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Horror in the 1930’s


By the 1930’s the “talkies” had only been around for a few years. Horror had been explored in the silent era and some real classics were made in that time, but filmakers had really only scratched the surface. In the early 30’s films like Dracula, Frankenstein and others were made and it was quickly discovered “hey, people like to be scared”. Universal studios in particular became masters of horror films during this decade. Actors like Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff became big names playing various monsters and madmen. In addition to monsters and madmen we saw castles, mad scientist labs and scream queens in these films. Everything was in glorious black and white with the real masters making great use of shadows and contrasts. If I think of a castle or a graveyard in a horror movie it’s usually one from this time period. There were some films like Freaks and M that went beyond just the mad scientist/monster formula and those were perhaps even scarier than the traditional monsters. By the end of the decade we were seeing some sequels and films falling back on formulas that worked on films made in the earlier part of the decade. Over the years cartoons and movies had spoofed films and actors from this era of horror. Films from this decade are not loved by everyone although most should be. There’s no denying the impact on future decades from many of these films. Why not? Monsters were everywhere, vampire didn’t sparkle, horror was about fear not gore and Kong was King. One of my favorire decades for horror films.


***Feel free to add in any thoughts on the decade or chime in any of your favorite films from the 1930’s.


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