[[caption-width-right:350:The original MonsterMash.]]

[[SilentAgeOfHollywood Back in]] [[GoldenAgeOfHollywood the day]], [[Creator/{{Universal}} Universal Pictures]] was a minor film studio of modest means, looking to stand out from its competition. Their solution? Create some of the most classic and enduring {{horror}} movie icons in history.

Universal first dabbled in the horror genre with its 1923 adaptation of ''Literature/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame'' starring Creator/LonChaney, but its first true horror movie was its 1925 adaptation of ''[[Film/ThePhantomOfTheOpera1925 The Phantom of the Opera]]'', also starring Chaney. It then had a string of successful silent films with German expressionist director Paul Leni and actor ConradVeidt before it came roaring into the "talkie" era in 1931 with two movies: ''Film/{{Frankenstein|1931}}'' and ''Film/{{Dracula|1931}}''. These two films were smash hits that [[TropeMakers laid the foundation]] for the modern horror genre, helped to establish Universal as a studio to be respected, and made leading men out of their respective stars, Creator/BorisKarloff and Creator/BelaLugosi. Universal followed this up with ''Film/TheMummy1932'' in 1932, ''Film/TheInvisibleMan'' in 1933, and a trilogy of movies based on the works of EdgarAllanPoe, as well as sequels to ''Dracula'' and ''Frankenstein''.

Although Universal took time off from making horror movies in the late 1930s due to financial difficulties, it returned in 1939 with ''Film/SonOfFrankenstein'' before introducing in 1941 one of its most enduring films: ''Film/TheWolfMan1941'', starring their new leading man, Lon Chaney Jr. They remade ''[[Film/PhantomOfTheOpera1943 Phantom]]'' in 1943 and continued making sequels to their now-classic properties. Eventually, these sequels would start giving way to {{crossover}}s featuring [[MonsterMash all of Universal's monsters]], culminating in the 1948 hit ''Film/AbbottAndCostelloMeetFrankenstein'', an AffectionateParody of the early horror genre. From here, Universal horror entered a period of dormancy, as the trend in horror movies began to shift toward {{science|IsBad}} [[MadScientist gone]] [[ILoveNuclearPower wrong]] and {{alien inva|sion}}ders in [[TheFifties the Atomic Age]] — the only original horror films (not based on existing properties) that Universal made after this point that are still considered to be "Universal horror" were ''Film/CreatureFromTheBlackLagoon'' in 1954 and ''Film/TheMolePeople'' in 1956.

However, while production of new horror movies out of Universal came to an end, the monsters were by no means forgotten. Starting in the late 1950s, a British film studio called [[HammerHorror Hammer Film Productions]] began [[TheRemake remaking]] many of Universal's classic horror films, in color (often [[KensingtonGore very lurid color]]). These portrayals of the classic monsters would be distributed by Universal within America, and left their own mark on the popular image of the characters. [[TheEighties Decades later]], ''Film/TheMonsterSquad'' introduced Universal horror to a new generation of young people, becoming a cult classic in its own right. While it wasn't actually made by Universal (the monster designs were all changed slightly so as not to infringe upon trademarks), it was filmed on their backlots.

Universal itself has also mined its past for ideas. They did [[Film/{{Dracula 1979}} a remake]] of ''Dracula'' in 1979 starring Frank Langella and Sir LaurenceOlivier, and at the TurnOfTheMillennium, they remade ''Film/TheMummy1932'' as a series of [[TwoFistedTales pulpy, two-fisted]] ActionAdventure movies, known as Film/TheMummyTrilogy. They reunited the Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein's monster for the [[SoBadItsGood cheesily good]] SummerBlockbuster ''Film/VanHelsing'' in 2004, and did [[Film/TheWolfman2010 a remake]] of ''The Wolf Man'' in 2010 starring Benicio Del Toro and Sir AnthonyHopkins. Remakes of ''Film/CreatureFromTheBlackLagoon'', ''Film/TheInvisibleMan'', and ''Film/BrideOfFrankenstein'' have also been announced. Finally, it's perhaps not a coincidence that [[Ride/UniversalStudios Universal's theme parks]] in Orlando and Hollywood are known across America for having some of the biggest [[AllHallowsEve Halloween]] celebrations around, collectively known as ''Theatre/HalloweenHorrorNights''.

An interesting aspect of Universal Horror for film geeks is that it represents some of the earliest attempts at [[TheVerse shared movie universes]]. Through sequels, its Dracula, Frankenstein, and Wolf Man movies were established as sharing a (somewhat loose) continuity, effectively [[TropeCodifier creating]] the {{Uberwald}} trope. Via movies by AbbottAndCostello, the Invisible Man[[note]]Albeit briefly in a cameo, and the Invisible Man movies were actually set in a number of different continuities.[[/note]] and the Mummy[[note]]The version from ''Film/TheMummysHand'' and its sequels, not from the original ''Film/TheMummy1932''.[[/note]] were also added to this shared universe. In later uses for homage and satire, these five "classic" Universal Monsters became somewhat inseparable, and were also frequently featured with the ''Film/CreatureFromTheBlackLagoon''; while "Gill Man" was never established as having any canonical ties to the others, his popularity appears to have gotten him into the club. Eventually, as a way of promoting ''Film/VanHelsing'', Universal gave its official stamp of approval to these six "classic" monsters -- Count Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, and Gill Man -- by releasing six "Legacy" collections, one for each, officially setting them apart from the remainder of Universal Horror (although the Wolf Man collection featured two unrelated films, one of which did not even feature an actual werewolf, to fill space).

It goes without saying that any horror fan is expected to have at least a passing familiarity with Universal's classic horror films. Until TheSeventies, the Universal monster movie was what most people thought of when they heard the phrase "horror movie". A large number of HorrorTropes were [[TropeMaker made]], [[TropeCodifier codified]], and employed by these movies, particularly those pertaining to the so-called "classic movie monsters" -- [[ClassicalMovieVampire vampires]], [[WolfMan werewolves]], {{mumm|y}}ies, etc. The modern images of said monsters were more or less created by Universal, to the point where [[OurVampiresAreDifferent deviations from]] [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent their classic blueprints]] are still regarded as {{subver|tedTrope}}sions of the "traditional" rules surrounding them. Also, since the limitations of UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode meant that Universal couldn't rely on [[{{Gorn}} graphic violence]] and [[SexSells sex]] to frighten and titillate viewers, they remain a great way to [[GatewaySeries introduce younger or more squeamish viewers]] to horror -- which is exactly what they did once TV stations started using them as late-night movies.

Thanks to the Essential Collection, the 8 Major Universal Monsters are officially Count Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The ([[Film/PhantomOfTheOpera1943 1943 version]]) Phantom of the Opera, and Gill Man.
* ''Film/TheHunchbackOfNotreDame'' (1923)
* ''[[Film/ThePhantomOfTheOpera1925 The Phantom of the Opera]]'' (1925)
* ''Theatre/TheCatAndTheCanary'' (1927)
* ''Literature/TheManWhoLaughs'' (1928)
* ''The Last Warning'' (1929)
* ''The Last Performance'' (1929)
* ''The Cat Creeps'' (1930) -- Sound remake of ''The Cat and the Canary''. [[/index]]
** ''La Voluntad del Muerto'' (1930) -- A [[ForeignRemake Spanish-language version]], made by Universal for the Spanish and Latin American markets in the days before dubbing was technologically feasible. Incidentally, both are considered to be [[MissingEpisode lost]]. [[index]]
* ''Film/{{Dracula|1931}}'' (1931) [[/index]]
** ''Drácula'' (1931) -- Another [[ForeignRemake Spanish-language version]]. Often known simply as "Spanish Dracula". Considered by many film aficionados ([[http://www.cinemassacre.com/2009/10/02/02-spanish-dracula-1931/ including]] JamesRolfe) to be a superior film to the original, albeit without Creator/BelaLugosi's signature performance. [[index]]
* ''Film/{{Frankenstein|1931}}'' (1931)
* ''[[Film/TheMummy1932 The Mummy]]'' (1932)
* ''Film/MurdersInTheRueMorgue'' (1932)
* ''[[Film/TheOldDarkHouse1932 The Old Dark House]]'' (1932)
* ''Film/TheInvisibleMan'' (1933)
* ''Film/TheBlackCat'' (1934)
* ''[[Film/TheRaven1935 The Raven]]'' (1935)
* ''Film/WerewolfOfLondon'' (1935)
* ''Film/BrideOfFrankenstein'' (1936)
* ''Film/DraculasDaughter'' (1936)
* ''Film/TheInvisibleRay'' (1936)
* ''Film/SonOfFrankenstein'' (1939)
* ''Tower of London'' (1939)
* ''Black Friday'' (1940)
* ''The Invisible Man Returns'' (1940)
* ''The Invisible Woman'' (1940)
* ''Film/TheMummysHand'' (1940)
* ''[[Film/TheWolfMan1941 The Wolf Man]]'' (1941)
* ''The Black Cat'' (1941) (no relation to the movie made 7 years earlier with the same title)
* ''Horror Island'' (1941)
* ''Man Made Monster'' (1941)
* ''Film/TheGhostOfFrankenstein'' (1942)
* ''Invisible Agent'' (1942) (the result of Universal horror meeting wartime propaganda)
* ''The Mummy's Tomb'' (1942)
* ''The Mad Doctor of Market Street'' (1942)
* ''Night Monster'' (1942)
* ''Film/FrankensteinMeetsTheWolfMan'' (1943)
* ''[[Film/PhantomOfTheOpera1943 Phantom of the Opera]]'' (1943) (a sound-enabled remake of the 1925 original that incorporated many musical elements)
* ''Film/SonOfDracula'' (1943)
* ''The Mad Ghoul'' (1943)
* ''The Climax'' (1944)
* ''Film/HouseOfFrankenstein'' (1944)
* ''The Invisible Man's Revenge'' (1944)
* ''The Mummy's Ghost'' (1944)
* ''The Mummy's Curse'' (1944)
* ''Film/HouseOfDracula'' (1945)
* ''Film/TheBruteMan'' (1946)
* ''Film/SheWolfOfLondon'' (1946)
* ''Film/AbbottAndCostelloMeetFrankenstein'' (1948)
* ''Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man'' (1951)
* ''Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'' (1953)
* ''Film/ItCameFromOuterSpace'' (1953)
* ''Film/CreatureFromTheBlackLagoon'' (1954)
* ''Film/RevengeOfTheCreature'' (1955)
* ''Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy'' (1955)
* ''Cult of the Cobra'' (1955)
* ''Film/{{Tarantula}}'' (1955)
* ''Film/TheCreatureWalksAmongUs'' (1956)
* ''Film/TheMolePeople'' (1956)
* ''Film/TheDeadlyMantis'' (1957)
* ''Film/TheIncredibleShrinkingMan'' (1957)
* ''Film/TheMonolithMonsters'' (1957)
* ''Monster on the Campus'' (1958)
* ''Film/TheThingThatCouldntDie'' (1958)
* ''Film/TheLeechWoman'' (1960)

* ''Film/IslandOfLostSouls'' (1932) is sometimes listed as a Universal horror film, despite being made by Paramount. This is because Universal released it on VHS in the nineties, and included it under the "Universal Monsters" label in the process.

* Original novels expanding on the stories of the film series occasionally pop up. Jeff Rovin's 1998 book ''Literature/ReturnOfTheWolfman'' continued the adventures of Larry Talbot, and itself received two sequels by David Jacobs. From 2001 to 2002 Scholastic published a six-part series of children's books by Larry Mike Garmon, in which monsters from the films escaped into the real world and had to be hunted down by a trio of 21st century teenagers. Most recently Dark Horse published a series of six Universal Horror novels, each by a different author: ''Literature/DraculaAsylum'', ''Literature/FrankensteinTheShadowOfFrankenstein'' and ''Creature From The Black Lagoon: Time's Black Lagoon'' in 2006, followed by ''The Mummy: Dark Resurrection'', ''The Wolf Man: Hunter's Moon'' and ''The Bride of Frankenstein: Pandora's Bride'' in 2007.
* Allan Rune Pettersson's novel ''Frankenstein's Aunt'' is a young adult parody of, very specifically, the Universal Horror universe.

* Bally's ''Pinball/CreatureFromTheBlackLagoon'' is a game based on both the movie itself (in ''3D!'') and attending a drive-in to see the movie.
* ''Pinball/MonsterBash'' is an ensemble game, with the player collecting six of the Universal Monsters to form a rock band.

!!Theme Parks:
* ''Theatre/HalloweenHorrorNights'', an annual event at Ride/UniversalStudios Orlando and Hollywood, has featured haunted houses and scarezones based on the classic Universal Horror properties and has been used to promote properties like The Mummy, ''Film/VanHelsing'' and ''Film/TheWolfman2010'' remake as well as properties from other studios. Also notable that the Orlando incarnation of the event has invented [[OriginalGeneration original horror icons]] with detailed backstories that feature heavily in the events and their marketing.

!!Trading Cards:
* The Universal Monsters brand has provided fertile ground for trading card manufacturers. Perhaps the most remarkable is the series put out by Kitchen Sink in 1996, which incorporated just about anything remotely horrific that was made by Universal up until 1960. Anyone remember ''TheManWhoReclaimedHisHead''?

!!Video Games:
* A few video games have been based on the films. This include the cartoonish ''Universal Studios Monsters: Dracula'' on the GameBoyColor and the MultiplayerOnlineBattleArena ''VideoGame/UniversalMonstersOnline''.