Universal horror

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Universal Horror or Universal Monsters is the name given to a series of classic horror films made by Universal Studios from the 1920s to the 1950s.

In mid-2017, a new edition of numerous universal horror classics was announced as part of the planned Dark Universe film series . However, after the intellectual fathers of the project, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan , recently left the project, the realization of the film series is currently uncertain. The only film released so far is The Mummy (2017), which fell short of expectations.


Universal's first steps into the horror genre began in 1925 with the film adaptation of Gaston Leroux 's horror novel The Phantom of the Opera , in which Lon Chaney , known as " The Man of 1000 Faces ", played the leading role. As in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), Chaney designed his own make-up - in this case an extremely painful mask, because in order to depict the skull-like face of the title character, the silent film star had to pull his nose up with a gauzy wire which led to severe nosebleeds during the filming.

In 1931, with the death of Browning's Dracula , based on Bram Stoker 's novel of the same name and the play by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, the heyday of so-called "Gothic horror" began. The film made the main actor Bela Lugosi , who had already successfully played the role of Count Dracula on stage, a star. The remarkable success of Dracula encouraged the studio bosses at Universal to bring more literary classics to the screen. It was followed in the same year by Frankenstein based on the novel by Mary Shelley and in 1932 The Mummy and 1933 The Invisible One based on the story of the same name by HG Wells . Due to the great success of the films, it was also decided to continue some of the stories about Universal's popular monsters. In 1935, Frankenstein's Bride appeared, the first of a series of sequels. A year later, Dracula's daughter came into the cinemas, but this film was unsuccessful at the time, which is why it was only seven years later that a Dracula sequel was ventured again. In 1941, Der Wolfsmensch, a new monster appeared on the big screen. This was played by Lon Chaney Jr. , the son of the legendary silent film star. Unlike his father, he didn't do his own makeup. For the mask of the werewolf, like most of the universal monsters, the make- up artist Jack P. Pierce was responsible. In the course of the 1940s, Universal also began combining the various monsters to attract audiences, for example in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943). In the same year, the Phantom of the Opera, the first and only horror film by Universal that was shot in Technicolor , was released. For this remake, the scenery of the opera house was used, which was originally built for silent films and can still be viewed on the studio premises today. In the mid-1940s, general interest was waning, not least because of the real horrors of World War II , and Universal was sending its most popular monsters into the running at the same time. In Frankenstein's house (1944) and Dracula's house (1945), in addition to the mad scientist and hunchbacked assistant, Count Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's monster met each other.

By the mid-1950s, Universal had resorted to a different concept. The classic monsters were parodied in the Abbott & Costello comedies . In the first film in the series Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), the original cast of the monsters played and mocked their own characters. Bela Lugosi, whose fame was already falling considerably at that time, appeared again as Dracula in a film for the first time since 1931, Lon Chaney Jr. played the wolf man and Glenn Strange took over the part of the Frankenstein monster. In 1954, the universal horror series experienced a renaissance with The Horror of the Amazon . The so-called gill man (Engl. Gill-Man ) should be the last and simultaneously one of the most popular monsters in the history of Universal. The animal horror film filmed in 3-D was followed by two sequels in 1955 and 1956.


The following list gives an overview of the various universal horror films between 1923 and 1958.

year German title Original title Director main actor
1923 The Hunchback of Notre Dame The Hunchback of Notre Dame Wallace Worsley Lon Chaney , Patsy Ruth Miller , Ernest Torrence
1925 The Phantom of the Opera The Phantom Of The Opera Rupert Julian , Lon Chaney Lon Chaney , Mary Philbin , Norman Kerry
1927 Haunted castle The Cat and the Canary Paul Leni Laura La Plante , Creighton Hale , Forrest Stanley
1928 The man who laughs The Man Who Laughs Paul Leni Conrad Veidt , Mary Philbin , Brandon Hurst
1929 The final warning The Last Warning Paul Leni Laura La Plante, Montagu Love , Roy D'Arcy
1929 illusion The Last Performance Pál Fejös Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin , George Irving
1930 none The Cat Creeps Rupert Julian, John Willard Helen Twelvetrees , Raymond Hackett
1930 none La voluntad del muerto (Spanish parallel production of The Cat Creeps) George Melford Antonio Moreno , Lupita Tovar
1931 Dracula Dracula Death Browning Bela Lugosi , Helen Chandler , Dwight Frye , Edward Van Sloan
1931 Drácula (Spanish parallel production) Drácula George Melford Carlos Villarias , Lupita Tovar
1931 Frankenstein Frankenstein James Whale Boris Karloff , Colin Clive , Mae Clarke , Edward Van Sloan
1932 The Mummy The mummy Karl friend Boris Karloff , Zita Johann , Edward Van Sloan
1932 Murder on the Rue Morgue Murders in the Rue Morgue Robert Florey Bela Lugosi , Sidney Fox , Leon Ames , D'Arcy Corrigan
1932 The house of horror The Old Dark House James Whale Boris Karloff , Gloria Stuart , Charles Laughton
1933 The invisible The Invisible Man James Whale Claude Rains , Gloria Stuart
1934 The black cat The Black Cat Edgar G. Ulmer Bela Lugosi , Boris Karloff , Jacqueline Wells , David Manners
1935 The Raven The Raven Lew Landers Boris Karloff , Bela Lugosi , Lester Matthews , Irene Ware
1935 The werewolf of London Werewolf of London Stuart Walker Henry Hull , Warner Oland , Valerie Hobson , Lester Matthews
1935 Frankenstein's bride Bride of Frankenstein James Whale Boris Karloff , Colin Clive , Ernest Thesinger , Elsa Lanchester
1936 Dracula's daughter Dracula's daughter Lambert Hillyer Gloria Holden , Otto Kruger , Edward Van Sloan
1936 Deadly rays The Invisible Ray Lambert Hillyer Boris Karloff , Bela Lugosi , Frances Drake
1939 Frankenstein's son Son of Frankenstein Rowland V. Lee Basil Rathbone , Boris Karloff , Bela Lugosi , Lionel Atwill
1939 The executioner of London Tower of London Rowland V. Lee Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff , Barbara O'Neil , Vincent Price
1940 Black Friday Black Friday Arthur Lubin Boris Karloff , Bela Lugosi , Anne Nagel
1940 The invisible returns The Invisible Man Returns Joe May Vincent Price , Cedric Hardwicke , Nan Gray
1940 The invisible woman The Invisible Woman A. Edward Sutherland Virginia Bruce , John Barrymore , John Howard , Oskar Homolka
1940 none The Mummy's Hand Christy Cabanne Dick Foran , Peggy Moran , Tom Tyler
1941 The wolf man The Wolf Man George Waggner Lon Chaney Jr. , Evelyn Ankers , Claude Rains , Maria Ouspenskaya
1942 Frankenstein returns The Ghost of Frankenstein Alder C. Kenton Cedric Hardwicke, Bela Lugosi , Lionel Atwill, Lon Chaney jun.
1942 The invisible agent Invisible agent Edwin L. Marin Ilona Massey , Peter Lorre , Cedric Hardwicke
1942 none The Mummy's Tomb Harold Young Lon Chaney Jr., Dick Foran, Elyse Knox
1943 Frankenstein meets the wolf man Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man Roy William Neill Lon Chaney Jr., Ilona Massey, Bela Lugosi , Lionel Atwill
1943 Phantom of the opera Phantom of the Opera Arthur Lubin Claude Rains , Susanna Foster , Nelson Eddy , Edgar Barrier
1943 Dracula's son Son of Dracula Robert Siodmak Lon Chaney Jr., Frank Craven , Louise Allbritton
1944 none The Climax George Waggner Boris Karloff , Susanna Foster
1944 Frankenstein's house House of Frankenstein Alder C. Kenton Boris Karloff , Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine , Glenn Strange
1944 The invisible takes revenge The Invisible Man's Revenge Ford Beebe Jon Hall , John Carradine, Evelyn Ankers
1944 none The Mummy's Ghost Reginald Le Borg John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Robert Lowery , Ramsay Ames
1944 none The Mummy's Curse Leslie Goodwins Lon Chaney Jr., Peter Coe , Virginia Christine
1945 Dracula's house House of Dracula Alder C. Kenton Lon Chaney Jr., Onslow Stevens , John Carradine, Glenn Strange
1946 The werewolf of London She-Wolf of London Jean Yarbrough June Lockhart , Don Porter , Sara Haden
1948 Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein Charles Barton Bud Abbott , Lou Costello , Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi , Glenn Strange
1951 In Sherlock Holmes' footsteps Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man Charles Lamont Bud Abbott , Lou Costello , Nancy Guild , Arthur Franz
1953 none Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Charles Lamont Bud Abbott , Lou Costello , Boris Karloff , Helen Westcott
1954 The horror of the Amazon Creature from the Black Lagoon Jack Arnold Antonio Moreno , Julie Adams , Richard Denning
1955 Abbott and Costello as mummy robbers Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy Charles Lamont Bud Abbott , Lou Costello , Richard Deacon , Michael Ansara
1955 The monster's revenge Revenge of the Creature Jack Arnold John Agar , Lori Nelson , John Bromfield
1955 Metaluna IV doesn't answer This Island Earth Joseph M. Newman , Jack Arnold Jeff Morrow , Faith Domergue , Russel Johnson
1955 Tarantula Tarantula Jack Arnold John Agar , Mara Corday , Leo G. Carroll
1956 The monster is among us The Creature Walks Among Us John Sherwood Jeff Morrow, Rex Reason , Leigh Snowden, David McMahon
1956 In the clutches of the deep The Mole People Virgil W. Vogel John Agar, Cynthia Patrick , Phil Chambers
1957 The incredible story of Mister C. The Incredible Shrinking Man Jack Arnold Grant Williams , Randy Stuart , Billy Curtis
1957 The secret of the stone monster The Monolith Monsters John Sherwood Grant Williams , Lola Albright
1958 The horror creeps through the night Monster on the campus Jack Arnold Arthur Franz , Joanna Cook Moore , Troy Donahue

Dark Universe

In May 2017, Universal Studios announced that they would re-film a large number of their monster films and publish them in the context of the so-called Dark Universe (English for "dark universe"). The new monster universe was created by Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan in order to inspire both a younger audience for the all time favorites of the horror genre, as well as the older audience with new variants of the characters they are familiar with. The mummy from 2017 should form the start of this series.

On May 22, 2017, Universal Pictures already had the video Dark Universe - Monsters Legacy on YouTube , which presented an overview of possible remakes of Universal Studios classics. The music for this was composed by Danny Elfman .

After The Mummy had not met the box office expectations, Alex Kurtzman and Christian Morgan left the project to devote themselves to other tasks. In this context, Universal had also stopped the preparations for the new edition of Frankenstein's bride for the time being. In January 2019, Universal announced that it would completely drop the Dark Universe and instead implement individual films. It starts with a reboot of The Invisible Man , directed by Leigh Whannell .

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Universals Dark Universe about to end? In: mediabiz.de. Blickpunkt: Film , November 8, 2017, archived from the original on November 8, 2017 ; Retrieved November 9, 2017 .
  2. Universal presents a new series of films: "Dark Universe". diepresse.com, May 24, 2017, accessed May 31, 2017 .
  3. Annika Kassler: Welcome to the world of monsters: This is the Dark Universe In: PC Games, June 2, 2017.
  4. Universal Puts a Stake in the Monsterverse Vanity Fair
  5. Justin Kroll: 'Invisible Man' Finds Director, Sets New Course for Universal's Monster Legacy (EXCLUSIVE) . Variety. January 24, 2019. Retrieved January 28, 2019.