(Photo by Universal/courtesy Everett Collection)

All 43 Universal Classic Monster Movies Ranked

Before your cinematic universes and extended galaxies and interconnected constellations, there were the Universal Classic Monster movies. A loose confederation of sequels and spinoffs, they were the biggest motion picture events in the early life of cinema. The 1920s kicked things off with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera before the franchise moved into its 1930s golden era. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Invisible Man all released between 1931 and 1933, and they remain masterpiece staples of the horror genre.

In the 1940s, Universal ramped up production, frequently outpacing quality control. Among the sequels was the introduction of The Wolf Man in 1941, as well as Universal’s turn to self-parody with the arrival of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The comedy duo would Meet Frankenstein in 1948, carrying well into the mid-’50s. Creature from the Black Lagoon was the final hurrah for the original line of Universal monster movies.

In 1999, The Mummy was revived in the summer blockbuster era, bringing in enough fans young and old to encourage two sequels. Van Helsing and The Wolfman also arrived in the decade or so after the Mummy relaunch, though the lackluster returns on those meant Universal was ready to try something new (read: what Marvel was doing).

2014’s Dracula Untold was to be the start of a so-called Dark Universe of connected monster movies. After that movie failed to draw much blood out of the box office, 2017’s The Mummy was going to be the “new” new start of the Dark Universe. Until that movie also bombed spectacularly.

And so we arrive at 2020’s The Invisible Man, which reportedly cost 30 times less than The Mummy to make, and with no aspirations to be tied to any larger universe. See where critics place the Elisabeth Moss-starring horror/thriller as we rank all Universal Classic Monster movies by Tomatometer!

#43
Adjusted Score: 18.56%
Critics Consensus: With middling CG effects and a distinct lack of fun, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor finds the series past its prime.
Synopsis: The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen continues the tale set into motion by director Stephen Sommers with this... [More]
Directed By: Rob Cohen, Simon Duggan

#42

The Mummy (2017)
16%

#42
Adjusted Score: 29.305%
Critics Consensus: Lacking the campy fun of the franchise's most recent entries and failing to deliver many monster-movie thrills, The Mummy suggests a speedy unraveling for the Dark Universe.
Synopsis: Tom Cruise headlines a spectacular, all-new cinematic version of the legend that has fascinated cultures all over the world since... [More]
Directed By: Alex Kurtzman

#41
Adjusted Score: 15.745%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this thriller, set in early 20th-century London, a woman tells her innocent young niece that the blood of the... [More]
Directed By: Jean Yarbrough

#40
#40
Adjusted Score: 13.16%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this 3-D sequel to Creature from the Black Lagoon, the scaly creature is brought from his Amazon swamp to... [More]
Directed By: Jack Arnold

#39

Dracula Untold (2014)
25%

#39
Adjusted Score: 30.02%
Critics Consensus: Neither awful enough to suck nor sharp enough to bite, Dracula Untold misses the point of its iconic character's deathless appeal.
Synopsis: Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6, Immortals) stars in Dracula Untold, the origin story of the man who became Dracula.... [More]

#38

Van Helsing (2004)
24%

#38
Adjusted Score: 30.489%
Critics Consensus: A hollow creature feature that suffers from CGI overload.
Synopsis: The greatest monster hunter of them all has his work cut out for him as he tracks down three deadly... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Sommers

#37
Adjusted Score: 25.74%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Abbott and Costello are stranded in Egypt, where they enter an ancient crypt that's guarded by a living mummy.... [More]
Directed By: Charles Lamont

#36
Adjusted Score: 26.672%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this fifth film in Universal's "Frankenstein" series, Larry Talbot, alias The Wolf Man, is brought back to the land... [More]
Directed By: Roy William Neill

#35

The Mummy's Tomb (1942)
29%

#35
Adjusted Score: 29.141%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This horror sequel follows The Mummy's Hand and picks up where the action ended. The mad Egyptian high priest, thought... [More]
Directed By: Harold Young

#34
#34
Adjusted Score: 32.232%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A sequel to The Mummy's Tomb, this horror film follows the quest of the reanimated mummy to find a beautiful... [More]

#33

The Wolfman (2010)
34%

#33
Adjusted Score: 40.663%
Critics Consensus: Suitably grand and special effects-laden, The Wolfman suffers from a suspense-deficient script and a surprising lack of genuine chills.
Synopsis: A practical man returns to his homeland, is attacked by a creature of folklore, and infected with a horrific disease... [More]
Directed By: Joe Johnston

#32
Adjusted Score: 43.049%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Filmed in 3-D, this sequel to Revenge of the Creature finds the monster captured and brought to America for study.... [More]
Directed By: John Sherwood

#31
Adjusted Score: 32.558%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The fifth in the Invisible Man series stars Jon Hall as Robert Griffin, a convict who takes the invisibility serum... [More]
Directed By: Ford Beebe

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 40.628%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this 1944 sequel to The Mummy's Ghost, mummies Ananka and her lover Kharis are removed from a Louisiana swamp... [More]
Directed By: Leslie Goodwins

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 51.442%
Critics Consensus: In The Mummy Returns, the special effects are impressive, but the characters seem secondary to the computer generated imagery.
Synopsis: This big-budget sequel from writer/director Stephen Sommers navigates much of the same cliffhanger territory as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Sommers

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 55.791%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In many ways the most endearing of Universal's B-grade "monster rallies" of the 1940s, House of Frankenstein manages within its... [More]
Directed By: Erle C. Kenton

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 58.405%
Critics Consensus: Dracula's Daughter extends the Universal horror myth in an interesting direction, but the talky script and mild atmosphere undermine its ambition.
Synopsis: A hypnotic woman steals the body of Count Dracula, and bloodless corpses start appearing in London again.... [More]
Directed By: Lambert Hillyer

#26

House of Dracula (1945)
56%

#26
Adjusted Score: 56.477%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This sequel to The House of Frankenstein offers an account of a naive scientist (Onslow Stevens) who allows Count Dracula... [More]
Directed By: Erle C. Kenton

#25

Dracula (1979)
59%

#25
Adjusted Score: 59.716%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In the late '70s, Frank Langella starred in the hit Broadway play Dracula, written by Hamilton Deane and John L.... [More]
Directed By: John Badham

#24

The Mummy (1999)
61%

#24
Adjusted Score: 65.164%
Critics Consensus: It's difficult to make a persuasive argument for The Mummy as any kind of meaningful cinematic achievement, but it's undeniably fun to watch.
Synopsis: Loosely adapted from the classic 1932 horror film starring Boris Karloff, The Mummy is set in Egypt, where over 3,000... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Sommers

#23

Invisible Agent (1942)
67%

#23
Adjusted Score: 65.532%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Universal's "Invisible Man" series does its bit for the war effort in this slyly tongue-in-cheek action melodrama. Jon Hall stars... [More]
Directed By: Edwin L. Marin

#22

Son of Dracula (1943)
60%

#22
Adjusted Score: 62.339%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Son of Dracula represents a felicitious creative collaboration between director Robert Siodmak and his screenwriter-brother Curt. The story is set... [More]
Directed By: Robert Siodmak

#21
Adjusted Score: 63.239%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This was the last in a string of spoofs that found the comedy duo tangling with various classic Universal Studios... [More]
Directed By: Charles Lamont

#20

The Mummy's Hand (1940)
67%

#20
Adjusted Score: 67.358%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The first of four loose sequels to the 1932 original finds a mad high priest (George Zucco) resurrecting the mummy... [More]
Directed By: Christy Cabanne

#19
#19
Adjusted Score: 67.358%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Virginia Bruce stars as a model exposed to the invisibility serum by a crazed professor (John Barrymore) in this distaff... [More]
Directed By: A. Edward Sutherland

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 75.956%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Ygor and Frankenstein's monster flee from Castle Frankenstein, taking refuge in the home of one of the mad scientist's sons.... [More]
Directed By: Erle C. Kenton

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 79.675%
Critics Consensus: Though it lives beneath the 1925 version, Claude Rains plays title character well in this landmark color version of the classic tragedy.
Synopsis: Early color version of the classic story, starring Claude Reins as the obsessed, tragic Phantom.... [More]
Directed By: Arthur Lubin

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 78.984%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When English botanist Dr. Glendon travels to Tibet in search of the mysterious marifasa plant, he encounters a strange wolf-like... [More]

#15
Adjusted Score: 80.725%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The best of Universal-International's followups to Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, Abbott & Costello Meet the Invisible Man casts Bud... [More]
Directed By: Charles Lamont

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 90.528%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This semi-sequel to The Invisible Man stars Vincent Price in the title role. Condemned for a murder he did not... [More]
Directed By: Joe May

#13
Adjusted Score: 82.222%
Critics Consensus: A solid, atmospheric creature feature that entertains without attempting to be deeper than it needs.
Synopsis: Universal Pictures introduced audiences to yet another classic movie monster with this superbly crafted film, originally presented in 3-D. The... [More]
Directed By: Jack Arnold

#12
Adjusted Score: 92.635%
Critics Consensus: A zany horror spoof that plays up and then plays into the best of Universal horror cliches.
Synopsis: It seems that Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), in league with a beautiful but diabolical lady scientist (Lenore Aubert), needs a... [More]
Directed By: Charles Barton

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 109.22%
Critics Consensus: Smart, well-acted, and above all scary, The Invisible Man proves that sometimes, the classic source material for a fresh reboot can be hiding in plain sight.
Synopsis: Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of... [More]
Directed By: Leigh Whannell

#10
Adjusted Score: 95.189%
Critics Consensus: A heart-rending take on the classic book, with a legendary performance by Lon Chaney.
Synopsis: This second film version of the Victor Hugo novel Notre Dame de Paris (the first was a Theda Bara vehicle,... [More]

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 99.52%
Critics Consensus: Boris Karloff's final appearance as the Monster is a fitting farewell before the series descended into self-parody.
Synopsis: The most elaborate--and longest--of Universal's Frankenstein series, Son of Frankenstein represents Boris Karloff's last appearance in the role of the... [More]
Directed By: Rowland V. Lee

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 96.219%
Critics Consensus: Decades later, it still retains its ability to scare -- and Lon Chaney's performance remains one of the benchmarks of the horror genre.
Synopsis: Lon Chaney stars as Erik, the Phantom, in what is probably his most famous and certainly his most horrifying role.... [More]

#7

Dracula (1931)
94%

#7
Adjusted Score: 100.349%
Critics Consensus: Bela Lugosi's timeless portrayal of Dracula in this creepy and atmospheric 1931 film has set the standard for major vampiric roles since.
Synopsis: "I am....Drac-u-la. I bid you velcome." Thus does Bela Lugosi declare his presence in the 1931 screen version of Bram... [More]
Directed By: Tod Browning

#6

The Mummy (1932)
88%

#6
Adjusted Score: 95.343%
Critics Consensus: Relying more on mood and atmosphere than the thrills typical of modern horror fare, Universal's The Mummy sets a masterful template for mummy-themed films to follow.
Synopsis: Brought back to life after nearly 3,700 years, Egyptian high priest Imhotep wreaks havoc upon the members of a British... [More]
Directed By: Karl W. Freund

#5

The Wolf Man (1941)
90%

#5
Adjusted Score: 96.111%
Critics Consensus: A handsomely told tale with an affecting performance from Lon Chaney, Jr., The Wolf Man remains one of the classics of the Universal horror stable.
Synopsis: "Even a man who is pure at heart/And says his prayers by night/May become a wolf when the wolf-bane blooms/And... [More]
Directed By: George Waggner

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 103.271%
Critics Consensus: James Whale's classic The Invisible Man features still-sharp special effects, loads of tension, a goofy sense of humor, and a memorable debut from Claude Rains.
Synopsis: A mysterious stranger, his face swathed in bandages and his eyes obscured by dark spectacles, has taken a room at... [More]
Directed By: James Whale

#3
Adjusted Score: 93.82%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The grisly doings of Bram Stoker's vampire count are featured here as he ventures from his native Transylvania to England... [More]
Directed By: George Melford

#2

Frankenstein (1931)
100%

#2
Adjusted Score: 106.662%
Critics Consensus: Still unnerving to this day, Frankenstein adroitly explores the fine line between genius and madness, and features Boris Karloff's legendary, frightening performance as the monster.
Synopsis: "Frankenstein" is a film about a mad, obsessed scientist, Dr. Henry Frankenstein", who creates a monster, by taking body parts... [More]
Directed By: James Whale

#1
Adjusted Score: 107.559%
Critics Consensus: An eccentric, campy, technically impressive, and frightening picture, James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein has aged remarkably well.
Synopsis: Dr. Frankenstein is forced to tempt fate once again by creating a suitable mate for his monster.... [More]
Directed By: James Whale

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