Halloween is finally here, and it’s time to rewatch old monster movies like Dracula and Frankenstein. After watching the original Universal Monsters films, I have ranked these films based on how their stories have impacted our culture.
These films all share the same universe, much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe today. Although this is a film ranking list, it was difficult to do so due to the fact that these films are so iconic in their own ways.
I will only be focusing on the original films of the series and not on their sequels, so I will not be covering Bride of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, etc.
This film was released in Dec. 1932 and featured Boris Karloff as the titular character Imhotep, the mummy. The story follows Imhotep as he attempts to find his lover from ancient Egyptian times. He believes she is reincarnated through Zita Johann’s character, Helen Grosvenor. Although this sounds more like a romantic film than a horror film, I promise there is enough horror in this film to go around. Although this film is towards the bottom of the list, it is still strong enough to check out.
The Wolf Man
The Wolf Man was released in Dec. 1941 featuring Lon Chaney, Jr. as the titular lycanthrope. He becomes a werewolf as he attempts to protect a friend from a wolf attack and gets bitten instead. He struggles with trying to hide it from his town in fear that they will kill him. This film is interesting in its own way due to the fact that the monster does not want to be a monster but is consumed by animalistic desires. The makeup and special effects are one of the highlights of the film.
The Creature from Black Lagoon
This film is a bit of an outlier from the rest. It never really had an official crossover with the rest of the Universal Monsters and it was released years after the others. This film was released in Feb. 1954 as a 3-D film. Unlike the other monster films, this film doesn’t take place in Europe. Instead, it takes place in the Amazon jungle. The film follows a team of geographers as they uncover a fossil which could be a missing link between fish and humans. They are met with the Creature or “Gill-man” who attempts to stop them from leaving the paradise that is Black Lagoon. This film is higher on the list due to the uniqueness of the setting, monster and costume of the Creature.
The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man was released in Nov. 1933 and featured Claude Rains as Dr. Jack Griffin or the Invisible Man. What makes this film so terrifying is that this “monster” isn’t a monster in the classic sense. He isn’t cursed or born an evil creature. He is just a man who is doing these horrific actions. It hasn’t aged quite as well because some of these scenes were meant to be scary during the time, but they are kind of funny based on today’s standards.
Dracula is a classic by itself. Dracula was played by Bela Lugosi. After nearly 90 years, Lugosi has shaped this character in terms of design and accent. The film follows this infamous vampire as he travels from Transylvania to England and preys on the people of London. It is truly a terrifying movie and Lugosi kills it with his performance. No pun intended.
This film is easily one of the best films from the franchise because it shows Frankenstein’s monster struggling between what his mind and heart are telling him to do. The monster was created by Dr. Frankenstein. He is made up of different body parts and has the brain of a killer, but he actually tries to be a gentle giant. However, an angry mob doesn’t see it that way. Boris Karloff portrays the monster in a terrific performance. This film is definitely a must-see, as are all of the films on this list.