I do love Universal horror, I have since I was a very young child. Whether is was on Chiller Theater on a Friday or Saturday night or a Saturday afternoon flick on cable, I never wasted a chance to watch any one of them. I have three for you tonight, plus one of the greatest Satanic cult movies ever made.
25. Frankenstein vs The Wolf-Man
The Universal monster mash-ups begin with this one as Bela Lugosi takes a turn as Frankenstein’s monster, the role he turned down for the original Frankenstein. A choice Lugosi would later regret as Boris Karloff claimed it and created an icon. Lugosi’s career never panned out as he was typecast as a cape-wearing vampire. Lon Chaney, Jr., reprises the Wolf-Man role as he tries to find a cure for his lycanthropy. Lionel Atwill appears in this one as well in one of his many Universal monster film roles.
Roy William Neill directed this film based on Curt Siodmak’s screenplay. Illona Massey plays Baroness Elsa Frankenstein, Patric Knowles appears as Dr. Frank Mannering, and Maria Ouspenskaya reprises her role as Maleva.
Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf-Man fight it out until the bitter end.
24. Son of Frankenstein
Of all of Universal’s monster franchises, Frankenstein has the best stable of films, front to back. From Bride of Frankenstein on, each sequel ranks better in quality than most of the sequels for the other monsters.
Boris Karloff once again plays Frankenstein’s creation, Lionel Atwill plays yet another character, and Bela Lugosi turns in the best performance of his career outside of Dracula as Ygor. Basil Rathbone takes a turn as the mad scientist in this one.
Lugosi’s is amazing as Ygor, his nuanced performance should not be overlooked. Watch all of the Frankenstein films in order, you won’t be disappointed.
23. The Mummy
Universal introduced The Mummy a year after the debut of Bela Lugosi as Dracula. Boris Karloff plays the ancient priest cursed 3,000 years ago because of forbidden love. Karl Freund directs this tale that is more of a re-telling of Dracula than it is an original story. Universal regulars Edwards van Sloan and David Manners also star. Zita Johann plays the Mummy’s love interest, his reincarnated princess.
Toss aside the fact that Universal wanted to capitalize on the success of Dracula by recycling the plotline. Boris Karloff, as is this case with all his films, is the reason to watch this one. He is mesmerizing and exudes controlled cruelty and menace.
The Mummy sequels are not listed in the countdown because, as charming as they are, they’re quite silly. Anyone who is caught and killed by the lumbering gauze-wrapped Lon Chaney, Jr., deserves to die.
22. Rosemary’s Baby
Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes star as a young couple on the verge of creating the miracle of life. Only problem is, Rosemary’s husband has a stand-in the night of conception. As noted in numerous films where Satan tries to bring his son, the antichrist, into the world, the devil likes to get his freak on.
Rosemary lives the nightmare of discovering that her husband isn’t quite what he seems, the neighbors are up to something, and the baby’s not quite right. This is true horror classic from director Roman Polanski.
The tension and terror builds slowly but surely throughout the film and the payoff at the end is the stuff of horror movie legend.