Category Archives: Universal Horror

Dracula (1931)

Were this any other horror movie where the characters stood around and unconvincingly spewed forth lines and plot points while periodically swiping haplessly at oversized rubber bats suspended on wires as visible as in any Godzilla movie, I would complain about problems involving bad acting, unimaginative direction, a barely explained villain, and an actor playing the villain with such laughably exaggerated gestures and mannerisms that you wonder if he thought this was a Mel Brooks comedy and file it away as just another low budget terror flick that had neither the talent nor the inclination to be anything else. Continue reading

House of Frankenstein (1944)

House of Frankenstein PosterIn this penultimate Universal Frankenstein movie, the studio adopts the kitchen sink approach, throwing the Frankenstein Monster, the Wolf Man, and Count Dracula into one titanic adventure. Just for good measure you also get a mad scientist and his hunchback assistant. The result is probably a lot better than it had any right to be, mainly because of the able scenery-chewing done by Boris Karloff as Gustav Niemann, the scientist bent on recreating Frankenstein’s most infamous experiment. If you’re wondering how all these monsters are able to share screen time, the simple answer is that they don’t. Continue reading

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman PosterUniversal must have realized after the dreadful The Ghost of Frankenstein that its big green dope was probably too played out a concept to successfully carry a picture on his own anymore. The solution? Take the onus off the Monster and have a different monster carry the load in this movie.

The result was that Lon Chaney, Jr. got out of the Monster’s make up he had donned for The Ghost of Frankenstein and put back in the fangs and strapped on the hairy wig of the Wolf Man again. As for the now vacant role of the Monster, since Bela Lugosi’s brain had already been implanted in the beast at the end of the last movie, they decided to just go all the way and have him play the Monster himself. Continue reading

The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Ghost of Frankenstein PosterA pointless entry in Universal’s Frankenstein series, this one is highlighted by such ludicrous elements as the ghost of Henry Frankenstein appearing, brain transplants, and the inexplicable return of the Monster’s sport coat. Some of you may recall the hideous furry vest that the Monster wore in the previous sequel, Son of Frankenstein. Well, that thing is mercifully gone. Of course, no sooner do we get rid of that awful vest, then we realize that we’ve also gotten rid of Boris Karloff. Continue reading

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

SonOfFrankensteinCoverThis second sequel to Frankenstein marks the series’ lengthy descent into the mediocrity (even Boris Karloff’s makeup isn’t as good!) that would eventually force the Monster to do battle with the likes of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Though it isn’t readily apparent in this movie (chiefly because it’s camouflaged by a good cast), the seeds of everything that went wrong with the series were sown here – that being the reduction of the Monster from a tormented beast who is only seeking acceptance in an inhospitable world to a generic movie monster called Frankenstein. Continue reading

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Bride of Frankenstein PosterWidely considered as superior to its predecessor, Bride of Frankenstein is one of those movies that is probably as great as many will tell you and is not nearly the dreary, serious meditation on the folly of playing God you may have been lead to believe nor is it an old and creaky monster movie that modern audiences will yawn during. In fact, watching this, I was reminded of the Re-Animator movies, what with the off-hand treatment of the Monster and the various shenanigans he gets into along the way. Continue reading

Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein PosterLike for so many of us, Henry Frankenstein’s college years were a time of turmoil and self-discovery. He was way too advanced to stay in school and wanted the university to provide him with a steady stream of corpses so that he could continue playing God. The school refused, saying that they preferred to suck people dry over the course of a lifetime through their student loan program instead. So Henry put a flyer up at the student union looking for a hunchback to join his band and got an off-campus apartment with a windmill. If you substituted “kegs” for “corpses,” that pretty much describes my freshman year! Continue reading