Brief History of horror cinema in the 30s

Brief History of horror cinema in the 30s

Horror movies is a cinematographic genre characterized by provoking in the viewer feelings of dread, fear, anxiety and, precisely, terror.

The formula that their arguments follow involves the sudden intrusion into a normal environment of some force, event or character of a malignant nature, often of criminal or supernatural origin.

This is how the academicists define this peculiar genre, which although today has lost the charm and magic that it once had (partly because of the public's adaptability to morbid and horror), makes up a panoply of great titles that have frozen our blood more than one in our adolescence.

However, despite the fact that horror films have evolved and evolved over the years, they are closely linked to a specific temporal space, an unrepeatable decade, the famous 30s.

Horror movies in the 30s

¿Why the 30s? ¿What is the reason for this fascination with the "macabre"?
The answer is found in one of the most important social, cultural and especially economic events of that boom time, the so-called Crack of 29. Indeed, it was the severe economic crash that crashed the Wall Street stock market, which marked the beginning of a long period of difficulties and that originated an excellent breeding ground for the intrusion of "horror" into American celluloid.

The 30s were configured as a period of economic instability, unemployment, loss of assets, evictions, high crime rates and suicides. In those days, society was looking for a refuge, something that would function as an escape valve from that daily despair, they needed an escape from that traumatic reality.

And it was precisely that which cinema offered to American society.. People needed to see other dramas that were not their own, looking for the “morbid”In the misery of others. Fires, murders, shipwrecks, unsolved deaths and otherworldly characters made a nest in the big production companies and movie theaters.

An added effect: the appearance of the sound and the soundtrack

The best thing that the 1930s presents to the world of celluloid is the appearance of “sound”. And we cannot imagine the great horror classics without those instrumental music that with great simplicity emphasized suspense and surprise at the inevitable.

Today, we are educated in this sense and a soundtrack is no longer necessary to emphasize the critical moment of a horror film, we play with psychological effects, since the sound precedes the moment of the action, reducing freshness to an audience already experienced in such tricks.

However, we must try to do an exercise of empathy to understand how those men, women and children, who did not have a cinematographic background like ours (that was the novelty), they were overwhelmed by the union of that suspenseful music and the morbid images.

A "NO" to politics

Although it may seem trivial, the fact that horror movies avoided any political allusion was a great “push” for the projection of the genre.

For those who are not familiar with the world of advertising and propaganda, you should know that the 1930s were a decade of constant political bombardment that extolled the virtues of the American people, both inside and outside its borders.

Television and cinema were the first propaganda supports of American politics, but, according to the citizens of the blatant political campaigns, the American administration decided, in a way “subtle”, Spreading his musk through Hollywood production companies.

Luckily for the general public, the horror genre was so peculiar that it was almost impossible to camouflage any political propaganda among its stills.

The end of classic horror movies

Even though horror movies have never ceased to exist and it has evolved according to society, being notable certain periods such as the 50s and 60s or the Cold War, the classic period of horror cinema ended up falling out of favor in the mid-1940s.

The reason is due to the continued abuse of remakes, the lack of ideas and the proliferation of monsters (something that at the time was synonymous with sales) that ended up exhausting the common American public.

In addition, as we said at the beginning, the proliferation of horror films was produced by very specific socio-economic conditions and, as American society was recovering from the disasters of the crisis and another era of bonanza began to be glimpsed, viewers began to demand other cooler genres.

¿Who knows if in the midst of this time of current crisis the classic horror genre will resurface again?

Even though the current situation of growing unemployment and dark future it may already be a real horror movie in itself.


Video: History of Horror 1896-2017