Universal Studios Classic Monsters: A Viewing Guide

The Universal Studios Classic Monsters are among the greatest icons of the horror genre and viewed by many as a rite of passage for true horror fans. However with 25 years of history comes an intimidating archive which can be a bit tricky to navigate.

While there are countless methods to make your way through the entire Universal Monsters catalog, today we’re going to look at three distinct viewing orders which I’ve dubbed “The Core Universe”, “The Shared Universe”, and “The Complete Universe”. Whether you’re a newcomer looking for a place to start or a seasoned horror vet looking to really dig in, we’ve got you covered.

Edward Van Sloan and Bela Lugosi in "Dracula" (1931)
Edward Van Sloan and Bela Lugosi in “Dracula” (1931)

The Core Universe

If you’re new to the Universal Monsters or just looking to get the biggest bang for your buck, “The Core Universe” is the perfect place to start. These eight films present the iconic characters, actors, and stories that shaped and defined Universal Studios’ lasting horror legacy. Without superfluous sequels, crossovers, or spin-offs to bog you down, “The Core Universe” is the most effective way to distill 25 years of horror into a weekend binge.

  1. Dracula (1931)
  2. Frankenstein (1931)
  3. The Mummy (1931)
  4. The Invisible Man (1933)
  5. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  6. The Wolf Man (1941)
  7. Phantom of the Opera (1943)
  8. Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)
Glenn Strange, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr. in "House of Frankenstein" (1944)
Glenn Strange, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr. in “House of Frankenstein” (1944)

The Shared Universe

While the Mummy, Invisible Man, and Creature From The Black Lagoon are essential pieces of Universal’s horror timeline, they did not enjoy the same continuity as some of their other properties. Starting with the 1943 crossover Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, a shared universe was crafted through the “monster rally” style of House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Although regularly recast, these films established relationships and storylines between Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolf Man and anchor the twelve total titles in “The Shared Universe”.

  1. Dracula (1931)
  2. Frankenstein (1931)
  3. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  4. Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
  5. Son of Frankenstein (1939)
  6. The Wolf Man (1941)
  7. The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
  8. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
  9. Son of Dracula (1943)
  10. House of Frankenstein (1944)
  11. House of Dracula (1945)
  12. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Lon Chaney, Jr. in "The Mummy's Tomb" (1942)
Lon Chaney, Jr. in “The Mummy’s Tomb” (1942)

The Complete Universe

The last viewing order that we’re going to look at today is the longest and perhaps the most obvious. The twenty-five films that make up “The Complete Universe” include all the core monsters alongside their sequels, spin-offs, and crossovers. For those that really want to experience the breadth of the Universal Monsters catalog, this is the way to do it. See you on the other side.

  1. Dracula (1931)
  2. Frankenstein (1931)
  3. The Mummy (1931)
  4. The Invisible Man (1933)
  5. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  6. Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
  7. Son of Frankenstein (1939)
  8. The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
  9. The Mummy’s Hand (1940)
  10. The Wolf Man (1941)
  11. The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
  12. Invisible Agent (1942)
  13. The Mummy’s Tomb (1942)
  14. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
  15. Phantom of the Opera (1943)
  16. Son of Dracula (1943)
  17. The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944)
  18. The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)
  19. House of Frankenstein (1944)
  20. The Mummy’s Curse (1944)
  21. House of Dracula (1945)
  22. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
  23. Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)
  24. Revenge of the Creature (1955)
  25. The Creature Walks Among Us (1956)

Have you tried out any of these viewing guides? Do you have a favorite way to watch the Universal Studios Classic Monsters? Let us know in the comments!

About Eric Slager 29 Articles
After a casual viewing of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy, Eric was instantly and hopelessly hooked on horror, forever doomed to chase the high of seeing Ash slay deadites for the very first time.

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