horror movies and TV The Best '30s Horror Movies  

Ranker Film
640 votes 251 voters 2.2k views 45 items Embed

List Rules Vote 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. 
list ordered by

1
35 3
Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Frankenstein Boris Karloff, John Boles, Colin Clive Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Frankenstein is a 1931 horror monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling, which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by ...more

2
29 4
Bride of Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Bride of Frankenstein Boris Karloff, Walter Brennan, Billy Barty Bride of Frankenstein is a 1935 American horror film, the first sequel to Frankenstein. Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and stars Boris Karloff as The Monster, Elsa Lanchester ...more

3
23 7
Dracula is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Dracula Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning, Carla Laemmle Dracula is a 1931 vampire-horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. The film was produced by Universal and is based on the 1924 stage play Dracula by ...more

4
24 10
Freaks is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Freaks Wallace Ford, Edward Brophy, Roscoe Ates Freaks is a 1932 American horror film in which the eponymous characters were played by people who worked as carnival sideshow performers and had real deformities. The original version was ...more

5
20 7
The Invisible Man is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Invisible Man Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, Una O'Connor The Invisible Man is a 1933 science fiction film based on H. G. Wells' science fiction novel The Invisible Man, published in 1897, as adapted by R. C. Sherriff, Philip Wylie and Preston Sturges, ...more

6
17 6
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Fredric March, Wallace Beery, Miriam Hopkins Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1931 American Pre-Code horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, ...more

7
10 1
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
RonnyMerchant added King Kong Fay Wray, Merian C. Cooper, Bruce Cabot King Kong is a 1933 American fantasy monster/adventure film directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose was from an ...more

8
15 7
Island of Lost Souls is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Island of Lost Souls Bela Lugosi, Charles Laughton, Randolph Scott Island of Lost Souls is a 1932 American science fiction horror film starring Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Bela Lugosi and Kathleen Burke as the Panther Woman. The film was ...more

9
13 6
The Black Cat is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Black Cat Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners Not to be confused with the 1941 version also featuring Bela Lugosi. The Black Cat is a 1934 horror film that became Universal Pictures' biggest box office hit of the year. The picture was the ...more

10
13 6
Mystery of the Wax Museum is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Mystery of the Wax Museum Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill, Glenda Farrell Mystery of the Wax Museum is a 1933 American mystery horror-thriller film released by Warner Bros. in two-color Technicolor and directed by Michael Curtiz. The film stars Lionel Atwill, Fay ...more

11
15 8
Son of Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Son of Frankenstein Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone Son of Frankenstein is a horror monster film and is the third film in Universal Studios' Frankenstein series and the last to feature Boris Karloff as the Monster as well as the first to feature ...more

12
15 10
Vampyr is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Vampyr Sybille Schmitz, Nicolas de Gunzburg, Maurice Schutz Vampyr is a 1932 German–French horror film directed by Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer. The film was written by Dreyer and Christen Jul based on elements from J. Sheridan Le Fanu's ...more

The Most Terrifying Japanese Horror Movies of All Time

13
13 8
The Old Dark House is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Old Dark House Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton, Gloria Stuart The Old Dark House is an American comedy and horror film directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff. The film is based on the 1927 novel Benighted by J. B. Priestley. The supporting cast ...more

14
12 7
The Mummy is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Mummy Boris Karloff, Edward Van Sloan, Noble Johnson The Mummy is a 1932 horror film from Universal Studios directed by Karl Freund and stars Boris Karloff as a revived ancient Egyptian priest. The movie also features Zita Johann, David Manners ...more

15
14 9
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Oscar Beregi, Sr., Rudolf Klein-Rogge The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is a 1933 German crime film directed by Fritz Lang. The movie is a sequel to Lang's silent film Dr. Mabuse the Gambler and features many cast and crew members from ...more

16
7 3
Mad Love is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Mad Love Peter Lorre, Colin Clive, Sara Haden Mad Love is a 1935 American horror film, an adaptation of Maurice Renard's story The Hands of Orlac. It was directed by German-émigré film maker Karl Freund, and stars Peter Lorre ...more

17
7 3
M is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
RonnyMerchant added M Peter Lorre, Theo Lingen, Georg John M is a 1931 German drama-thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre. It was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou and was the director's first sound film. Now ...more

The Greatest Horror Films of All Time

18
8 5
The Murders in the Rue Morgue is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Murders in the Rue Morgue Val Kilmer, Ian McShane, Boris Karloff Murders in the Rue Morgue is a pre-Code 1932 horror film, loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." Bela Lugosi portrays a lunatic scientist who ...more

19
7 4
White Zombie is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
White Zombie Bela Lugosi, Clarence Muse, Madge Bellamy Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial White Zombie is a 1932 American independent Pre-Code horror film directed and produced by brothers Victor Halperin and Edward Halperin. The screenplay by Garnett Weston, based on The Magic ...more

20
9 8
The Hound of the Baskervilles is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Hound of the Baskervilles Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, Wendy Barrie The Hound of the Baskervilles is a 1939 mystery film based on the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was directed by Sidney Lanfield and produced by 20th Century ...more

21
7 6
Werewolf of London is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Werewolf of London Valerie Hobson, Spring Byington, J. M. Kerrigan Werewolf of London is a 1935 Horror film starring Henry Hull and produced by Universal Pictures. Jack Pierce's eerie werewolf make-up was simpler than his version six years later for Lon Chaney, ...more

22
6 7
The Raven is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Raven Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Ian Wolfe The Raven is a 1935 American horror film directed by Lew Landers and starring Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi. The picture revolves around Edgar Allan Poe's famous homonymous poem, ...more

The Best Horror Movie Remakes

23
5 6
Dracula's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Dracula's Daughter Hedda Hopper, Otto Kruger, Halliwell Hobbes Dracula's Daughter is a 1936 American vampire horror film produced by Universal Studios, a sequel to the 1931 film Dracula. Directed by Lambert Hillyer from a screenplay by Garrett Fort, the ...more

24
4 6
Mark of the Vampire is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Mark of the Vampire Bela Lugosi, Lionel Barrymore, Lionel Atwill Mark of the Vampire is a 1935 horror film, starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, and Jean Hersholt, and directed by Tod Browning. It is a talkie remake of ...more

25
4 7
The Invisible Ray is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Invisible Ray Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Beulah Bondi The Invisible Ray is a 1936 American science fiction film starring Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi as Dr. Felix Benet that was released by Universal Pictures.

26
4 8
Doctor X is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Doctor X Fay Wray, Lionel Atwill, Lee Tracy Doctor X is a First National/Warner Bros. horror and mystery film. Based on the play originally titled The Terror by Howard W. Comstock and Allen C. Miller. It was directed by Michael Curtiz and ...more

27
4 8
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Walking Dead Boris Karloff, Barton MacLane, Edmund Gwenn The Walking Dead is a 1936 American horror film distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, directed by Michael Curtiz, and starring Boris Karloff who played a wrongly executed man who is restored to ...more

Mythical Creatures That Were Found in Real Life

28
3 7
Charlie Chan at Treasure Islan... is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Charlie Chan at Treasure Island Cesar Romero, Douglas Fowley, Douglass Dumbrille Charlie Chan at Treasure Island is a 1939 drama film written by John Larkin and directed by Norman Foster.

29
3 7
The Black Room is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Black Room Boris Karloff, Robert (Tex) Allen, Marian Marsh The Black Room is a 1935 mystery-horror film, directed by Roy William Neill. The movie stars Boris Karloff in a dual role as twin brothers. The film also features Marian Marsh and Robert Allen. ...more

30
2 6
The Man They Could Not Hang is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Man They Could Not Hang Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, Dick Curtis The Man They Could Not Hang is a low-budget horror film produced by Columbia Pictures, directed by Nick Grinde, and starring Boris Karloff as Dr. Henryk Savaard. The supporting cast features ...more

31
2 6
The Mask of Fu Manchu is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Mask of Fu Manchu Boris Karloff, Lewis Stone The Mask of Fu Manchu is a Pre-Code adventure film released in 1932, featuring Boris Karloff as Fu Manchu and Myrna Loy as his daughter. The movie revolves around Fu Manchu's quest for the sword ...more

32
1 5
Murders in the Zoo is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Murders in the Zoo Randolph Scott, Charlie Ruggles, Lionel Atwill Murders in the Zoo is 1933 horror film directed by A. Edward Sutherland, written by Philip Wylie and Seton I. Miller. Considered particularly dark for its time, film critic Leonard Maltin has ...more

The Scariest Animal Movies Ever Made

33
1 5
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber... is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Bruce Seton, Aubrey Mallalieu, Tod Slaughter Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a 1936 British drama horror film produced and directed by George King. The film features actor Tod Slaughter in one of his most famous roles as ...more

34
4 9
Son of Kong is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Son of Kong Helen Mack, Frank Reicher, Noble Johnson The Son of Kong is a 1933 American adventure film/monster movie produced by RKO Pictures. Directed by Ernest Schoedsack and featuring special effects by Buzz Gibson and Willis O'Brien, the film ...more

35
2 7
The Return of Doctor X is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Return of Doctor X Humphrey Bogart, Wayne Morris The Return of Doctor X is a 1939 American science fiction-horror film directed by Vincent Sherman and starring Wayne Morris, Rosemary Lane, and Humphrey Bogart as the title character. It was ...more

36
2 7
Maniac is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Maniac Phyllis Diller, Horace B. Carpenter, William Woods Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Maniac, also known as Sex Maniac, is a 1934 black-and-white exploitation/horror film, directed by Dwain Esper and written by Hildegarde Stadie, Esper's wife, as a loose adaptation of the Edgar ...more

37
1 6
The Ghoul is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Ghoul Boris Karloff, Ralph Richardson, Cedric Hardwicke Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Ghoul is a British horror film starring Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger, and Ralph Richardson, making his film debut.

38
1 6
The Vampire Bat is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Vampire Bat Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, Lionel Atwill The Vampire Bat is an American horror film starring Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas, and Dwight Frye.

39
1 6
The Bat Whispers is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Bat Whispers Una Merkel, Chester Morris, Gustav von Seyffertitz The Bat Whispers is a mystery film directed by Roland West, produced by Joseph M. Schenck, and released by United Artists. The film is based on the 1920 mystery play The Bat, written by Avery ...more

40
0 4
The Dark Eyes of London is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
RonnyMerchant added The Dark Eyes of London Bela Lugosi, Hugh Williams, Edmon Ryan The Dark Eyes of London is a 1939 British horror film directed by Walter Summers and starring Béla Lugosi. The film is an adaptation of the 1924 novel of the same name by Edgar Wallace. ...more

41
0 5
Boo! is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Boo! Boris Karloff, Max Schreck, Mae Clarke Boo! is a 1932 comedy short film by Universal Pictures, directed and written by Albert DeMond. Boo! contains clips of famous horror films, such as The Cat Creeps, Frankenstein and Nosferatu, ...more

42
0 5
The Mad Genius is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Mad Genius Boris Karloff, John Barrymore, Carmel Myers The Mad Genius is an all-talking pre-code horror drama film produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and directed by Michael Curtiz. The film stars John Barrymore, Marian Marsh, Donald Cook, ...more

43
0 5
Kongo is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
Kongo Walter Huston, Lupe Vélez, Conrad Nagel Kongo is a 1932 film directed by William J. Cowen.

44
0 5
The Black Camel is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Black Camel Bela Lugosi, Robert Young, J. M. Kerrigan The Black Camel is a 1931 mystery film based on the novel of the same name by Earl Derr Biggers. It is the second film to star Warner Oland as detective Charlie Chan, and the sole survivor of ...more

45
0 6
The Bishop Murder Case is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best '30s Horror Movies
The Bishop Murder Case Basil Rathbone, Roland Young, Delmer Daves The Bishop Murder Case is a 1930 mystery film directed by Nick Grinde, starring Basil Rathbone, Leila Hyams and Roland Young. Nine years before his role of Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone ...more