Best ‘Universal Pictures’ Monster Movies

Although many are not aware, Universal actually created the horror genre. Their horror films from the 1920’s to the 1950’s helped saved the company from bankruptcy and revolutionized the film and makeup industries for horror.  Big names emerged from these films, such as Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, and Jack Pierce, who quickly became household names. Even though these films are viewed as classics today, some are fantastic while others leave a bit to be desired. But horror genre and horror fans are always indebted to them.

01. House of Frankenstein (1944)

Credit: Universal Pictures

Move over, Nintendo and Marvel! This was the original “most ambitious crossover” and it is..unfortunately, not that great. Every monster they promised was going to be featured in it was barely in it. Dracula only had a few seconds of screen time before they stake him. All in all, it is actually understandable why it wasn’t great since it was the first time that a major crossover was done, but it could have been better.

02. Dracula (1931)

Credit: Universal Pictures

Despite being the most famous adaptation of the story, this movie is pretty forgettable and strays away from the book in some places. Examples of this is combining Mina and Lucy’s characters as well as Jonathan and Arthur. By today’s standards, it is passable. The Hammer film Horror of Dracula is a better adaptation of the story and is actually a really good movie, but that’s another story.

03. The Wolf Man (1941)

Credit: Universal Pictures

Like Dracula, the movie is in many was forgettable with only a few details that get stuck in your head. The Wolf Man’s design looks more like a puppy than a threatening wolf creature. It is also short and tends to leave some viewers confused at times. It is the definition of an okay film.

04. The Mummy (1932)

Credit: Universal Pictures

Oh boy, this movie is SLOW..but at least it is better than it is more action packed remakes. Much like the previous two entries, it is forgettable and only Karloff’s performance is memorable. The slow burn is good for suspense, but not everyone will like it because of the pace.

05. Revenge of the Creature (1955)

Credit: Universal Pictures

As a sequel, this film is decent and the aquarium setting with the Gillman being captured is an interesting concept. However, the protagonists are dim and don’t really pay attention to the danger they find themselves in. You find yourself wanting them to get killed by the monster instead of fighting against it!

06. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Credit: Universal Pictures

This is a film with a solid concept. However, what really steals the show is Bud Westmore’s makeup on the Gillman and the wonderful design of the creature by Disney animator Millicent Patrick, who also designed Chernabog in Fantasia. The other actors are okay, but the two men playing the Gillman (Ricou Browning in the water and Ben Chapman on land) are definite spotlight stealers. The underwater scenes are very well done in showcasing the danger the characters find themselves in.

07. House of Dracula (1945)

Credit: Universal Pictures

This movie is the second attempt at a crossover. House of Dracula was a better done House of Frankenstein and the monsters had more significant roles in it compared to the first film (they were even in it longer!). Additionally, the reason for the monster being together actually made sense. It was also really interesting that the scientist’s hunchbacked assistant was female, which hadn’t been shown yet in film.

08. Frankenstein (1931)

Credit: Universal Pictures

It is a classic for a reason. From the Monster’s design to Dr. Frankenstein screaming “IT’S ALIVE!!” this movie is straight up iconic. The best part of the film is the warning to the audience in the opening, which has not been replicated due to how special it is. It is just as good as the book and a great watch for Halloween.

09. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Credit: Universal Pictures

This is one of the rare times where the sequel is SIGNIFICANTLY better than the original. The effects of Dr. Pretorius’s experiments are incredibly impressive and will make you question how they did it during a time where CGI did not exist. Even though the title character only appears at the very end of the movie, incidentally with no lines (except for screaming), Elsa Lanchester’s performance as The Bride is beyond amazing.

10. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Credit: Universal Pictures

Being the only accurate adaptation of the original novel by Gaston Leroux (with a few changes such as Christine being a brunette instead of blonde, the ending, and The Phantom being an escaped prisoner), this version of the story is really good. One of the best things about it is Lon Cheney’s makeup for The Phantom. He even put fish hooks up his nose to make the effect look realistic! It works really well as a silent film and it is amazing how they were able to convey the story without speaking at allit is true brilliance.

11. The Invisible Man (1933)

Credit: Universal Pictures

This movie has to be the best out of the monster movies for many reasons. One of those reasons is that the cast (especially Claude Rains) looked like they had the time of their lives filming. Another is the invisible effects for our titular character, which are still impressive even today. The third reason is the excellent story and how they showed Dr. Griffin’s descent into madness. The Invisible Man is a “can’t miss”.

What is your favorite monster movie? If your favorite didn’t make the list, please say it in the comments below!

Kyrie Dunphy

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