Universal Classic Monsters

Universal Classic Monsters is a phrase used to describe the horror, fantasy, suspense and science fiction films made by Universal Pictures during the decades of the 1920s through the 1950s. They 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.

Universal Classic Monsters
Universal Classic Monsters logo
Official franchise logo as displayed on home video releases
Distributed byNBCUniversal
CountryUnited States

Original films


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[1] IMDb[2]
The Hunchback of Notre Dame September 2, 1923 Wallace Worsley Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Nigel de Brulier, Brandon Hurst 95% 7.3
The Phantom of the Opera November 25, 1925 Rupert Julian Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland 91% 7.7
The Cat and the Canary September 9, 1927 Paul Leni Laura La Plante, Forrest Stanley, Creighton Hale, Flora Finch 93% 7.2
The Man Who Laughs April 27, 1928 Mary Philbin, Conrad Veidt, Brandon Hurst, Olga V. Baklanova, Cesare Gravina, Stuart Holmes, Samuel de Grasse, George Siegmann, Josephine Crowell 100% 7.8
The Last Warning January 6, 1929 Laura LaPlante, Montagu Love, Margaret Livingston, John Boles N/A 7.5
The Last Performance November 1929 Paul Fejos Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin N/A 6.8


In 1931, Bela Lugosi starred in Universal's Dracula and Boris Karloff portrayed the monster 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[1] IMDb[2]
The Cat Creeps
(lost film)
November 10, 1930 Rupert Julian Helen Twelvetrees, Raymond Hackett, Neil Hamilton, Elizabeth Patterson N/A 7.0
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 N/A
(English-language film)
February 12, 1931 Tod Browning Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan 91% 7.6
(Spanish-language film)
April 24, 1931 George Melford Carlos Villarías, Lupita Tovar, Barry Norton, Pablo Álvarez Rubio, Eduardo Arozamena N/A 7.2
Frankenstein November 21, 1931 James Whale Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, Frederick Kerr 100% 7.9
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% 6.4
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% 7.3
The Mummy December 22, 1932 Karl Freund Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan, Arthur Byron 93% 7.2
Secret of the Blue Room July 20, 1933 Kurt Neumann Lionel Atwill, Gloria Stuart, Paul Lukas, Edward Arnold 6.6
The Invisible Man November 13, 1933 James Whale Gloria Stuart, Claude Rains, William Harrigan, Dudley Digges, Una O'Connor, Henry Travers, Forrester Harvey 100% 7.7
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% 7.2
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 6.7
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% 7.9
Werewolf of London May 13, 1935 Stuart Walker Henry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie Hobson, Lester Matthews, Spring Byington, Clark Williams, Lawrence Grant 77% 6.5
The Raven July 8, 1935 Lew Landers Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Irene Ware, Lester Matthews, Inez Courtney 100% 7.1
The Invisible Ray January 20, 1936 Lambert Hillyer Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Frances Drake, Frank Lawton 80% 6.6
Dracula's Daughter May 11, 1936 Otto Kruger, Gloria Holden, Marguerite Churchill, Edward Van Sloan, Irving Pichel, Nan Grey 46% 6.4
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 6.3
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 4.6
Son of Frankenstein January 13, 1939 Rowland V. Lee Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Josephine Hutchinson, Donnie Dunagan 91% 7.2
Tower of London November 17, 1939 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 6.7


Colorized publicity shots for The Wolf Man (1941), The Mummy's Ghost (1944) and The House of Dracula (1945). Lon Chaney Jr played a major role in each film.


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 only his second film as Count Dracula, 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[1] IMDb[2]
The Invisible Man Returns January 12, 1940 Joe May Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Vincent Price, Nan Grey, John Sutton, Cecil Kellaway 80% 6.5
Black Friday April 12, 1940 Arthur Lubin Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Stanley Ridges, Anne Nagel, Anne Gwynne, James Craig N/A 6.3
The Mummy's Hand September 20, 1940 Christy Cabanne Dick Foran, Peggy Moran, Wallace Ford, Cecil Kellaway, Eduardo Ciannelli, George Zucco, Tom Tyler 67% 6.1
The Invisible Woman December 27, 1940 A. Edward Sutherland Virginia Bruce, John Barrymore, John Howard, Charlie Ruggles, Oscar Homolka N/A 6.1
Man Made Monster March 28, 1941 George Waggner Lionel Atwill, Anne Nagel, Frank Albertson, Samuel S. Hinds, Lon Chaney Jr. N/A 6.3
Horror Island March 28, 1941 Dick Foran, Leo Carrillo, Peggy Moran, Fuzzy Knight, Lewis Howard, Walter Catlett N/A 6.0
The Black Cat May 2, 1941 Albert S. Rogell Basil Rathbone, Hugh Herbert, Brod Crawford, Bela Lugosi, Gale Sondergaard, Anne Gwynne, Gladys Cooper, Cecelia Loftus, Claire Dodd N/A 6.3
The Wolf Man December 12, 1941 George Waggner Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, Evelyn Ankers, Lon Chaney Jr. 94% 7.4
The Mad Doctor of Market Street February 27, 1942 Joseph H. Lewis Lionel Atwill, Una Merkel, Nat Pendleton, Claire Dodd, Richard Davies, Anne Nagel, Hardie Albright N/A 5.2
The Ghost of Frankenstein March 13, 1942 Erle C. Kenton Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Evelyn Ankers, Lon Chaney Jr. 75% 6.1
The Strange Case of Doctor Rx April 17, 1942 William Nigh Patric Knowles, Lionel Atwill, Anne Gwynne, Mona Barrie, Paul Cavanagh, Samuel S. Hinds N/A 5.2
The Mystery of Marie Roget April 23, 1942 Phil Rosen Maria Montez, Patric Knowles, Maria Ouspenskaya, John Litel, Edward Norris, Lloyd Corrigan N/A 6.0
Invisible Agent July 31, 1942 Edwin L. Marin Ilona Massey, Jon Hall, Peter Lorre, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, J. Edward Bromberg, John Litel, Albert Bassermann N/A 6.1
Night Monster October 20, 1942 Ford Beebe Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Leif Erickson, Irene Hervey, Ralph Morgan, Don Porter, Nils Asther, Frank Reicher N/A 6.4
The Mummy's Tomb October 23, 1942 Harold Young Lon Chaney Jr., Dick Foran, John Hubbard, Elyse Knox, George Zucco, Wallace Ford, Turhan Bey 29% 5.7
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man March 5, 1943 Roy William Neill Ilona Massey, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Maria Ouspenskaya, Lon Chaney Jr. 25% 6.6
Captive Wild Woman June 4, 1943 Edward Dmytryk Evelyn Ankers, John Carradine, Milburn Stone, Lloyd Corrigan, Martha MacVicar, Vince Barnett, Acquanetta 40% 5.7
Phantom of the Opera August 27, 1943 Arthur Lubin Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster, Claude Rains, Edgar Barrier, Leo Carrillo, Jane Farrar, J. Edward Bromberg, Fritz Feld, Hume Cronyn 74% 6.5
Son of Dracula November 5, 1943 Robert Siodmak Louise Allbritton, Robert Paige, Evelyn Ankers, Frank Craven, J. Edward Bromberg, Samuel S. Hinds, Lon Chaney Jr. 60% 6.2
The Mad Ghoul November 12, 1943 James P. Hogan Turhan Bey, Evelyn Ankers, David Bruce, George Zucco, Robert Armstrong, Milburn Stone N/A 5.8
Calling Dr. Death December 17, 1943 Reginald Le Borg Lon Chaney Jr., Patricia Morison, J. Carrol Naish, Ramsay Ames, David Bruce N/A 6.1
Weird Woman March 1, 1944 Lon Chaney Jr., Anne Gwynne, Evelyn Ankers, Lois Collier, Ralph Morgan, Elisabeth Risdon, Elizabeth Russell N/A 6.5
Jungle Woman June 1, 1944 Reginald Le Borg Evelyn Ankers, J. Carrol Naish, Lois Collier, Milburn Stone, Douglass Dumbrille, Acquanetta N/A 5.3
The Invisible Man's Revenge June 9, 1944 Ford Beebe Jon Hall, Leon Errol, John Carradine, Alan Curtis, Evelyn Ankers, Gale Sondergaard N/A 5.8
The Mummy's Ghost July 7, 1944 Reginald Le Borg Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Ramsay Ames, Barton MacLane, George Zucco, Robert Lowery 33% 5.8
The Climax October 20, 1944 George Waggner Susanna Foster, Turhan Bey, Boris Karloff, Gale Sondergaard, June Vincent, Thomas Gomez, George Dolenz, Jane Farrar, Ludwig Stössel N/A 5.4
Dead Man's Eyes November 10, 1944 Reginald Le Borg Lon Chaney Jr., Jean Parker, Paul Kelly, Thomas Gomez, Jonathan Hale, George Meeker, Acquanetta N/A 6.1
House of Frankenstein December 1, 1944 Erle C. Kenton Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, J. Carrol Naish, Anne Gwynne, Peter Coe, Elena Verdugo, Lionel Atwill 55% 6.3
The Mummy's Curse December 22, 1944 Leslie Goodwins Lon Chaney Jr., Peter Coe, Kay Harding, Martin Kosleck, Virginia Christine, Kurt Katch 44% 5.6
The Frozen Ghost June 1, 1945 Harold Young Lon Chaney Jr., Evelyn Ankers, Elena Verdugo, Tala Birell, Martin Kosleck, Douglass Dumbrille, Milburn Stone N/A 5.9
The Jungle Captive June 29, 1945 Otto Kruger, Amelita Ward, Phil Brown, Jerome Cowan, Vicky Lane, Rondo Hatton N/A 5.5
Strange Confession October 5, 1945 John Hoffman Lon Chaney Jr., Brenda Joyce, J. Carrol Naish, Lloyd Bridges, Milburn Stone, Addison Richards N/A 6.9
House of Dracula December 7, 1945 Erle C. Kenton Lon Chaney Jr., Martha O'Driscoll, John Carradine, Lionel Atwill, Onslow Stevens, Glenn Strange, Jane Adams, Ludwig Stössel 50% 5.8
Pillow of Death December 14, 1945 Wallace Fox Lon Chaney Jr., Brenda Joyce, J. Edward Bromberg, Rosalind Ivan, Clara Blandick N/A 6.1
The Spider Woman Strikes Back March 22, 1946 Arthur Lubin Gale Sondergaard, Kirby Grant, Brenda Joyce, Milburn Stone, Rondo Hatton N/A 6.5
House of Horrors March 29, 1946 Jean Yarbrough Bill Goodwin, Robert Lowery, Virginia Grey, Martin Kosleck, Alan Napier, Joan Fulton, Rondo Hatton N/A 6.3
She-Wolf of London May 17, 1946 June Lockhart, Don Porter, Sara Haden, Eily Malon 17% 5.2
The Cat Creeps May 17, 1946 Erle C. Kenton Lois Collier, Fred Brady, Paul Kelly, Noah Beery Jr., Douglass Dumbrille, Rose Hobart N/A 5.5
The Brute Man October 1, 1946 Jean Yarbrough Tom Neal, Jane Adams, Jan Wiley, Peter Whitney, Donald MacBride, Rondo Hatton N/A 3.8
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein June 15, 1948 Charles Barton Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, Lenore Aubert, Jane Randolph 88% 7.6
Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff August 22, 1949 Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Boris Karloff N/A 7.1


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[1] IMDb[2]
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man March 19, 1951 Charles Lamont Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Nancy Guild, Adele Jergens, Arthur Franz, William Frawley, Sheldon Leonard 78% 7.0
The Strange Door December 8, 1951 Joseph Pevney Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Sally Forrest, Richard Stapley N/A 6.3
The Black Castle December 25, 1952 Nathan H. Juran Richard Greene, Boris Karloff, Stephen McNally, Rita Corday, Lon Chaney Jr., John Hoyt, Michael Pate, Nancy Valentine N/A 6.4
It Came from Outer Space May 25, 1953 Jack Arnold Richard Carlson, Barbara Rush, Charles Drake, Russell Johnson, Kathleen Hughes, Joe Sawyer 81% 6.6
Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde August 10, 1953 Charles Lamont Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Boris Karloff, Helen Westcott, Craig Stevens, Reginald Denny 71% 6.7
Creature from the Black Lagoon February 12, 1954 Jack Arnold Richard Carlson and Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, Nestor Paiva, Whit Bissell 84% 7.0
Revenge of the Creature March 23, 1955 John Agar, Lori Nelson, John Bromfield, Nestor Paiva 25% 5.5
Cult of the Cobra May 30, 1955 Francis D. Lyon Faith Domergue, Richard Long, Marshall Thompson, Kathleen Hughes, William Reynolds, Jack Kelly, Myrna Hansen, David Janssen N/A 5.8
This Island Earth June 1, 1955 Joseph M. Newman and Jack Arnold Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue, Rex Reason, Lance Fuller, Russell Johnson 71% 5.8
Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy June 23, 1955 Charles Lamont Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Marie Windsor, Michael Ansara, Peggy King 27% 6.5
Tarantula December 14, 1955 Jack Arnold John Agar, Mara Corday, Leo G. Carroll, Nestor Paiva, Ross Elliott 92% 6.5
The Creature Walks Among Us April 26, 1956 John Sherwood Jeff Morrow, Rex Reason, Leigh Snowden, Gregg Palmer, Maurice Manson 43% 5.8
Curucu, Beast of the Amazon December 1956 Curt Siodmak John Bromfield , Beverly Garland, Larri Thomas, Tom Payne, Harvey Chalk N/A 3.9
The Mole People December 1956 Virgil W. Vogel John Agar, Cynthia Patrick, Hugh Beaumont, Nestor Paiva, Alan Napier N/A 4.7
The Incredible Shrinking Man February 22, 1957 Jack Arnold Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April Kent, Paul Langton, Raymond Bailey 91% 7.7
The Deadly Mantis May 26, 1957 Nathan H. Juran Craig Stevens, Alix Talton, William Hopper, Florenz Ames, Donald Randolph 38% 4.7
The Land Unknown October 30, 1957 Virgil W. Vogel Jock Mahoney, Shawn Smith, William Reynolds, Henry Brandon, Phil Harvey, Douglas Kennedy N/A 5.8
The Monolith Monsters December 18, 1957 John Sherwood Grant Williams, Lola Albright, Les Tremayne, Phil Harvey, Trevor Bardette N/A 6.5
The Thing That Couldn't Die June 27, 1958 Will Cowan William Reynolds, Andra Martin, Carolyn Kearney, Jeffrey Stone N/A 3.4
Monster on the Campus December 17, 1958 Jack Arnold Arthur Franz, Joanna Moore, Judson Pratt, Nancy Walters, Troy Donohue, The Beast N/A 5.8
Curse of the Undead May 1959 Edward Dein Eric Fleming, Kathleen Crowley, Michael Pate, John Hoyt, Bruce Gordon N/A 5.9
The Leech Woman May 1960 Edward Dein Coleen Gray, Grant Williams, Gloria Talbott, Phillip Terry N/A 4.3

Recurring cast and characters

List indicator(s)
  • This table only includes characters which have appeared in multiple films within this shared universe.
  • A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
  • A G Cedric Hardwicke played the son of Henry Frankenstein, he also played the ghost of Henry Frankenstein.
  • A P indicates the character was mentioned and shown in a photograph.
  • A U indicates a uncredited role.
  • A V indicates a voice-only role.
Character Films
Dracula Frankenstein The Invisible Man Bride of Frankenstein Dracula's Daughter Son of Frankenstein The Invisible Man Returns The Wolf Man The Ghost of Frankenstein Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man Son of Dracula House of Frankenstein House of Dracula Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man
The Frankenstein Monster Boris Karloff Boris Karloff Boris Karloff Lon Chaney, Jr. Bela Lugosi Glenn Strange
Count Dracula Bela Lugosi Lon Chaney, Jr. John Carradine Bela Lugosi
The Wolf Man
Larry Talbot
Lon Chaney, Jr. Lon Chaney, Jr. Lon Chaney, Jr.
Van Helsing Edward Van Sloan Edward Van Sloan
Henry Frankenstein Colin Clive Colin Clive Cedric HardwickeG
The Invisible Man
Jack Griffin
Claude Rains Claude RainsP Claude RainsP
Elizabeth Mae Clarke Valerie Hobson
Ygor Bela Lugosi Bela Lugosi
The Invisible Man
Geoffrey Radcliffe
Vincent Price Vincent PriceUV
Maleva Maria Ouspenskaya   Maria Ouspenskaya
Elsa Frankenstein Evelyn Ankers Ilona Massey


Film U.S. release date Director(s) Main cast RT[1] IMDb[2]
Dracula July 13, 1979 John Badham Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier 64% 6.5
The Mummy May 7, 1999 Stephen Sommers Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz and Arnold Vosloo 57% 7.0
The Mummy Returns May 4, 2001 Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Arnold Vosloo and Dwayne Johnson 47% 6.3
The Scorpion King April 19, 2002 Chuck Russell Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Hu, Bernard Hill, Grant Heslov, Peter Facinelli, Steven Brand, and Michael Clarke Duncan 41% 5.5
Van Helsing May 7, 2004 Stephen Sommers Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, Shuler Hensley and Will Kemp 23% 6.1
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor August 1, 2008 Rob Cohen Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello and Jet Li 12% 5.2
The Wolfman February 12, 2010 Joe Johnston Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving 34% 5.8
Dracula Untold October 10, 2014 Gary Shore Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper and Charles Dance 24% 6.3

Dark Universe

Film U.S.
release date
Director(s) Screenwriter(s) Story by Producer(s)
The Mummy June 9, 2017 Alex Kurtzman David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie & Dylan Kussman Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan, Sean Daniel and Sarah Bradshaw
The Bride of Frankenstein TBA Bill Condon David Koepp TBA
The Invisible Man TBA Leigh Whannell Ed Solomon and Leigh Whannell Jason Blum and Leigh Whannell
Dark Universe official logo
Official logo of the Dark Universe, shared film universe as released by Universal Pictures

Dark Universe is the term given by Universal Pictures to their planned cinematic universe, which will be based on the classic Universal Monsters film series. The studio's first attempt at this universe was with the film Dracula Untold. Released on October 10, 2014, with Luke Evans in the eponymous role, the film was developed prior to plans for a shared universe of horror films. However, it was retooled to be a part of the franchise. The film's mixed financial and critical reception resulted in the film's future status within the franchise becoming uncertain. Since the release of Dracula Untold, the connections to the shared universe have been downplayed.

Universal, which had announced plans to reboot The Mummy franchise in 2012, decided to market the new installment as the first film in the series. The Mummy was set to be released in 2017 with Alex Kurtzman as director.[4][5] Also, Kurtzman and Chris Morgan were announced as co-runners of the Dark Universe, with collaborations from David Koepp and Christopher McQuarrie.[6]

Along with the crew, Universal announced the casting of Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde, Javier Bardem as the Frankenstein Monster, and Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man. They would join Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, as Nick Morton and Princess Ahmanet / The Mummy. Bill Condon was announced as the director of the franchise's Bride of Frankenstein, originally set to be released on February 14, 2019.[7] Even though various sources claimed that Evans's character might have at least a cameo in The Mummy or any of the upcoming films in the universe, Kurtzman denied these claims, stating that he considered the film to not be a part of the Dark Universe.[8] Additional rebooted versions of their characters were announced to have films in development as well including: the Wolf Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Phantom of the Opera, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The shared film universe's official theme music was composed by Danny Elfman.

On June 9, 2017, The Mummy was released.[9][10][11] The film received generally negative reviews from critics, and performed below the studio's expectations at the box office.[12] By November, The Bride of Frankenstein was pulled from its initial release, and lead producers/co-architects of the Dark Universe, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, left Universal and departed from the franchise. Universal has put a hold on future projects while they create a plan for future releases.[13] Universal Pictures released an official statement reading:

After thoughtful consideration, Universal Pictures and director Bill Condon have decided to postpone Bride of Frankenstein. None of us want[s] to move too quickly to meet a release date when we know this special movie needs more time to come together. Bill is a director whose enormous talent has been proven time and again, and we all look forward to continuing to work on this film together.[14]

By January 2018, development on the film progressed with Condon hiring a production team consisting of cinematographer Tobias A. Schliessler, production designer Sarah Greenwood, composer Carter Burwell, and costume designer Jacqueline Durran.[15] In May of the same year, artist Robert Vargas announced from his social media account that he had attended a meeting with the studio and will collaborate on the Dark Universe films moving forward.[16] Successful horror film producer Jason Blum, whose production company Blumhouse Productions has a 10-year first-look deal with Universal,[17] has publicly expressed his interest in working on the Dark Universe franchise.[18] In January 2019, Universal announced that the plan moving forward was to focus on filmmaker-driven films, and less of an interconnection in the Dark Universe. The Invisible Man remake was announced to be in development, written and directed by Leigh Whannell and produced by Blum. Johnny Depp is not currently attached as previously reported, but the studio is open to him portraying the lead role.[19] The following month Blum stated that production will begin some time in 2019.[20][21] In March 2019 Variety has reported that Depp will no longer star in the film, while Elisabeth Moss has entered negotiations to co-star as Cecilia Kass in the film while That Hastag Show has reported that Armie Hammer and Alexander Skarsgard are the studio's top choice for titluar role.[22][23]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e "Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Internet Movie Database". Internet Movie Database. Amazon.com Inc. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  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. ^ McClintock, Pamela (May 3, 2016). "Universal Stakes Out Release Date for Third Monster Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  5. ^ Mendelson, Scott (July 13, 2016). "What Universal Must Do To Sell Its Classic Monsters Universe". Forbes. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  6. ^ Woerner, Meredith (May 22, 2017). "Universal debuts its spooky new Dark Universe and its upcoming 'Bride of Frankenstein'". LA Times.
  7. ^ Holmes, Adam (May 2018). "It's Been One Year Since The Dark Universe Was Announced, So What Happened?". Cinema Blend.
  8. ^ Trumbore, Dave (December 4, 2016). "'The Mummy': Alex Kurtzman Confirms 'Dracula Untold' Is Not Canon, Teases Jekyll's Role". Collider.
  9. ^ McClintock, Pamela (May 3, 2016). "Universal Stakes Out Release Date for Third Monster Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 11, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  10. ^ Mendelson, Scott (July 13, 2016). "What Universal Must Do To Sell Its Classic Monsters Universe". Forbes. Archived from the original on September 27, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  11. ^ Armitage, Hugh (June 10, 2017). "Exclusive: Why ''The Mummy'' needed Brendan Fraser trilogy Easter eggs, according to director Alex Kurtzman". Digitalspy.com. Archived from the original on June 26, 2017. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  12. ^ "'The Mummy' Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying". Variety. June 8, 2017. Archived from the original on June 7, 2017.
  13. ^ "Universal's 'Monsterverse' in Peril as Top Producers Exit (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Eldridge Industries. November 8, 2017.
  14. ^ "Dark Universe: the undignified death of a cinematic universe". Den of Geek. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
  15. ^ Marc, Christopher (January 15, 2018). "Bride of Frankenstein Assembles Production Team - When Will It Shoot?". Omega Underground. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  16. ^ Schaefer, Sandy (May 18, 2018). "Universal's Dark Universe Might Not Be Dead After All". ScreenRant. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  17. ^ Cunningham, Todd (July 20, 2014). "Blumhouse Signs 10-Year Production Deal With Universal Pictures". The Wrap. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  18. ^ "Spawn Producer Jason Blum Interested In Reviving Dark Universe". 18 August 2018.
  19. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 24, 2019). "'Invisible Man' Finds Director, Sets New Course for Universal's Monster Legacy (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  20. ^ http://collider.com/the-invisible-man-movie-jason-blum/#universal-monsters
  21. ^ https://www.cinemablend.com/news/2466997/leigh-whannells-the-invisible-man-is-filming-sooner-than-expected
  22. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 1, 2019). "Elisabeth Moss Circling Universal's 'Invisible Man' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  23. ^ Murphy, Charles (March 11, 2019). "EXCLUSIVE: Armie Hammer, Alexander Skarsgard Top Choices for Universal's 'INVISIBLE MAN'". That Hastag Show. Retrieved March 11, 2019.

Further reading

External links

Black Friday (1940 film)

Black Friday is a 1940 American science fiction film starring Boris Karloff. Béla Lugosi, although second-billed, has only a small part in the film and does not appear with Karloff.

Writer Curt Siodmak would revisit this theme again in Donovan's Brain (1953) and Hauser's Memory (1970).

Dead Man's Eyes

Dead Man's Eyes is a 1944 Inner Sanctum film noir mystery film directed by Reginald Le Borg, and starring Lon Chaney, Jr. and Jean Parker. The film was distributed by Universal Pictures. The "Inner Sanctum" franchise originated with a popular radio series and all of the films star Lon Chaney, Jr.

Jungle Woman

Jungle Woman is a 1944 horror film released by Universal Pictures and starring Acquanetta, Evelyn Ankers, J. Carrol Naish, Samuel S. Hinds, Lois Collier, Milburn Stone, and Douglass Dumbrille. This is a sequel to Captive Wild Woman and was followed by The Jungle Captive.


Kharis is a character featured in Universal Studios's Mummy series in the 1940s following their original 1932 film The Mummy, which starred Boris Karloff as a different mummy character, Imhotep, though their backstories are practically identical. Universal's Mummy films were inspired by worldwide interest in Egyptian archeology during the first half of the twentieth century.

Night Key

Night Key is a science fiction crime film starring Boris Karloff and released by Universal Pictures in 1937.

Pillow of Death

Pillow of Death is a 1945 film noir mystery horror film directed by Wallace Fox and starring Lon Chaney, Jr. and Brenda Joyce. The last of the Inner Sanctum mystery films, it is based on a story by Dwight V. Babcock. The "Inner Sanctum" franchise originated with a popular radio series and all of the films star Lon Chaney, Jr. It was the only entry in the series to dispense with the introduction by a disembodied head in a crystal ball, as well as the only one to feature comic-relief characters to alleviate the grim tone.

Strange Confession

Strange Confession is a 1945 Inner Sanctum film noir mystery horror film, released by Universal Pictures and starring Lon Chaney Jr., J. Carrol Naish and Brenda Joyce. The film was directed by John Hoffman and was later rereleased under the title The Missing Head. The "Inner Sanctum" franchise originated with a popular radio series.

The Black Cat (1941 film)

The Black Cat is a 1941 film loosely based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The comedy/horror film was directed by Albert S. Rogell, starring Basil Rathbone and featuring supporting performances by Bela Lugosi and Alan Ladd in small roles. (Lugosi also starred with Boris Karloff in a 1934 film with the same title.)

The Cat Creeps (1946 film)

The Cat Creeps is a 1946 suspense thriller released by Universal Studios starring Lois Collier and featuring Noah Beery, Jr. The movie was directed by Erle C. Kenton and is not to be confused with The Cat Creeps, a 1930 lost early sound film that was a remake of the silent horror film The Cat and the Canary. All three of these movies were by Universal Studios.

The Climax

The Climax is a horror film produced by Universal Pictures, first released in the United States in 1944. The credits state this is based on the play of the same name by Edward Locke, although the plot has little connection to Locke's play. Originally intended to be a sequel to Universal's remake version of Phantom of the Opera (1943), it featured new characters and a new plot. Susanna Foster was the only member of the cast to star in the new film.

The Frozen Ghost

The Frozen Ghost is a 1945 film noir mystery film starring Lon Chaney, Jr., Elena Verdugo, Evelyn Ankers, Tala Birell and Martin Kosleck, and directed by Harold Young. It is the fourth of the six "Inner Sanctum" mystery films.

The Leech Woman

The Leech Woman is a 1960 American horror film directed by Edward Dein. It was released theatrically in 1960 on a double bill with the British film The Brides of Dracula.

The Mad Doctor of Market Street

The Mad Doctor of Market Street is a 1942 American horror film produced by Universal Pictures starring Lionel Atwill. The film was a low-budget project that utilized the studio's contract players and gave rising director Joseph H. Lewis an opportunity to demonstrate his versatility with little production money.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935 film)

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a 1935 American mystery-drama film directed by Stuart Walker and starring Claude Rains in the role of the villainous John Jasper. It is the third film adaptation and first sound film version of Charles Dickens's unfinished novel of the same name. Filmed by Universal Pictures, it co-stars Douglass Montgomery and Valerie Hobson (the future Estella of David Lean's 1946 Great Expectations), and featured David Manners as Edwin Drood. Stuart Walker had previously directed a little-known 1934 film adaptation of Great Expectations. The film's script provides an ending to the original unfinished novel, solving the mystery of the fate of Edwin Drood.

Mystery of Edwin Drood marks Claude Rains' only appearance in a Charles Dickens film.

The Phantom Creeps

The Phantom Creeps is a 1939 serial starring Bela Lugosi as a mad scientist who attempts to rule the world by creating various elaborate inventions. In a dramatic fashion, foreign agents and G-Men try to seize the inventions for themselves. A 78-minute feature film version of the film, cut down from the serial's original 265 minutes, was released for television showing in 1949.It was the 112th serial released by Universal Pictures and the 44th to have sound. The serial stars Lugosi as the villainous Doctor Zorka with Dorothy Arnold and Robert Kent.

It was adapted in DC's Movie Comics #6, cover date September–October 1939, the final issue of that title.

The Secret of the Blue Room

The Secret of the Blue Room is a 1933 American pre-Code murder-mystery film directed by Kurt Neumann and starring Lionel Atwill, Gloria Stuart, Paul Lukas and Edward Arnold.

The plot is based on the German film Geheimnis des Blauen Zimmers, made the previous year. Universal remade it twice: as The Missing Guest in 1938 and as Murder in the Blue Room in 1944; the latter is played mostly as a comedy with songs, though still largely faithful to the original plot.

The Spider Woman Strikes Back

The Spider Woman Strikes Back is a 1946 horror film starring Gale Sondergaard, with a running time of 59 minutes. Despite the similar title and role played by Sondergaard, the film is not a sequel to the Sherlock Holmes film, The Spider Woman. In The Spider Woman, Sondergaard's character is named Adrea Spedding. This time it is Zenobia Dollard.

The Thing That Couldn't Die

The Thing that Couldn't Die is a 1958 American black-and-white horror film produced and directed by Will Cowan and starring William Reynolds, Andra Martin, Jeffrey Stone, and Carolyn Kearney. Based on an original screenplay by David Duncan for Universal Pictures, it was released in the US on a double bill in May 1958 with the British Hammer Films classic Horror of Dracula.

Weird Woman

Weird Woman is a 1944 Inner Sanctum film noir mystery and horror film directed by Reginald Le Borg and starring Lon Chaney Jr., Anne Gwynne, and Evelyn Ankers. The "Inner Sanctum" franchise originated with a popular radio series and all of the films star Chaney Jr. The film is one of several films based on the novel Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber, the others include Night of the Eagle (1962) and Witches' Brew (1980). Co-star Evelyn Ankers had previously worked with Chaney in Ghost of Frankenstein, when Chaney played the monster, and The Wolf Man, when Chaney played the wolf man.

Universal Classic Monsters

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