Among the finest Golden Age films are the very first horror films of the sound screen. Later films were more gory, and had more shock and slasher violence, but in terms of sheer romantic Gothic style these first films have never been equaled. Your blogmeister has been busy making color transfers and searching his files for photos to demonstrate the lyricism of DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN (both 1931), and the most impossible sequel that was better than the classic original, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). Let’s begin!
Two scenes from DRACULA say it all in terms of pictorial composition. The later British Hammer horror films of the 1950s and 60s have many admirers but the sets were small and lacked this type of poetic grandeur:
Many credited the influence of the German expresssionist movement of the 1920s for the artwork in these films. The fact that Universal Pictures at the time was owned by German immigrant Carl Laemmle suggests that this influence was no coincidence:
These are a series of posed shots that are not scenes from the film itself. Lovely Valerie Hobson plays Elizabeth, Baroness Frankenstein, and Ernest Thesiger is the unforgettable Doctor Pretorius. I added color: