Rayzor’s Top 10 Horror Films – 1930s Edition

A few days ago I wrote a preview post, so if you missed that, check it out.  But the plan is the to rank films by the decade, either Top 10 or Top 20.  But the 1980s will be different, trust me.  But rather than starting in the 1920s, which honestly consists of one movie, Nosferatu, I am moving on to the 1930s.  It is unfortunate as I have only seen eleven films from the 1930s and this list could change in time.

The one thing I cannot decide is if I want to describe why I love each movie or just leave the ranking as is.  Well, I guess we will find out.  One thing I need to explain.  This list is not based on what I think is the best movie, it is based off of my personal preferences and favorites.  I know, deeper we get into these lists, I will have some films ranked above others based on how I feel vs how much better one may be over another.

I also know when a movie is better than another.  Here is an example.  I know John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is a better movie than John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness (1987).  Prince of Darkness is the movie I prefer, it is the same thing with Halloween.  I love Halloween, but The Thing is far better.  So, keep that in mind when it comes to my lists, I am very aware of what is better, but I also have my personal presences.

Oh and one last thing, I have to leave anything I’ve never seen before off the list.  I am counting movies I may have seen when I was younger and haven’t seen since.  This goes for King Kong (1933), The Raven (1935), Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) and Freaks (1932).  So, that is why these are not on the list.  Eventually I will see them and this list will change.  This could just be an annual update.  I plan to see so many more films from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s an 1960s.

So, lets get on with the list.

10. Werewolf of London (1935)

To be honest, this movie is kind of an oddball and I had to choose between this and Dracula’s Daughter for #10.  This movie is ok and silly.  But it gets overshadowed by 1941’s Wolf Man, for good reason.

9. The Mummy (1932)

Yeah, this one could be a surprise to some, but let me clear, I do like this movie.  I think the sequels are slightly better.  This movie is just kind of slow and at times uninteresting.  I do watch it once every October.  It has a great cast and score, I am just not as fond of the Mummy.

8. White Zombie (1932)

If you are not simply memorized by Lugosi in this film, you may not be human.  White Zombie is actually another kind of odd movie considering what the word zombie has come to represent over the past 50+ years.  It is a good one if you haven’t seen it.  If you’re a fan of Lugosi, this one is a must.

7. The Invisible Man (1933)

This is a great movie, without a doubt.  I rarely visit the Invisible man and I cannot put my finger on why.  It is good and Claude Rains is brilliant.  But, well I just don’t think for me it is as enjoyable as the next 6.

6. The Old Dark House (1932)

A James Whale classic to be sure.  Boris Karloss stars, but I think the biggest star is either the set or the atmosphere.  This movie is full of both, the set looks great and creepy for a 1932 film, but the atmosphere helps as well.  This is a good one, not to be missed.  You could call this the earliest Horror/Comedy.

5. Frankenstein (1931)

I am not going to lie, this has gotten tougher by the number.  I am solid on my top 3 and have been for, well decades. I am a big fan of the Universal Horror films and this is an absolute classic that has to been seen by any horror film, in October!  Frankenstein may be the film that began a long series of sequels, but to me it is the lesser of the first three.  I love it, but the next two I think I like a little better.  But, 1931’s Frankenstein has so many iconic moments that it is hard to ignore.  The “It’s ALIVE” moment likely the most iconic.  I also really love Colin Clive as Victor Frankenstein, he steals this movie.

4. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

This is the one most call the best of the Frankenstein films.  I think that could the case.  We get Clive and Karloff back and the addition of Ernest Thesiger as Dr. Pretorius made the movie a little better than Frankenstein.  Dr. Pretorius was brilliant and the reveal of Elsa Lanchester as the Bride is iconic and she may be my first horror crush.

3. The Black Cat (1934)

Lugosi and Karloff on the big screen together….  Need I say more?  Well, I will say this one has some of the best cinematography for a 1930s film.  There has to be something said about early cinematographers and directors.  Movies like this make Black and White worth watching.  I know that sound shitty, but I am trying to appeal to those who stay away from B&W films.  Watch the Black Cat and let me know what you think.

2. The Son of Frankenstein (1939)

SURPRISE!  Yes, this movie may be a tad underrated in my opinion.  What can I say?  The set design is top notch in Son of Frankenstein, the characters are some of the best.  We get Karloff for one last time as the monster.  Then we get amazing performances from Lionel Atwell and Basil Rathbone.  But, Bela Lugosi steals the show as Igor.  He is so fantastic and manipulative in a creepy and brilliant way.  The ending is amazing and could just close out the series, but the sequels to follow in the 1940s were pretty damn good.

1 Dracula (1931)

How could it not be Dracula?  Bela Lugosi’s appearance as Dracula is almost as recognizable as Superman or Batman.  Lugosi’s performance is terrific, especially when on screen with Edward Van Sloan’s Van Helsing.  I mention great casting and Dracula is no different, if not for Lugosi and Van Sloan, Dwight Frye could have stolen this movie.  His portrayal or Renfield works in so many ways.  I love the reveal when the Demeter gets to London.  Such a great and iconic movie, I simply love Dracula and really, I am a fan of Lugosi.

For me, when the weather begins to change and get cooler, that is the time to break out the Universal films and other B&W films.  I suggest anyone who hasn’t seen some of these or all, fix that this October.  The Horror Syndicate Discourse will be discussing Universal Horror all October.  So check us out on Facebook and Youtube.

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About Ray Marek III 699 Articles
I have been watching horror films since I was 6 years old. The story, one Saturday night, my mom and I were watching movies and she fell asleep on the couch. We had the channel set on HBO and the movie we were watching ended and the next one, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. This was some time in 1986. I watched then entire film, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. When my mom woke, she asked me what just ended and I told her, “Freddy”. That was all I talked about for weeks and finally she broke down and rented more horror films for me. She rented, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2, Re-Animator, Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives and Halloween II. I watched all and fell in love with horror films forever. 5 Horror Films to Watch Inferno (1980) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) The Beyond (1981) Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) Horror of Dracula (1958)