This three-way relationship achieves status as an all-time great for two reasons. First, for the rivalry between each of the monster franchises, and secondly for the rivalry that exists between the three monsters themselves. In 1931, Universal Pictures released two horror films. One was “Frankenstein,” based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 gothic horror novel, with Boris Karloff playing the Monster. The other was “Dracula” starring Béla Lugosi, based on the 1897 novel by Bram Stoker. Both films proved immensely popular and spawned two sequels each within five years. But it wasn’t until “The Wolf Man”, starring Lon Chaney Jr., was released in 1941 that the trio was complete and the three characters could begin crossing over.
In “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” (‘43), the Monster and the Wolf Man fight each other in the first ever intra-trio battle (spoiler: they both die by drowning). Then in “House of Frankenstein” (‘44) and “House of Dracula” (‘45), the Wolf Man fights against each titular character correspondingly. Next came “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” (‘48) in which all three come together, with Dracula controlling the Monster in a fight against the Wolf Man. For most of these films, and a few others, Chaney, Karloff and Lugosi reprised their signature roles.
Later in the early seventies, two films, called “Dracula vs. Frankenstein” and “Dracula: Prisoner of Frankenstein”, featured all three characters, yet again. And later still, the three appeared in “The Monster Squad” (‘87), “Monster Mash” (‘95), another “Monster Mash,” (‘00), this one a cartoon starring Alvin and the Chipmunks, and “Van Helsing” (‘04). Needless to say, the three can’t get enough of each other, and this description is not even close to being exhaustive. One fun take was the sitcom The Munsters, in which the dad is Frankenstein’s Monster, the mom is Dracula’s daughter and the son is a young werewolf.