Universal Classic Monsters
|Universal Classic Monsters|
Official franchise logo as displayed on home video releases
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Universal Classic Monsters is a name given to the horror, fantasy, thriller and science fiction films made by Universal Pictures during the decades of the 1920s through the 1950s. They were the first shared universe in the entire movie industry in Hollywood and around the world. They began with The Phantom of the Opera, a silent films starring Lon Chaney. Universal classic Monsters continued with talkies including core monsters in the franchise Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. The films often featured Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr.
- 1 Development
- 2 Original films
- 3 Remake era
- 4 Reboot era
- 5 In other media
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Chaney stars as The Phantom in 1925's horror film, The Phantom of the Opera, based on the mystery novel by Gaston Leroux. The interior of the Opéra Garnier was recreated to scale and was used again in the 1943 remake with Claude Rains.
In 1931, Bela Lugosi starred in Universal's Dracula and Boris Karloff portrayed the monster in Frankenstein. Actors Dwight Frye and Edward Van Sloan, who played major supporting roles in both films, made several film appearances in this decade. Make-up artist Jack Pierce created several monsters' make-up starting in the 1930s.
The Mummy, starring Karloff, was produced in 1932. Universal began releasing sequels including Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Dracula's Daughter (1936) and sequels for The Invisible Man (1933). The first mainstream werewolf picture, Werewolf of London (1935) starring Henry Hull, was not a box office triumph despite being revered by audiences today.
The end of Universal's first run of horror films came in 1936. The monster movies were dropped from the production schedule altogether and would not re-emerge for another three years. In the meantime, a theater owner revived Dracula and Frankenstein as a resoundingly successful double feature, prompting the studio to re-release the original movies. Son of Frankenstein (1939), starring Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi, was filmed as a result of the unexpected resurgence.
During the 1940s, Universal released The Wolf Man (1941), with Lon Chaney Jr. The junior Chaney became the studio's leading monster movie actor in the 1940s, just as his father had been two decades earlier, supplanting the 1930s' Karloff and Lugosi by a wide margin in terms of the number of leading roles that he played. Chaney Jr. physically resembled his father apart from usually being somewhat overweight, which the senior Chaney never was. The studio dropped the "Jr." from the junior Chaney's billing almost immediately to confuse some in the audiences into assuming that this was the same actor.
The Frankenstein and Wolf Man series continued with The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), in which Chaney Jr. played Frankenstein's monster and Lugosi reprises his role as Ygor, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) with Lugosi as the Frankenstein monster and Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man. Son of Dracula (1943) featured Chaney Jr. in Lugosi's original role as the Count. The Mummy series was also continued with The Mummy's Hand (1940), The Mummy's Tomb (1942), The Mummy's Ghost and The Mummy's Curse (both 1944) with Chaney Jr. as the Mummy in the last three films. House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945) featured many of the monsters from the studio's previous films. As the decade drew to a close, the comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) features Lugosi in only his second film as Count Dracula, alongside Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot (the Wolf Man), and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein's monster. Abbott and Costello also appeared in films featuring characters such as the Mummy and the Invisible Man.
Creature from the Black Lagoon, directed by Jack Arnold, was released in 1954. Dracula and Frankenstein were re-released as double features in theatres, and were later broadcast in syndication on American television in 1957 as part of the Shock Theater package of Universal Monster Movies. Magazines such as Famous Monsters of Filmland covered the monster films. Universal spent the last half of the decade issuing a number of one-shot monster films.
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Screenwriter(s)||Story by||Producer(s)|
|The Hunchback of Notre Dame||September 2, 1923||Wallace Worsley||Edward T. Lowe Jr.||Carl Laemmle |
|The Phantom of the Opera||November 25, 1925||Rupert Julian||Walter Anthony, Elliott J. Clawson, Bernard McConville, Frank M. McCormack, Tom Reed, Raymond L. Schrock, Jasper Spearing & Richard Wallace|
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Screenwriter(s)||Story by||Producer(s)|
|Dracula||February 14, 1931||Tod Browning||Garrett Fort||Tod Browning and Carl Laemmle, Jr.|
|Dracula (Spanish Version)||April 24, 1931||George Melford||Baltasar Fernández Cué and Garret Fort||Garret Fort||Carl Laemmle Jr. and Paul Kohner|
|Frankenstein||November 21, 1931||James Whale||Francis Edward Faragoh & Garrett Fort||John L. Balderston||Carl Laemmle Jr.|
|The Mummy||December 22, 1932||Karl Freund||John L. Balderston||Nina Wilcox Putnam & Richard Schayer|
|The Invisible Man||November 13, 1933||James Whale||R. C. Sherriff|
|The Bride of Frankenstein||April 20, 1935||William Hurlbut||William Hurlbut & John L. Balderston|
|Werewolf of London||May 13, 1935||Stuart Walker||John Colton, Robert Harris, Harvey Gates, Edmund Pearson, James Mulhauser & Aben Kandel||Robert Harris||Stanley Bergerman|
|Dracula's Daughter||May 11, 1936||Lambert Hillyer||Garrett Fort||Oliver Jeffries||E. M. Asher|
|Son of Frankenstein||January 13, 1939||Rowland V. Lee||Wyllis Cooper||Rowland V. Lee|
|Film||U.S. release date||Director||Screenwriter(s)||Story by||Producer(s)|
|The Invisible Man Returns||January 12, 1940||Joe May||Kurt Siodmak & Lester Cole||Kurt Siodmak & Joe May||Ken Goldsmith|
|The Mummy's Hand||November 20, 1940||Christy Cabanne||Griffin Jay and Maxwell Shane||Ben Pivar|
|The Invisible Woman||December 12, 1940||A. Edward Sutherland||Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo & Gertrude Purcell||Curt Siodmak & Joe May||Burt Kelly|
|The Wolf Man||December 12, 1941||George Waggner||Curt Siodmak||George Waggner|
|The Ghost of Frankenstein||March 13, 1942||Erle C. Kenton||W. Scott Darling||Eric Taylor|
|Invisible Agent||April 17, 1942||Edwin L. Marin||Curtis Siodmak||Frank Lloyd|
|The Mummy's Tomb||October 23, 1942||Harold Young||Griffin Jay & Henry Sucher||Neil P. Varnick||Ben Pivar|
|Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man||March 5, 1943||Roy William Neill||Curt Siodmak||George Waggner|
|Phantom of the Opera||August 12, 1943||Arthur Lubin||Samuel Hoffenstein & Eric Taylor||John Jacoby|
|Son of Dracula||November 5, 1943||Robert Siodmak||Eric Taylor||Curtis Siodmak||Ford Beebe and Donald H. Brown|
|The Invisible Man's Revenge||June 9, 1944||Ford Beebe||Bertram Millhauser||Ford Beebe|
|The Mummy's Ghost||July 7, 1944||Reginald LeBorg||Griffin Jay, Henry Sucher & Brenda Weisberg||Griffin Jay & Henry Sucher||Ben Pivar|
|The Mummy's Curse||December 22, 1944||Leslie Goodwins||Bernard Schubert||Leon Abrams & Dwight V. Babcock||Oliver Drake|
|The House of Frankenstein||February 16, 1945||Erle C. Kenton||Edward T. Lowe||Curt Siodmak||Paul Malvern|
|House of Dracula||June 29, 1945||Dwight V. Babcock & George Bricker|
|She-Wolf of London||March 29, 1946||Jean Yarbrough||George Bricker||Dwight V. Babcock||Ben Pivar|
|Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet Frankenstein||June 15, 1948||Charles T. Barton||Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo & John Grant||Robert Arthur|
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Screenwriter(s)||Story by||Producer(s)|
|Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet the Invisible Man||March 19, 1951||Charles Lamont||Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo & John Grant||Hugh Wedlock Jr. & Howard Snyder||Howard Christie|
|Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde||August 12, 1953||Lee Loeb & John Grant||Sid Fields & Grant Garett|
|Creature from the Black Lagoon||February 12, 1954||Jack Arnold||Harry Essex & Arthur Ross||Maurice Zimm||William Alland|
|Revenge of the Creature||May 13, 1955||Martin Berkeley||William Alland|
|Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet the Mummy||May 23, 1955||Charles Lamont||John Grant||Lee Loeb||Howard Christie|
|The Creature Walks Among Us||April 26, 1956||John Sherwood||Arthur Ross||William Alland|
Recurring cast and characters
- This table only includes characters which have appeared in multiple films within this shared universe.
- A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
- A G Cedric Hardwicke played the son of Henry Frankenstein, he also played the ghost of Henry Frankenstein.
- A P indicates the character was shown in a photograph.
- A U indicates a uncredited role.
- A V indicates a voice-only role.
|Dracula||Frankenstein||The Invisible Man||Bride of Frankenstein||Dracula's Daughter||Son of Frankenstein||The Invisible Man Returns||The Wolf Man||The Ghost of Frankenstein||Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man||Son of Dracula||House of Frankenstein||House of Dracula||Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein||Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man|
|The Frankenstein Monster||Boris Karloff||Boris Karloff||Boris Karloff||Lon Chaney Jr.||Bela Lugosi||Glenn Strange|
|Count Dracula||Bela Lugosi||Lon Chaney Jr.||John Carradine||Bela Lugosi|
|The Wolf Man
|Lon Chaney Jr.||Lon Chaney Jr.||Lon Chaney Jr.|
|Van Helsing||Edward Van Sloan||Edward Van Sloan|
|Henry Frankenstein||Colin Clive||Colin Clive||Cedric HardwickeG|
|The Invisible Man
|Claude Rains||Claude RainsP||Claude RainsP|
|Elizabeth||Mae Clarke||Valerie Hobson|
|Ygor||Bela Lugosi||Bela Lugosi|
|The Invisible Man
|Vincent Price||Vincent PriceUV|
|Maleva||Maria Ouspenskaya||Maria Ouspenskaya|
|Elsa Frankenstein||Evelyn Ankers||Ilona Massey|
|Dracula||July 13, 1979||John Badham||W. D. Richter||Marvin Mirisch and Walter Mirisch|
|The Mummy||May 7, 1999||Stephen Sommers||Stephen Sommers and Lloyd Fonvielle & Kevin Jarre||James Jacks and Sean Daniel|
|The Mummy Returns||May 4, 2001||Stephen Sommers|
|Van Helsing||May 7, 2004||Stephen Sommers and Bob Ducsay|
|The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor||August 1, 2008||Rob Cohen||Alfred Gough & Miles Millar||Stephen Sommers, Sean Daniel, James Jacks and Bob Ducsay|
|The Wolfman||February 12, 2010||Joe Johnston||Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self||Sean Daniel, Scott Stuber, Benicio del Toro and Rick Yorn|
|Dracula Untold||October 10, 2014||Gary Shore||Mark Sazama & Burk Sharpless||Michael De Luca|
|The Mummy||June 9, 2017||Alex Kurtzman||David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie & Dylan Kussman||Jon Spaihts, Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet||Alex Kurtzman, Chris Morgan, Sean Daniel and Sarah Bradshaw|
|The Invisible Man||February 28, 2020||Leigh Whannell||Jason Blum and Kylie Du Fresne|
|Dark Army||TBA||Paul Feig||Paul Feig and Laura Fischer|
|Renfield||TBA||Dexter Fletcher||Ryan Ridley||Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ridley||Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst and Sean Furst|
|The Invisible Woman||TBA||Elizabeth Banks||Erin Cressida Wilson||Elizabeth Banks||Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman|
|Monster Mash||TBA||Matt Stawski||Will Widger||Matt Stawski||Marty Bowen|
Dark Universe was the term given by Universal Pictures to their planned cinematic universe, which was to be based on the classic Universal Monsters film series. The studio's first attempt at this universe was with the film Dracula Untold. Released on October 10, 2014, with Luke Evans in the eponymous role, the film was developed prior to plans for a shared universe of horror films. However, it was retooled to be a part of the franchise. The film's mixed financial and critical reception resulted in the film's presence within the franchise to be downplayed. Evans has remained attached to the role, with potential to return in a future film.
Universal, which had announced plans to reboot The Mummy franchise in 2012, decided to market the new installment as the first film in the series. The Mummy was set to be released in 2017 with Alex Kurtzman as director. Also, Kurtzman and Chris Morgan were announced as co-runners of the Dark Universe, with collaborations from David Koepp and Christopher McQuarrie. Along with the crew, Universal announced the casting of Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde, Javier Bardem as the Frankenstein Monster, and Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man. They would join Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, as Nick Morton and Princess Ahmanet / The Mummy. Bill Condon was announced as the director of the franchise's Bride of Frankenstein, originally set to be released on February 14, 2019. David Koepp wrote the film's script. Even though various sources stated that Evans would reprise his role in a cameo in The Mummy, in the universe, Kurtzman denied these claims, stating that he had considered the film to no longer be canon to the Dark Universe. Despite this, Evans confirmed that he was contractually signed to reprise the role, and believed that he would appear in further films. Additional rebooted versions of their characters were announced to have films in development as well including: the Wolf Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Phantom of the Opera, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The shared film universe's official theme music was composed by Danny Elfman.
The Mummy was released on June 9, 2017 to predominantly negative reviews from critics, as well as an underwhelming performance at the box office. By November, The Bride of Frankenstein was pulled from its initial release, and lead producers/co-architects of the Dark Universe, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, left Universal and departed from the franchise. Universal has put a hold on future projects while they create a plan for future releases. Universal Pictures released an official statement reading:
"After thoughtful consideration, Universal Pictures and director Bill Condon have decided to postpone Bride of Frankenstein. None of us want[s] to move too quickly to meet a release date when we know this special movie needs more time to come together. Bill is a director whose enormous talent has been proven time and again, and we all look forward to continuing to work on this film together."
In January 2018, development on the film progressed with Condon hiring a production team consisting of cinematographer Tobias A. Schliessler, production designer Sarah Greenwood, composer Carter Burwell, and costume designer Jacqueline Durran. In May of the same year, artist Robert Vargas announced from his social media account that he had attended a meeting with the studio and would collaborate on the Dark Universe films moving forward. By November 2019, Condon confirmed that though the film had entered pre-production at one point, the film was halted, owing it to the failure of The Mummy. The director also confirmed that Koepp remains involved with re-working the rebooted franchises.
Return to stand-alone projects
In January 2019, Universal announced that all future movies based on the characters, would focus on standalone stories as opposed to inter-connectivity. Successful horror film producer Jason Blum, founder of production company Blumhouse Productions, had at various times publicly expressed his interest in reviving and working on future installments within the Dark Universe franchise. The Invisible Man, a reboot of the classic 1933 film, was announced to be the next film in development, written and directed by Leigh Whannell with Blum signed on as producer. By March 2019, Elisabeth Moss was cast as the female lead, Cecilia Kass. Storm Reid, Aldis Hodge and Harriet Dyer joined the cast in the following months. By July 2019, Oliver Jackson-Cohen was cast as the titular character. Filming began in July 2019, and continued into September 2019. The Invisible Man is scheduled to be released on February 28, 2020.
In September 2019, it was announced that a film titled Dark Army is in development. The film will feature monsters from the original movies, as well as new characters. Paul Feig will serve as director, from a script of his own. He will serve as co-producer with Laura Fischer. The project will be a joint production between Universal Pictures and Feigco Productions. The filmmaker stated that The Bride of Frankenstein will be a major influence on his project.
In November 2019, it was announced that a film centered Count Dracula's henchman, R. M. Renfield is in development. The project was greenlit following a pitch to the studio from Robert Kirkman. Dexter Fletcher signed on as director, with a script by Ryan Ridley. The film will be a joint-venture production between Universal Studios, and Skybound Entertainment. Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst serving as producers.
Elizabeth Banks was later announced to star in, direct and produce The Invisible Woman, based on her own original pitch. The screenplay, a reboot of the titular character, is being written by Erin Cressida Wilson. Max Handelman will also serve as producer.
In February of 2020, a musical titled Monster Mash was announced to be in development. Grammy Award nominee Matt Stawski will make his feature film directorial debut, while Will Widger will serve as screenwriter, from an original story written by Stawski. The project will be a joint-venture production between Universal Pictures and Temple Hill Entertainment. Marty Bowen will serve as producer.
On the same month Amy Pascal in her interview at Variety stated that she and John Krasinski would be interested in green lit the reimagining of Bride of Frankenstein and hopes that David Koepp and Sam Raimi would take part in that project 
In other media
Universal Classic Monsters have been used as mazes a dozen times for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Parks & Resorts since 1991, when the special event was introduced at Universal Studios Florida and has appeared every year in any Universal theme park around the world. They also have appeared in the year-round attraction, Universal's House of Horrors, at Universal Studios Hollywood from 2006 to 2014. Rumors indicate they will also appear in a brand new land opening at Universal's Epic Universe.
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- The Mummy: The Animated Series (2001-03) (TV series)
- Van Helsing: The London Assignment (2004) (DTV)
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The 'Shock!' package was sold in 142 markets. As a result, stations across the country aired a late-night Shock Theatre series to showcase these pictures.
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- Blumhouse & Universal’s ‘The Invisible Man’ Adds ‘Straight Outta Compton’ & ‘Clemency’ Actor Aldis Hodge
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