October 20, 2015

Since time has diminished the impact of these early films, I doubt they are going to scare the hell out of you anymore.  But what they may lack in terror, they more than make up in style and sheer, unbridled imagination. Many of the architects of the German Expressionist Movement, desperate to escape the tyranny of Hitler, came to America and  created some of the most amazing sets ever built.  Through innovative cinematography, these artists produced films that are now regarded as timeless classics of the genre.  So, in the spirit of Halloween, here are The Twenty Greatest Horror Films of the Thirties.

In no particular order…

  1. Mad Love (’35)  Karl Freund  (Grand guignol at its best)
  2. Island of Lost Souls (’32) Erle C. Kenton (H.G.Wells hated it, but it’s one of the best)
  3. Frankenstein (’31) James Whale (The daddy of them all!]
  4. Freaks (’32) Tod Browning (The most controversial of the 30’s horror films)
  5. King Kong (’33) Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack ( Not much more to say about this masterpiece)
  6. The Mummy (’32) Karl Freund (Beautiful and strangely poignant)
  7. The Devil-Doll (’36) Tod Browning (His last masterpiece)
  8. Murders in the Zoo (’32) Edward Sutherland (Depraved early chiller with a sadistic opening scene)
  9. The Black Cat (’34) Edgar G. Ulmer (Crazy ass film that has several perverse themes)
  10. Murders in the Rue Morgue (’32) Robert Florey (One of the most Germanic and wildly sexual of these films)
  11. Doctor X (’32) Michael Curtiz (Two tone technicolor film is quite unhinged)
  12. The Old Dark House (’32) James Whale (Funny film with great ambiance)
  13. The Mask of Fu Manchu (’32) Charles Brabin and Charles Vidor (Decadent and ornate)
  14.  Mystery of the Wax Museum (’33) Michael Curtiz (Long lost film disappointed many)
  15. The Bride of Frankenstein (’35) James Whale (Some regard it as superior to the original)
  16. Dracula (’30) Tod Browning (Stilted version of Stoker classic with a legendary performance by Lugosi)
  17. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (’32) Rouben Mamoulian (The most imaginative and best version of this classic tale)
  18. The Raven (’35) Lew Landers (Second pairing of Karloff and Lugosi-great fun)
  19. The Invisible Man (’33) James Whale ( Extremely entertaining and fanciful version of Wells’ novel)
  20. Dracula’s Daughter (’36) Lambert Hillyer (Lesbian overtones-wow!)