When it comes to classic horror, the Universal Monster movies are hard to beat. Starting in 1931 with Dracula, these films helped turn horror into a serious film genre. Their influences are still felt today in many ways. Most of the core movies in the series have been remade in some form. Today we will be looking at the films that directly inspired these iconic fright films. Here are the Universal Monster movies remakes, ranked.
8. The Mummy (2017)
It has often been said that these Universal Monsters are responsible for the first cinematic universe. Today, cinematic universes are all the rage. Naturally, Universal wanted to return to the genre they helped pioneer in. They announced the Dark Universe, remakes of their classic monster movies that take place in the same continuity. In fact, actors such as Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem were attached to the series. The first and only film was The Mummy in 2017. The film starred Tom Cruise and focused too much on action than horror. This wouldn’t have been an issue, except it was marketed as a horror movie. The biggest issue was that the movie tried too hard to set up future films instead of telling a solo story. The failure of this film killed Universal’s Dark Universe, and no further films in this continuity were released.
7. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (1994)
While most versions of Frankenstein are simply retellings of the book, this film takes direct inspiration from the 1931 classic. The film was made by Francis Ford Coppola and starred Kenneth Branagh as the titular doctor. The film also features Robert DeNiro as the monster, and he does a great job as always. Taking pages from the book of Karloff, DeNiro plays the monster, sympathetic and tragic yet terrifying. This movie remake isn’t as well known as some other adaptations, but it is still a worthy watch, if not just to see how influential the original film truly is on it. The plot more closely resembles the original novel, but Coppola clearly had the original movie in mind when making it. Not the best film on the list, but there is still a chilling time to be had.
6. The Wolfman (2010)
Unlike many of the other Universal Monster movies, The Wolfman wasn’t based on a book; instead, being an original story. The plot of Lawrence Talbot suffering the curse of the werewolf is one of the sadder elements of the monster movies, and this film is no exception. A direct remake, the 2010 version stars Benicio del Toro as Talbot. This film isn’t talked about as much today, which is a shame.
The film does an excellent job of adapting the original film while still being fresh. This updated version even adds some twists to the story, ensuring even fans of the original are kept on their toes. Anthony Hopkins is also featured as John Talbot and is fantastic as always. The movie does have some CGI effects, but there are also a fair amount of practical creature effects, as well as stellar makeup work. If you haven’t seen this underrated movie, you owe it to yourself to seek it out.
5. The Mummy (1999)
The first time Universal looked to make a movie remake of their own classic films, the result was much better received. The 1999 version of The Mummy is also an action/adventure film. The big difference is that fans knew this going in. The plot is the same basic plot as the 1932 one. An ancient Egyptian priest named Imhotep returns from the grave to seek out his lost love. When he finds a woman who resembles her, he seeks to use her as a vessel. This movie has more in common with the Indiana Jones movies than the original film in terms of tone. Besides this, The Mummy is still a fun time that is fondly remembered today. This remake took on a life of its own, spawning two sequels and several spin-offs.
4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Before Francis Ford Coppola reinvented Frankenstein and his monster, he looked to Transylvania for his scares. Like his adaptation of Frankenstein, Dracula is inspired more by the original Universal Monster films than just being a book adaptation. The plot does follow the novel a bit closer, however. Gary Oldman plays the titular vampire and does a phenomenal job. Instead of taking one form as Bela Lugosi did, Oldman’s Dracula has several forms throughout the movie. Keanu Reeves is also featured, although many fans claim this is one of his worst performances. This movie is filled with adventure and scares and is worth a watch. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was better received than Coppola’s Frankenstein movie and is more fondly remembered.
3. The Invisible Man (2020)
After the failure of their Dark Universe, Universal decided to remake their monster movies as one-offs. This time, they did The Invisible Man with much better results. The plot is slightly different from the original Universal Monster movie, but it is still a great film. An insane scientist fakes his death and uses his powers of invisibility to stalk his girlfriend. This film is so chilling because the titular invisible man is rarely shown, meaning he can be anywhere. Elizabeth Moss does a fantastic job at acting paranoid and desperate. The original film pioneered early green-screen effects, and this film carries the torch of incredible effects. This is a remake done right and is a genuinely scary movie.
2. Horror of Dracula (1958)
The original Universal Monster films began to decline in popularity when audiences began to drift toward science fiction films. A British production company called Hammer looked to make movie remakes of the classic monsters and push the envelope while they were at it. One of the first was Horror of Dracula. The film featured Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. This duo would appear many times throughout the Hammer horror films. The film looked to retell the original film’s story in a much gorier manner. The over-the-top violence and bright blood are what these films are best known for today. Again, this movie was inspired directly by Universal movies and is one of the best horror movies of the era.
1. Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Hammer also remade the Universal Monster movie Frankenstein and added much more violence. This film also stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as the monster and Dr. Frankenstein, respectively. One thing this film does differently from the original is that Frankenstein is blatantly evil. Usually, the doctor feels remorse for creating the monster. This time, he is obsessed with it and even goes so far as commit murder to get a brain. This movie is a must-watch, as are the sequels that follow. Seeing Frankenstein as a straight-up evil is a sight to behold, and fans still love it to this day.