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Pre-Code Horror | Criterion Channel

With their startlingly perverse themes, lurid psychosexual undertones, and often-grisly violence, the horror films made in the early 1930s before the enforcement of the Hollywood Production Code still have the power to shock. Unbound by any concessions to family-friendly morality and influenced by the heightened visual style of German expressionism, these sordid tales of mad scientists (Doctor X, Island of Lost Souls), sadomasochistic satanists (The Black Cat), twisted revenge (Murders in the Zoo, Freaks), and supernatural terror (Svengali, Thirteen Women) brought primal fear to the screen with a daring creativity and explicitness that wouldn’t be seen in Hollywood again for decades. Highlights include a pair of early Technicolor wonders by Michael Curtiz: Doctor X and Mystery of the Wax Museum. Explore more here!

Block or Report
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • The Black Cat
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue
  • Freaks
  • Island of Lost Souls
  • Doctor X
  • Mystery of the Wax Museum
  • Svengali
  • The Most Dangerous Game
  • The Old Dark House
  • Thirteen Women
  • Murders in the Zoo
  • The Raven