures from other worlds or from scientific experiments here on Earth, including:

Eugene Lourie's "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" (1953), starring Paul Hubschmid; Jack Arnold's "The Creature From the Black Lagoon" (1954), starring Richard Carlson; Gordon Douglas' "Them" (1954), starring James Whitmore in a tale about an invasion of giant mutant killer ants; Don Siegel's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956), starring Kevin McCarthy; and Irvin Yeaworth Jr.'s "The Blob" (1958), starring Steve McQueen.

In the 1960s, horror films transitioned from being mostly B Movie fare to being big budget special effects productions with A list stars and directors and broader audience playability. Among the high profile '60s horror movies with adult audience playability were:

Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960), starring Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles; J. Lee Thompson's "Cape Fear" (1962), starring Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Martin Balsam and Polly Bergen; Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" (1963), starring  Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy and Suzanne Pleshette; Roman Polanski's "Repulsion" (1965), starring Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser and Yvonne Furneaux; and Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" (1968), starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Ralph Bellamy, Maurice Evans, Sidney Blackmer, and Charles Grodin.

The 1970s brought more A List horror films targeted to mainstream moviegoers, including:

Richard Fleischer's "See No Evil" (1971), starring Mia Farrow and Paul Nicholas; William Friedkin's "The Exorcist" (1973), starring Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair and Max von Sydow; Steven Spielberg's horror in the water epic "Jaws" (1975), starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss; Richard Donner's "The Omen" (1976), starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and David Warner; and Ridley Scott's "Alien" (1979), starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright.

The 1980s also saw horror films with broad playability and major talent, including:

Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" (1980), starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd; Tobe Hooper's "Poltergeist" (1982), starring Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams and Beatrice Straight; Tony Scott's "The Hunger" (1983), starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon; and Frank Oz's "Little Shop of Horrors" (1986), starring John Candy, Steve Martin and Rick Moranis.

The '80s also brought moviegoers the early episodes for what turned into classic horror film franchises, including:

         Sean Cunningham's "Friday the 13th" (1980), starring Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King and Harry Crosby; "Halloween II" (1981), directed by Rick Rosenthal and the sequel to John Carpenter's 1978 original, with Jamie Lee Curtis returning and with stuntman Dick Warlock replacing Nick Castle as the Michael Myers character known  as The Shape in the end credits.

         Also, Wes Craven's "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984), starring Robert Englund, John Saxon and Ronee Blakley; Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" (1986), starring Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams and Bill Johnson as Leatherface in a dark comedy sequel to Hooper's 1974 original; John McTiernan's "Predator" (1987), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers; and Joseph Ruben's "The Stepfather" (1987), starring Terry O'Quinn, Jill Schoelen and Shelley Hack.

By the 1990s, horror films were transitioning from the broad playability they'd enjoyed since the '60s to being more genre type product aimed at a younger audience of horror film fans. But there still were some high profile thrillers from A List directors with big stars and strong adult playability, including:

Rob Reiner's "Misery" (1990), starring Kathy Bates, James Caan, Richard Farnsworth and Lauren Bacall; Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992), starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder and Anthony Hopkins; Kenneth Branagh's "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (1994), starring Robert De Niro, Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hulce; Jan de Bont's "The Haunting" (1999), starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Owen Wilson; and M. Night Shayamalan's "The Sixth Sense" (1999), starring  Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette.

Horror franchises targeted to genre fans also continued to perform well in the '90s, including:

Rachael Talalay's "Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare" (1991), starring Robert Englund again as Freddy Krueger; David Fincher's "Alien 3" (1992), starring Sigourney Weaver again as Ellen Ripley; Adam Marcus's "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday" (1993), starring Kane Hodder again as Jason Voorhees; Wes Craven's "Scream" (1996), starring David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich and Drew Barrymore; and Hideo Nataka's "Ring" (1998), starring  Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada and Rikiya ?taka.

Since 2000 horror films have become much less general adult audience fare and are now typically targeted to the niche audience of horror fans, especially women under 18. It often comes as a surprise to people who aren't movie marketers that young women love to see horror movies.

The short explanation for that phenomenon is that in many, if not most, of today's horror films young women are the object of the terror being perpetrated by disfigured, demonic and demented male villains – but, in the end, these women turn out not to be victims after all.

They somehow manage to prevail over their male tormentors and they survive – frequently to return a year later in a new episode with the same happy outcome. This, in turn, empowers the audience of young women and keeps bringing them back to see more horror films.

The late '90s and early 2000s saw the rise of new or rebooted inexpensive slasher franchises that cut themselves big slices of boxoffice pie, including:

"Scream" (1996) with $103 million; "Scream 2" (1997) with $101.4 million; "Scream 3" (2000) with $89.1 million; "Freddy Vs. Jason" (2003) with $82.6 million; and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2003) with $80.6 million.

There also were low budget horror comedies that laughed all the way to the bank, including:

"Scary Movie" (2000) with $157 million; "Scary Movie 3" (2003) with $110 million; "Scary Movie 4" (2006) with $90.7 million; "Dark Shadows" (2012) with $79.7 million; and "Goosebumps" (2015) with $80.1 million.

         Bottom line: Moviegoers who aren't looking to see a horror film this weekend can choose from two new wide releases or catch up with some recent holdovers.

         Last weekend saw Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies' PG-13 rated 3D fantasy action adventure comedy "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" open to $35.3 million.

         Second place went to 20th Century Fox and Marvel Entertainment's 3D fantasy action adventure "X-Men: Apocalypse" with $22.3 million and a two week cume of $116.5 million.

         As for new arrivals, the PG-13 rated 3D action adventure "Warcraft," from Universal, Legendary Pictures, Atlas Entertainment and Blizzard Entertainment, opens Friday (6/10) at about 3,400 theatres.

         Directed by Duncan Jones ("Source Code"), it's based on Blizzard's blockbuster video games and novels franchise and stars Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton and Ben Foster. It should play best to male moviegoers.

         Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment's PG-13 rated action comedy thriller "Now You See Me 2" also arrives Friday at about 3,000 theatres. It's directed by Jon M. Chu ("G.I. Joe: Retaliation") and stars Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco and Daniel Radcliffe. It should play best to male moviegoers.

         The first episode in its franchise opened May 31, 2013 to $29.4 million and did $117.7 million domestically.