List of horror films of the 1930s

A list of horror films released in the 1930s. The American horror film was properly created in the 1930s, most notably the Universal Horror film productions.[1] White Zombie is considered the first feature-length zombie film and has been described as the archetype and model of all zombie movies.[2][3] A number of Hollywood actors made a name for themselves in horror films of this decade, in particular Bela Lugosi (Dracula, 1931) and Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, 1931). Fredric March won an Academy Award for Best Actor in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1931.[4] Films of this era frequently took their inspiration from the literature of gothic horror[5] and more often dealt with themes of science versus religion rather than supernatural themes.[6]

Many horror films of this era provoked public outcry and censors cut many of the more violent and gruesome scenes from such films as Frankenstein, Island of Lost Souls and The Black Cat.[7][8] In 1933, the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) introduced an "H" rating for films labeled "Horrific" for "any films likely to frighten or horrify children under the age of 16 years"[9] and only a year later Hollywood initiated a strict production code limiting the violence and sexuality that could be portrayed in films.[10] In 1935, the President of the BBFC Edward Shortt, wrote "although a separate category has been established for these [horrific] films, I am sorry to learn they are on the increase...I hope that the producers and renters will accept this word of warning, and discourage this type of subject as far as possible."[9] As the United Kingdom was a significant market for Hollywood, American producers listened to Shortt's warning, and the number of Hollywood produced horror films decreased in 1936.[9] A trade paper Variety reported that Universal Studios abandonment of horror films after the release of Dracula's Daughter was that "European countries, especially England are prejudiced against this type product [sic]."[9]

At the end of the decade, a profitable re-release of Dracula and Frankenstein would encourage Universal to produce Son of Frankenstein (1939), starting off a resurgence of the horror film that would continue into the mid-1940s.[11]

Horror films released in the 1930s
Title Director Cast Country Notes
Dracula Tod BrowningBela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Edward Van SloanUnited States[12]
Drácula George MelfordCarlos Villarías, Lupita Tovar, Barry Norton |United States[13]
Svengali Archie Mayo John Barrymore, Marian Marsh United States
Frankenstein James WhaleColin Clive, Boris Karloff, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, Mae ClarkeUnited States[12]
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Rouben MamoulianFredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose HobartUnited States[12]
The Phantom Alan JamesGuinn "Big Boy" Williams, Allene Ray, Niles WelchUnited States[14]
Castle Sinister Widgey R. NewmanHaddon Mason, Wally PatchUnited Kingdom[15]
Doctor X Michael CurtizLionel Atwill, Lee Tracy, Fay WrayUnited States[12]
Freaks Tod BrowningWallace Ford, Leila HyamsUnited States[12]
Island of Lost Souls Erle C. KentonCharles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen, Leila HyamsUnited States[16]
Kongo William J. CowenWalter Huston, Lupe Vélez, Conrad NagelUnited States[17][18]
The Mask of Fu Manchu Charles J. Brabin, Charles Vidor, King VidorBoris Karloff, Lewis Stone, Karen MorleyUnited States[18]
The Monster Walks Frank StrayerVera Reynolds, Sheldon LewisUnited States[12]
The Most Dangerous Game Ernest B. SchoedsackJoel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie BanksUnited States[19]
The Mummy Karl FreundBoris Karloff, Zita Johann, David MannersUnited States[12]
Murders in the Rue Morgue Robert FloreySidney Fox, Bela LugosiUnited States[12][18]
The Old Dark House James WhaleBoris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Gloria Stuart, Lilian BondUnited States[12][18]
Unheimliche Geschichten Richard OswaldPaul Wegener, Harald Paulsen, Roma BahnGermany[20]
Vampyr Carl Theodor DreyerJulian West, Maurice Schutz, Jan HieronimkoFrance
White Zombie Victor HalperinBela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Joseph CawthornUnited States[12]
La Llorona Ramón PeonRamón Pereda, Virginia Zuri, Carlos OrellanaMexico[22]
The Ghoul T. Hayes HunterBoris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger, Dorothy Hyson, Anthony BushellUnited Kingdom[12]
The Invisible Man James WhaleClaude Rains, Gloria Stuart, Henry Travers, William HarriganUnited States[16]
The Monkey's Paw Wesley Ruggles, Ernest B. SchoedsackIvan Simpson, C. Aubrey Smith, Bramwell FletcherUnited States[12][23]
Murders in the Zoo Edward SutherlandCharlie Ruggles, Lionel Atwill, Gail Patrick, Randolph ScottUnited States[12]
Mystery of the Wax Museum Michael CurtizLionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell, Frank McHughUnited States[12]
Night of Terror Benjamin StoloffBela Lugosi, George Meeker, Tully MarshallUnited States[24]
Supernatural Victor HalperinCarole Lombard, Alan Dinehart, Vivienne OsborneUnited States[12]
The Vampire Bat Frank StrayerLionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, Maude EburneUnited States[12]
The Black Cat Edgar G. UlmerBoris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Jacqueline WellsUnited States[12]
Black Moon Roy William NeillJack Holt, Fay Wray, Dorothy BurgessUnited States[12]
Chloe, Love Is Calling You Marshall NeilanOlive Borden, Georgette Harvey, Reed HowesUnited States[25]
House of Mystery William NighEd Lowry, Verna Hillie, John SheehanUnited States[26]
Maniac Dwain EsperBill Woods, Thea RamseyUnited States[12]
The Phantom of the Convent Fernando de FuentesMarta Roel, Carlos Villatoro, Enrique del CampoMexico[27]
The Tell-Tale Heart Brian Desmond HurstNorman Dryden, John Kelt, Yolande TerrellUnited Kingdom[28]
The Black Room Roy William NeillBoris Karloff, Marian MarshUnited States[12]
Bride of Frankenstein James WhaleBoris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Elsa Lanchester, Ernest Thesiger, Dwight FryeUnited States[12]
Condemned to Live Frank StrayerRalph Morgan, Maxine Doyle, Russell GleasonUnited States[12]
The Crime of Dr. Crespi John H. AuerErich von Stroheim, Dwight Frye, Paul GuilfoyleUnited States[12]
Mad Love Karl FreundPeter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive, Ted Healy, Sara HadenUnited States[12]
Mark of the Vampire Tod BrowningLionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela LugosiUnited States[12]
Ouanga George TerwilligerFredi Washington, Sheldon Leonard, Philip BrandonUnited States[29]
The Raven Lew Landers, Louis FriedlanderBoris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Irene WareUnited States[12]
The Student of Prague Arthur RobisonAnton Walbrook, Dorothea Wieck, Theodor LoosNazi Germany[30]
Werewolf of London Stuart WalkerHenry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie HobsonUnited States[12]
The Devil-Doll Tod BrowningLionel Barrymore, Maureen O'SullivanUnited States[31]
Dracula's Daughter Lambert HillyerOtto Kruger, Gloria HoldenUnited States[12]
Fährmann Maria Frank WisbarSybille Schmitz, Peter Voss, Aribert MogNazi Germany[32]
The Golem Julien DuvivierHarry Baur, Germaine Dussey, Roger KarlCzechoslovakia
The Invisible Ray Lambert HillyerBela Lugosi, Frances Drake, Frank Lawton, Walter KingsfordUnited States[12]
El Baúl Macabro Miguel ZacaríasEsther Fernández, Ramón Pereda, René CardonaMexico[33]
The Man Who Changed His Mind Robert StevensonBoris Karloff, Anna Lee, John Loder, Frank CellierUnited Kingdom[12]
Revolt of the Zombies Victor HalperinDorothy Stone, Dean Jagger, Roy D'Arcy, Robert NolandUnited States[12]
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street George KingTod Slaughter, Stella Rho, John Singer, Eve ListerUnited Kingdom[34][35]
The Walking Dead Michael CurtizBoris Karloff, Ricardo Cortez, Edmund Gwenn, Marguerite ChurchillUnited States[12]
Buried Alive Victor HalperinPaul McVey, Beverly Roberts, Wheeler OakmanUnited States[36]
The Cat and the Canary Elliott NugentBob Hope, Paulette Goddard, John BealUnited States[37]
The Dark Eyes of London Walter SummersBéla Lugosi, Hugh Williams, Greta GyntUnited Kingdom[38]
The Devil's Daughter Arthur H. LeonardNina Mae McKinney, Jack Carter, Hamtree Harrington, Ida JamesUnited States[39]
The Face at the Window George KingTod Slaughter, John WarwickUnited Kingdom[40]
The Gorilla Allan DwanRitz Brothers, Anita Louise, Patsy KellyUnited States[41]
La Herencia Macabra José BohrMiguel Arenas, Consuela Frank, Ramón ArmengodMexico[42]
The Man They Could Not Hang Nick GrindeLorna Gray, Robert Wilcox, Roger Pryor, Don BeddoeUnited States[12]
The Return of Doctor X Vincent ShermanHumphrey Bogart, Rosemary Lane, Dennis Morgan, John LitelUnited States[43]
Son of Frankenstein Rowland V. LeeBasil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Josephine HutchinsonUnited States[12]
Torture Ship Victor HalperinLyle Talbot, Irving Pichel, Julie Bishop, Sheila BromleyUnited States[44]


  1. Chibnall & Petley 2002, p. 58.
  2. Rhodes 2001, p. 13.
  3. Prawer 1989, p. 68.
  4. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)". Allmovie. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
  5. Worland 2007, p. 55.
  6. Rhodes 2001, p. 19.
  7. Baumgartner & Davis 2008, p. 217.
  8. Prince 2004, p. 6.
  9. Chibnall & Petley 2002, p. 59.
  10. Doherty, Thomas "The Code Before 'Da Vinci'" Washington Post (May 20, 2006)
  11. Worland 2007, p. 68.
  12. AFI 1993, p. 1090.
  13. Erickson, Hal. "Dracula (Spanish Version)". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  14. Wollstein, Hans J. "The Phantom". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  15. "Castle Sinister". 75 Most Wanted. British Film Institute National Archive. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  16. Mank 2001, p. xvii.
  17. Brennan, Sandra. "Kongo". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  18. Mank 2001, p. xvi.
  19. Hardy 1995, pp. 52-53.
  20. Hardy 1995, pp. 54-55.
  21. Wells 2000, p. 50.
  22. Hardy 1995, p. 56.
  23. Brennan, Sandra. "The Monkey's Paw". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  24. Hardy 1995, p. 57.
  25. Firsching, Robert. "Chloe". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  26. Hardy 1995, p. 60.
  27. Hardy 1995, p. 59.
  28. Chibnall & Petley 2002, p. 64.
  29. Hardy 1995, p. 63.
  30. Hardy 1995, p. 64.
  31. Erickson, Hal. "The Devil-Doll". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  32. Hardy 1995, p. 66.
  33. Hardy 1995, p. 65.
  34. Hobart, Tana. "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  35. Hobart, Tana. "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DVD). Allmovie. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  36. Blaise, Judd. "Buried Alive". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  37. Hardy 1995, p. 67.
  38. Hardy 1995, pp. 67-68.
  39. Bush, John. "Pocomania". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  40. Binion, Cavett. "The Face at the Window". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  41. Blackburn, Steve. "The Gorilla". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  42. Hardy 1995, pp. 68-69.
  43. Brennan, Sandra. "The Return of Doctor X". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  44. Eder, Bruce. "Torture Ship". Allmovie. Retrieved August 7, 2011.


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