Chronology of Classic Horror Films: the 1930s is an affectionate, thoughtful, and sometimes provocative re-examination of virtually every American horror feature from 1929 to 1939. Donald Willis takes the films, image-by-image, in the introduction, film-by-film, in the text, and year-by-year, in the highlights pages, which precede the reviews of each year's pictures. The introductory Itinerary ("Oh, the places you'll go!") chronologically "maps" the sites of the movies covered in the text, from 1929 to 1949, from Woodford's Theatre, New York City (The Last Warning), to the Forsythe estate (Master Minds).
Willis makes the movies you've always known and loved spring to life again. The Mummy "It's either Now (Helen) or Forever (Imhotep), though her 'dreadful modern Cairo' comment hints at some backward-looking wistfulness on her part." Bride of Frankenstein "The power now belongs to Pretorius, in effect a mocking mirror reflecting back to Henry his original enthusiasm, and underlining the strain of callousness in the latter."