- Phantom of the Opera– November 25 1925- In this spine tingling, captivating melodramatic vision of cinema we come across the story of a disfigured composer who becomes obsessed with a singer Christine Daee. With amazing performances by Lon Chaney and Patsy Ruth Miller. The Phantom of the Opera is a sad captivating tale of a lonely man who’s obsession ends in his demise. After a understudy Christine Daee fills in for the lead role in a Paris theater opera house the masked figure watches from above and becomes obsessed with the beautiful lead vocalist. The masked Phantom lures the unsuspecting innocent singer into his underground lair and professes his love for her. What follows is a tale of lust, violence and obsession. It is by far one of my favorite monster movies and always leaves me feeling a collaboration of empathy for the phantom and fear for his dark soul. It is a sad story of obsession and betrayal love and hate and what its like to love someone you can never have. It is sad and terrifying and captivating.
2. Dracula– Febuary 12 1931-
Directed by Ted Browning and starring the infamous Bela Lugosi, Dracula follows Thomas Renfeild on a business matter into the thick Transylvanian Countryside. The local villagers all live in fear of the vampires that are at the castle and warn him not to go. Renfeild refuses to stay at the local in an insists on continuing to the Castle. Upon his arrival he is greeted by the charming yet eccentric Count Dracula, who is indeed a vampire. After turning him into his slave Dracula intends to make his way to Carfax Abbey in London. He eventually comes across Mina and her father Doctor Seward and her friend Lucy and attempts to change them both into vampires. Van Helsing comes along and eventually defeats Dracula in the dramatic conclusion of this film. Although it is a long film it is one of those films that is a must watch for all monster fans.
3. The Mummy– December 22 1932- Starring Karl Freund, Boris Karloff and Zita Johann The Mummy is another masterpiece of black and white cinema. Following a simple storyline of a prince Im-Ho-Tep who was condemned cursed and buried for Sacrilege and a team of British Archeologists. They come across his tomb and the scroll of Thoth which can bring the dead to life. One of the archeologists read from the scroll and raise him from the dead. The Mummy delivers another amazing performance from Karloff and even more breathtaking monster moments to enjoy and discuss. The visual aspect is to be admired especially for the time and the effect of Karloffs performance is always fondly discussed by avid monster fans.
4. Frankenstein– November 21, 1931 – Featuring the amazing acting of Karl Freund and again the amazing Boris Karloff this story takes place in a situated lair of Doctor Frankenstein who is in his madness attempting to reanimate a dead body. With help of his assistant they eventually succeed but accidently give the body a abnormal brain of a murderer. Based on Mary Shelleys book of the same name the film shows a disastrous, distraught monster who makes you question is intentions. Is he evil? Is he good? Is he a tortured soul condemned because of how he looks? The conclusion of that thought is left up too you but by the end of the film many are left heartbroken and wondering if he was ever truly evil in the first place. With brilliant performances and black and white cinema it truly is a amazing monster film.
5. Bride of Frankenstein– April 22-1935 – Starring Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester this sequel focuses on the monster and Doctor Frankenstein who both survived the current disaster. Another evil doctor enters into the film and convinces Doctor Frankenstein to make a female companion for the monster. Tragedy and terror insue when she is revived and rejects the monster. The story is although not as popular as the original still has its moments and features the amazing talents of Karloff once again. By far one of my ultuimate favorites it leaves you feeling once again sorry for Frankensteins monster and you cant help but wonder if he will ever find love.
6. Invisible Man– November 13 1933- In this strange tale starring James Whale, Gloria Stuart, and Claude Rains we follow a scientist Dr. Jack Griffin who has found a way to turn himself invisible through the consumption of the drug Monocane. The invisible Jack Griffin takes a room at the Lions Head Inn swathed in bandages and goggles. His fiance and coworkers fear for him after his long abscense and what follows shows Dr. Griffins descent into pure drug induced madness. It is another one of those classic films that spawned many spinoffs. With the atmosphere that only black and white films can have The invisible man sure leaves you in stitches.
7. Wolf Man– December 12 1941- Lon Chaney Jr and Claude Rains star in this wonderfully epic hairy adventure that also features Bela Lugosi. The Wolf Man is a riveting tale of man who after learning about the death of his father returns home to seek reconcilation with his estranged father. He falls in love with a local antique dealer who he recieves a walking cane from with a wolfs head on it. After trying to rescue her friend from a wolf attack he is bitten and thus begins the tale of Wolf Man. With an amazing performance and excellent effects this movie is an amazing cinematic adventure. From the visuals to the makeup effects it is one of those films that will remain a classic for many many years to come.
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8. Creature From the Black Lagoon– February 12 1954- Everyone has heard of this film and everyone has seen clips of it here and there and everywhere. The creature from the Black Lagoon is a tale of mystery and curiosity. Taking place in a remote jungle a group of scientists are determined to discover if the creature is indeed real or just an anomaly. The creature they come across is far more dangerous than they could have imagined. With front-man Ricou Browning portraying the Creature in the water and Ben Chapman as the Creature on land, this movie definitively delivers a aura of intensity and captivating essence.
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9. Son of Frankenstein- January 13 1939- Following the death of his father its a simple story line of son attempting to do what the father did. With Bela Lugosi as Igor this film is another black and white spectacle that is simply enchanting. With Frankenstein’s son reanimating the infamous monster and the once again amazing Boris Karloff playing the monster it is simply one of those films where you cant help but be amused.
10. Hunchback of Notre Dame– September 2 1923- Based on the Novela of the same name written by Victor Hugo this movie is a heartbreaking, breathtaking piece of epic cinema. Taking place in 15th Century Paris this film follows a lonely disfigured creature named Quasimodo. Portrayed again by the amazing Lon Chaney this movie offers a heartfelt, devastating look into Quasimodo’s life as a disfigured outcast. Although not so much a monster movie as it is a devastating romance The Hunchback of Notre Dame is timeless, heart wrenching classic that offers love, fear, and shows the true devastation of what jealousy and obsession can lead too. Although a old movie and quite timed it has sparked many remakes and imaginings and has a way of offering comfort to those who feel like outsiders. Lon Chaney truly resonates as Quasimodo and it is one of my favorite roles that he portrayed.
Nothing compares to the old classics and they are performances that can never be topped. From the astounding black and white cinema to the strange sequences that the films brought forth, these classic monster movies will never grow old in our hearts. What sparked a generation of love for horror was these amazing titles and they will remain marvelous for many, many years to come.