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The Best '30s Horror Movies

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List RulesVote up your favorite horror films that were released in the 1930s

This list of the best 1930s horror movies features some truly terrifying tales of murder, monsters, and mayhem. Fans of the horror genre might scoff at horror films made over 70 years ago, but if you give these movies a chance, they will most assuredly leave your hair standing on end, and your knuckles white.


One of the most iconic horror movies ever made was released in the ‘30s: Tod Browning’s
Freaks. Revolutionary, and unlike any movie that came before or afterward, Freaks featured real sideshow performers with real deformities. The original version of the film was deemed too disturbing to be released. The film ruined Browning’s career. The two dominant horror actors of the ‘30s and ‘40s, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, also appear on this list as Dracula and Frankenstein, respectively. The Black Cat was the first of eight films to pit the two on-screen legends against one another.


Also on this list, you’ll find the work of legendary German director Fritz Lang.
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, a follow up to Lang’s earlier silent film about the mad doctor, is regarded as one of the finest horror films of the decade. Vote up the best '30s horror movies below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 
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  • Frankenstein1
    113
    18

    Frankenstein

    Boris Karloff, John Boles

    Released1931

    Directed byJames Whale

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    Frankenstein is a 1931 horror monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and... more on Wikipedia
  • Dracula2
    111
    16

    Dracula

    Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning

    Released1931

    Directed byTod Browning, Karl Freund

    Dracula is a 1931 vampire-horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi as... more on Wikipedia
  • Bride of Frankenstein3
    111
    19

    Bride of Frankenstein

    Boris Karloff, Walter Brennan

    Released1935

    Directed byJames Whale

    Bride of Frankenstein is a 1935 American horror film, the first sequel to Frankenstein. Bride... more on Wikipedia

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  • King Kong4
    90
    8

    King Kong

    Fay Wray, Merian C. Cooper

    Released1933

    Directed byMerian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack

    King Kong is a 1933 American fantasy monster/adventure film directed and produced by Merian C.... more on Wikipedia

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  • The Invisible Man5
    87
    15

    The Invisible Man

    Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart

    Released1933

    Directed byJames Whale

    The Invisible Man is a 1933 science fiction film based on H. G. Wells' science fiction novel... more on Wikipedia
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde6
    81
    15

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    Fredric March, Wallace Beery

    Released1931

    Directed byRouben Mamoulian

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1931 American Pre-Code horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian... more on Wikipedia

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  • The Mummy7
    76
    17

    The Mummy

    Boris Karloff, Edward Van Sloan

    Released1932

    Directed byKarl Freund

    The Mummy is a 1932 horror film from Universal Studios directed by Karl Freund and stars Boris... more on Wikipedia
  • Freaks8
    82
    23

    Freaks

    Wallace Ford, Edward Brophy

    Released1932

    Directed byTod Browning

    Freaks is a 1932 American horror film in which the eponymous characters were played by people... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • The Black Cat9
    66
    12

    The Black Cat

    Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

    Released1934

    Directed byEdgar G. Ulmer

    Not to be confused with the 1941 version also featuring Bela Lugosi. The Black Cat is a 1934... more on Wikipedia
  • Son of Frankenstein10
    62
    23

    Son of Frankenstein

    Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

    Released1939

    Directed byRowland V. Lee

    Son of Frankenstein is a horror monster film and is the third film in Universal Studios'... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Island of Lost Souls11
    48
    13

    Island of Lost Souls

    Bela Lugosi, Charles Laughton

    Released1932

    Directed byErle C. Kenton

    Island of Lost Souls is a 1932 American science fiction horror film starring Charles Laughton,... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Mystery of the Wax Museum12
    50
    16

    Mystery of the Wax Museum

    Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill

    Released1933

    Directed byMichael Curtiz

    Mystery of the Wax Museum is a 1933 American mystery horror-thriller film released by Warner... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • The Murders in the Rue Morgue13
    38
    10

    The Murders in the Rue Morgue

    Val Kilmer, Ian McShane

    Released1986

    Directed byJeannot Szwarc, A. Edward Sutherland, Robert Florey, Edgar G. Ulmer

    Murders in the Rue Morgue is a pre-Code 1932 horror film, loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • M14
    44
    16

    M

    Peter Lorre, Theo Lingen

    Released1931

    Directed byFritz Lang

    M is a 1931 German drama-thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre. It was... more on Wikipedia
  • The Old Dark House15
    43
    18

    The Old Dark House

    Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton

    Released1932

    Directed byJames Whale

    The Old Dark House is a 1932 American pre-Code comedy horror film directed by James Whale. It... more on Wikipedia

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  • Werewolf of London16
    37
    13

    Werewolf of London

    Valerie Hobson, Spring Byington

    Released1935

    Directed byStuart Walker

    Werewolf of London is a 1935 Horror film starring Henry Hull and produced by Universal... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • The Walking Dead17
    32
    13

    The Walking Dead

    Boris Karloff, Barton MacLane

    Released1936

    Directed byMichael Curtiz

    The Walking Dead is a 1936 American horror film distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, directed... more on Wikipedia
  • Vampyr18
    37
    18

    Vampyr

    Sybille Schmitz, Nicolas de Gunzburg

    Released1932

    Directed byCarl Dreyer

    Vampyr is a 1932 German–French horror film directed by Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer.... more on Wikipedia
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles19
    41
    23

    The Hound of the Baskervilles

    Basil Rathbone, John Carradine

    Released1939

    Directed bySidney Lanfield

    The Hound of the Baskervilles is a 1939 mystery film based on the novel The Hound of the... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • White Zombie20
    35
    17

    White Zombie

    Bela Lugosi, Clarence Muse

    Released1932

    Directed byVictor Hugo Halperin

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    White Zombie is a 1932 American independent Pre-Code horror film directed and produced by... more on Wikipedia

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  • Mark of the Vampire21
    32
    15

    Mark of the Vampire

    Bela Lugosi, Lionel Barrymore

    Released1935

    Directed byTod Browning

    Mark of the Vampire is a 1935 horror film, starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • The Raven22
    34
    18

    The Raven

    Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

    Released1935

    Directed byLew Landers

    The Raven is a 1935 American horror film directed by Lew Landers and starring Boris Karloff... more on Wikipedia
  • Dracula's Daughter23
    28
    16

    Dracula's Daughter

    Hedda Hopper, Otto Kruger

    Released1936

    Directed byLambert Hillyer

    Dracula's Daughter is a 1936 American vampire horror film produced by Universal Studios, a... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Mad Love24
    24
    16

    Mad Love

    Peter Lorre, Colin Clive

    Released1935

    Directed byKarl Freund

    Mad Love is a 1935 American horror film, an adaptation of Maurice Renard's story The Hands of... more on Wikipedia
  • The Ghoul25
    21
    12

    The Ghoul

    Boris Karloff, Ralph Richardson

    Released1933

    Directed byT. Hayes Hunter

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    The Ghoul is a British horror film starring Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger,... more on Wikipedia