Sunday Matinee: Pre-Code Part 4

The horror, the horror.

Horror films were big in the silent era but they really took off in the Pre-Code era. While sound introduced atmospheric music and sound effects which bugged the censors, there was no real limits to gruesomeness. By today standards some of this stuff seems tame but it caused a lot of controversy in 1930’s.

Theme’s of mad scientists, grisly murders, playing god and creating monsters were just some of the main themes that were used in horror films. And Universal Studios was the major culprit behind them, although other studios quickly jumped in to rake in the cash too.

Frankenstein (1931) The granddaddy of the monster movie. When it was released there were several scenes that didn’t sit well with the various censors. The drowning little girl caused some problems as well as Frankenstein’s statement “Now I know what it feels like to be God!” That line was covered up with thunder was the code was enforced in 1934.

Freaks (1932) With a lurid poster campaign that asked the questions “”Do the Siamese Twins make love?”, “What sex is the half-man half-woman?”, and “Can a full grown woman truly love a midget?” The film was cut down from it’s original 90 minute run time after disastrous test screenings and a woman threatened to sue MGM when she claimed watching the film caused her to miscarriage.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) The good Dr. Jekyll (Fredric March) helping out prostitute Miriam Hopkins raised a few eyebrows.

Doctor X (1932) When the moon is full, someone or something is murder women and eating portions of them.

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) Mad scientist Bela Lugosi wants to find a mate for his monkey. Instead of looking for another monkey, Lugosi is injecting women with blood because he wants to mate them with the monkey.

To be continued.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka has spent most of his life watching movies and reading comic books. He has decided to use this vast knowledge for evil instead of good.

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