The Universal Monsters need to make a comeback


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A twist on “The Last Supper” scene with different classic monster characters.

By Kyron Lewis, Lifestyle Writer

Many people were avidly looking for a good scare during the Halloween season. With tons of ghouls and creatures to choose from in cinema, the standouts have been those in the slasher genre. 

Popular villains like Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger will make appearances, and more recently, the icon Michael Myers, with the recently released film “Halloween Kills.” These are modern iconic characters of the horror genre with franchises that have been around for well over a decade now. It’s about time the original icons of horror make a comeback, the classic Universal Monsters. 

The Universal Monsters focus on classic characters like Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, Invisible Man, etc. These characters are not just film icons but also have great works in literature, and the lore of supernatural creatures such as vampires like Dracula have been explored for ages. 

The Universal Monsters films were originally a series of films produced by Universal Pictures. Films like “Frankenstein” were adaptations from novels and other stories, but it was Universal Studios that put these characters in the forefront of public consciousness. Similar to the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe, these characters spawned multiple sequels and spinoffs along with crossover movies, such as “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man.” In retrospect, it is considered one of the earliest connected film universes, starting with “Dracula,” which was released in 1931. 

There was an attempt recently to restart a new era for the Universal Monsters with the 2017 film “The Mummy.” The film seemed to have fallen flat before it even had a chance to take off.  It is ironic how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is seen as a groundbreaking attempt at a connected universe when it was already done before with the horror films from Universal Studios. Films like “House Of Frankenstein” and “House Of Dracula” were team-up films in which monsters would clash and battle with one another. 

It’s the characters themselves that make the stories timeless. I believe, like many other villains, whether in the horror genre or otherwise, they have interesting backstories. Their goals vary, and some, such as the Invisible Man, become completely engulfed in madness. 

However, Universal found a gothic way to humanize each of the monsters. This is best exemplified through Frankenstein’s monster, who is arguably one of the most sympathetic monsters. The creature was created by a mad scientist and is hated and feared by others. His only crime is that he was created. Despite how the monster may look and how threatening he may seem, it is really the humans in the film who are the true monsters. 

With today’s technology, the Universal Monsters can get a breath of fresh air in a modern setting and an updated interpretation of the stories. Themes can be further explored in a modern age. 

It would also provide a shakeup from the grounded, socially conscious horror that has been on the rise in most recent years. I wouldn’t want this new interpretation of the monsters to rely solely on jump scares or special effects. They must have gravitas and competent writers. 

A noteworthy attempt was “The Invisible Man” film from 2020. This film was a great science fiction update to the classic character, modernizing the story in a relatable way whilst providing chilling scares and action. 

Overall, modern audiences would appreciate seeing even more attempts at these characters in all their glory, just like their original reign of popularity from the 1930s-1950s. But, this time, if creators want to go the route of a cinematic universe, then they must have a game plan or map out how they want the stories to connect.