Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
The H Certificate

Short-lived classification designed to deal with horror films

Main image of The H Certificate

The H certificate was introduced by the British Board of Film Censors in 1932 and was specifically designed to cover American horror films that followed in the wake of Dracula (1931, US, d. Tod Browning) and Frankenstein (1931, US, d. James Whale).

In particular, the death of a little girl at the hands of Frankenstein's monster led the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children to complain to the Home Office that the BBFC was being insufficiently vigilant.

The BBFC's response was a certificate designed to highlight films featuring frightening or disturbing scenes, called 'H' (for 'Horror'). Although the BBFC intended the H certificate to be advisory, in practice many local authorities used it as an excuse to exclude all children under sixteen.

Following the recommendations of the 1950 Wheare Committee report, the H certificate was replaced by the rather more wide-ranging X certificate in 1951, although it continued to be used in London for a short time afterwards.

Michael Brooke

Related Films and TV programmes

Related Collections

Thumbnail image of BBFC ClassificationsBBFC Classifications

A brief guide to the BBFC classifications and what they mean

Thumbnail image of The X CertificateThe X Certificate

The first age-restrictive BBFC certificate, denoting adults-only films

Related People and Organisations