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Updated: September 10, 2023

Before your cinematic universes and extended galaxies and interconnected constellations, there were the Universal Classic Monster movies. A loose confederation of sequels and spinoffs, they were the biggest motion picture events in the early life of cinema. The 1920s kicked things off with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera before the franchise moved into its 1930s golden era. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Invisible Man all released between 1931 and 1933, and they remain masterpiece staples of the horror genre.

In the 1940s, Universal ramped up production, frequently outpacing quality control. Among the sequels was the introduction of The Wolf Man in 1941, as well as Universals turn to self-parody with the arrival of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The comedy duo would Meet Frankenstein in 1948, carrying well into the mid 50s. Creature from the Black Lagoon was the final hurrah for the original line of Universal monster movies.

In 1999, The Mummy was revived in the summer blockbuster era, bringing in enough fans young and old to encourage two sequels. Van Helsing and The Wolfman also arrived in the decade or so after the Mummy relaunch, though the lackluster returns on those meant Universal was ready to try something new ( read: what Marvel was doing ).

2014s Dracula Untold was to be the start of a so-called Dark Universe of connected monster movies. After that movie failed to draw much blood out of the box office, 2017s The Mummy was going to be the new new start of the Dark Universe. Until that movie also bombed spectacularly.

And so we arrive at 2020s The Invisible Man, which reportedly cost 30 times less than The Mummy to make, and with no aspirations to be tied to any larger universe. See where critics place the Elisabeth Moss-starring horror / thriller as we rank all Universal Classic Monster movies by Tomatometer!

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