With Halloween overdue, and I'm rewatching The Mummy (1932) starring the legendary Boris Karloff, I thought I'd share my top 5 fave horror films from the 1930s Universal monsters era, the Golden Age.....forgot to add The Mummy poster. DANGIT!
5. The Wolf Man - a stellar performance from Lon Chaney Jr as John Talbot and the Wolf Man, some grim, dark fog and serine gothic atmosphere makes this werewolf movie an absolute howl for me, add to that an awesome classic music score.
4. The Mummy - While I'm not a big fan of the Egyptian aesthetics in media, I must admit I love the blockbusters The Mummy and The Mummy Returns for blending classic Universal horror with a more grand but equally classic swashbuckling epicness. Still, I have to say I love the original 1932 version just as much, perhaps a little bit more. Boris Karloff makes the undead Imhotep menacing, scary, romantic and mesmerising all at once in this golden oldie that feels very mythic and dreamlike with a great classic damsel and surprisingly rich atmosphere within the B&W cinematography.
3. Frankenstein - From one awesome Karloff performance to another! Much more drenched in gothic atmosphere and aesthetics than another horror on this list, James Whale's adaptation of Mary Shelley's immortal gothic novel gets the basics of the source material faithfully but everything else is loose but still this adaptation is always enjoyable and so enriching, thanks to the visuals, the lengthy scenes with no music, Colin Clive's delivery of the iconic line "It's alive! It's alive! IT'S ALIVE!" and of course Boris Karloff enthusing so much nuance and subtle depth into his portrayal of Frankenstein's unholy but childlike creation and with so very little dialogue and under pounds of makeup and an incredible, unforgettable physical form that's so iconic it is the stuff of Halloween masks and parodies.
2. Dracula - Here is a quietly unsettling gothic chiller with fog, bats, crumbling castles, cobwebs, coffins, vampire brides and Bela Lugosi being among the first to, in my view, strike an uncanny mix of theatricality, subtlety, powerhouse and cheese in one portrayal of an iconic horror figure. I love both Frankenstein's monster and Dracula but if you asked me my favourite movie monster between a werewolf and a vampire I'd go for the vampire; here is a demonic undead being that looks very human yet has this otherworldly even sinister quality that can also be charming and seductive, he'd get under your skin and get your blood boiling with rapture, even as he sinks his fangs into your veins or neck! Tod Browning's Dracula for me handles the eroticism of vampirism in a most tasteful, subtle way to a point where it comes off as slightly romantic but more menacing, that the eroticism is purely subtext. It also has a lot of fun moments too; Lugosi's drawn out delivery with his accent is both a hoot and kinda creepy as is Dwight Frye as Reinfield.
1. Bride of Frankenstein - Lately I decided that James Whale's second entry in the Frankenstein franchise and his last horror picture is my all-time favourite Golden Age horror flick. This is because it has the gothic, grim, dreamlike atmosphere and gothic aesthetics but it has a deeper, more thrilling and more emotionally powerful storyline and Frankenstein's monster is even more sympathetic and tragic here. The biggest highlights outside of Karloff's profoundly chilling and moving performance and Whale's directing is Ernest Thesinger's turn as D. Pretorious and Elsa Lancaster as the titular "bride".