Universal Monsters

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Universal has promoted a number of its films in the horror genre and included the logo of Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster on reissued sets of DVD films.[1]

Universal Monsters or Universal Horror is a phrase used to describe the series of horror, suspense and science fiction films made by Universal Studios during the decades of the 1920s through the 1950s. The series began with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera, both silent films starring Lon Chaney. Universal continued with talkies including monster franchises 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.

History[edit]

1920s[edit]

In 1923 Universal produced the drama The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which starred Lon Chaney as Quasimodo. The production sets were built to evoke 15th-century Paris, including a re-creation of the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral.

Chaney starred 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 which was used again in the 1943 remake with Claude Rains.

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Cast
The Hunchback of Notre Dame September 2, 1923 Wallace Worsley Lon Chaney
The Phantom of the Opera November 25, 1925 Rupert Julian Lon Chaney
The Cat and the Canary September 9, 1927 Paul Leni Laura LaPlante
The Man Who Laughs April 27, 1928 Paul Leni Mary Philbin and Conrad Veidt
The Last Warning January 6, 1929 Paul Leni Laura LaPlante
The Last Performance November 1929 Paul Fejos Mary Philbin and Conrad Veidt

1930s[edit]

In 1931 Bela Lugosi starred in Universal's Dracula and Boris Karloff in Frankenstein. Actors Dwight Frye and Edward Van Sloan 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. This was followed by a trilogy of films based on the tales of Edgar Allan Poe: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) starring Lugosi, The Black Cat (1934), and The Raven (1935), the latter two of which teamed Lugosi with Karloff. Universal began releasing sequels including Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Dracula's Daughter (1936) and sequels for The Invisible Man (1933).

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 theatre owner revived Dracula and Frankenstein as a double feature, prompting the studio to re-release the original movies. Son of Frankenstein (1939) starring Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi was released.

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Cast
The Cat Creeps November 10, 1930 Rupert Julian and John Willard Helen Twelvetrees
La Voluntad del muerto 1930 George Melford and Enrique Tovar Ávalos Antonio Moreno, Lupita Tovar and Andrés de Segurola
Dracula February 12, 1931 Tod Browning Bela Lugosi
Dracula April 24, 1931 George Melford Carlos Villarías
Frankenstein November 21, 1931 James Whale Boris Karloff and Colin Clive
Murders in the Rue Morgue February 21, 1932 Robert Florey Bela Lugosi
The Old Dark House October 20, 1932 James Whale Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff
The Mummy December 22, 1932 Karl Freund Boris Karloff
The Invisible Man November 13, 1933 James Whale Claude Rains
The Black Cat May 18, 1934 Edgar G. Ulmer Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi
The Mystery of Edwin Drood February 4, 1935 Stuart Walker Claude Rains
Bride of Frankenstein April 22, 1935 James Whale Boris Karloff and Colin Clive
Werewolf of London May 13, 1935 Stuart Walker Henry Hull
The Raven July 8, 1935 Lew Landers Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi
The Invisible Ray January 20, 1936 Lambert Hillyer Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi
Dracula's Daughter May 11, 1936 Lambert Hillyer Gloria Holden
Night Key April 18, 1937 Lloyd Corrigan Boris Karloff and Warren Hull
Son of Frankenstein January 13, 1939 Rowland V. Lee Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi
Tower of London November 17, 1939 Rowland V. Lee Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, and Vincent Price

1940s[edit]

During the 1940s, Universal released The Wolf Man (1941), with Lon Chaney, Jr. 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.

In 1943, the studio created a remake of Phantom of the Opera, this time starring Nelson Eddy and Susanna Foster with Claude Rains as the Phantom.

The Frankenstein and Wolf Man series continued with The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), in which Chaney, Jr. played Frankenstein's monster, 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). 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), with Lugosi in his second movie as Dracula, starring alongside Chaney, Jr. as Larry Talbot (the Wolf Man), and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein's monster.

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Cast
The Invisible Man Returns January 12, 1940 Joe May Vincent Price
Black Friday April 12, 1940 Arthur Lubin Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi
The Mummy's Hand September 20, 1940 Christy Cabanne Tom Tyler
The Invisible Woman December 27, 1940 A. Edward Sutherland Virginia Bruce and John Barrymore
Man Made Monster March 28, 1941 George Waggner Lon Chaney, Jr.
Horror Island March 28, 1941 George Waggner Dick Foran
The Black Cat May 2, 1941 Albert S. Rogell Basil Rathbone and Bela Lugosi
The Wolf Man December 12, 1941 George Waggner Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains, and Bela Lugosi
The Ghost of Frankenstein March 13, 1942 Erle C. Kenton Lon Chaney, Jr., Cedric Hardwicke and Bela Lugosi
Invisible Agent July 31, 1942 Edwin L. Marin Jon Hall, Peter Lorre and Cedric Hardwicke
Night Monster October 20, 1942 Ford Beebe Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill
The Mummy's Tomb October 23, 1942 Harold Young Lon Chaney, Jr.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man March 5, 1943 Roy William Neill Lon Chaney, Jr. and Bela Lugosi
Captive Wild Woman June 4, 1943 Edward Dmytryk Evelyn Ankers, John Carradine and Aquanetta
Phantom of the Opera August 27, 1943 Arthur Lubin Claude Rains
Son of Dracula November 5, 1943 Robert Siodmak Lon Chaney, Jr. and Evelyn Ankers
The Mad Ghoul November 12, 1943 James P. Hogan Evelyn Ankers and David Bruce
Calling Dr. Death December 17, 1943 Reginald Le Borg Lon Chaney, Jr.
Weird Woman March 1, 1944 Reginald Le Borg Lon Chaney, Jr. and Evelyn Ankers
Jungle Woman June 1, 1944 Reginald Le Borg Aquanetta and Evelyn Ankers
The Invisible Man's Revenge June 9, 1944 Ford Beebe Jon Hall and John Carradine
The Mummy's Ghost July 7, 1944 Reginald Le Borg Lon Chaney, Jr. and John Carradine
The Climax October 20, 1944 George Waggner Boris Karloff
Dead Man's Eyes November 10, 1944 Reginald Le Borg Lon Chaney, Jr.
House of Frankenstein December 1, 1944 Erle C. Kenton Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr. and John Carradine
The Mummy's Curse December 22, 1944 Leslie Goodwins Lon Chaney, Jr.
The Frozen Ghost June 1, 1945 Harold Young Lon Chaney, Jr. and Evelyn Ankers
The Jungle Captive June 29, 1945 Harold Young Rondo Hatton
Strange Confession October 5, 1945 John Hoffman Lon Chaney, Jr.
House of Dracula December 7, 1945 Erle C. Kenton Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine and Glenn Strange
Pillow of Death December 14, 1945 Wallace Fox Lon Chaney, Jr.
House of Horrors March 29, 1946 Jean Yarbrough Rondo Hatton
The Brute Man October 1, 1946 Jean Yarbrough Rondo Hatton
She-Wolf of London May 17, 1946 Jean Yarbrough June Lockhart
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein June 15, 1948 Charles Barton Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Bela Lugosi
Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff August 22, 1949 Charles Barton Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and Boris Karloff

1950s[edit]

Abbott and Costello 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.[2] 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) Cast
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man March 19, 1951 Charles Lamont Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
The Strange Door December 8, 1951 Joseph Pevney Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff
The Black Castle December 25, 1952 Nathan H. Juran Boris Karloff
It Came from Outer Space May 25, 1953 Jack Arnold Richard Carlson and Barbara Rush
Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde August 10, 1953 Charles Lamont Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and Boris Karloff
Creature from the Black Lagoon February 12, 1954 Jack Arnold Richard Carlson and Julie Adams
Revenge of the Creature March 23, 1955 Jack Arnold John Agar and Lori Nelson
This Island Earth June 1, 1955 Joseph M. Newman and Jack Arnold Faith Domergue
Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy June 23, 1955 Charles Lamont Bud Abbott, Lou Costello and Eddie Parker
Tarantula December 14, 1955 Jack Arnold John Agar and Mara Corday
Cult of the Cobra May 30, 1955 Francis D. Lyon Faith Domergue
The Creature Walks Among Us April 26, 1956 John Sherwood Jeff Morrow
The Mole People December 1956 Virgil W. Vogel John Agar
The Deadly Mantis May 26, 1957 Nathan H. Juran Craig Stevens
The Land Unknown October 30, 1957 Virgil W. Vogel Jock Mahoney
The Monolith Monsters December 1957 John Sherwood Grant Williams
The Incredible Shrinking Man February 22, 1957 Jack Arnold Grant Williams
Monster on the Campus December 17, 1958 Jack Arnold Arthur Franz
Monster on the Campus December 17, 1958 Jack Arnold Arthur Franz
The Thing That Couldn't Die June 27, 1958 Will Cowan William Reynolds
Curse of the Undead May 1959 Edward Dein Eric Fleming
The Leech Woman May 1960 Edward Dein Grant Williams

Post Era[edit]

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Cast
Dracula July 13, 1979 John Badham Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier
The Mummy May 7, 1999 Stephen Sommers Brandon Fraser and Arnold Vosloo
The Mummy Returns May 4, 2001 Stephen Sommers Brandon Fraser and Arnold Vosloo
Van Helsing May 7, 2004 Stephen Sommers Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor August 1, 2008 Rob Cohen Brandon Fraser and Jet Li
The Wolfman January 27, 2010 Joe Johnston Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, and Hugo Weaving
Dracula Untold October 10, 2014 Gary Shore Luke Evans
The Mummy June 9, 2017[3] Tom Cruise
The Invisible Man N/A Johnny Depp[4]

Shared universe[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Johnston, Keith M. (2013-05-09). Science Fiction Film: A Critical Introduction. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 24–. ISBN 9781847884787. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Okuda, Ted; Yurkiw, Mark (2007). Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie. Lake Claremont Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-1893121133. 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. 
  3. ^ http://variety.com/2016/film/news/tom-cruise-mummy-universal-release-date-1201685122/
  4. ^ http://www.imdb.com/news/ni59483882?pf_rd_m=A2FGELUUNOQJNL&pf_rd_p=1920909362&pf_rd_r=0TA6138R38HS8H9MXYK7&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_t=15061&pf_rd_i=homepage&ref_=hm_nw_tp1