Best Horror Films From The 1930 To The 1939

By MortimerTGraves for Movies

Best Horror Films From The 1930 To The 1939


When you talk about horror films, the 1930‘s is where it found it voice.  The whole decade is full of iconic films that still are not only popular, but on top of most lists.  These 10 years are most defined as the time where patriarch monsters were born.   Films of this era frequently took their inspiration from Gothic literature, so the stories often dealt with themes of science versus religion rather than supernatural themes.
With all these legendary characters and films, we also are introduced to the rating system.  So our favorite movies were given a “H” rating for "Horrific".  Because of England’s rating system(and the war), distribution of horror films were cut.  This leads to a dry spell of horror in 1936 to 1939.  So lets go through these fantastic films of the 30's.  I am only limiting this list of the most iconic films.  If I listed all the films I like, then the list would be a dozen pages.



Dracula 1931


nighthawknews
A vampire-horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula who decides to move to London.  Produced by Universal and is based on the 1924 stage play Dracula which in turn is loosely based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.  Glen Fry is a overlooked gem in films.
This is the movie that slingshot Lugosi from a stage actor to one of the most famous horror actors in film history.



M 1931


theticketbooth
A German drama-thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre as a murderer of children in Berlin. It was the director's first sound film. Now considered a classic(and a personal favorite), Lang himself believed it was his finest work.  This movie was considered taboo and was a huge ground breaker with the story about child murder.
When this movie was distributed to the United States, Lorre became a hot commodity.  And so began his wonderful acting career.  



Frankenstein 1931


1.bp.blogspot
Frankenstein is a horror monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling, which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. The film stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff and features Dwight Frye.  Dr. Frankenstein wants to create life by using the body parts of the dead.
A very hotly debated issue, some think this is the greatest Universal Monster movie.  With the release of Frankenstein, Karloff went from a character actor to the premier horror actor for decades. 



Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931


goldenagehorro
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a American Pre-Code horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the Robert Louis Stevenson tale of a man who takes a potion which turns him from a mild-mannered man of science into a homicidal maniac.
The makeup used was so heavy, that it injured and bruised the face of March.



Freaks 1932


artblart.files
An American horror film in which the eponymous characters were played by people who worked as carnival sideshow performers and had real deformities.  The story revolves around A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.
The original 90 minute version was considered too shocking to be released, and was destroyed.  We only have the re-edited 64 minute released version.  Even with the edited version, it was banned in numerous cities and states.   This film was banned until the mid 60‘s in England.



Island of Lost Souls 1932


itsjustawesome
An American science fiction horror film starring Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Bela Lugosi and Kathleen Burke. The movie was the first film adaptation of the H. G. Wells novel The Island of Dr. Moreau.  Dr. Moreau is creating hybrid human animals.
This movie was refused a cinema certificate in 1933 by the BBFC and remained banned in the UK until 1958.  The reason;  the film was "against nature". 



The Mummy 1932


tasteofcinema
The Mummy is a horror film from Universal Studios directed by Karl Freund and stars Boris Karloff as a revived ancient Egyptian priest. The movie also features Zita Johann, David Manners and Edward Van Sloan.
The discovery of Pharaoh Tutankahmen's tomb and the alleged curse it contained inspired Universal to make this film.



The Old Dark House 1932


derekwinnert
An American comedy and horror film directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff. The film is based on the 1927 novel Benighted. The story is about five travels seeking shelter from a storm, they are in for a bizarre and terrifying night when they stumble upon the Femm family estate.
This is a blueprint to future old scary house films.  



White Zombie 1932


basementrejects
An American independent Pre-Code horror film directed and produced by brothers Victor and Edward Halperin.  Possible the most important zombie film up to this time in cinema.  We are introduced to the black magic zombie that will become the standard for the next 30 years.
The story is about a young woman's transformation into a zombie at the hands of an evil voodoo master. Béla Lugosi stars as the antagonist, Murder Legendre.
Romaro’s favorite “actual” zombie film.



The Invisible Man 1933


gablescinema
A science fiction film based on H. G. Wells' novel of the same name.  The film stars Claude Rains, in his first American screen appearance. A scientist creates a serum that can turn people invisible. 
The effects of for this movie was cutting edge and ground breaking when the movie premiered.  The film has been described as a "nearly perfect translation of the spirit of the book".  It spawned a number of sequels, plus many spinoffs using the idea of an "invisible man" that were largely unrelated to Wells' original story.



King Kong 1933


3.bp.blogspot
An American fantasy monster/adventure film.  Staring Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot, and Robert Armstrong about a film crew that goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a liking to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition. 
The daddy of all giant monsters, this opened the flood gates of larger than normal creatures movies.  



The Black Cat 1934


alfredeaker
Not to be confused with the 1941 version also staring Bela Lugosi. American honeymooners in Hungary become trapped in the home of a Satan-worshiping priest when the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident.
The Black Cat is a 1934 horror film that became Universal Pictures' biggest box office hit of the year. The picture was the first of eight movies to pair actors Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Edgar G. Ulmer directed the film. Lugosi’s performance is superb.



Bride of Frankenstein 1935


hairworldmag
The first sequel to Frankenstein. Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and stars Boris Karloff as The Monster, Elsa Lanchester in the dual role of his mate and Mary Shelley, Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein, and Ernest Thesiger as Doctor Septimus Pretorius. The film follows immediately from the events of the first film.  In this one monster wants a bride. 
The Bride is one of the most recognizable monsters, even though she had a little over 2 minutes screen time.



The Raven 1935


mountainx
American horror film directed by Lew Landers and starring Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi. The picture revolves around Edgar Allan Poe's famous homonymous poem, featuring Lugosi as a Poe-obsessed mad surgeon with a torture chamber in his basement and Karloff as a fugitive murderer desperately on the run from the police. 
Both Karloff and Lugosi give great performances.



Werewolf of London 1935


nerdsontherocks
A Horror film starring Henry Hull and produced by Universal Pictures. While on a botanical expedition in Tibet Dr. Wilfred Glendon is attacked in the dark by a strange animal. Returning to London, he finds himself turning nightly into a werewolf and terrorizing the city, with the only hope for curing his affliction a rare Asian flower.
Jack Pierce's eerie werewolf make-up was simpler than his version six years later for Lon Chaney, Jr., in The Wolf Man. Werewolf of London was the first Hollywood mainstream werewolf movie. It is also one of the few werewolf movies that involve science instead of black magic.



Son of Frankenstein 1939


lastroadreviews
The third film in Universal Studios' Frankenstein series and the last to feature Boris Karloff as the Monster as well as the first to feature Bela Lugosi as Ygor the deformed blacksmith. One of the sons of Frankenstein finds his father's monster in a coma and revives him, only to find out he is controlled by Ygor who is bent on revenge. 
The picture is a sequel to James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi.

Share this article on: