One of my teenage sons is a classic film buff and I enlisted his help in bringing you a list of WWII-era horror films to watch this month. Scary movies were popular during the 1940s. The home front housewife or her family members would have gone to see these films in the theater. People went to the theater not just to watch movies, but also to get the latest war news from the newsreels that played before the main feature.
These are five of my son’s favorites, all currently found via a quick internet search.
The House of Frankenstein, 1944
This movie, produced by Universal Studios, was a sequel to Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and Son of Dracula. It’s all-star cast included Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine, J. Carrol Naish, and Glen Strange. The Ghost of Frankenstein, released in 1942 and also featuring Chaney, Jr. and Lugosi, is another movie that you might check out if you are a fan of this series.
The Black Cat, 1941
This 1941 comedy horror and mystery movie was based on Edgar Allan Poe’s 1843 short story of the same name. Starring Basil Rathbone, the movie follows a greedy family that has to wait to inherit a fortune.
The Wolf Man, 1941
This film also starred Lon Chaney, Jr and Bela Lugosi, in addition to Claude Rains and Warren William. It was the first in a series of five Wolf Man movies, including Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man mentioned above. If you are a fan of film history, learning about how Chaney transformed into the Wolf Man is worth looking into.
Dr. Cyclops, 1940
This movie was the first American full length movie made in full, three-strip Technicolor. The director was very concerned about making the color effects look believable. It’s interesting to compare it to color films today. The movie was based on a 1940 short story by Henry Kuttner.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1941
1941 was a big year for horror films, it seems. This remake of the Oscar-winning 1931 version, starred Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, and Lana Turner. It was directed by Victor Fleming, the director of Gone with the Wind and co-director of The Wizard of Oz.
I hope you enjoy these ideas to get you started on scary movies this Halloween season. Do you have a favorite that isn’t listed here?