Universal monster films

I know what you’re thinking: “I want to watch all the Universal monster movies over the course of a couple of nights, but I’m not sure what order to watch them in.” Well, sort by year, then sort by creature. But don’t worry, I’ve done the sorting for you. Here it is (nothing but spoilers):

Frankenstein (1931) the original, of course, with Boris Karloff and Colin Clive. Directed by James Whale. Dr “Henry” Frankenstein sets up a dark and spooky lab in a remote tower at the edge of town. And, even stranger, he’s constructed a monster out of the parts of criminals. At the end, the monster is burned alive by a crowd of angry villagers that just don’t understand him, while the raving lunatic doctor is left to goes about his business.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) Karloff returns as the monster, Colin Clive returns as the good(?) doctor, and James Whale returns to direct.  The monster is found alive in the smoldering rubble of the old mill, then spends the next few days wandering the hillside. The doctor is peer pressured into creating a female monster by a bad kid. At the end of the film, the monster destroys himself and his newly constructed bride by pulling a mysterious lever in the aforementioned spooky tower laboratory.

Son of Frankenstein (1939) The third Frankenstein movie features Karloff as the monster, for the last time, and Bela Lugosi as Ygor, for the first time (the non-hunchbacked mad assistant in the first film is named Fritz). Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) inherits the family home. The village hunchback shows young Frankenstein the unconscious but still alive body of the monster, who is sporting a trendy fur vest, and a once logical medical doctor immediately takes on the role of mad scientist. At the climax, the monster is heroically kicked into a large hole in the laboratory floor that is filled with lava … or acid .. or spa mud (it’s hard to tell in black and white).

Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) In the 4th Frankenstein film, Lon Chaney Jr plays the monster, and Bela Lugosi once again plays Ygor. Ygor finds the monster, preserved by the spa mud, washed down into the catacombs under the lab. Ygor, resourceful for a hunchback, finds Henry Frankenstein’s other son, who instantly decides all the crazy people in his family weren’t so crazy after all. Ygor’s brain is transplanted into the monster, who goes nuts and sets fire to the house, burning up in the process (or so we are lead to believe).

The Wolf Man (1941) Lon Chaney Jr turns into a wolf … that still walks and wears clothes like a man. A wolf/man, if you will. In the end, he’s beaten to death with a handsome silver cane.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) this is simultaneously the 5th Frankenstein film and the 2nd Wolf Man film. Bela Lugosi plays the monster (after all, it was his brain transplanted into the creature at the end of the last film), and Lon Chaney Jr revives his role as Lawrence Talbert/the Wolf Man, who discovers that the story about silver killing as werewolf was just a myth. The newly revived wolf man, goes out to search for the infamous Dr Frankenstein (any one of them) who he believes can cure him of his wolfy affliction. He accidentally revives the monster, who had wound up in the catacombs once again. A local bar owner, an apparently resourceful though unconscionable fellow, blows the town damn to drown both monsters.

Dracula (1931) Switching to a third monster, Bela Lugosi in his most famous role. Dracula is (apparently) killed at the end by having a stake driven through his heart.

The Return of the Vampire (1944). Intended as a proper sequel to Dracula, Columbia could not get the rights from Universal. Instead, Bela plays Armand Tesla. But, just whisper “Dracula” whenever he’s introduced.

House of Frankenstein (1944) The 6th Frankenstein, the 3rd Wolf Man, and the 3rd Dracula. It introduces John Carradine as Count Dracula (which never quite looks right), and Glenn Strange as the Frankenstein monster, which, IMO, is the most classic look of the creature. Dracula is exposed to the sun, the Wolf Man is shot, while the monster is driven into the swamp. 

House of Dracula (1945) The 7th Frankenstein, the 4th Wolf Man, the 4th Dracula. Lon Chaney, the only man ever even considered to play the Wolf Man, plays the Wolf Man, John Carradine returns as the Count, and Glenn Strange returns as the monster. Both Dracula and the Wolf Man are looking for a mad scientist to cure them (has a mad scientist ever helped the situation?). Things turn out for the worst.

Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) Yes, it’s a comedy, but a good one. And, a pretty decent monster film at the same time, so it’s included in the canon. Originally tittled the Brain of Frankenstein, it is the 8th Frankenstein, the 5th Wolf Man, and the 5th Dracula (though only the 2nd time Bela Lugosi is credited as “Dracula”). The Wolf Man and Dracula tumble over a cliff during a fight, and the monster burns up on a flaming boat dock. After this, people stopped dressing up in fur and rubber masks. End of an era.

Explore posts in the same categories: Self Indulgence

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