Category Archives: 1930s

The Black Cat (1934) – Review 2

Grade: A-

I’m not even going to substantiate this opening remark: I think this is a fantastic little horror film.

As The Man in Black mentioned, so much of the draw for this film is the squaring off of classic horror monster stars Bela Lugosi (Dracula) and Boris Karloff (Frankenstein).  But the movie is quite compelling in its own right and should not be signed off as a Hollywood stunt in the pairing of these two stars.  Continue reading


The Black Cat (1934) – Review 1

Grade: A

I originally discovered The Black Cat when I was doing research for my undergrad thesis paper.  What attracted me to the film was its two stars: Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Together? In the same film? Fighting each other? Sign me up! I had no idea what the film was about, in fact, I suspected the film would be rather ho-hum in comparison to my excitement at seeing Lugosi and Karloff square off.  To my ever-lasting surprise, I was delighted by how much I fell in love with the film (quirks and all) and found that The Black Cat is a vastly underrated horror film. Continue reading

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) – Review 2

Grade: D+

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the unleashing of an inner demon.  It is described as the internal battle between Good and Evil.  But contextually, that is an overstatement of a social issue.  This is a period piece, set in the stuffy, upper class world of 19th century London.  The issue is sexual frustration.  But that is not to say that Mr. Hyde is not evil in his own right.  Fredric March does a stunning job acting in the roles of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, polar opposites, hero and villain.  As Jekyll he is respected and respectable, but social bounds keep him from the sexual encounter that he so desires.  The grateful “entertainer” Ivy presents him with the opportunity, but it is not until Jekyll inadvertently creates Hyde that he can make the choice to go back to Ivy.  Hyde then becomes a man hooked on the power of sex and domination.  The monster of this movie is simply a domestic abuser. Continue reading

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) – Review 1

Grade: B+

The Joker receives credit as Batman’s greatest foe, but in my opinion, Two-Face by far is the better Batman villain.  It is that concept of duality that Harvey Dent struggles with.  Two sides exist within him: a Good side and a Bad side, both struggling equally to emerge and be the dominant behavior.  To solve this, he turns on a ‘switch.’ That is, he flips a coin in order to decide whether to be Good or Evil.

I’m not bringing up poor ol’ Dent just because: I saw an obvious parallel between Harvey Dent and the unfortunate Doctor in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  What’s so impressive about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is how far the director Rouben Mamoulian pushes the boundaries (especially for a film from 1931) in exploring this concept between Good and Evil.  The road of Dr. Jekyll (oddly pronounced as Gee-Kyll in the film) is tragic in its simplicity: a man wishing to purge himself of his immoral desires becomes consumed by them. Continue reading

Vampyr (1932) – Review 2

Grade: C+

"To Be Opened Upon My Death"

Quite by accident, we chose to review Vampyr (1932) first, as we had originally decided on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931). However, our inability to properly read dates correctly proved fruitful, as Vampyr provided an excellent starting point.  While I am no expert on silent film, nor have I viewed the list of ‘essentials’ that various teachers / movie sites list, I would argue that Vampyr represents the best and the worst characteristics that silent film has to offer.  As Warden Walker stated, there are some terrific moments, and some of genuine horror to be held within this film that I don’t believe would be possible with contemporary cinema.  Conversely, there are some moments that are excruciatingly difficult to comprehend what is going on, and there are some rough edits going on throughout the film.

Continue reading

Vampyr (1932) – Review 1

Grade: C+

We chose to begin with Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr for a couple of reasons.  The first of which was that we wanted to start with something that neither of us had ever seen before, and Vampyr was a film that had caught my eye some time ago.  It also made a good jumping on point because it comes out of the German silent horror tradition and allowed us to look at early vampire horror without going back to Nosferatu (1922) or the Hollywood Dracula (1931).

And I felt that what this film really does well is establish why vampires are frightening.  Usually, vampires are frightening because they are monsters who must kill and are nearly impossible to stop; here, vampires represent something more sinister.  Continue reading