Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man), and The Creature From The Black Lagoon—classic characters, and every single (first) film of theirs a masterpiece. But what of their continuing and crossover films? Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is one of the greatest sequels of all time, but not every film in the Universal Classic Monsters catalog receives the same level of adoration. That doesn’t mean there isn’t serious fun to be had with these characters beyond their famous beginnings and classic offerings. Things turn weird in the dark universe. Things get campy. And Abbott and Costello show up! More than once!
If you stopped at their first films, you might want to dig a little deeper into the full legacy of the classic Universal Classic Monsters, and listed for you below are The 10 Best Sequels of The Universal Monsters!
10. House of Dracula (1945)
Count Dracula (John Carradine, Return of the Ape Man) travels to Visaria seeking Dr. Franz Edlemann (Onslow Stevens, Them!) who has been developing strange medical treatments with the use of spores from a mysterious plant. Dracula believes the doctor is the one to cure him of vampirism, with a blood transfusion… or so it would seem. But he’s not the only one looking to benefit from the doctor’s help. Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr., The Wolf Man) also arrives at the doctor’s castle in hopes of finding a cure to lycanthropy. Dejected by the doctor’s delays, Larry—always the tortured soul—opts for suicide by jumping off an ocean side cliff, only to land in an underground network of tunnels where Frankenstein’s Monster (Glenn Strange, House of Frankenstein) has been lying dormant. With the trio in place, and a doctor driven mad by an infusion of bad vampire blood, a monstrous showdown ensues.
9. The Mummy’s Hand (1940)
After discovering the tomb of Princess Ananka in Egypt, archeologists unleash the wrath of the mummy Kharis (Tom Tyler, Adventures of Captain Marvel), who is resurrected by a high priest, Professor Andoheb (George Zucco, The Mad Monster), to exact murderous revenge on those who disturbed the sacred resting place. Through the vast desert, the archeologists are pursued by Kharis, that is until he lays his dead eyes on Marta (Peggy Moran, Horror Island), daughter of the magician who funded the discovery of Ananka’s tomb. Enraptured with Marta’s beauty, Kharis abandons his vengeance against the tomb raiders to focus on making her his bride for all eternity. These Mummy films sure do have a thing for eternal love.
Continuity Alert: The Mummy’s Hand isn’t really a sequel to Karloff’s (The Mummy, 1932), but a new starting point with three sequels of its own.
8. Invisible Agent (1942)
With an assumed identity, Frank Raymond (Jon Hall, Cobra Woman), grandson of Dr. Jack Griffin, the original Invisible Man, has been hiding as a print shop owner in New York and trying to keep the invisibility formula out of the wrong hands. But of course, his identity is discovered, and he faces amputation from Axis agents if he doesn’t turn over the formula. Fun fact: German actor Peter Lorre (M) portrays a Japanese baron doing the threatening! Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Frank decides that the substantial risks of using the formula would be offset by the good he can do serving as an invisible agent upsetting the nefarious hubbub in the middle of Germany. Far from being a horrific mad scientist film, Invisible Agent is wartime propaganda, using invisibility to upset bumbling Nazis, for laughs.
7. Revenge of The Creature (1955)
Captured and transported to an aquarium in Florida, the Gill-man (Tom Hennesy and Ricou Browning) once again becomes enamored with a woman, Helen (Lori Nelson, Day the World Ended), an ichthyologist assigned to study his origin. Unfortunately, the Gill-man isn’t the only one to fall in love with Helen, as Clete (John Agar, The Mole People), an animal psychologist also develops feelings for her—feelings that are mutual, trumping the Gill-man’s unrequited love. It’s only a matter of time before the Gill-man escapes his captivity and flees towards the open sea. But he can’t let Helen go without a fight, so he finds her and kidnaps her, leading Clete and the police on a chase through Florida.
This is a straightforward sequel. If you want to get strange, jump ahead to The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), which has the Gill-man losing his fish anatomy and becoming almost human the longer he stays out of the water.
6. Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)
Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) just wants to die, and stay dead. Waking in the family crypt when looters unknowingly move the wolfsbane buried with him, Larry sees no other option but to follow the suggestion of a gypsy and seek out Dr. Frankenstein to relieve him once and for all of the curse. Though Frankenstein is dead, and his daughter, Elsa (Ilona Massey, Invisible Agent) refuses to hand over his research of the doctor’s dark matters, the Monster (Bela Lugosi, stepping into the role he was originally offered after Dracula, but turned down) is alive, preserved in a block of ice beneath the castle. Freeing the Monster from the ice in hopes that he might know the whereabouts of the doctor’s notes, the desperate plan falls apart when vengeful villagers and animal nature takes over.
Okay, here’s a confusing bit of continuity: This film is the fourth sequel in the Frankenstein series, following The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), and it is also a direct sequel to The Wolf Man (1941).
5. The Invisible Man Return (1940)
Framed for the murder of his brother, Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price, House on Haunted Hill) escapes his police cell and eludes execution, with the help of his friend, Dr. Frank Griffin (John Sutton, Thunder Birds) and his invisibility formula. It’s then a race to catch the real murderer and resolve conflicts in the Radcliffe family mining business, before the madness caused by invisibility consumes Geoffrey.
Vincent Price only appears in The Invisible Man Returns on screen for a minute, though his disembodied voice is heard throughout.
4. Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Chick Young (Bud Abbott, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello, Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff) are baggage clerks warned over the phone by Larry Talbot (still Chaney Jr. and still a tragic fur ball of torment- even in a comedy) of a shipment of crates arriving containing Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi) and Frankenstein’s Monster (Glenn Strange). But before the warning can be clarified, the full moon transforms Larry into the howling Wolf Man, and then the bumbling duo accidentally open the crates, setting the horror icons lose. Under the ruse of becoming displays in a wax museum, the horrific reason for the shipment comes clear: Dracula and Dr. Sandra Mornay (Lenore Aubert, The Catman of Paris), a demented disciple of Dr. Frankenstein, have been planning a brain transplant for the weakened Monster, and it seems the goofy Wilbur is now set to be the unwilling donor.
The first of several Abbott and Costello films to incorporate the Universal Classic Monsters, while also serving as series caps to the big three characters: Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Wolf Man—the Invisible Man doesn’t physically appear on screen, but Vincent Price does provide a voice cameo.
3. Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
After Count Dracula is defeated by Professor Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan, Dracula), his daughter, Countess Marya Zaleska (Gloria Holden, Strange Holiday) steals the body and performs a ritualistic cremation that she hopes will cure her of vampirism. But the curse isn’t so easily resolved, and the blood lust that she carries begs to be satiated. She continues to try to rid herself of the evil, even attempting psychiatric treatment, but the pull of the blood is too strong for her to deny. With the help of her servant, Sandor (Irving Pichel, The House of a Thousand Candles) and her hypnotic jeweled ring, they lure stray victims to their deaths around London, until she ultimately retreats to Transylvania with a resolved acceptance of the monster that she is.
2. Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Hoping to redeem his family name, Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone, The Hound of the Baskervilles) returns to his father’s castle with his wife and son. Understandably, the locals aren’t keen to welcome a Frankenstein back into the area, not after the horrific events that unfolded with the creation of the Monster all those years ago. It all starts with noble intentions, but when Wolf meets Ygor (Bela Lugosi), a grave robber, with a broken neck and the knowledge of where the Monster’s (Boris Karloff) comatose body lies in a crypt hidden within the castle, the temptation of creation becomes too much to resist, and the arrogant lunacy to prove his father was right all along to create life from the dead supersedes rational thought. The Monster is revived, and killings begin again throughout the village, specifically targeting the jurors who sentenced Ygor to hang. It’s a tragedy! Tragedy!!!
1. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive, Mad Love) is still alive after the climax of the previous film left a windmill torched by an angry mob, offering him a narrow escape. The Monster (Karloff) lives as well, falling through the fiery destruction into an underground cave system that leads him away from the village. Alone, the Monster finds solace with a blind hermit in the woods, who shows him kindness for the first time. But there’s another mad scientist on the scene now, the vice-ridden Dr. Septimus Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger, The Old Dark House), who convinces Frankenstein to try to reanimate the dead again… with a woman this time, the Bride of Frankenstein (Elsa Lanchester, The Ghost Goes West).
Turning the brooding nature of the first film into a macabre comedy for its sequel, director James Whale manages to stay faithful to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel, even as he stitches in subversion to religion and sexuality to engage with modern audiences. The results are fabulously silly at times, and heartbreaking throughout.
With so many fun films in the Universal Horror catalog, there’s really something for everyone. Chat up your favorites with the Nightmare on Film Street Community on Twitter, Reddit, or The Horror Movie Fiend Club on Facebook!