Were Bela Lugosi And Boris Karloff Rivals? The Truth About Dracula Vs. Frankenstein

By Karen Harris
Boris Karloff as Edmond Bateman and Bela Lugosi as Dr Richard Vallin in a scene from the 1935 film, The Raven directed by Lew Landers for United Pictures. Source: (John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)

The Boris Karloff-Bela Lugosi rivalry is well known to fans of classic horror movies, particularly the Frankenstein and Dracula franchises in the early "talkie" era. Karloff, seen frequently as Frankenstein's Monster, and Lugosi, ever the vampire, both had designs on being the premiere horror film star, filling the void left by the death of Lon Chaney in 1930. Bela and Boris played fearsome monsters on the screen, and like any actors, they wanted to have the best box-office receipts, but whether they truly feuded has been a matter of debate.

Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff's feud would have been awkward, to say the least -- as horror actors under the Universal Studios banner, they appeared in films together and were family, in a way. With Lon Chaney, Jr. and, later, John Carradine ready to step in and take roles from either of them, a serious rivalry could have been more trouble than the studio needed. So what was the deal -- did famous scary actors Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff really hate each others' guts?