To mark our Universal Monsters season, and to tie in with our horror film course States Of Terror, which starts on 25 October, City Screen is delighted to host the launch of author and course tutor Jon Towlson’s new book, The Turn To Gruesomeness In American Horror Films, 1931-1936.
Is the 30s horror film more akin to graphic modern horror than is often thought?
Critics have traditionally characterised classic horror by its use of shadow and suggestion. Yet the graphic nature of early 1930s films only came to light in the home video/DVD era. Along with gangster movies and ‘sex pictures’, horror films drew audiences during the Great Depression with sensational screen content. Exploiting a loophole in the Hays Code, which made no provision for on-screen ‘gruesomeness’, studios produced remarkably explicit films that were recut when the Code was more rigidly enforced from 1934. This led to a modern misperception that classic horror was intended to be safe and reassuring to audiences. Taking a fresh look at the genre from 1931 to 1936, this critical study examines ‘happy-ending’ horror in relation to industry practices and censorship. Early works such as Murders In The Rue Morgue (1932) and The Raven (1935) may be more akin to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Hostel (2005) than many critics believe.
Join us for a glass of wine at 7.30 in the Sky Lounge, when Jon will be signing copies of his book, followed at 8.50 by a screening of the Universal horror classic Dracula (1931), introduced by Jon.
Tickets for Dracula can be purchased now.
States of Terror starts on 25 October. For further information and to book a place, see our website.