10 Best Universal Monster Movies (According To IMDb) | ScreenRant – Screen Rant

The proposed Dark Universe may have stumbled in its inaugural outing, but the concept actually thrived long ago. This is due to classy, atmospheric and dramatic interpretations of various iconic monsters. The early films were romantic, sophisticated and innovative for some time, before lesser sequels and changing fears left diminishing returns. Still, the sheer brilliance throughout Universals lengthy run is undeniable. These stories resonated through compelling themes that transcended the horror genre. They provide a foundation with ample sturdiness, personality and artisanship for the monsters to be shocked back to life, some day. Its proof enough that fans remain, nearly a century later. Heres how IMDb voters ranked the best Universal had to offer.

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The original Frankenstein film and its sequel are widely regarded as crowning achievements of the entire monster canon. However, this fun entry has generally been forgotten, unfortunately. True, it does tend to indulge some of the sillier sensibilities that most detractors of horror tend to criticize. And establishing the monsters Bride certainly opened that floodgate. But even without the masterful James Whale directing, the performances are still on point. Basil Rathbone, popular for his take on Sherlock Holmes, is always convincing. But best of all, Bela Lugosi really flaunts his abilities as Ygor, expanding the character into that familiar archetype.

Its rather strange that most fans of The Mummy associate the franchise with action and adventure. The original film was decidedly slow and methodical, especially compared to its peers. It was a moody drama that patiently unfolded building suspense, with mere moments of an actual mummy on screen. The latest reboot tried to have it both ways, aiming for a gloomy tone and blockbuster action alike, which faltered. While Brendan Frasers flashy spin incorporates great Indiana Jones fun, the original was appealing because it went in the opposite direction. The steady, deliberate stride allowed some terrific character development. The incomparable Boris Karloff ensures that his lovelorn Imhotep always remains frightening.

This will probably first bring to mind the Disney version, which leans further into the true nature of the titular character. Its unfortunate that the sympathetic hunchback was visually represented as something monstrous. But the plot itself does reinforce who he really is an unjustly maligned outcast. Lon Chaneys portrayal is absolutely mesmerizing, and only the first of many roles he would transform into greatness. By his shoulders alone, the film still stands, though his fellow castmates are also talented. The pacing is brisk, the makeup effects are astonishing, and the aching heart in this story is palpable and authentic.

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This is the definitive werewolf story, with all of the subtext and thematic maturity that can possibly accompany such thrills. Visually speaking, the cinematography and art design are just gorgeous, with those foggy woods alone becoming iconic. Perhaps the Gypsies are reduced to a trope, but the surrounding werewolf lore is...infectious. It established much of the werewolf myth as we know it today. The protagonist is almost a kind of peeping Tom, who pursues an engaged woman. But he is made sympathetic by protecting someone during the attack which tragically transforms him. And Lon Chaney Jr. is nothing short of genius on-screen. He is equal parts nuanced, charming and intimidating.

This is probably divisive among fans for removing every sense of horror and drama. Heres a monster movie that spoofs the entire genre, surely a result of the audiences shifting attitudes. Rather than even bothering with Universals roots, Abbott and Costello simply do their thing whilst playing in the monsters sandbox. Sure, they harness great comedic talent, and they tease with love. The monsters never relinquish their familiar characterization. But losing the classic, Gothic tone will be a tough hurdle for purists, perhaps especially for modern fans. Ultimately, its a matter of expectations. If you genuinely want a good laugh, there is plenty to be found here.

One of the two powerhouse characters that launched Universals wave of timeless classics. The pacing can feel a tad rushed, but Dracula deftly condenses a compelling book into a lush film. That feat alone is remarkable, and worth the revisit. Bram Stokers original fiction offered such intriguing mythology, it has been endlessly reimagined with actual success, even in comics. But Universals enduring, shadowy interpretation influenced all of them in one way or another. And Bela Lugosi couldnt receive enough praise for his assured, cunning Dracula, imposing even as he jests. This is still one of the best horror films ever made, sustained by its magnetic performances and potent style.

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It is a truly uncanny ability to skillfully act without a proper face to emote with. Lon Chaney returns for yet another bout of masked talent as the titular fright. Its hard to imagine that the source novel was relatively new at the time, but it allowed Universal another early hit. Once again, they successfully abridged a captivating book into a slick, classy tale of romance and horror. The two often join hands in Universals run, which is one of their greatest trademarks. It is perhaps one of the primary reasons for these films endurance because both are executed so well, particularly here.

This one is perhaps best known for its visual effects spectacle, the convincing trickery of the actual invisibility. And it is definitely impressive, with numerous floating objects and the like. However, its the dense artistry that really cements this film so highly in fans hearts. James Whale returns with impeccable direction, capturing exhilarating suspense like the train scene. Claude Rains ensures that his protagonists madness always feels more menacing than silly. And the source material was written by H.G. Wells himself, whose works also resulted in The Time Machine and War of the Worlds.

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This sequel opted for an unexpectedly self-aware plot, wherein Mary Shelley herself is recounting further story. Everything involving Frankensteins monster is absolute gold, and his relationship with the blind man is very moving. But the boisterous old woman becomes tiresome, the kill count is higher, and there are actually shrunken people. The tone alternates between the familiar and some new experiment, which mostly works. The visuals remain just as arresting, and with hardly any screen time, the titular Bride character is an instant classic. Its simply mulled over how Frankenstein himself survived, but his struggle and coercion is a gripping turn.

Frankensteins monster is such a conceptually robust piece of science-fiction horror, the tale has been retold in countless varied ways. This is because it tapped into the persisting hubris of humanity, in which rogue science can corrupt nature, either inadvertently or otherwise. Even massively popular franchises like Jurassic Park bear similar themes. And likewise, the monstrous things we fear are also sympathetic by nature. Just the relationship between Frankenstein and his monster alone is utterly captivating and layered. The essence of this film could be thematically revisited a dozen times over and still provide fresh insight. Everything the novel did for science-fiction and horror, this movie perfectly encapsulated and cemented on screen.

NEXT: Universal Monsters: 5 Monsters Who Deserve A Modern Reboot (& 5 Who Don't)

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10 Best Universal Monster Movies (According To IMDb) | ScreenRant - Screen Rant

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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero
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