1887 – 1969
William Henry Pratt (23 November 1887 – 2 February 1969), better known by his stage name Boris Karloff (/ˈkɑːrlɒf/), was an English actor who was primarily known for his roles in horror films. He portrayed Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939). He also appeared as Imhotep in The Mummy (1932).
His best-known non-horror role is as the Grinch, as well as the narrator, in the animated television special of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966). For his contribution to film and television, Boris Karloff was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1882 – 1956
Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó (Hungarian: [ˈbeːlɒ ˈfɛrɛnt͡s ˈdɛʒøː ˈblɒʃkoː]; 20 October 1882 – 16 August 1956), better known as Bela Lugosi (/ləˈɡoʊsi/; Hungarian: [ˈluɡoʃi]), was a Hungarian-American actor famous for portraying Count Dracula in the 1931 film and for his roles in various other horror films.
He had been playing small parts on the stage in his native Hungary before making his first film in 1917, but had to leave the country after the failed Hungarian Communist Revolution of 1919. He had roles in several films in Weimar Germany before arriving in the United States as a seaman on a merchant ship.
In 1927, he appeared as Count Dracula in a Broadway adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel. He later appeared in the classic 1931 film Dracula by Universal Pictures. Through the 1930s, he occupied an important niche in popular horror films, with their East European setting, but his Hungarian accent limited his repertoire, and he tried unsuccessfully to avoid typecasting.
Meanwhile, he was often paired with Boris Karloff, who was able to demand top billing. To his frustration, Lugosi, a charter member of the American Screen Actors Guild, was increasingly restricted to minor parts, kept employed by the studio principally in order that they could put his name on the posters. Among his pairings with Karloff, he performed major roles only in The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939); even in The Raven, Karloff received top billing despite Lugosi performing the lead role. By this time, Lugosi had been receiving regular medication for sciatic neuritis, and he became addicted to morphine and methadone. This drug dependence was noted by producers, and the offers eventually dwindled to a few parts in Ed Wood’s low-budget movies—most notably Plan 9 from Outer Space. Lugosi, who was married five times and had one son, Bela George Lugosi, died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956.
20 Combined Best Films
This iconic horror film follows the obsessed scientist Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) as he attempts to create life by assembling a creature from body parts of the deceased. Aided by his loyal misshapen assistant, Fritz (Dwight Frye), Frankenstein succeeds in animating his monster (Boris Karloff), but, confused and traumatized, it escapes into the countryside and begins to wreak havoc. Frankenstein searches for the elusive being, and eventually must confront his tormented creation.
The Mummy 1932
A team of British archaeologists led by Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron) discover the mummified remains of the ancient Egyptian prince Imhotep (Boris Karloff), along with the legendary scroll of Thoth. When one of the archaeologists recites the scroll aloud, Imhotep returns to life, but escapes. Several years later, Imhotep has taken on the guise of a wealthy man, as he searches Egypt for his lost love, who he believes has been reincarnated as the lovely Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann).
The Black Room 1935
In Tirol in the late 19th century, when twins are born to the ruling Baron de Berghman, the youngest, Anton, is sent away due to a family legend that the youngest twin will kill the oldest. Two decades later, the elder twin, Gregor (Boris Karloff) arranges for Anton’s (also Karloff) return so that the brothers may rule their country jointly. Upon Anton’s arrival, mysterious disappearances and murders occur — and when the local peasants accuse Gregor, he assumes his more popular twin’s identity.
Bride of Frankenstein 1935
After recovering from injuries sustained in the mob attack upon himself and his creation, Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) falls under the control of his former mentor, Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), who insists the now-chastened doctor resume his experiments in creating new life. Meanwhile, the Monster (Boris Karloff) remains on the run from those who wish to destroy him without understanding that his intentions are generally good despite his lack of socialization and self-control.
The Invisible Ray 1936
A scientist (Bela Lugosi) seeks an antidote for a radium-poisoned colleague (Boris Karloff) with the touch of death.
Doomed to Die 1940
A newswoman (Marjorie Reynolds) asks sleuth Mr. Wong (Boris Karloff) to look into the murder of a shipping tycoon.
The Body Snatcher 1945
Dr. Toddy MacFarlane (Henry Daniell) needs cadavers for his medical experiments, ultimately intended to treat a young disabled girl. However, they are not easy to come by, so he enlists the help of taxi driver John Gray (Boris Karloff) and his assistant, Joseph (Bela Lugosi), to unearth bodies from the cemetery. When Donald (Russell Wade), Dr. MacFarlane’s assistant, recognizes one of the corpses Gray delivers, the true source of the bodies is called into question.
Mad Monster Party 1967
Mad Monster Party? is a 1967 American stop-motion animated musical comedy film produced by Rankin/Bass Productions for Embassy Pictures. The film stars Boris Karloff, Allen Swift, Gale Garnett, and Phyllis Diller. Although less well-known than Rankin/Bass’ holiday specials, it has become a cult film.
After unhinged Vietnam vet Bobby Thompson (Tim O’Kelly) kills his wife and mother, he goes on a brutal shooting spree. Starting at an oil refinery, he evades the police and continues his murderous outing at a drive-in movie theater, where Byron Orlock (Boris Karloff), a retiring horror film icon, is making a promotional appearance. Before long, Orlock, a symbol of fantastical old-fashioned scares, faces off against Thompson, a remorseless psychopath rooted in a harsh modern reality.
Dracula is a 1931 American pre-Code vampire-horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. The film was produced by Universal and is based on the 1924 stage play Dracula by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, which in turn is loosely based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.
White Zombie 1932
Murder Legendre (Bela Lugosi) is the menacingly named zombie master of Haiti. So it’s to him that Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer) goes when he needs help for a twisted plan. Spurned in marriage by Madeline Short (Madge Bellamy), Beaumont has decided on a simple solution: kill Short and bring her back as a zombie. Then she can be his forever. The only problem comes when Legendre keeps the fetching girl for himself — and her new husband (John Harron) comes to Madeline’s rescue.
The Return of Chandu 1934
The mystic must rescue a kidnapped princess from evil magicians in this feature-length version of the serial.
The Gorilla 1939
When a wealthy gentleman receives threatening notes signed by the Gorilla, he hires the Ritz Brothers to protect him.
The Phantom Creeps 1939
Mad Dr. Zorka uses his arsenal of bizarre inventions to conquer the world in this feature-length version of the serial.
A no-nonsense diplomat of the Soviet Union, Nina Ivanovna “Ninotchka” Yakushova (Greta Garbo) arrives in Paris to ensure the sale of jewels seized during the Russian Revolution. Meanwhile, carefree bachelor Count Leon d’Algout (Melvyn Douglas) attempts to intercept the valuables on behalf of their former owner, the Grand Duchess Swana (Ina Claire). Despite their conflicting allegiances, the icy Ninotchka soon warms to Leon’s charms, reluctantly going against her better judgment.
Voodoo Man 1944
A mad doctor (Bela Lugosi) and his helpers (John Carradine, George Zucco) lure girls to his lab for brain work, to help his wife.
Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein 1948
In the first of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s horror vehicles for Universal Pictures, the inimitable comic duo star as railway baggage handlers in northern Florida. When a pair of crates belonging to a house of horrors museum are mishandled by Wilbur (Lou Costello), the museum’s director, Mr. MacDougal (Frank Ferguson), demands that they deliver them personally so that they can be inspected for insurance purposes, but Lou’s friend Chick (Bud Abbott) has grave suspicions.
Mother Riley Meets The Vampire 1952
Irish washerwoman Old Mother Riley (Arthur Lucan) foils a would-be vampire (Bela Lugosi) and his misguided robot.
Plan 9 From Outer Space 1959
Residents of California’s San Fernando Valley are under attack by flying saucers from outer space. The aliens, led by Eros (Dudley Manlove) and his assistant, Tanna (Joanna Lee), intend to conquer the planet by resurrecting corpses in a Hollywood cemetery. The living dead — a cape-wearing ghoul (Bela Lugosi), a vampire (Vampira) and a slow-footed cop (Tor Johnson) who was killed for his nosiness — stalk curious humans who wander into the cemetery looking for evidence of the UFOs.
Boris Karloff & Bela Lugosi
20 Combined Best Films