Ghostmann’s Horror Movie Guide: The 1930’s

The Black Cat (1934)

Directed by – Edger G. Ulmer

Starring – Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

****** 6 out of 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: Who wants to go on their Honeymoon in Hungary? Well Joan and Peter Allison do and as luck has it they end up sharing their train compartment with Dr. Vitus Verdegast, a bit of a weirdo who is returning to the town he defended before becoming a prisoner of war for fifteen years (life has sorta sucked for old Vitus). Anyway, when the bus they were taking to their hotel crashes in a mountain storm and Joan is hurt, they find a fortress-like home to hole up in. The home, turns out, was built on the site of a bloody battlefield! There at the fucked up house, cat-phobic Verdegast learns his wife’s fate, grieves for his lost daughter, and must play a game of chess for Allison’s life. What a fucking Honeymoon!

Fun Fact: Edgar G. Ulmer admitted in an interview that Edgar Allan Poe’s story was credited to draw public attention, despite the fact it had nothing to do with the story in the movie. No shit there Edgar.

Classic Quote: “I don’t know. It all sounds like a lot of supernatural baloney to me.” – Dr. Vitus Verdegast. “Supernatural, perhaps. Baloney, perhaps not. There are many things under the sun.” – Peter Allison

Filming Locations: Universal Studios – 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California, USA

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Directed by – James Whale

Starring – Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Ernest Thesiger

********* 9 out of 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: The movie starts out in the “real world” when Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, reveals to her husband Percy Shelley and most likely fuck-buddy, Lord Byron, that Dr. Henry Frankenstein and his Monster did not die in her story (the first movie!). Both lived, and had even more good times than ever before. She begins to tell them part 2 of her story which starts out as Dr. Frankenstein just wants to marry his girlfriend and have a nice quiet life. But things don’t pan out for the Doctor when a knock comes on his door. It is his old professor, the sinister Dr. Pretorius! Pretorius wants to hire Henry to help him create more monsters. Henry tells him to fuck off but Pretorius ends up befriending Frankenstein’s Monster and together the both of them blackmail Henry into continuing his work. The Monster wants his creator to build him a friend (“You say she’s just a friend, and you say she’s just a friend… ohhh baby you….) and Pretorius wants to see dead tissue become a living woman. Henry is forced to give his creature a bride.

Fun Fact: Boris Karloff protested against the decision to make The Monster speak, but was overruled. Since he was required to speak in this film, Karloff was not able to remove his partial bridgework as he had done to help give the Monster his sunken cheek appearance in the first film. That’s why The Monster appears fuller of face in the sequel.

Classic Quote: “We belong dead!” – The Monster

Filming Locations: Court of Miracles, Backlot, Universal Studios – 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California, USA

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

Directed by – Rouben Mamoulian

Starring – Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins

***** 5 out of 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: Based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson (wait, aren’t serial killers the only people that go by 3 names?), Dr. Henry Jekyll is obsessed with proving that there are two distinct sides to men – a good and an evil side. He thinks that if he can somehow separate the two sides that man can become liberated. And like a 19th century Walter White, he busts out some science yo and concocts some blue chemical drug that he decides to test on himself. The result is Mr. Hyde! One crazy ass mother fucker with a serious overbite that loves to rock and roll all night and party everyday. After a few too many killer hangovers, Dr. Jekyll stops using his drug but the damage has been done and Mr. Hyde ain’t going away that easy.

Fun Fact: The first horror movie ever to win an Academy Award.

Classic Quote: “I have no soul. I’m beyond the pale. I’m one of the living dead!” – Dr. Jekyll

Filming Locations: Busch Gardens – S. Grove Avenue, Pasadena, California, USA (scene where Dr. Jekyll sees the bird and the cat up in tree)

Watch one of the best transformation scenes ever filmed. Impressive for 1931

Dracula (1931)

Directed by – Tod Browning

Starring – Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye,

Edward Van Sloan

******* 7 out of 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: So a Real Estate Agent named Renfield takes a ride through the Carpathian mountains in eastern Europe on his way to meet with some dude named Count Dracula. Dracula lives in a castle named, uh, Castle Dracula. I guess Dracula just wants a change of scenery or something, ’cause he ends up buying an Abbey in London called Carfax. Castles, Abbeys, fuck Drac whats wrong with a nice cottage? Well, after all the paperwork is singed and dated, Dracula thanks Renfield for his help by drugging him, and turning him into one of his evil minions, that will protect him during his sea voyage to London (“My bad, forgot to mention I’m a vampire bro”). Gee thanks for nothing Count. Dracula gets to London and even before he unpacks his boxes at the Abbey he starts to suck the blood of young Lucy Weston, turning her into a vampire. After Lucy is all used up, Ol’ Drac turns his attention to her friend Mina Steward. Pretty soon Mina’s health goes to shit and her father calls in the family doctor who just happens to be, Van Helsing! Van Helsing figures out Dracula is a vampire and starts up a vampire hunters club and they take care of business.

Fun Fact: Bela Lugosi never blinks even once throughout the film.

Classic Quote: “My, what a big bat!” – John Harker

Filming Locations: Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park – 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Rd., Agua Dulce, California, USA (opening sequence – Renfield’s coach)

Frankenstein (1931)

Directed by – James Whale

Starring – Colin Clive, Boris Karloff

********** 10 out of 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: You know you’re a mad scientist when you conduct experiments on bringing dead people back to life, or re-animation. The problem is when you are a fucking crazy mad scientist you most likely are so fucking crazy you don’t realize it and figure that bringing the dead back to life is a normal day job. Yeah, Dr. Henry Frankenstein falls right into this description. Dudes been diggin’ up graves and even performing experiments on small animals (does the name JEFFREY DAHMER mean anything to you Henry?) trying to figure out the mystery of life and death. Anyway, after a lot trial and error he is now ready to create life in a man he has assembled from body parts. His fiancĂ© Elizabeth (hold up. This guy as a girlfriend?!) and friend Victor Moritz are worried about his health as he spends far too many hours in his laboratory on his experiments – not to mention that he’s crazy as fuck. But Henry has the last laugh, because turns out he wasn’t that crazy and he was able to bring the dead back to life – with the help of some lightening. The result is The Monster! But the Monster isn’t too keen on being a goddamn “monster” so he breaks out and goes on a journey to “find” himself.

Fun Fact: According to the TLC network program “Hunt for Amazing Treasures”, a unique six-sheet poster for the original 1931 release, showing Karloff as The Monster menacing Mae Clarke, is worth at least $600,000 US and is possibly the most valuable movie poster in the world. The only known (original) copy is owned by a private collector.

Classic Quote: “Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!” – Henry Frankenstein

Filming Locations: Busch Gardens – S. Grove Avenue, Pasadena, California, USA (convalescent scene) / Lake Sherwood, California, USA (creature and young girl by the lake scene)

The Invisible Man (1933)

Directed By – James Whale

Starring – Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart

****** 6 out of 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: A mysterious man, whose head is completely covered in bandages, walks into a bar and wants a room….. I know, I know, sounds like the start of a bad joke. The owners of the pub aren’t used to making their house an inn during the winter months, but the man insists, and really, how can you say no to someone wrapped in bandages? That’s just rude. The owners soon come to regret their decision though as the bandaged man runs out of money, and turns out to be a fucking asshole d-bag. Worse still, he has turned his room into a meth-lab as it filled with messy chemicals, test tubes, beakers and the like. Meanwhile, Flora Cranley is all upset about the disappearance of her boyfriend, Dr. Griffin. She begs her father, who Dr. Griffin was an assistant for, to help look for him. But what they don’t know is that the Dr. Griffin has discovered the secret of invisibility and is the dude wrapped in bandages that is fucking up the pub down the street.

Fun Fact: Although he has the lead in the film and his character is onscreen for 95% of the film, Claude Rains never actually “appears” onscreen until the very last moment.

Classic Quote: “An invisible man can rule the world. Nobody will see him come, nobody will see him go. He can hear every secret. He can rob, and rape, and kill!” – The Invisible Man

Filming Locations: Universal Studios – 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California, USA

Mark of the Vampire (1935)

Directed By – Tod Browning

Starring – Lionel Barrymore, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill

***** 5 out of 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: There’s been a murder! On the victim’s neck there are tiny pinpoint wounds that, of course, suggest that a vampire did it! Baron Otto and Dr. Doskil are convinced a vampire is roaming the streets sucking blood in the alleyways. But town Police Inspector refuses to believe (why do police inspectors always gotta be so rational and shit?). This dude named Professor Zelin, who specializes in the occult, must convince Inspector that a dead count and his wife walk among the living (ok dear readers, just so you know, anytime you run across someone that claims to be a “Count“? Dude’s a vampire!)

Fun Fact: The film is a semi-remake of Browning’s London After Midnight in which Lon Chaney played a vampire who turned out to be a detective in disguise. London After Midnight is the most famous of all “lost films.” The last known copy was destroyed in a fire in an MGM film vault in 1967. It is hoped that eventually a print of this film may be discovered in a foreign archive or a private collection.

Classic Quote: “We must all die. There’s nothing terrible about death, but to live on after death, a soul earth-bound, a vampire. You don’t wish any such fate for your beloved.” – Prof. Zelin

Filming Locations: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios – 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, USA

The Mummy (1932)

Directed By – Karl Freund

Starring – Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners,

Edward van Sloan

***** 5 out of 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: In 1921 a team of archaeologists led by Sir Joseph Whemple, beats Indiana Jones to the punch and uncovers the 3700 year old mummy of Imhotep! One of the archaeologists, the stupid one, opens the scroll of Thoth and reads the out loud the inscription that will bring Imhotep back to life. Way to go buddy. Cut to 10 years later and Sir Joseph returns to the dig site with his son Frank. What they don’t know is that the Mummy has entered the Witness Protection Program and is now going by the name Ardath Bay, a mysterious Egyptian who helps the expedition uncover the tomb of his sexy girlfriend. He then uses his mystic powers to mesmerize the reincarnation of his sexy girlfriend in the form of Helen Grosvenor (seems like a lot of trouble just to get laid). When Sir Joseph gets in the way of Bay’s mysterious ways he mysteriously dies…. mysteriously. Frank Whemple, with the help of Dr. Muller, attempts to discover the key to Ardath Bay’s powers and get Helen back.

Fun Fact: So many layers of cotton were glued to Boris Karloff’s face to create the wrinkled visage of Imhotep as a mummy that Karloff was unable to move his facial muscles enough even to speak.

Classic Quote: [translating inscription on box] “Death… eternal punishment… for… anyone… who… opens… this… casket. In the name… of Amon-Ra… the king of the gods.” Good heavens, what a terrible curse!” – Sir Joseph Whemple. [eagerly] “Well, let’s see what’s inside!” – Ralph Norton

Filming Locations: Mojave Desert, California, USA / Red Rock Canyon State Park – Highway 14, Cantil, California, USA

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Directed By – Robert Florey

Starring – Bela Lugosi, Sidney Fox, Leon Ames

***** 5 out of 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: Hey, you just watched Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris and you are probably thinking, “Oh man, I would love to live in Paris in the 19th Century.” But I’m here to tell you that it wasn’t all wine and roses in Paris back in the day. There were also maniacal doctors running around the streets, abducting young woman and injecting them with ape blood! One such doctor is Dr. Mirakle. You see he was trying to prove his theory about ape-human kinship, but he constantly met failure as the abducted women kept dying on him. Go figure. Medical student Pierre Dupin discovers what Mirakle is doing too late to prevent the abduction of his girlfriend Camille. Now he desperately tries to enlist the help of the police to get her back. See, Paris was kinda fucked up

Fun Fact: Among the caricatures drawn on the walls of Dupin’s apartment is the likeness of Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote the story the film is based on.

Classic Quote: “Think of what these walls are hiding. Broken hopes, bodies and hearts…crimes of the street and tragedies of the river. Paris — my city” – Pierre Dupin

Filming Locations: Universal Studios – 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California, USA

Werewolf Of London (1935)

Directed By – Stuart Walker

Starring – Henry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie Hobson

****** 6 out 10 ghosty orbs!

Plot: Dr. Wilfred Glendon (you know, I just realized that almost every horror movie in the 1930’s has a crazy ass Doctor in it) returns to London with a rare flower he discovered in Tibet. As a bonus, he was also attacked and bitten by a werewolf! Ahhh, Tibet. Well you don’t need me to tell you what happens when you get bit by a werewolf. Yeah, that’s right, Wilfred ends up changing into one himself at the first full moon. But in a sweet stroke of luck, you know that rare flower Wilfred found in Tibet, right before he was attacked and bitten by a werewolf? Well it turns out that flower is the antidote to werewolfism! Sweet! But the mysterious Dr. Yogami from Tibet (another goddamn crazy doctor) finds out about the flower and wants it for himself. Hmmmm, I wonder why?

Fun Fact: The werewolf howl used in this film is a combination of Henry Hull’s own voice and a recording of an actual timber-wolf. The result is generally thought to have a far more realistic result than in any subsequent werewolf films, including 1941’s “The Wolf-Man.”

Classic Quote: “Thanks for the bullet.” – Dr. Wilfred Glendon

Filming Location: Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park – 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Rd., Agua Dulce, California, USA