In the first few years of the Great Depression, before the Production Code was rigidly enforced in 1934, Hollywood took advantage of its laxity, producing racy and violent films that titillated filmgoers and outraged reformers. The American horror genre blossomed during this time and the studios exploited its lurid possibilities. The results were both shocking and controversial. Some of these films remain unsettling today.
Hollywood's Pre-Code Horrors 1931-1934 appraises all of these films, from Dracula (1931), which spearheaded the American horror market, to The Black Cat (1934), the last chiller released before the strengthening of the Code. Each film is thoroughly analyzed, not only in its insinuations and/or portrayals of sex and violence, but in the context of the era in which it was made and the reactions of critics and filmgoers during this time.
Raymond Valinoti, Jr. is a resident of Berkeley Heights, NJ. He has a Master's in Library Science from Rutgers University and is a freelance researcher. He is also the author of Another Nice Mess: The Laurel and Hardy Story. His articles on films have been published in the magazines Midnight Marquee and Films of the Golden Age.
"Fans of classic horror films are in for an important and enlightening history lesson. The book recalls a time when Hollywood came under scrutiny by highly-vocal moral crusaders. But before cracking down on them with their strict new Production Code, cinematic horror thrived during a relatively permissive period in the early 1930s, with author Valinoti profiling 19 of these films, from the biggest hits (King Kong, Frankenstein) to financial flops that are now considered classics (Island of Lost Souls, Freaks). We get a brief history of each film’s production and marketing, as well as their assorted pre- and post-production censorship problems, with lots of favorites popping up along the way, including Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Black Cat, and Murders in the Zoo."
- Shock Cinema