The 40 Greatest Horror Films Of The 1940s

by jamesenstein31 | created - 30 Mar 2017 | updated - 30 Mar 2017 | Public
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1. The Wolf Man (1941)

Not Rated | 70 min | Horror

72 Metascore

A practical man returns to his homeland, is attacked by a creature of folklore, and infected with a horrific disease his disciplined mind tells him can not possibly exist.

Director: George Waggner | Stars: Claude Rains, Warren William, Lon Chaney Jr., Ralph Bellamy

Votes: 21,769

2. Cat People (1942)

Not Rated | 73 min | Fantasy, Horror, Thriller

An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Simone Simon, Tom Conway, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph

Votes: 18,203 | Gross: $4.00M

3. The Body Snatcher (1945)

Approved | 78 min | Horror, Thriller

A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell, Edith Atwater

Votes: 7,661

4. Dead of Night (1945)

Approved | 77 min | Drama, Horror

Architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) senses impending doom as his half-remembered recurring dream turns into reality. The guests at the country house encourage him to stay as they take turns telling supernatural tales.

Directors: Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer | Stars: Mervyn Johns, Michael Redgrave, Roland Culver, Mary Merrall

Votes: 9,963

5. The Uninvited (1944)

Not Rated | 99 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

A composer and his sister discover that the reason they are able to purchase a beautiful gothic seacoast mansion very cheaply is the house's unsavory past.

Director: Lewis Allen | Stars: Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Donald Crisp, Cornelia Otis Skinner

Votes: 9,033

6. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

Not Rated | 110 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A corrupt young man somehow keeps his youthful beauty, but a special painting gradually reveals his inner ugliness to all.

Director: Albert Lewin | Stars: George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed, Angela Lansbury

Votes: 10,951

7. The Lodger (1944)

Approved | 84 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

A landlady suspects her new lodger is Jack the Ripper.

Director: John Brahm | Stars: Laird Cregar, Merle Oberon, George Sanders, Cedric Hardwicke

Votes: 2,847

8. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Not Rated | 83 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

Two hapless freight handlers find themselves encountering Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolf Man.

Directors: Charles Barton, Walter Lantz | Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi

Votes: 13,639 | Gross: $4.80M

9. I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Approved | 69 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A nurse is hired to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner, who has been acting strangely, on a Caribbean island.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Frances Dee, Tom Conway, James Ellison, Edith Barrett

Votes: 10,177

10. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Passed | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Dr. Jekyll allows his dark side to run wild when he drinks a potion that turns him into the evil Mr. Hyde.

Director: Victor Fleming | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Donald Crisp

Votes: 7,801

11. The Seventh Victim (1943)

Approved | 71 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A woman in search of her missing sister uncovers a Satanic cult in New York's Greenwich Village, and finds that they may have something to do with her sibling's random disappearance.

Director: Mark Robson | Stars: Kim Hunter, Tom Conway, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell

Votes: 5,271

12. The Spiral Staircase (1946)

Approved | 83 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

In 1916, a shadowy serial killer is targeting women with "afflictions"; one night during a thunderstorm, the mute Helen feels menaced.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore, Kent Smith

Votes: 8,330

13. Son of Dracula (1943)

Approved | 80 min | Fantasy, Horror

Count Alucard finds his way from Budapest to the swamps of the Deep South; his four nemeses are a medical doctor, a university professor, a jilted fiancé and the woman he loves.

Director: Robert Siodmak | Stars: Lon Chaney Jr., Robert Paige, Louise Allbritton, Evelyn Ankers

Votes: 4,190

14. Hangover Square (1945)

Approved | 77 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A promising classical musician finds his life poisoned by a music hall dancer -- and by the strange gaps in his memory.

Director: John Brahm | Stars: Laird Cregar, Linda Darnell, George Sanders, Glenn Langan

Votes: 2,298

15. The Queen of Spades (1949)

95 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

An elderly countess strikes a bargain with the devil and exchanges her soul for the ability to always win at cards. An army officer, who is also a fanatic about cards, murders her for the ... See full summary »

Director: Thorold Dickinson | Stars: Anton Walbrook, Edith Evans, Yvonne Mitchell, Ronald Howard

Votes: 1,188

16. Isle of the Dead (1945)

Approved | 71 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

On a Greek island during the 1912 war, several people are trapped by quarantine for the plague. If that isn't enough worry, one of the people, a superstitious old peasant woman, suspects ... See full summary »

Director: Mark Robson | Stars: Boris Karloff, Ellen Drew, Marc Cramer, Katherine Emery

Votes: 3,728

17. Bedlam (1946)

Approved | 79 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

Nell Bowen, the spirited protege of rich Lord Mortimer, becomes interested in the conditions of notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam). Encouraged by the Quaker Hannay, she tries... See full summary »

Director: Mark Robson | Stars: Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, Billy House, Richard Fraser

Votes: 3,344

18. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

Approved | 74 min | Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi

After being awakened, Larry Talbot chips Frankenstein's Monster out of a block of ice. When Talbot changes to the Wolf Man, the two creatures battle each other.

Director: Roy William Neill | Stars: Lon Chaney Jr., Ilona Massey, Patric Knowles, Lionel Atwill

Votes: 7,173

19. The Scarlet Claw (1944)

Approved | 74 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller

When a gentlewoman is found dead with her throat torn out, the villagers blame a supernatural monster. But Sherlock Holmes, who gets drawn into the case from nearby Quebec, suspects a human murderer.

Director: Roy William Neill | Stars: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Gerald Hamer, Paul Cavanagh

Votes: 4,425

20. The Mummy's Hand (1940)

Approved | 67 min | Adventure, Fantasy, Horror

An ancient mummy is revived to destroy the invaders of the 3,000 year-old tomb of an Egyptian princess.

Director: Christy Cabanne | Stars: Dick Foran, Peggy Moran, Wallace Ford, Eduardo Ciannelli

Votes: 3,203

21. The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

Approved | 70 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

The young, friendless daughter of Oliver and Alice Reed befriends her father's dead first wife and an aging, reclusive actress.

Directors: Gunther von Fritsch, Robert Wise | Stars: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph, Ann Carter

Votes: 5,353

22. The Beast with Five Fingers (1946)

Approved | 88 min | Horror, Mystery

In a turn-of-the-century Renaissance Italian mansion, its tyrannical owner, a one-handed, wheelchair-bound pianist, with a strong belief in the occult, is murdered.

Director: Robert Florey | Stars: Robert Alda, Andrea King, Peter Lorre, Victor Francen

Votes: 2,130

23. Man Made Monster (1941)

Passed | 59 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

A mad scientist turns a man into an electrically-controlled monster to do his bidding.

Director: George Waggner | Stars: Lionel Atwill, Lon Chaney Jr., Anne Nagel, Frank Albertson

Votes: 1,112

24. Bluebeard (1944)

Passed | 72 min | Crime, Horror, Thriller

In Paris, an artist hires portrait models, and after he finishes their portraits, he strangles them.

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer | Stars: John Carradine, Jean Parker, Nils Asther, Ludwig Stössel

Votes: 1,520

25. The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Passed | 85 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery

A radio broadcaster, his quaking manservant and an heiress investigate the mystery of a haunted castle in Cuba.

Director: George Marshall | Stars: Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Richard Carlson, Paul Lukas

Votes: 2,812

26. The Undying Monster (1942)

Not Rated | 63 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Surviving members of an aristocratic English family are threatened by a legendary monster when they venture out on chilly, foggy nights.

Director: John Brahm | Stars: James Ellison, Heather Angel, John Howard, Bramwell Fletcher

Votes: 1,036

27. The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

Passed | 81 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

The owner of a coal mining operation, falsely imprisoned for fratricide, takes a drug to make him invisible, despite its side effect: gradual madness.

Director: Joe May | Stars: Cedric Hardwicke, Vincent Price, Nan Grey, John Sutton

Votes: 3,141

28. The Leopard Man (1943)

Approved | 66 min | Horror, Thriller

A seemingly tame leopard used for a publicity stunt escapes and kills a young girl, spreading panic throughout a sleepy New Mexico town.

Director: Jacques Tourneur | Stars: Dennis O'Keefe, Margo, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell

Votes: 4,246

29. The Mad Ghoul (1943)

Not Rated | 65 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A university chemistry professor experiments with an ancient Mayan gas on a medical student, turning the would-be surgeon into a murdering ghoul.

Director: James P. Hogan | Stars: David Bruce, Evelyn Ankers, George Zucco, Robert Armstrong

Votes: 569

30. Strangler of the Swamp (1946)

Passed | 59 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A number of swamp land men have died by strangulation and the inhabitants believe that an innocent man they hanged is seeking revenge on all of the male descendants of those responsible for... See full summary »

Director: Frank Wisbar | Stars: Rosemary La Planche, Robert Barrat, Blake Edwards, Charles Middleton

Votes: 515

31. The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Approved | 67 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

When Ygor brings the Monster to Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein for care, Ludwig gets the idea of replacing the Monster's current criminal brain with a normal one.

Director: Erle C. Kenton | Stars: Cedric Hardwicke, Lon Chaney Jr., Ralph Bellamy, Lionel Atwill

Votes: 5,101

32. House of Frankenstein (1944)

Passed | 71 min | Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi

An evil scientist and his hunchbacked assistant escape from prison and encounter Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster.

Director: Erle C. Kenton | Stars: Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., J. Carrol Naish, John Carradine

Votes: 5,596

33. Dr. Cyclops (1940)

Not Rated | 77 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror

A mad scientist working in the South American jungle miniaturizes his colleagues when he feels his megalomania is threatened.

Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack | Stars: Albert Dekker, Thomas Coley, Janice Logan, Charles Halton

Votes: 2,055

34. The Return of the Vampire (1943)

Not Rated | 69 min | Drama, Horror

When an errant bomb unearths the coffin of a vampire during the London Blitz, a gravedigger unknowingly reanimates the monster by removing the stake from his heart

Director: Lew Landers | Stars: Bela Lugosi, Frieda Inescort, Nina Foch, Roland Varno

Votes: 1,810 | Gross: $1.09M

35. House of Dracula (1945)

Approved | 67 min | Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi

Count Dracula and the Wolf Man seek cures for their afflictions; a hunchbacked woman, a mad scientist and Frankenstein's Monster have their own troubles.

Director: Erle C. Kenton | Stars: Onslow Stevens, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Martha O'Driscoll

Votes: 4,447

36. Phantom of the Opera (1943)

Approved | 92 min | Drama, Horror, Music

A disfigured violinist haunts the Paris Opera House.

Director: Arthur Lubin | Stars: Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster, Claude Rains, Edgar Barrier

Votes: 5,929 | Gross: $3.49M

37. The Mummy's Ghost (1944)

Passed | 61 min | Fantasy, Horror

An Egyptian priest travels to America in search of the bodies of an Egyptian princess and her living, mummified guardian, with consequences.

Director: Reginald Le Borg | Stars: Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Robert Lowery, Ramsay Ames

Votes: 2,305

38. Night Monster (1942)

Passed | 73 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror

Kurt Ingston, a rich recluse, invites the doctors who left him a hopeless cripple to his desolate mansion in the swamps as one by one they meet horrible deaths.

Director: Ford Beebe | Stars: Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Leif Erickson, Irene Hervey

Votes: 1,060

39. The Devil Commands (1941)

Approved | 65 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

Scientist becomes obsessed with the idea of communicating with his dead wife.

Director: Edward Dmytryk | Stars: Boris Karloff, Anne Revere, Amanda Duff, Richard Fiske

Votes: 863

40. Crimes at the Dark House (1940)

Not Rated | 69 min | Drama

A madman kills a man who has just inherited a large estate, then impersonates his victim to gain entrance to the estate so he can murder his enemies.

Director: George King | Stars: Tod Slaughter, Sylvia Marriott, Hilary Eaves, Geoffrey Wardwell

Votes: 382



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