2. Films Of The Decade
During the beginning of the 1940s World War II
was raging. With this came an effect on the horror
With Horror banned in Britain, America took over
the horror genre. Soon Hollywood began to develop
multiple horrors as a way to amuse the domestic
audience. Universal took hold of the genre at first
and began developing several films.
However it wasn’t just the number of films that
were effected by war, the type of film also was
impacted. The 40’s saw multiple creature and primal
animal films released, bringing in creatures like
Frankenstein, Werewolf's and Cat People.
3. During the 40’s wolves became a key icon of horror. This was mainly to do
with the war and the idea that Nazi’s were often references as Wolves by
Hitler himself. Adolf in old German even means noble wolf. The
“One of his favourite tunes came from a Walt Disney movie. Often and absent-mindedly he whistled
"Who's Afraid of The big Bad Wolf?" —an animal, it will be recalled, who wanted to eat people up and
blow their houses down."
—p27 The Psychopathic God: Adolf Hitler Robert G.L. Waite (Da Capo Press 1993)
The imagery he used caught on in not-so-flattering ways. Propagandists of
the period habitually depicted him as the Big Bad Wolf of fairy tales. It
seemed the wolf represented the predators lurking in the corners of public
consciousness. It's therefore no surprise that Universal, home of the iconic
monsters of the 1930s, picked the Wolf as a go-to figure of menace for the
late 1930s and early 1940s.
4. The Wolf Man (1941)
This Universal film really began the Hollywood trope of Werewolf
films. Bringing together the ideas of silver bullets, full moons and
several other elements into one film which would later become
iconic tropes to the werewolf culture. The Wolf Man is one of three
top-tier Universal Studios monsters without a direct literary
It was written by Curt Siodmak, a man who had fled the Nazi’s
himself in 1937.
The story follows Larry Talbot who returns to his ancestral home
from America, only to become infected by a bite from a gypsy.
With a starry cast including Claude Raines, and spectacular makeup
and special effects, the picture was a big hit.
5. Cat People (1942)
Soon Universal began to drop in the Horror market and RKO took
over developing the film ‘Cat People’ in 1942. This film was classed
as a psychological thriller and took a different take than the one
that ‘The Wolf man’ had taken. It was a great success, earning $4M
(off a $134k original budget) and was followed by The Curse of the
Cat People in 1944
The plot concerns a young lady unwilling to give in to passion for
fear that she may be a Cat Person, which is to say someone who
turns into a large and rather dangerous cat when inflamed by
passion or anger.
The film focused on women, showcasing them as dangerous. This
related to how they were treated after the war. Many women lost
the jobs they were employed in during the war when the men came
home. This film made women feel powerful again.
6. However after these successes it switched from A to B
pictures, and focussed on increasingly silly sequels to the
big franchises: Frankenstein, The Wolf
Man, Dracula and The Mummy. With films
like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and House of
Frankenstein it crammed its monsters together, on the
basis that if one monster is scary, four must be four times
as scary. Like so many franchises, it got tired, less artful
and more cynical and soon the iconic monsters created
became less terrifying and more comical.