A remake of the 1926 film The Bat (which was based on a stage play), The Bat Whispers was released on November 13, 1930. Once again directed by Roland West, this Old Dark House thriller follows a group of people exploring an old mansion in search of treasure while a caped madman called The Bat kills them off one by one. West would only direct one more feature, 1931's piracy adventure tale Corsair, before retiring from the industry and opening a Santa Monica restaurant with his actress girlfriend Thelma Todd (the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business and Horse Feathers), called Thelma Todd's Roadside Cafe. When she was found dead in 1935, West was questioned although never officially labeled a suspect. Her death was eventually labeled a suicide, but the mysterious nature of her death has caused many to question that finding.
February 12, 1931 was the release date for Tod Browning's Dracula. As everyone knows, it was based on the 1897 Bram Stoker novel of the same name (or, perhaps more accurately, based on the Hamilton Deane stage play that was based on the novel), and featured Bela Lugosi in the immortal lead and Dwight Frye as Renfield. The Spanish-speaking version was released the same year, and was shot concurrently with this version, with a completely different cast and crew using the same sets when the original crew had gone home for the night. Although almost universally considered a classic, and with good reason, there are still plenty of faults to be found here, including some languid pacing and static, stationary camerawork. The latter has often been blamed on the difficult transition from the stage to the camera, but that's a cop-out answer. Motion pictures had been around for decades at this point, and Browning was no stranger to the medium, even if he was still warming to the notion of the talkie. Truthfully, a younger modern audience may have difficulty getting through this one.
Only ten months after releasing Dracula, Universal Studios made history again with the November 21, 1931 release of James Whale's adaptation of Frankenstein. This film brought us Boris Karloff in his most famous role as the creature, Dwight Frye as Fritz, and Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein. Not only does this movie give us the now-standard look of the creature created by makeup man Jack P. Pierce (which is copyrighted by Universal), but it also gives us the accepted methodology of creation: lightning. The method in which the creature was given life was never outlined in the novel, but it has nevertheless become an actual part of the mythology. Karloff would reprise the role in 1935's Bride of Frankenstein and 1939's Son of Frankenstein.