The 1930’s

 

Bela Lugosi - Dracula

Bela Lugosi – Dracula 1931

With the popularity of moving pictures now in full swing and fright films proving to be huge attractions, a new wave of horror titles was about to be unleashed on audiences of the day. A massive number of classic films came out in the 1930’s and so this era became known as horror’s golden age.

Films now featured sound which revolutionized every area of cinema. Horror would now be able to be heard…with all it’s screams, groans, claps of thunder and maniacal laughter.

The first productions with sound however, seem a little flat in places now. For instance, during certain action or suspense sequences, a musical accompaniment is just not there to help add tension/emotion and carry the scene along. It seems that with the introduction of dialogue, a musical score, which was an essential ingredient in silent productions, was kept to a bare minimum.

Two major pieces of the period which suffered from this trade-off are Dracula and Frankenstein. In my view though, the scenes in Dracula which are soundless only add to the movie’s overall sense of dread. Frankenstein, on the other hand features some key action sequences which almost beg to have a musical theme behind them. Without it, these scenes appear noticeably ‘hollow’.

Universal Studios was the most prolific film studio within the horror genre. It turned out the majority of the classic titles of the period and brought forth the iconic figures and creatures which would become famously known collectively as, The Universal Monsters.

 

Universal Monsters

Just a few of the main offenders within the Universal Monster ‘army’.

 

Throughout this prolific period, horror became one of the most popular means of escape for a population suffering from the effects of The Great Depression (1929 – late 30’s). Things were about to change however as mounting costs and insufficient returns on many of the films released forced Universal’s founder and Head of Production out of the business. As a result, we have a two year period between 1937 – 39 where no horror films were made.

The screening of Frankenstein, Dracula and King Kong in a spectacular triple feature (!), thankfully turned it all around. Universal saw just how much audiences adored these films and how much they wanted more of the same. A new commitment to the horror genre was made beginning with a brilliant sequel to an established classic. The movie was Son of Frankenstein (1939) and it was through this film that horror found a whole new life, at the very end of the decade!

 

 

The following are all the classic titles of the 1930’s, excluding B-features and films now lost.

 

 

 

 

1930’s

  • Dracula 1931, United States.
  • Dracula (Spanish) 1931, United States.
  • Frankenstein 1931, United States.
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931, United States.
  • Doctor X 1932, United States.
  • Freaks 1932, United States.
  • Island of Lost Souls 1932, United States.
  • The Mask of Fu Manchu 1932, United States.
  • The Monster Walks 1932, United States.
  • The Most Dangerous Game  1932, United States.
  • The Mummy 1932, United States.
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932, United States.
  • The Old Dark House 1932, United States.
  • Tales of the Uncanny 1932, Germany.
  • Vampyr 1932, Spain/Germany.
  • White Zombie 1932, United States.
  • The Ghoul 1933, United Kingdom.
  • The Invisible Man 1933, United States.
  • The Monkey’s Paw 1933, United States.
  • Murder in the Zoo 1933, United States.
  • Mystery of the Wax Museum 1933, United States.
  • Night of Terror 1933, United States.
  • Supernatural 1933, United States.
  • The Vampire Bat 1933, United States.
  • The Black Cat 1934, United States.
  • The Black Room 1935, United States.
  • Bride of Frankenstein 1935, United States.
  • Mad Love 1935, United States.
  • Mark of the Vampire 1935, United States.
  • The Raven 1935, United States.
  • Werewolf of London 1935, United States.
  • The Devil Doll 1936, United States.
  • Dracula’s Daughter 1936, United States.
  • The Golem 1936, Czechoslovakia/Spain.
  • The Invisible Ray 1936, United States.
  • Revolt of the Zombies 1936, United States.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 1936, United Kingdom.
  • The Walking Dead 1936,United States.
  • The Cat and the Canary 1939, United States.
  • The Dark Eyes of London 1939, United Kingdom.
  • The Gorilla 1939, United States.
  • The Return of Dr. X 1939, United States.
  • Son of Frankenstein 1939, United States.