The Monster Walks premiered on February 7, 1932, the work of writer Robert Ellis (later the screenwriter of many Charlie Chan films) and director Frank R. Strayer (who would go on to direct twelve of the comic strip-inspired Blondie films between the years of 1938 and 1942). It's another Old Dark House film, in which a family visits the estate of a deceased relative for the reading of the will, the house full of strange and eccentric characters, secret passages, and in this case, a possibly-murderous monkey.
Universal released their Murders in the Rue Morgue on February 21, 1932, apparently as a sort of goodwill offering to Bela Lugosi and director Robert Flory, both of whom are said were initially slated to take part in the studio's 1931 adaptation of Frankenstein. Based loosely on the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name, Lugosi stars as the mad Dr. Mirakle who performs bizarre and outlandish experiments revolving around the mixing of human and ape blood.
German director Carl Theodore Dreyer released his Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey (Vampyr) on May 6, 1932 to mostly negative reviews, although many have come to respect it in more recent years. The movie follows traveler Allan Grey who is lead to a mysterious old house where he witnesses a number of strange sights and discovers that the place is populated by demons known as Vampyrs. The film stands out in its sheer strangeness, full of surrealistic touches, nightmare invoking imagery, and a non-linear narrative. Beyond that, although it was a sound film (Dreyer's first), there is not a lot of spoken dialogue and much of the narration is delivered through silent-style intertitles. It was based loosely on Sheridan Le Fanu's lesbian vampire short story "Carmilla".
September 7, 1932 marked the release of Unheimliche Geschichten, a German horror-comedy film directed by Richard Oswald. It follows a mad doctor (Paul Wegener) who murders his wife, entombs her alive in a wall, and the flees the scene of the crime. Pursued by the police and a dogged reporter (Harald Paulsen), he is eventually caught and institutionalized, but later takes over the asylum. It was inspired by short stories written by Robert Louis Stephenson ("The Suicide Club") and Edgar Allan Poe ("The Black Cat" and "The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether"), seemingly all blended together into one coherent narrative. Footage from this film was later edited into another feature, 1943's Dr. Terror's House of Horrors.
Interestingly, Oswald had released a film of the same name in 1919. The original version was an anthology film, featuring tales based on the aforementioned stories along with two others.
An adaptation of the 1924 short story by Richard Connell, RKO's The Most Dangerous Game was released on September 16, 1932. It was the first of many film adaptations of the story and seemingly the only one to utilize the original characters. In an inversion of the big game hunting safaris that were in vogue among the wealthy at the time, one such hunter Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea) finds himself stranded on a desert island following a shipwreck, and becomes the guest of the strange Russian Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks, of 1934's The Man Who Knew Too Much and 1939's Jamaica Inn, both by Alfred Hitchcock). Zaroff makes mention that he, too, is something of a hunter, but he had grown bored with it until discovering 'the most dangerous game'. Said game is, of course, human and Bob finds himself hunted like a wild animal by the Russian Count.
Released just six months before RKO's biggest hit King Kong, these two films have more in common that one would at first expect. Beyond being produced by the same studio, both films feature Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong in strong roles, and Noble Johnson and Steve Clemente in smaller ones; both were, at least partially, scripted by James Ashmore Creelman and directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack. And finally, although Dutch Henrian didn't appear in King Kong, he did appear in 1933's Son of Kong.
Kongo (no relation to King Kong) was released on October 1, 1932. This remake of 1928's West of Zanzibar replaces Lon Chaney with Walter Huston, and seems to follow much of the same plot, although ratcheting up the sleaze to massive proportions: drug addiction, rape, incest, prostitution, nudity and violent revenge all figure into the storyline--even more so than in the original.
The Old Dark House was based on the novel Benighted by J.B. Priestly. Although the novel was a sly take on class warfare, little of that subtext translated to the silver screen. Whale may have enjoyed the source material, but couldn't bring himself to take his work so seriously.
Closing out the year was Universal's The Mummy, which released on December 22. Archaeologists accidentally revives the mummy of ancient Egyptian priest Imhotep (Boris Karloff), who then wanders through Cairo in search of the reincarnated form of his past love. He finds it in Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann), who has no memory of her former life, and intends to mummify her so that they can spend eternity together. The rotting, bandage-wrapped mummy is what most people remember from this film, but he takes that form only briefly here (although later sequels and remakes make more use of the image). The third in the cycle of classic Universal monster movies (following Dracula and Frankenstein), The Mummy was written by John L. Balderston and directed by Karl Freund. Freund was the cinematographer of over 100 films, including The Golem (1920) and Metropolis (1927) (not to mention the television series I Love Lucy), but this was one of only ten films that he would direct.