Universal Monsters

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Universal has promoted a number of its films in the horror genre and included the logo of Glenn Strange as the Frankenstein monster on reissued sets of DVD films.[1]

Universal Monsters or Universal Horror is a phrase used to describe the series of horror, suspense and science fiction films made by Universal Studios during the decades of the 1920s through the 1950s. The series began with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera, both silent films starring Lon Chaney. Universal continued with talkies including monster franchises Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, and Creature from the Black Lagoon. The films often featured Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney, Jr.

Original films[edit]


In 1923, Universal produced the drama The Hunchback of Notre Dame, starring Lon Chaney as Quasimodo. The production sets were built to evoke 15th-century Paris, including a re-creation of the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral.

Chaney stars as The Phantom in 1925's horror film, The Phantom of the Opera, based on the mystery novel by Gaston Leroux. The interior of the Opéra Garnier was recreated to scale and was used again in the 1943 remake with Claude Rains.

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Cast RT[2]
The Hunchback of Notre Dame September 2, 1923 Wallace Worsley Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Nigel de Brulier, Brandon Hurst 95%
The Phantom of the Opera November 25, 1925 Rupert Julian Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland 90%
The Cat and the Canary September 9, 1927 Paul Leni Laura La Plante, Forrest Stanley, Creighton Hale, Flora Finch 93%
The Man Who Laughs April 27, 1928 Paul Leni Mary Philbin, Conrad Veidt, Brandon Hurst, Olga V. Baklanova, Cesare Gravina, Stuart Holmes, Samuel de Grasse, George Siegmann, Josephine Crowell 100%
The Last Warning January 6, 1929 Paul Leni Laura LaPlante, Montagu Love, Margaret Livingston, John Boles N/A
The Last Performance November 1929 Paul Fejos Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin N/A


In 1931, Bela Lugosi starred in Universal's Dracula and Boris Karloff in Frankenstein. Actors Dwight Frye and Edward Van Sloan, who played major supporting roles in both films, made several film appearances in this decade. Make-up artist Jack Pierce created several monsters' make-up starting in the 1930s.

The Mummy, starring Karloff, was produced in 1932. This was followed by a trilogy of films based on the tales of Edgar Allan Poe: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) starring Lugosi, The Black Cat (1934), and The Raven (1935), the latter two of which teamed Lugosi with Karloff. Universal began releasing sequels including Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Dracula's Daughter (1936) and sequels for The Invisible Man (1933). The first mainstream werewolf picture, Werewolf of London (1935) starring Henry Hull, was not a box office triumph despite being revered by audiences today.

The end of Universal’s first run of horror films came in 1936. The monster movies were dropped from the production schedule altogether and would not re-emerge for another three years. In the meantime, a theatre owner revived Dracula and Frankenstein as a resoundingly successful double feature, prompting the studio to re-release the original movies. Son of Frankenstein (1939), starring Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi, was filmed as a result of the unexpected resurgence.

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Cast RT[2]
The Cat Creeps
(lost film)
November 10, 1930 Rupert Julian and John Willard Helen Twelvetrees, Raymond Hackett, Neil Hamilton, Elizabeth Patterson N/A
La Voluntad del muerto
(lost film)
1930 George Melford and Enrique Tovar Ávalos Antonio Moreno, Lupita Tovar, Andrés de Segurola, Roberto E. Guzmán, Paul Ellis, Lucio Villegas, Agostino Borgato, Conchita Ballesteros, María Calvo, Soledad Jiménez N/A
Dracula February 12, 1931 Tod Browning Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan 91%
Dracula April 24, 1931 George Melford Carlos Villarías, Lupita Tovar, Barry Norton, Pablo Álvarez Rubio, Eduardo Arozamena N/A
Frankenstein November 21, 1931 James Whale Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, Frederick Kerr 100%
Murders in the Rue Morgue February 21, 1932 Robert Florey Bela Lugosi, Sidney Fox, Leon Ames, Bert Roach, Brandon Hurst, Noble Johnson, D'Arcy Corrigan 83%
The Old Dark House October 20, 1932 James Whale Boris Karloff, Melvin Douglas, Gloria Stuart, Charles Laughton, Lilian Bond, Ernest Thesiger, Eva Moore, Raymond Massey, Brember Wills, John Dudgeon 100%
The Mummy December 22, 1932 Karl Freund Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan, Arthur Byron 93%
The Invisible Man November 13, 1933 James Whale Gloria Stuart, Claude Rains, William Harrigan, Dudley Digges, Una O'Connor, Henry Travers, Forrester Harvey 100%
The Black Cat May 18, 1934 Edgar G. Ulmer Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Jacqueline Wells, Lucille Lund, Egon Brecher, Harry Cording, Henry Armetta, Albert Conti 87%
The Mystery of Edwin Drood February 4, 1935 Stuart Walker Douglass Montgomery, Claude Rains, Heather Angel, David Manners, Francis L. Sullivan, Valerie Hobson N/A
Bride of Frankenstein April 22, 1935 James Whale Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Elsa Lanchester, Una O'Connor, Ernest Thesiger, E. E. Clive 100%
Werewolf of London May 13, 1935 Stuart Walker Henry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie Hobson, Lester Matthews, Spring Byington, Clark Williams, Lawrence Grant 77%
The Raven July 8, 1935 Lew Landers Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Irene Ware, Lester Matthews, Inez Courtney 100%
The Invisible Ray January 20, 1936 Lambert Hillyer Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Frances Drake, Frank Lawton 80%
Dracula's Daughter May 11, 1936 Lambert Hillyer Otto Kruger, Gloria Holden, Marguerite Churchill, Edward Van Sloan, Irving Pichel, Nan Grey 46%
Night Key April 18, 1937 Lloyd Corrigan Boris Karloff, J. Warren Hull, Jean Rogers, Alan Baxter, Hobart Cavanaugh, Samuel Hinds, David Oliver, Ward Bond, Frank Reicher, Edwin Maxwell N/A
The Phantom Creeps
(serial film)
January 7, 1939 Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind Bela Lugosi, Robert Kent, Dorothy Arnold, Regis Toomey, Edward Van Sloan N/A
Son of Frankenstein January 13, 1939 Rowland V. Lee Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Josephine Hutchinson, Donnie Dunagan 89%
Tower of London November 17, 1939 Rowland V. Lee Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Barbara O'Neil, Ian Hunter, Vincent Price, Nan Grey, John Sutton, Leo G. Carroll, Miles Mander, Lionel Belmore, Rose Hobart N/A


During the 1940s, Universal released The Wolf Man (1941), with Lon Chaney, Jr. The junior Chaney became the studio's leading monster movie actor in the 1940s, just as his father had been two decades earlier, supplanting the 1930s' Karloff and Lugosi by a wide margin in terms of the number of leading roles that he played. Chaney, Jr. physically resembled his father apart from usually being somewhat overweight, which the senior Chaney never was. The studio dropped the "Jr." from the junior Chaney's billing almost immediately to confuse some in the audiences into assuming that this was the same actor.

In 1943, the studio created a remake of Phantom of the Opera, this time starring Nelson Eddy and Susanna Foster with Claude Rains as the Phantom.

The Frankenstein and Wolf Man series continued with The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), in which Chaney, Jr. played Frankenstein's monster and Lugosi reprised his role as Ygor, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) with Lugosi as the Frankenstein monster and Chaney, Jr. as the Wolf Man. Son of Dracula (1943) featured Chaney, Jr. in Lugosi's original role as the Count. The Mummy series was also continued with The Mummy's Hand (1940), The Mummy's Tomb (1942), The Mummy's Ghost and The Mummy's Curse (both 1944) with Chaney, Jr. as the Mummy in the last three films. House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945) featured many of the monsters from the studio's previous films. As the decade drew to a close, the comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) features Lugosi in his second movie as Count Dracula, starring alongside Chaney, Jr. as Larry Talbot (the Wolf Man), and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein's monster.

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Cast RT[2]
The Invisible Man Returns January 12, 1940 Joe May Vincent Price 80%
Black Friday April 12, 1940 Arthur Lubin Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi N/A
The Mummy's Hand September 20, 1940 Christy Cabanne Tom Tyler 67%
The Invisible Woman December 27, 1940 A. Edward Sutherland Virginia Bruce and John Barrymore N/A
Man Made Monster March 28, 1941 George Waggner Lon Chaney, Jr. N/A
Horror Island March 28, 1941 George Waggner Dick Foran N/A
The Black Cat May 2, 1941 Albert S. Rogell Basil Rathbone and Bela Lugosi N/A
The Wolf Man December 12, 1941 George Waggner Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains, and Bela Lugosi 94%
The Mad Doctor of Market Street February 27, 1942 Joseph H. Lewis Lionel Atwill N/A
The Ghost of Frankenstein March 13, 1942 Erle C. Kenton Lon Chaney, Jr., Cedric Hardwicke and Bela Lugosi 75%
The Strange Case of Doctor Rx April 17, 1942 William Nigh Patric Knowles, Anne Gwynne, and Lionel Atwill N/A
Invisible Agent July 31, 1942 Edwin L. Marin Jon Hall, Peter Lorre and Cedric Hardwicke N/A
Night Monster October 20, 1942 Ford Beebe Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill N/A
The Mummy's Tomb October 23, 1942 Harold Young Lon Chaney, Jr. 29%
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man March 5, 1943 Roy William Neill Lon Chaney, Jr. and Bela Lugosi 25%
Captive Wild Woman June 4, 1943 Edward Dmytryk Evelyn Ankers, John Carradine and Aquanetta 40%
Phantom of the Opera August 27, 1943 Arthur Lubin Claude Rains 74%
Son of Dracula November 5, 1943 Robert Siodmak Lon Chaney, Jr. and Evelyn Ankers 60%
The Mad Ghoul November 12, 1943 James P. Hogan Evelyn Ankers and David Bruce N/A
Calling Dr. Death December 17, 1943 Reginald Le Borg Lon Chaney, Jr. N/A
Weird Woman March 1, 1944 Reginald Le Borg Lon Chaney, Jr. and Evelyn Ankers N/A
Jungle Woman June 1, 1944 Reginald Le Borg Aquanetta and Evelyn Ankers N/A
The Invisible Man's Revenge June 9, 1944 Ford Beebe Jon Hall and John Carradine N/A
The Mummy's Ghost July 7, 1944 Reginald Le Borg Lon Chaney, Jr. and John Carradine 33%
The Climax October 20, 1944 George Waggner Boris Karloff N/A
Dead Man's Eyes November 10, 1944 Reginald Le Borg Lon Chaney, Jr. N/A
House of Frankenstein December 1, 1944 Erle C. Kenton Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr. and John Carradine 55%
The Mummy's Curse December 22, 1944 Leslie Goodwins Lon Chaney, Jr. 44%
The Frozen Ghost June 1, 1945 Harold Young Lon Chaney, Jr. and Evelyn Ankers N/A
The Jungle Captive June 29, 1945 Harold Young Rondo Hatton N/A
Strange Confession October 5, 1945 John Hoffman Lon Chaney, Jr. N/A
House of Dracula December 7, 1945 Erle C. Kenton Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine and Glenn Strange 50%
Pillow of Death December 14, 1945 Wallace Fox Lon Chaney, Jr. N/A
House of Horrors March 29, 1946 Jean Yarbrough Rondo Hatton N/A
She-Wolf of London May 17, 1946 Jean Yarbrough June Lockhart 17%
The Brute Man October 1, 1946 Jean Yarbrough Rondo Hatton N/A
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein June 15, 1948 Charles Barton Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Bela Lugosi 88%
Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff August 22, 1949 Charles Barton Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and Boris Karloff N/A


Abbott and Costello appeared in films featuring characters such as the Mummy and the Invisible Man.

Creature from the Black Lagoon, directed by Jack Arnold, was released in 1954. Dracula and Frankenstein were re-released as double features in theatres, and were later broadcast in syndication on American television in 1957 as part of the Shock Theater package of Universal Monster Movies.[3] Magazines such as Famous Monsters of Filmland covered the monster films. Universal spent the last half of the decade issuing a number of one-shot monster films.

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Cast RT[2]
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man March 19, 1951 Charles Lamont Bud Abbott and Lou Costello 78%
The Strange Door December 8, 1951 Joseph Pevney Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff N/A
The Black Castle December 25, 1952 Nathan H. Juran Boris Karloff N/A
It Came from Outer Space May 25, 1953 Jack Arnold Richard Carlson and Barbara Rush 81%
Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde August 10, 1953 Charles Lamont Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and Boris Karloff 71%
Creature from the Black Lagoon February 12, 1954 Jack Arnold Richard Carlson and Julie Adams 84%
Revenge of the Creature March 23, 1955 Jack Arnold John Agar and Lori Nelson 25%
This Island Earth June 1, 1955 Joseph M. Newman and Jack Arnold Faith Domergue 71%
Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy June 23, 1955 Charles Lamont Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and Eddie Parker 27%
Tarantula December 14, 1955 Jack Arnold John Agar and Mara Corday 92%
Cult of the Cobra May 30, 1955 Francis D. Lyon Faith Domergue N/A
The Creature Walks Among Us April 26, 1956 John Sherwood Jeff Morrow 43%
The Mole People December 1956 Virgil W. Vogel John Agar N/A
The Incredible Shrinking Man February 22, 1957 Jack Arnold Craig Stevens 89%
The Deadly Mantis May 26, 1957 Nathan H. Juran Grant Williams 38%
The Land Unknown October 30, 1957 Virgil W. Vogel Jock Mahoney and Shirley Patterson N/A
The Monolith Monsters December 18, 1957 John Sherwood Grant Williams N/A
The Thing That Couldn't Die June 27, 1958 Will Cowan William Reynolds N/A
Monster on the Campus December 17, 1958 Jack Arnold Arthur Franz N/A
Curse of the Undead May 1959 Edward Dein Eric Fleming N/A
The Leech Woman May 1960 Edward Dein Grant Williams and Coleen Gray N/A

Recurring cast and characters[edit]


Film U.S. release date Director(s) Cast RT[2]
Dracula July 13, 1979 John Badham Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier 58%
The Mummy May 7, 1999 Stephen Sommers Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo 55%
The Mummy Returns May 4, 2001 Stephen Sommers Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo 47%
Van Helsing May 7, 2004 Stephen Sommers Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale 23%
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor August 1, 2008 Rob Cohen Brendan Fraser and Jet Li 12%
The Wolfman February 12, 2010 Joe Johnston Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, and Hugo Weaving 34%
Dracula Untold October 10, 2014 Gary Shore Luke Evans 22%

2010s shared universe[edit]

Feature films[edit]

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Screenwriter(s) Producer(s) Status
The Mummy June 9, 2017[4] Alex Kurtzman Jon Spaihts and Christopher McQuarrie Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Chris Morgan and Sean Daniel Post-production
Untitled film April 13, 2018[5] TBA TBA TBA In development
Untitled film February 15, 2019[5] TBA TBA TBA
Untitled Invisible Man film TBA TBA Ed Solomon Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan
Untitled Wolf Man film TBA TBA Aaron Guzikowski and David Callaham Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan
Untitled Van Helsing film TBA TBA Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Chris Morgan
Untitled Creature from the Black Lagoon film TBA TBA Jeffrey Blitz Gary Ross David Kajganich Tedi Sarafian Paul Scheuring Jeff Pinkner Gary Ross Allison Thomas Marc Abraham
Untitled Bride of Frankenstein film TBA TBA David Koepp, Neil Burger, Dirk Wittenborn Brian Grazer TBA

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Johnston, Keith M. (2013-05-09). Science Fiction Film: A Critical Introduction. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 24–. ISBN 9781847884787. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  3. ^ Okuda, Ted; Yurkiw, Mark (2007). Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie. Lake Claremont Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-1893121133. The 'Shock!' package was sold in 142 markets. As a result, stations across the country aired a late-night Shock Theatre series to showcase these pictures. 
  4. ^ Kroll, Justin (21 January 2016). "Tom Cruise's 'The Mummy' Gets New Release Date". variety.com. 
  5. ^ a b McClintock, Pamela (May 3, 2016). "Universal Stakes Out Release Date for Third Monster Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 24, 2016. 

External links[edit]