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Added by xxxTheRipperxxx on 16 Jul 2019 04:50
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Horror Films Of The 1930's

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People who added this item 1049 Average listal rating (622 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
Frankenstein (1931)
Those with their rose-tinted nostalgia glasses firmly positioned will call this a classic, and one of the greatest horror films of all time. Discerning, experienced filmgoers will see it as it is. An outdated, not even entirely exceptional for it's time piece, that is most noteworthy for it's place in history and the films it inspired from better directors. It's an alright picture, but for those who know the story of Frankenstein it's simply a paint by the numbers affair. The direction is workmanlike and stiff, with no flair or style as is the cinematography. The acting is decent, though not phenomenal, and even Karloff is better remembered for his appearance as the monster, rather than delivering an exceptional performance. It's respectable for what it is, but as far as 30's horror films go, Universal would put out better films. And although the opinion may be unpopular, I much prefer the 1994 Kenneth Branagh remake, as it is truly a much more beautifully directed, passionately acted and moving picture, just as Coppola's 1992 Dracula is superior to it's 1931 original. All self-respecting horror fanatics must see this film, of course, but that doesn't mean it's a great film.
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People who added this item 754 Average listal rating (442 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.8
Often considered even better than it's predessecor, this is a true horror classic. It's a piece of film history for many reasons. The first appearence of Frankenstein's monster speaking, the birth of the "bride of the monster" concept, and so much more. It's a landmark, no doubt, but it does have it's share of problems. Foremost being it's almost constant usage of comedy relief. After every "frightening" moment, some slapstick character will shriek and fall down, or run about, bumping into things. I doubt that these moments were truly funny even back in the day, and only serve to be annoying now. There are also a variety of moments that are simply far too silly to be taken seriously, but that we are asked to do so with. Karloff's performance as the monster is at it's peak in this film, and this is no doubt the most masterful performance of the creature ever seen. He imbues him with humanity and a bevy of physical charaterisitcs that have become legendary. Ernet Thesiger is also enourmously fun to watch as the dastardly "Dr. Pretorius". And the film's direction is much smoother and more dynamic than the first. I can certainly see why this is such a special film, but that's not to say it isn't terribly dated, and that it didn't have issues that would have been noticeable even in 1935. But it's yet another piece of horror history that must be seen by all true fanatics.
xxxTheRipperxxx's rating:
People who added this item 925 Average listal rating (576 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
Dracula (1931)
The first appearance of Dracula on the screen, and still one of the most legendary. As many films of it's time, this one is severely dated, but still holds up as a solid mood piece. Tod Browning's direction is something like that of a silent film. There is scarce music, and shots linger upon frames of disturbing images and snarled faces. Fog drifts about in the wind and cobwebs hang in Count Dracula's castle. The film is simply filled with thick atmosphere. Bela Lugosi's performance is extremely campy by today's standards, but is responsible for crafting the Sauvé, imposing character we know of today. Edward Van Sloan steals the screen each time he appears as Van Helsing, with thorough likeability and Dwight Frye gives the most convincing, unhinged and tragic portrayal of Renfield to date. The only thing that holds this one back is it's abrupt and anti-climatic ending. Browning had filmed extra footage that was supposed to supply the film with a fitting denouement, but the studio found it to be too intense for public viewing. Besides this last minute hiccup, this film is still an enjoyable example of how far a heavy atmosphere and good acting can go.
xxxTheRipperxxx's rating:
People who added this item 110 Average listal rating (72 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.4
People who added this item 1018 Average listal rating (592 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.9
Freaks (1932)
Known as one of the most controversial horror films of all time, for one of the most disgusting reasons. This film, directed by Tod Browning, the man behind the classic "Dracula", is a cult classic for several reasons. Chief among them being that the circus "freaks" in the cast are all real freaks of nature. This was what made the film so controversial for it's time, coupled with the fact that the picture sought to humanize these individuals. Think of that. Only as long ago as 1932, in America, the general public was so closed-minded and so conservative that this film resulted in public boycotts, film burnings and all together, so-called "moral outrage". This pisses me off to no extent, also because this film was never properly released as a result. Tons of footage was cut from the finished product, and even now, we don't have a complete copy of this picture in circulation. I won't say more about that matter other than to add that these "freaks" are indeed, human, just like you and I. And this picture is proof of that. And proof that even in modern society, the different and truly individual are in a constant struggle to even be seen as human.

Besides all that, this is a fine little picture. Much like Browning's "Dracula" it suffers from some shoddy direction and a terribly uneven pace, not at all helped by the studio interference. Therefore the film's ending is a complete train wreck, that fails to tie up any of the film's loose ends in a satisfactory manner. Still, the characters are all bright and vibrant, the circus lifestyle is explored and the cast does a fantastic job in humanizing themselves and portraying the drama. If ever a film was ahead of it's time, this is it. And one day I hope we can restore the full cut of Browning's vision, or at the least, remake it as the film Browning always intended it to be.
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People who added this item 471 Average listal rating (293 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
In comparison to the other Universal horror films of it's decade, this one may be the most underrated. It only received one sequel, and even today, is not spoken of nearly as much as films like "Frankenstein" and "Dracula". Which is just a damn shame, because it's one of the best. Directed by James Whale, who also helmed the Frankenstein films, this one pushed the boundaries of horror films even further with it's special effects, which still hold up today, for the most part. Claude Rains is fantastic in the lead role, despite being invisible for most of the film. There's also an equal amount of scares and laughs to be had, but the humor is handled with much more grace than most of it's day. The film still suffers from an incredibly short runtime and underdeveloped characters, but there aren't many films from the 30's that still hold up this beautifully today.
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People who added this item 367 Average listal rating (253 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.1
The Mummy (1932)
Most of the original Universal horror films have maintained nearly spotless reputations amongst the horror community, and the broader cinematic landscape itself. This film is a strange exception. Most folks think of Mummies, when they think of pinnacle horror characters. But no adaptation of the subject matter has ever been met with critical acclaim. This film comes closest, but even historians often consider it to be miniscule compared to the other Universal offerings of it's day. And they're not wrong. This is one of the dullest horror films I have ever seen. One that slogs on through a plot entirely different to the one promised by it's title. There's not much of "The Mummy" to behold in "The Mummy", as it turns out. The moments in which he does appear are the film's strongest, such as the chilling opening sequence. But then we are left to watch Boris Karloff try to bring to life a completely unmenacing character that no one wanted to be the main antagonist of a film that is supposed to be about an evil Mummy. The production is decent on directorial and acting grounds, but it is never frightening, and mostly just a sad waste of potential.
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People who added this item 138 Average listal rating (78 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.1
One of the first horror comedies ever produced, directed by James Whale of "Frankenstein" fame, this film was considered lost for some time. Only recently was the film released on Blu-Ray, in it's first official home release. It's a film that has been given such loving care no doubt, because of it's director and the prescence of Boris Karloff. But besides these aspects which will draw cult interest, this is not a very good film. It's attempts at humor are very rudimentary, and mostly listless. Meanwhile the horror is dependent upon a plot that strains to make sense of itself, and often seems to simply be an excuse to group a bunch of people into a musty mansion and make some money. There's no attempt at crafting a story that makes any kind of sense here, and the film's narrative and humor are as creaky as the old house itself. Whale's direction is adept, and the cast are good in their roles, but waste their talent upon a thoroughly sub-par effort. Whale was a fine filmmaker, but perhaps there was a reason that this film remained "lost" for so long. It's certainly his weakest.
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People who added this item 158 Average listal rating (85 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.4
This is easily the best adaptation of H.G. Well's "The Island Of Dr. Moreau". Many versions have been filmed, but have mostly ranged from mediocre to downright disasterous. This one is considered the definitive adaptation, and for good reason. It must've been quite a boundary-pushing film for it's time, with it's gruesome effects and controversial subject matter. Charles Laughton starred here, in his first Hollywood role as Dr. Moreau, and gives the definitive performance of the mad doctor. He is incredibly sleazy, ammoral and evil. The effects still hold up as well, and the creatures are quite disturbing to behold in black and white, even now. Bela Lugosi is sadly wasted on the role of the "Sayer Of The Law", where his character remains quite undeveloped. The film is incredibly short, which hurts it's characters and the pace of the story, but this was common for the time. It holds up remarkably well, when stacked against it's contemopraries.
xxxTheRipperxxx's rating:
People who added this item 278 Average listal rating (155 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.6
This is the earliest "talkie" adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde, and one that is largely forgotten in favor of the Spencer Tracy version that would come out not long after. Still, I was surprised by the quality of this picture, especially compared to it's more famous contemporaries. One thing that makes this film stand above the genre offerings of it's day is the character development. The film is much longer than most horror films were at the time, truly allowing the characters to take shape, and crafting them into individuals that we care about, which is pivotal for true horror. And the direction and cinematography are leaps and bounds ahead of those of it's time. The film begins with a first-person view through the eyes of Dr. Jekyll, quite possibly the first time this method was ever used on screen. The film's horror is far more human, and psychological than what was commonplace amongst the genre at the time. All this makes the picture superior to films like "Dracula" and "Frankenstein", in my humble opinion, both of which offered little, to no character, and seem like student films in their sense of direction, when compared to this one. The performances of the cast are wonderful as well, with Frederic March turning in a phenomenal take on Jekyll and Hyde. The makeup effects are still quite gruesome to this day as well. All together, a film that deserves to be much better remembered, and in my opinion, deserves a place amongst the classics of it's day and the annals of horror film history. It was certainly further ahead of it's time.
xxxTheRipperxxx's rating:
People who added this item 232 Average listal rating (135 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.4
White Zombie (1932)
xxxTheRipperxxx's rating:
People who added this item 85 Average listal rating (44 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.3
Mad Love (1935)
Even as far back as the 1930's, some of the best horror films were hidden underneath the excess of acclaimed studio titles. This film attracted attention at the time of it's release, due to the prescence of Peter Lorre, who was fresh off of starring in "M". But it hasn't maintained much more of a reputation except a cult following for fans of old school horror, which is just a damn shame. This film was quite ahead of it's time, and in the midst of the more popular, science fiction and supernatural horror films being produced by Universal, this was an early example of psychological horror. This film no doubt influenced others of it's kind in the following decades. Peter Lorre's performance as the deranged, lovesick doctor is the centerpiece of the film. He is an amazing actor, and full of conviction. Colin Clive, Victor Frankenstein himself, is also good, but over acts as usual. The film has a decent sense of suspense as Lorre unravels, and a good sense of humor about it as well. It does have a mild hiccup of an ending, as most film's of it's day did, but other than that, this is a fine film. The definition of a hidden gem.
xxxTheRipperxxx's rating:
People who added this item 93 Average listal rating (47 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7
The Raven (1935)
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People who added this item 80 Average listal rating (42 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.4
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People who added this item 44 Average listal rating (22 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.5
xxxTheRipperxxx's rating:

A quite comprehensive list of the horror films of the 1930's decade. Films I have both seen and want to see. Reviews will be posted as films are viewed. This is not a complete list, as there are some films I have no interest in seeing. If you feel something is missing, or would like to know my thoughts on a particular film that is not included, please inquire. Enjoy, and stay scared.

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