scary movies The Best '40s Horror Movies  

Ranker Film
466 votes 294 voters 2.1k views 50 items

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
21 4
The Wolf Man is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Wolf Man 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
20 4
Cat People is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Cat People 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

3
16 2
I Walked with a Zombie is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
I Walked with a Zombie 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.

4
17 3
Abbott and Costello Meet Frank... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein 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

5
18 4
The Body Snatcher is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Body Snatcher 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
15 2
The Picture of Dorian Gray is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Picture of Dorian Gray 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

7
12 2
Dead of Night is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Dead of Night Michael Redgrave, Googie Withers, Mervyn Johns Dead of Night 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

8
10 1
The Mummy's Hand is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Mummy's Hand 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

9
11 2
House of Dracula is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
House of Dracula 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
12 3
The Ghost of Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Ghost of Frankenstein 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

11
11 3
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 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

12
11 3
The Uninvited is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Uninvited 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

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13
14 7
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Ma... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man 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

14
10 4
Isle of the Dead is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Isle of the Dead 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

15
9 4
The Mummy's Tomb is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Mummy's Tomb 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

16
8 3
Phantom of the Opera is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Phantom of the Opera 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

17
9 4
The Invisible Man Returns is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Invisible Man Returns 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

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18
8 3
The Return of the Vampire is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Return of the Vampire 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

19
10 5
House of Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
House of Frankenstein 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

20
6 2
The Ghost Breakers is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Ghost Breakers Bob Hope, Anthony Quinn, Paulette Goddard The Ghost Breakers 1940 is a comedy film directed by George Marshall and starring Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard. The film was adapted by Walter DeLeon from the play The Ghost Breaker by Paul ...more

21
6 2
The Lodger is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Lodger 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

22
6 2
Son of Dracula is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Son of Dracula 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

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23
5 1
Night Monster is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Night Monster Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Irene Hervey Night Monster is a 1942 American black-and-white horror film featuring Bela Lugosi and produced and distributed by Universal Pictures Company. The movie uses an original story and screenplay by ...more

24
8 5
The Curse of the Cat People is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Curse of the Cat People Simone Simon, Jane Randolph, Sarah Selby The Curse of the Cat People is a 1944 film directed by Gunther von Fritsch and Robert Wise, and produced by Val Lewton. This film, which was then-film editor Robert Wise's first directing ...more

25
6 3
The Black Cat is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Black Cat 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

26
4 1
The Face Behind the Mask is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Face Behind the Mask Peter Lorre, Evelyn Keyes, Don Beddoe The Face Behind the Mask is a crime-drama film released by Columbia Pictures in 1941. It stars Peter Lorre and Evelyn Keyes and was directed by Robert Florey. The screenplay was adapted by Paul ...more

27
4 1
You'll Find Out is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
You'll Find Out Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre You'll Find Out is a 1940 American comedy film directed by David Butler and starring Kay Kyser. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 1940 for Best Original Song. In this film, members ...more

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28
7 5
Dr. Cyclops is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Dr. Cyclops Albert Dekker, Paul Fix, Charles Halton Dr. Cyclops is a 1940 American science fiction horror film directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack, starring Thomas Coley, Victor Kilian, Janice Logan, Charles Halton, Frank Yaconelli, and Albert ...more

29
5 3
Invisible Ghost is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Invisible Ghost 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.

30
4 2
The Mummy's Ghost is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Mummy's Ghost 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.

31
4 2
Black Friday is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Black Friday 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

32
3 1
The Undying Monster is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Undying Monster Heather Angel, Halliwell Hobbes, John Brahm The Undying Monster is a 1942 horror and mystery film, also known as The Hammond Mystery, featuring a werewolf as the primary antagonist. The movie was directed by John Brahm and is based on the ...more

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33
5 4
The Beast with Five Fingers is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Beast with Five Fingers Peter Lorre, Robert Alda, Andrea King The Beast with Five Fingers is a horror film directed by Robert Florey and with a screenplay by Curt Siodmak, based on a short story by W. F. Harvey first published in the New Decameron. The ...more

34
3 2
Bowery at Midnight is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Bowery at Midnight Bela Lugosi, Dave O'Brien, J. Farrell MacDonald Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Bowery at Midnight is a horror film starring Bela Lugosi. Lugosi plays a psychology professor by day who, secretly and under an assumed name, runs a Bowery soup kitchen by night called the ...more

35
3 2
Dead Man's Eyes is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Dead Man's Eyes Lon Chaney^! Jr., Jean Parker, Acquanetta Dead Man's Eyes is a 1944 Inner Sanctum mystery film directed by Reginald Le Borg, and starring Lon Chaney, Jr. and Jean Parker. The film was distributed by Universal Pictures. The "Inner ...more

36
3 2
The Spider Woman is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Spider Woman Basil Rathbone, Gale Sondergaard, Nigel Bruce The Spider Woman is a 1944 mystery film starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson, the seventh of fourteen such films the pair were involved in. As with all of the ...more

37
2 1
La Main du diable is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
La Main du diable Pierre Fresnay, Georges Chamarat, Antoine Balpêtré La main du diable is a 1943 film directed by Maurice Tourneur.

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38
2 1
Spooks Run Wild is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Spooks Run Wild Bela Lugosi, Huntz Hall, Leo Gorcey Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Spooks Run Wild is an American comedy horror film and the seventh film in the East Side Kids series, starring Bela Lugosi, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, and Bobby Jordan. Released in 1941, it was ...more

39
2 1
The Devil Bat is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Devil Bat Bela Lugosi, Suzanne Kaaren, Dave O'Brien Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Devil Bat is a black-and-white comedy-horror movie produced by Producers Releasing Corporation and directed by Jean Yarbrough. The film stars horror actor Bela Lugosi, along with Suzanne ...more

40
1 1
The Invisible Woman is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Invisible Woman John Barrymore, Margaret Hamilton, Cedric Hardwicke The Invisible Woman is an American science fiction comedy film that was released near the end of 1940 by Universal. It is the third 'Invisible' film following The Invisible Man and The Invisible ...more

41
1 1
Zombies on Broadway is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Zombies on Broadway Bela Lugosi, Anne Jeffreys, Sheldon Leonard Zombies on Broadway is an 1945 American horror comedy film directed by Gordon M. Douglas. It stars Alan Carney and Wally Brown as a pair of men who are tasked with finding a real zombie for a ...more

42
4 5
The Mummy's Curse is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Mummy's Curse Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr. The Mummy's Curse is the 1944 horror film follow-up to The Mummy's Ghost. This film marks Lon Chaney, Jr.'s final appearance as Kharis, the Egyptian mummy. The Universal Mummy series boasts of a ...more

43
1 2
The Woman in Green is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Woman in Green Basil Rathbone, Hillary Brooke, Nigel Bruce The Woman in Green is a 1945 American Sherlock Holmes film starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson, with Hillary Brooke as the woman of the title and Henry Daniell as ...more

44
0 1
The Pearl of Death is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Pearl of Death Basil Rathbone, Rondo Hatton, Evelyn Ankers The Pearl of Death is a 1944 Sherlock Holmes film starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson, the ninth of fourteen such films the pair made. The story is loosely based on ...more

45
0 1
Invisible Agent is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Invisible Agent Peter Lorre, Cedric Hardwicke, Keye Luke Invisible Agent is a 1942 American science fiction film from Universal. The film was a wartime propaganda production that was part of a Hollywood effort to boost morale at the home front. It ...more

46
0 1
King of the Zombies is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
King of the Zombies Mantan Moreland, Henry Victor, John Archer King of the Zombies is a 1941 American horror comedy film produced by Monogram Pictures.

47
0 2
The Invisible Man's Revenge is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
The Invisible Man's Revenge John Carradine, Evelyn Ankers, Jon Hall The Invisible Man's Revenge is a 1944 science fiction- horror film directed by Ford Beebe and written by Bertram Millhauser. The picture stars John Carradine as a mad scientist who tests his ...more

48
0 2
Things Happen at Night is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Things Happen at Night Garry Marsh, Gordon Harker, Robertson Hare Things Happen at Night is a 1947 British supernatuarl ghost comedy film directed by Francis Searle and starring Gordon Harker, Alfred Drayton, Robertson Hare and Gwynneth Vaughan. The film is ...more

49
0 2
Revenge of the Zombies is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
Revenge of the Zombies John Carradine, Robert Lowery, Gale Storm Revenge of the Zombies is a 1943 horror film directed by Steve Sekely, starring John Carradine and Gale Storm. Dr. Max Heinrich von Altermann, is a mad scientist working to create a race of ...more

50
1 4
She-Wolf of London is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best '40s Horror Movies
She-Wolf of London June Lockhart, Lloyd Corrigan, Sara Haden She-Wolf of London is a 1946 horror film produced by Universal Studios, directed by Jean Yarbrough and starring June Lockhart and Don Porter. The title evokes the earlier Werewolf of London, ...more