Universal Pictures Monster Movies
October 09, 2012
Can you imagine Halloween without Frankenstein's monster, the Mummy, the Wolfman, or Dracula? You can't, and even more, you have a very specific image of what those characters should look like. There is a reason for that: Universal Pictures monster movies. During an incredible run from the 1920s to the 1950s, Universal Pictures laid the framework for all subsequent horror films. The secret to their success? The great monster movies were also great films. Universal had great directors like Tod Browning and James Whale, and great actors like Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Claude Rains, and two Lon Chaneys (Sr. & Jr.).
Here's the original trailer for one of the best Universal monster movies:
These films were staples of local television programming when I was a kid. Back then, in the benighted era before cable, I watched them because MONSTERS! SCARY! Today, I watch them as a cinephile. Luckily, we are no longer limited to seeing them only once a year on a local channel's Monster Week. These great Universal monster movies are available right here at MCPL:
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
- The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
- Dracula (1931)
- Frankenstein (1931)
- The Mummy (1932)
- The Invisible Man (1933)
- Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
- The Wolf Man (1941)
- The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)
I would consider these films to be the cream of the Universal crop. Some of their less well-known titles are worth viewing for their awesome B-movie appeal though. Aside from Bride of Frankenstein, most of the repeat appearances of the monsters never equalled or surpassed their first outings. Eventually, the monsters ended up starring alongside comedy duo Abbott & Costello, and by then, it was clear that the Universal monster movies were on their way out. But all was not lost. The Hammer horror films would breathe new life into the monster film, as we'll see in my next post.
Doing the monster mash,