Total Nerd The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies  

Ranker Film
345 votes 137 voters 3.2k views 32 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite science fiction films that were released in the 1940s

The best ‘40s sci-fi movies feature a whole host of monsters and heroes, villains and saviors. The world spent half of the 1940s locked in a bloody and brutal global conflict, one that was seen as a battle between good and evil. It’s no surprise that the best ‘40s sci-fi movies portray a world full of evil, both seen and unseen.


Familiar faces dominate this list of the greatest ‘40s sci-fi movies. Frankenstein and Dracula appear in multiple titles of the decade, including
House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein. Additionally, the character the Invisible Man can be found in multiple ‘40s sci-fi films. This obsession with invisibility can be seen as a response to the horrors of the first half of the decade, the manifestation of a desire to disappear from a world gone mad.


While there are plenty of monsters and creatures in the science fiction films of the 1940, there are heroes, too. Batman and Flash Gordon, both appear in movies on this list. These heroes went on to appear in countless pictures over the next 50 years. Vote up the best '40s sci-fi movies, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 

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House of Dracula is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi 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

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One Million B.C. is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
One Million B.C. Carole Landis, Lon Chaney, Jr. One Million B.C. is a 1940 American fantasy film produced by Hal Roach Studios and released by United Artists. It is also known by the titles Cave Man, Man and His Mate, and Tumak. The film ...more

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Abbott and Costello Meet Frank... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi 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

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House of Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi 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

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The Devil Commands is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
The Devil Commands Boris Karloff, Anne Revere, Kenneth MacDonald The Devil Commands is a 1941 American horror film directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Boris Karloff. The working title of the film was The Devil Said No. In it, a man obsessed with ...more

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The Invisible Man Returns is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi 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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Flash Gordon Conquers the Univ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe Buster Crabbe, Charles Middleton, Anne Gwynne Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe is a 1940 twelve episode serial film starring Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon, and was the last of three Flash Gordon serials made from 1936 to 1940. The serial ...more

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The Invisible Man's Revenge is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi 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

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Black Friday is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi 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

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The Devil Bat is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi 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

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Batman is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
Batman J. Carrol Naish, Lewis Wilson, Shirley Patterson Batman is a 15-chapter serial, released in 1943 by Columbia Pictures. The serial starred Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin. J. Carrol Naish played the villain, an original ...more

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Man Made Monster is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
Man Made Monster Lon Chaney, Jr., Lionel Atwill Man-Made Monster is a science fiction horror film released by Universal Pictures. The film stars Lon Chaney, Jr. in his horror debut. Man-Made Monster was re-released under various titles ...more

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
mbrockhaus27843 added 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

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Batman and Robin is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
Batman and Robin Ralph Graves, Lyle Talbot, Jane Adams Batman and Robin is a 15-chapter serial released in 1949 by Columbia Pictures. It is a sequel to the 1943 serial Batman, although with different actors. Robert Lowery played Batman, while Johnny ...more

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The Corpse Vanishes is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
The Corpse Vanishes Bela Lugosi, Angelo Rossitto, Joan Barclay The Corpse Vanishes is a 1942 American mystery and horror film starring Bela Lugosi, directed by Wallace Fox, and written by Harvey Gates. Lugosi portrays a mad scientist who injects his aging ...more

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Dr. Cyclops is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi 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

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The Invisible Woman is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi 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

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The Ape is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
The Ape Boris Karloff, Selmer Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Ape is a 1940 American horror film made for Monogram Pictures, co-written by Curt Siodmak and starring Boris Karloff.

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The Monster Maker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
The Monster Maker J. Carrol Naish, Ralph Morgan, Tala Birell The Monster Maker is a 1944 Science Fiction/Horror Movie starring J. Carrol Naish and Ralph Morgan. Albert Glasser supplied the film score, his first, an assignment for which he was paid

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Unknown Island is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
Unknown Island Barton MacLane, Richard Denning, Ray "Crash" Corrigan Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Unknown Island is a 1948 film directed by Jack Bernhard.

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Invisible Ghost is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
Tommi Welchoff-White added Invisible Ghost Bela Lugosi, Clarence Muse, Betty Compson Invisible Ghost is a horror film starring Bela Lugosi, shot in black and white, and directed by Joseph H. Lewis.

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Invisible Agent is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi 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

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Return of the Ape Man is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
Return of the Ape Man Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, George Zucco Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial

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Bowery at Midnight is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi 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

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The Ape Man is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
The Ape Man Bela Lugosi, Jack Mulhall, Wallace Ford Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Ape Man is a 1943 horror science fiction film starring Bela Lugosi and directed by William Beaudine. The film follows the tale of a part human part ape. A sequel, in name only, called Return ...more

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The Jungle Captive is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
The Jungle Captive Otto Kruger, Rondo Hatton, Amelita Ward The Jungle Captive is a 1945 sequel to Jungle Woman, which had been preceded by Captive Wild Woman. The Jungle Captive features Otto Kruger, Amelita Ward, and Rondo Hatton. Vicky Lane plays ...more

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The Monster and the Girl is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
The Monster and the Girl Paul Lukas, Marc Lawrence, George Zucco The Monster and the Girl is a science fiction/horror black-and-white film released by Paramount Pictures, on a low budget.

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Time Flies is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
Time Flies Felix Aylmer, Evelyn Dall, Moore Marriott Times Flies is a 1944 British comedy film directed by Walter Forde and starring Tommy Handley, Evelyn Dall, Felix Aylmer and Moore Marriott. A music hall performer travels back to Elizabethan ...more

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Captive Wild Woman is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
Captive Wild Woman John Carradine, Milburn Stone, Evelyn Ankers Captive Wild Woman is a sci-fi horror film, starring John Carradine, Milburn Stone, Evelyn Ankers, and introducing Acquanetta. The picture was released by Universal Pictures and was directed by ...more

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Jungle Woman is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
Jungle Woman Milburn Stone, J. Carrol Naish, Clyde Beatty Jungle Woman is a 1944 horror film released by Universal Pictures. The movie features Evelyn Ankers, J. Carrol Naish, Samuel S. Hinds, Lois Collier, Milburn Stone, Douglass Dumbrille, and ...more

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The Monster and the Ape is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
The Monster and the Ape Robert Lowery, George Macready, Ralph Morgan The Monster and the Ape was the 26th serial released by Columbia Pictures.

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The Lady and the Monster is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '40s Sci-Fi Movies
The Lady and the Monster Erich von Stroheim, Sidney Blackmer, Richard Arlen The Lady and the Monster is a film based on the horror novel Donovan's Brain by Curt Siodmak. The film was directed by George Sherman and the screenplay adaption was written by Dane Lussier and ...more