Karloff and Lugosi: Icons of Horror

Karloff and Lugosi.  Two names that personify classic movie horror.  Seperately, they have starred as two of the screens most iconic movie monsters: Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster.  Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula.

During the 1930’s, horror movies were big business and no more so than at Universal Pictures.  After the initial success of Dracula and Frankenstein (both 1931), the studio followed with a series of monster movies, including The Mummy (1932) and The Invisible Man (1933).

Karloff and Lugosi quickly became two of the studios top stars.  It seemed natural to pair the two to insure good box office.  Hollywood lore suggests that the two rivals did not get along.  A notion reinforced by Lugosi’s (as played by Martin Landau) rants in the film Ed Wood (1994).  Nonetheless, the two icons have made a memorable series of films together.  Here is the list:

The Black Cat (1934)–A newlywed couple come under the spell of a suspected war criminal (Lugosi) and a his former friend, an architect (Karloff).  They learn that Karloff plans to sacrifice the woman as part of an occult ritual.  Although Edgar Allen Poe’s name is in the credits, this film bares little resemblance to the source material.

Gift of Gab (1934)–A comedy about a radio announcer.  Karloff and Lugosi make cameo appearances.

The Raven (1935)–Also based on a Poe story.  Lugosi as a mad doctor.  Karloff an escaped murderer.  A twisted tale of torture and revenge.

The Invisible Ray (1936)–Karloff is a scientist who invents a device that can look into the past, discovering that a meteor had struck the Earth many years ago.  When finding the meteor he and his assistant (Lugosi) discover it’s curative powers…and it’s destructive powers.

Son of Frankenstein (1939)–Karloff returns to his famous role as Frankenstein’s Monster with Lugosi as the demented Ygor.  This film marks Universal’s return to the “classic” monsters.

Black Friday (1940)–Two men (one a mild-mannered professor, the other a gangster) are involved in an accident.  Scientist Karloff (of course) “merges” both men’s brains into one body.  Lugosi, as a rival gangster, does not share scenes with Karloff.

You’ll Find Out (1940)–In this RKO comedy, bandleader Kay Kyser heads to an old, dark house to play at a party.  Soon he and his band encounter horror greats Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre.

The Body Snatcher (1945)–Based on a Robert Louis Stephenson short story, Karloff is a grave robber supplying a mad scientist with fresh corpses.  Lugosi as the doctor’s assistant.  Produced by RKO horror master Val Lewton and directed by future Oscar-winner Robert Wise.

Do you have a favorite Karloff/Lugosi movie?