The Best Horror Movies of the 1940s

by jessemobile1021 | created - 25 Sep 2014 | updated - 2 months ago | Public

The thirty best, most successful, and/or most influential movies of the 1940's. I analyze reviews from horror critics, fans, and filmmakers to determine the "must-see" films for hardcore horror buffs.

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1. The Devil Bat (1940)

Approved | 68 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

A mad scientist develops an aftershave lotion that causes his gigantic bats to kill anyone who wears it.

Director: Jean Yarbrough | Stars: Bela Lugosi, Suzanne Kaaren, Dave O'Brien, Guy Usher

Votes: 2,452

2. 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: 3,274

3. 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: 7,915

4. The Tell-Tale Heart (1941)

Approved | 20 min | Crime, Mystery, Short

In this classic Edgar Allan Poe story, a man commits a murder, but afterward the victim's beating heart torments the murderer's mind.

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Joseph Schildkraut, Roman Bohnen, Oscar O'Shea, Will Wright

Votes: 786

5. 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: 22,335

6. 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: 18,642 | Gross: $4.00M

7. 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: 5,203

8. Carnival of Sinners (1943)

Approved | 80 min | Fantasy, Horror

Roland Brissot bought for a nickel a talisman that gives him love, fame and wealth. The talisman is a cut left hand, and it works perfectly. But of course there is nothing free in this ... See full summary »

Director: Maurice Tourneur | Stars: Pierre Fresnay, Josseline Gaël, Noël Roquevert, Guillaume de Sax

Votes: 1,069

9. 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: 7,309

10. 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: 10,391

11. 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: 4,286

12. The Ghost Ship (1943)

Approved | 69 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Tom Merriam signs on the ship Altair as third officer under Captain Stone. At first things look good, Stone sees Merriam as a younger version of himself and Merriam sees Stone as the first ... See full summary »

Director: Mark Robson | Stars: Richard Dix, Russell Wade, Edith Barrett, Ben Bard

Votes: 2,866

13. 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: 4,348

14. 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: 1,846 | Gross: $1.09M

15. 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: 5,435

16. 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: 5,467

17. 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: 2,948

18. 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: 9,279

19. And Then There Were None (1945)

Approved | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Seven guests, a newly hired personal secretary and two staff are gathered on an isolated island by an absent host and someone begins killing them off one by one. They work together to determine who the killer is. Could it be one of them?

Director: René Clair | Stars: Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Louis Hayward, Roland Young

Votes: 11,884

20. 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: 10,213

21. Isle of the Dead (1945)

Not Rated | 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: 3,811

22. 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: 7,800

23. 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: 11,163

24. The Spiral Staircase (1946)

Approved | 83 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

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: 8,500

25. 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: 2,150

26. 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: 3,404

27. 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: 13,887 | Gross: $4.80M

28. Rope (1948)

Approved | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

73 Metascore

Two men attempt to prove they committed the perfect crime by hosting a dinner party after strangling their former classmate to death.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger, Dick Hogan

Votes: 121,441

29. Mahal (1949)

165 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A young lawyer is involved with a ghostly woman in his new house, where the builder and his fiancée died shortly after it was built.

Director: Kamal Amrohi | Stars: Ashok Kumar, Madhubala, M. Kumar, Vijayalaxmi

Votes: 339

30. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

Approved | 68 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

74 Metascore

An animated adaptation of "The Wind in the Willows" followed by an adaptation of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow".

Directors: James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney | Stars: Bing Crosby, Basil Rathbone, Eric Blore, John McLeish

Votes: 11,728

31. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

Not Rated | 14 min | Short, Fantasy, Mystery

A woman returning home falls asleep and has vivid dreams that may or may not be happening in reality. Through repetitive images and complete mismatching of the objective view of time and space, her dark inner desires play out on-screen.

Directors: Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid | Stars: Maya Deren, Alexander Hammid

Votes: 10,187

32. I Married a Witch (1942)

Not Rated | 77 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

A beautiful 17th-century witch returns to life to plague politician Wallace Wooley, descendant of her persecutor.

Director: René Clair | Stars: Fredric March, Veronica Lake, Robert Benchley, Susan Hayward

Votes: 6,360 | Gross: $0.31M



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