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The Best '40s Horror Movies

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List RulesVote 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. 
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  • 1
    The Wolf Man
    69
    13

    The Wolf Man

    Bela Lugosi, Claude Rains

    Released1941

    Directed byGeorge Waggner

    The Wolf Man is a 1941 American drama horror film written by Curt Siodmak and produced and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 2
    Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
    48
    14

    Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

    Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi

    Released1948

    Directed byCharles Barton

    Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, or Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein... more on Wikipedia

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  • 3
    The Body Snatcher
    39
    9

    The Body Snatcher

    Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

    Released1945

    Directed byRobert Wise

    The Body Snatcher is a 1945 horror film directed by Robert Wise based on the short story The... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • 4
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
    37
    8

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner

    Released1941

    Directed byVictor Fleming

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1941 horror film starring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
    44
    16

    Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

    Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney

    Released1943

    Directed byRoy William Neill

    Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, released in 1943, is an American monster horror film produced... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • 6
    I Walked with a Zombie
    39
    12

    I Walked with a Zombie

    Boris Karloff, Frances Dee

    Released1943

    Directed byJacques Tourneur

    I Walked with a Zombie is a 1943 horror film directed by Jacques Tourneur. It was the second... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • 7
    The Ghost of Frankenstein
    40
    13

    The Ghost of Frankenstein

    Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney

    Released1942

    Directed byErle C. Kenton

    The Ghost of Frankenstein, is an American monster horror film released in 1942. The movie is... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • 8
    Cat People
    43
    17

    Cat People

    Alan Napier, Simone Simon

    Released1942

    Directed byJacques Tourneur

    Cat People is a 1942 horror film produced by Val Lewton and directed by Jacques Tourneur.... more on Wikipedia

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  • 9
    The Uninvited
    34
    9

    The Uninvited

    Ray Milland, Gail Russell

    Released1944

    Directed byLewis Allen

    The Uninvited is a 1944 American supernatural mystery/romance directed by Lewis Allen in his... more on Wikipedia

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  • 10
    Phantom of the Opera
    30
    7

    Phantom of the Opera

    Claude Rains, Hume Cronyn

    Released1943

    Directed byArthur Lubin

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  • 11
    The Picture of Dorian Gray
    33
    12

    The Picture of Dorian Gray

    Angela Lansbury, Donna Reed

    Released1945

    Directed byAlbert Lewin

    The Picture of Dorian Gray is a 1945 American horror-drama film based on Oscar Wilde's 1890... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • 12
    House of Dracula
    31
    9

    House of Dracula

    Lon Chaney, Jr.

    Released1945

    Directed byErle C. Kenton

    House of Dracula is an American horror film released by Universal Pictures Company in 1945. It... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • 13
    The Black Cat
    27
    9

    The Black Cat

    Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

    Released1934

    Directed byEdgar G. Ulmer

    Not to be confused with the 1941 version also featuring Bela Lugosi. The Black Cat is a 1934... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    Dead of Night
    29
    11

    Dead of Night

    Michael Redgrave, Googie Withers

    Released1945

    Directed byBasil Dearden, Charles Crichton, Alberto Cavalcanti, Robert Hamer

    This film is a British portmanteau horror film made by Ealing Studios; the individual stories... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • 15
    House of Frankenstein
    27
    11

    House of Frankenstein

    Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney

    Released1944

    Directed byErle C. Kenton

    House of Frankenstein is an American monster horror film starring Boris Karloff and Lon... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • 16
    The Lodger
    22
    8

    The Lodger

    George Sanders, Merle Oberon

    Released1944

    Directed byJohn Brahm

    The Lodger is a 1944 horror film about Jack the Ripper, based on the novel of the same name by... more on Wikipedia

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  • 17
    The Mummy's Hand
    23
    10

    The Mummy's Hand

    Boris Karloff, Eduardo Ciannelli

    Released1940

    Directed byChristy Cabanne

    The Mummy's Hand is a 1940 black-and-white horror film, produced by Ben Pivar for Universal... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    The Invisible Man Returns
    20
    7

    The Invisible Man Returns

    Vincent Price, Cedric Hardwicke

    Released1940

    Directed byJoe May

    The Invisible Man Returns is a 1940 American horror science fiction film from Universal. It... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • 19
    The Return of the Vampire
    19
    6

    The Return of the Vampire

    Bela Lugosi, Nina Foch

    Released1944

    Directed byLew Landers

    The Return of the Vampire is a horror film released in 1944 by Columbia Pictures. It is in... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    The Mummy's Tomb
    20
    7

    The Mummy's Tomb

    Lon Chaney, Jr.

    Released1942

    Directed byHarold Young

    The Mummy's Tomb is the 1942 horror film sequel to The Mummy's Hand. Lon Chaney, Jr. disliked... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • 21
    The Mummy's Ghost
    19
    6

    The Mummy's Ghost

    Lon Chaney, Jr.

    Released1944

    Directed byReginald Le Borg

    The Mummy's Ghost is the 1944 Universal Pictures sequel to The Mummy's Tomb. Lon Chaney, Jr.... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • 22
    Isle of the Dead
    19
    7

    Isle of the Dead

    Boris Karloff, Alan Napier

    Released1945

    Directed byMark Robson

    Isle of the Dead is a horror film made for RKO Radio Pictures by producer Val Lewton. The... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • 23
    Son of Dracula
    19
    7

    Son of Dracula

    Lon Chaney, Jr.

    Released1943

    Directed byRobert Siodmak, Erle C. Kenton

    Son of Dracula is a 1943 American horror film directed by Robert Siodmak – his first film for... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • 24
    The Face Behind the Mask
    19
    9

    The Face Behind the Mask

    Peter Lorre, Evelyn Keyes

    Released1941

    Directed byWallace MacDonald, Robert Florey

    The Face Behind the Mask is a crime-drama film released by Columbia Pictures in 1941. It stars... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Black Friday
    16
    5

    Black Friday

    Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

    Released1940

    Directed byArthur Lubin

    Black Friday is a 1940 American science fiction film starring Boris Karloff. Béla Lugosi,... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button