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Favorite Universal Horror Films (Lugosi, Karloff or Chaney Jr.?)


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I'm sure everyone has atleast one Universal monster movie that they really like. I have about twenty! But, I'll just list my top ten.

 

1. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man

2. The Black Cat

3. Dracula

4. Bride of Frankenstein

5. The Old Dark House

6. Murders In The Rue Morgue

7. The Wolf Man

8. Son of Frankenstein

9. The Invisible Man

10. Frankenstein

 

I didn't include Creature From The Black Lagoon or Abbott & Costello Meets Frankenstein because, despite their close heritage with the rest of the series, I feel they belong more to their respective genres (sci-fi and comedy) than the actual horror cycles of the thirties and forties.

 

While you're at it, why not choose between the great horror actors of the time? Who do you prefer more; Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff or Lon Chaney Jr.? No disrespect to either Karloff or Chaney Jr., but I think Bela Lugosi can act circles around the both of them. But that's just my opinion. what's yours?

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Well, it would be hard for me to narrow down my favorites among so many enjoyable titles because I like them all. None of the classic Universal horror films has ever bored me no matter how many times I've seen it. I guess a list of the ones that really stand out for me would include:

 

1. BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

2. THE WOLF MAN

3. THE MUMMY'S CURSE

4. THE INVISIBLE MAN

5. FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN

6. HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN

7. THE MUMMY'S HAND

8. SON OF FRANKENSTEIN

9. THE OLD DARK HOUSE

10. TOWER OF LONDON

 

The older films (DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN), though still excellent, are a bit more plodding to me than the entries from the 40s. They're more atmospheric than the later renditions, thanks to the lack of soundtracks, but the fast-paced action of the later films edges them for me.

 

One thing I wish they would have done with the Frankenstein series is to keep up the monster's ability to talk. Others may disagree because it takes away from his mysteriousness, but I think he's creepier when warbling out words--hence, my love for BRIDE. It's weird. He just quit talking in SON. They had a chance to do it again with MEETS THE WOLFMAN because, in that movie, the monster is played by Bela Lugosi. In the previous entry (GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN), Igor's (Bela's) brain had been transplanted into the monster, and he talked. Admittedly though, the monster would not have been the same with Bela's accent.

 

Among the big three (Bela, Boris and Lon Jr.), I would give the edge to Chaney in acting ability. I love all three, and in my eyes, no one will ever outshine Bela in a cape, but I still think Chaney was the best. The agony that he brought to life in the role of Lawrence Talbot is truly great. Outside of the genre, he proved himself even more. OF MICE AND MEN is one of the best cast films I've ever seen. I think John Steinbeck wrote the book with Bob Steele in mind as Curley--but Chaney tops them all. Though Tomas Mitchell got the Best Supporting Actor nod in 1940 for STAGECOACH (and presumably for his other '39 roles, i.e., GONE WITH THE WIND, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON), I still believe that Chaney's performance as Lennie was/is greater than any one of Mitchell's performances that year. He's mesmerizing in that role.

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My favorite universal horror films are:

1. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

2. Son of Frankenstein

3. The Black Cat

4. The Bride of Frankenstein

5. Dracula

6. House of Dracula

7. Frankenstein

8. The Invisible Man

9. The Wolf Man

10. Son of Dracula

 

Karloff was probably the best actor of the three though my personal favorite is Lugosi, I can watch anything with him in it no matter how bad. Chaney had some interesting roles but none more memorable than the live t.v. show Tales of Tomorrow in which he played Frankenstein's Monster. Unfortunately he was so drunk that while the show was being aired live he thought it was a rehearsal and didn't destroy the props like he was supposed to, instead picking them up menacingly and carefully placing them back on their marks. The scariest part came when he was to terrorize a young boy which he overly excelled at by shaking the boy a little too violently. One can see true terror on the boys face during this scene.

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My 10 favorite Universal horror films are:

1)Bride of Frankenstein

2)Frankenstein

3) The Black Cat

4) The Wolf Man

5) The Old Dark House

6)Son of Frankenstein

7)Dracula's Daughter

8)Werewolf of London

9)House of Frankenstein

10)Son of Dracula

 

I like Karloff best of the big three, although I think Lugosi is terrific as Ygor.

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I love nearly all of them.

 

My list looks something like this:

Frankenstein

Bride of Frankenstein

Dracula

The Wolf Man

The Invisible Man

The Black Cat

The Creature From the Black Lagoon

The Mummy

The Invisible Ray

The Phantom of the Opera

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  • 3 months later...

I'm actually not that big a fan of the universal monster movies. But there are still quite a few that I think are excellent:

 

Son of Dracula (the only good performance I've ever seen from Lon Chaney jnr, and it's a very good performance indeed, a genuinely menacing vampire) is my favourite.

 

Dracula's Daughter is odd and rather low-key, but haunting and interesting for the lesbian sub-text.

 

The Black Cat is fantastic Edgar G. Ulmer expressionist weirdness.

 

And of course The Mummy, not a horror movie at all but a truly great love story.

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"Son of Dracula" is very good. It looks traditional, but it has a noir plot, with the evil woman manipulating the vampire. It is rather subversive in a way, in that the main female character actually wants to become a vampire.

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1. THE BLACK CAT (1934)

2. HOUSE OF HORRORS (1946)

3. FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943)

4. THE MAD GHOUL (1943)

5. FRANKENSTEIN (1931)

6. SON OF DRACULA (1943)

7. WEIRD WOMAN (1944)

8. DRACULA (1931)

9. HOUSE OF DRACULA (1944)

10. ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)

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I personallly love all of the Universal Horror Films, but my favorite one is Dracula,, mainly because it was the first one of the Universal Horror classics that I saw, and it got me not only into the rest of them, but into all classic movies.

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  • 7 months later...

Gosh that is a hard question. I absolutely love classic horror movies and Universal's are certainlly the cream of the crop.I love them all but put The Mummy and the whole realm of Kharis movies on the top of my list. I love The Wolf man too,,,so many. I am not as fond of Dracula and Frankenstein movies but still watch them.

My favorite star is Boris Karloff and I have a really nice hard plastic monster statue of Karloff as the mummy.

Lon Chaney Jr. I love as a more pitiful, don't want to be, monster. Larry Talbot breaks my heart.

Bela Lagosi, for me, was best as a partner with Karloff.

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Agree about the fact that this is indeed a "hard" question, since I enjoy all the Universal classics and all three of the actors mentioned.

 

I guess it would depend on what I'm in the mood to see.

 

All three were capable of portraying characters which, at first glance, might not seem to be very sympathetic, but which, on further reflection, actually are: Lugosi in DRACULA, Karloff in FRANKENSTEIN, Chaney as THE WOLF MAN

 

They also excelled at playing unsympathetic characters: Lugosi in THE RAVEN, Karloff in BLACK FRIDAY, Chaney in SON OF DRACULA, even managing on occasion to evoke audience pity for these characters.

 

But, as stated, which films I want to watch will really depend upon what I'm in the mood to see. Sometimes I'll be in the mood for some Frankenstein, sometimes Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, Paula the ape Woman, etc. I agree that the overall quality of these pictures varies, but I like them all anyway.

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I've already listed several times my favorite Universal shockers that will be at the top of my list all this month of Halloween. Yet, I don't think anyone has really expressed reasons for why these classics grow in popularity with every passing year and find new fans every generation. I think the black-and-white photography burnishes these movies to gems to make them perpetual icons in our memories. Universal's horror unit was second-to-none in its technical expertise--from outstanding photography to great musical scores, and of course a talented group of charismatic thespians. Just look at what Ford Beebee did with l942's "Night Monster"--a low-budget production given an A-movie treatment with great acting, photography and musical scoring. Look also at "The Mummy's Ghost' and "The Mummy's Curse." Both were considered low-budget but thanks to gifted directors, cast and crew, they turned out to become unforgettable classics. "Frankenstein Meets the WolfMan" is another unforgettable treasure that grows in stature every year--especially after people watch that fantastic opening--of the grave robbers breaking into the tomb of Lawrence Talbot. You've got electrifyng shots of the full moon, flickerig shadows, terrifying music and it sets the tone for the whole great movie. Bravo to Universal for having left us such a great legacy--now if we could only get "Night Monster" and the Ape Woman series on DVD.

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Nice post, Princess.

 

I think that probably some of these pictures' appeal comes from the fact that most of us saw them for the first time when we were kids. Even though there might be some deaths, these movies were "safe" because good triumphed and the monster would be banished until the next sequel.

 

Agree with you about NIGHT MONSTER. I put a few comments down about it under the "Movies I'd pick to watch for Halloween" thread under General Discussions.

 

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN has so much going for it: a great cast, including Lon Chaney at the top of his form as Larry Talbot, one of the best horror film musical scores ever, and tons of atmosphere! It's probably my favorite Lon Chaney/Wolf Man movie.

 

I'd like to see NIGHT MONSTER & the Paula Dupree series on DVD too, but I did pick them all up when Universal was releasing their classics on VHS back in the 90s, so I can still enjoy them whenever I want.

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Night Monster is on DVD from Best Buys Exclusive Horror set, along with Horror Island, Man Made Monster, Captive Wild Woman and the Black Cat 1941

My favorite universal ---god knows Ive seen this too many times that I cant really watch them because Im too familiar with them to the point where I might nap or do something while it was on..

That being said

Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, Black Cat, Invisible Man are the ones I like the best...

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Hey, thanks for the headsup, Dclassic, regarding Night Monster, Captive Wild Woman, etc. being on DVD. I'll make a quick trip to my Best buy in about an hour and grab it! As I mentionedo on another thread, I brought the l00-Horror Classic Boxed set from Best buy last weekend and have been in horror heaven. Many of these titles I've never heard of--which makes them all the more enticing. Still, Universal cannot be topped when it comes to legendary horror flicks that never grow and only grow better with the passage of time.

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Thanks to you, Dsclassic, I just ran over to my BestBuy and brought my Universal HOrror Classic Movie Archive-Vol.1 that contains those legendary goodies, "Night Monster," "Captive Wild Woman," etc. My one complaint is that Universal could easily have put the other two Ape Woman flicks on the same disc--Jungle Captive and the Jungle Woman. They're both very short, only about 60 minutes long and this would have made this disc even more wonderful. Well, guess we should be thankful for miracles. Now, I'm turning out the lights, turning off the phone, turning on the AC, getting my comfort food all ready and Weeeeee--I'll be in Universal heaven!

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Wow, it seems that I am the only one that liked Murders in the Rue Morgue. Granted, it's not the best film of the bunch, but I liked the concept, and think that Robert Florey kept the it moving along at a steady pace. Even though the film does drag from time to time, it's definately worth it to see Lugosi in one of his best performances.

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I like Murders in the Rue Morgue as well, when I am in the right mood, its a tense slow paced, but good, when the feeling is right...

Princess - I am glad you got the Box Set.. I dont know why they did only the first Captive Wild Woman , I don't know why they didn't pick better movies like Island of Lost Souls or Murders in the Zoo...

My guess is that one or 2 of the other movies will be mixed with Lost Souls and Murders in the Zoo...

I think the feeling was if the 3 Ape Women titles were in a set, it wouldn't sell as well...in all honesty the Wild Woman movies aren't so great, so if they put all 3 as a set I would have probably passed, so they mixed some goodies with some so-so titles..

John Carradine is good in the movie, but I felt there was too too too much padding of stock footage. Acquanetta is neat :) but not enough to save this movie.

These sets remind me a lot of how Rhino does MST Volumes...they pick a popular episode and blend it with lesser episodes, Volume 10 comes to mind, where Godzilla vs Megalon was grouped with Swamp Diamonds, Teenage Strangler and Giant Spider Invasion. I think its a great set, but the Rhino Poll shows how popular the other titles arent compared to Megalon...

The premise from the marketing reps to me is " we know you want this episode or movie , but the only way to get it is in this volume or set with these movies or shows included"

Take the good with their crap I guess :)

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One reason MURDERS IN THE ZOO or ISLAND OF LOST SOULS might not have been included is that both of these aren't really Universal pictures.

They were released by Paramount.

 

I understand there was some fallout when these pictures (along with SUPERNATURAL and THE MONSTER AND THE GIRL) were released back in the 90s as part of MCA's Universal Classics series on VHS.

 

They're good movies, and it was good to see them out, but they're not "Universal classics."

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