Entertainment

The Best '40s Horror Movies  

Ranker Film
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List Rules Vote up your favorite horror films that were released in the 1940s

The horror films of the 1940s are replete with classic horror characters; terrifying figures that have embedded themselves firmly in the cultural consciousness. In a climate of growing international tension, it’s no surprise that countless horror films were produced in the ‘40s, giving voice to the undefined fears and anxiety gripping the world’s population.


So what are the best 1940s horror movies? Dracula, Frankenstein, and zombies, some of the most famous movie monsters ever, appear in numerous films in the decade. On this list you will find
I Walked with a Zombie, starring Boris Karloff, the legendary horror actor. Karloff also stars in The Body Catcher, and he reprises his role as the original silver screen Frankenstein in House of Frankenstein. Another iconic horror actor can also be found on this list of the greatest 1940s horror moves: Bela Lugosi. Lugosi played Dracula in the first movie version of the classic tale, and in the ‘40s he appeared in horror classics such as The Wolf Man.


On this list you’ll find a dash of horror comedy.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein pit the famous comedy duo against formidable actors Lugosi as well as Lon Chaney, Jr. Vote up the best horror films of the 1940s, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 
list ordered by
1
The Wolf Man is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Bela Lugosi, Claude Rains, Lon Chaney
The Wolf Man is a 1941 American drama horror film written by Curt Siodmak and produced and directed by George Waggner. The film stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as a werewolf named "The Wolf Man" ...more
2
Abbott and Costello Meet Frank... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Lou Costello
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, or Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein —although the film is usually referred to as simply Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein—is a 1948 ...more
3
Cat People is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Alan Napier, Simone Simon, Tom Conway
Cat People is a 1942 horror film produced by Val Lewton and directed by Jacques Tourneur. DeWitt Bodeen wrote the original screenplay which was based on Val Lewton's short story The Bagheeta ...more
4
The Ghost of Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr.
The Ghost of Frankenstein, is an American monster horror film released in 1942. The movie is the fourth in a series of films produced by Universal Studios based upon characters in Mary Shelley's ...more
5
The Body Snatcher is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Bill Williams
The Body Snatcher is a 1945 horror film directed by Robert Wise based on the short story The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson. The film's producer Val Lewton helped adapt the story for ...more
6
Phantom of the Opera is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Claude Rains, Hume Cronyn, Nelson Eddy
Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial David and Jade, a young couple, are consumed by their feelings for each other.  With the toll its taking on her schoolwork, Jade's father eventually bans David from seeing her.  This ...more
7
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Spencer Tracy
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1941 horror film starring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. Rather than being a new film version of the novel, it is a direct remake of the 1931 film of ...more
8
I Walked with a Zombie is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Boris Karloff, Frances Dee, Tom Conway
I Walked with a Zombie is a 1943 horror film directed by Jacques Tourneur. It was the second horror film from producer Val Lewton for RKO Pictures.
9
House of Dracula is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine
House of Dracula is an American horror film released by Universal Pictures Company in 1945. It was a direct sequel to House of Frankenstein and continued the theme of combining Universal's three ...more
10
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Ma... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, released in 1943, is an American monster horror film produced by Universal Studios starring Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolf Man and Bela Lugosi as Frankenstein's ...more
11
The Uninvited is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Ray Milland, Gail Russell, Donald Crisp
The Uninvited is a 1944 American supernatural mystery/romance directed by Lewis Allen in his feature film debut. It is based on the Dorothy Macardle novel Uneasy Freehold. The film stars Ray ...more
12
The Picture of Dorian Gray is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Angela Lansbury, Donna Reed, George Sanders
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a 1945 American horror-drama film based on Oscar Wilde's 1890 novel of the same name. Released in March 1945 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film is directed by Albert ...more
13
The Black Cat is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners
Not to be confused with the 1941 version also featuring Bela Lugosi. The Black Cat is a 1934 horror film that became Universal Pictures' biggest box office hit of the year. The picture was the ...more
14
House of Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr.
House of Frankenstein is an American monster horror film starring Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney, Jr., directed by Erle C. Kenton, written by Curt Siodmak, and produced in 1944 by Universal ...more
15
The Mummy's Hand is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Boris Karloff, Eduardo Ciannelli, Cecil Kellaway
The Mummy's Hand is a 1940 black-and-white horror film, produced by Ben Pivar for Universal Studios. Although it is sometimes claimed by fans as a sequel or follow-up to The Mummy, it does not ...more
16
Dead of Night is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Michael Redgrave, Googie Withers, Mervyn Johns
This film is a British portmanteau horror film made by Ealing Studios; the individual stories were directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer. The film ...more
17
The Lodger is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
George Sanders, Merle Oberon, Cedric Hardwicke
The Lodger is a 1944 horror film about Jack the Ripper, based on the novel of the same name by Marie Belloc Lowndes. It stars Merle Oberon, George Sanders and Laird Cregar, features Sir Cedric ...more
18
The Mummy's Tomb is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Lon Chaney, Jr., Elyse Knox
The Mummy's Tomb is the 1942 horror film sequel to The Mummy's Hand. Lon Chaney, Jr. disliked the role of Kharis the mummy. Make-up artist Jack Pierce spent up to eight hours to wrap Chaney. A ...more
19
The Invisible Man Returns is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Vincent Price, Cedric Hardwicke, Nan Grey
The Invisible Man Returns is a 1940 American horror science fiction film from Universal. It was written as a sequel to the 1933 film The Invisible Man, which was based on the novel The Invisible ...more
20
The Return of the Vampire is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Bela Lugosi, Nina Foch, Billy Bevan
The Return of the Vampire is a horror film released in 1944 by Columbia Pictures. It is in black and white, and describes an Englishwoman's two encounters with a vampire. The first encounter ...more
21
Son of Dracula is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine
Son of Dracula is a 1943 American horror film directed by Robert Siodmak – his first film for Universal studios – with a screenplay based on an original story by his brother Curt. The film stars ...more
22
Black Friday is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Stanley Ridges
Black Friday is a 1940 American science fiction film starring Boris Karloff. Béla Lugosi, although second-billed, has only a small part in the film and does not appear with Karloff. ...more
23
The Mummy's Ghost is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine
The Mummy's Ghost is the 1944 Universal Pictures sequel to The Mummy's Tomb. Lon Chaney, Jr. again takes on the role of Kharis the mummy.
24
Isle of the Dead is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Boris Karloff, Alan Napier, Anna Lee
Isle of the Dead is a horror film made for RKO Radio Pictures by producer Val Lewton. The movie had a script inspired by the painting Isle of the Dead by Arnold Böcklin, which appears ...more
25
Invisible Ghost is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Bela Lugosi, Clarence Muse, Betty Compson
Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Invisible Ghost is a horror film starring Bela Lugosi, shot in black and white, and directed by Joseph H. Lewis.