Showing posts from September, 2016

The Turn To Gruesomeness In American Horror Films, 1931-1936

Too dreadfully brutal, no matter what the story calls for [...] It carries gruesomeness and cruelty just a little beyond reason or necessity.” Review of Frankenstein, Motion Picture Herald, 1931

The type of picture that brought about censorship.” Review of Mad Love, Motion Picture Herald, 1935

Quite the most unpleasant picture I have ever seen [...] it exploited cruelty for cruelty’s sake.” Review of The Raven, London Daily Telegraph, 1935.

Is the thirties horror film more akin to graphic modern horror than is often thought?

Critics have traditionally characterized classic horror by its use of shadow and suggestion. Yet the graphic nature of early 1930s films only came to light in the home video/DVD era. Along with gangster movies and "sex pictures," horror films drew audiences during the Great Depression with sensational screen content. Exploiting a loophole in the Hays Code, which made no provision for on-screen "gruesomeness," studios produced remarkably exp…