Rupert Pupkin Speaks: My Universal Horror Project

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Universal Horror Project


So, like many folks out there I suppose, this new WOLFMAN movie thingy has sort of influenced me to go back and rewatch(and in some cases, view for the first time) all the old Universal Horror films. I love to do little retrospectives with my son(he's 11). We did a Jerry Lewis retrospective around the beginning of the year and he really got into that. I discovered films like THE LADIES MAN and THE PATSY as well as a few others that I'd never seen and really ended up liking them. We are currently already working on a Ray Harryhausen thing that was to culminate in a screening of JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS at the Egyptian Theater at the end of this month. This Universal Horror project fits right in sort of. We kicked off the series with one of the last entries in series with THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (on a crappy anaglyph dvd I had, 3D worked OK though). Next, we did James Whale's classic FRANKENSTEIN, which to my surprise I didn't remember all that well. I'm hoping the other films will also surprise me as it's been a looong time on all of the ones I've seen. A good friend of mine who is a big junkie for these films, sent me his top ten. I ate it up of course because I love lists(as evidenced by the last few posts). His list is as follows:

1. Frankenstein(1931; James Whale) / Bride of Frankenstein(1935; James Whale)
2. Dracula(Tod Browning; 1931)
3. The Wolf Man(1941; George Waggner)
4. Son of Frankenstein(1939; Rowland V. Lee)
5. Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman(1943; Roy William Neill)
6. The Invisible Man(1933; James Whale)
7. The Mummy(1932; Karl Freund)
8. The Creature from the Black Lagoon(1954; Jack Arnold)
9. The Old Dark House(1932; James Whale)

As I said, there's a few here I've never seen(SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN, OLD DARK HOUSE). Also interested in rewatching THE BLACK CAT and THE INVISIBLE RAY as well. This LIST also has a lot of films I haven't seen. THE MUMMY'S TOMB comes recommended by another friend of mine as does SHE-WOLF OF LONDON. I'd never even heard of BLACK FRIDAY(1940) and that stars both Karloff and Lugosi! I'm excited to give all these films a look. I really hope that this remake will at the very least inspire others to do the same(and judging by the 'very long wait' status of the original WOLFMAN on Netflix, it appears some people have been inspired). Anything that brings older films back into the public consciousness is a good thing in my book. I am saddened by the thought of how little the current generation seems to know of older films. I understand that these films have little relevance to the youth of today, but I do sincerely hope that some of them will dig them out at some point and realize the treasure trove of wealth that our cinema history has to offer. It is literally a lifetime's worth of wonder.

3 comments:

Mr. Paul Maul said...

A thought-provoking post. These movies are excursions into the subconscious and the id. We all need these outlets in our lives. Not to mention, just the title "The Old Dark House" describes any typical weekend with one's family.

Jennythenipper said...

Earlier this year, while watching a Kay Francis film (totally not horror, unless you find changing clothes a lot scary) I got kind of a little crush on David Manners. I started watched a bunch of old horror movies because he was in them and then it turned my mind toward watching as many pre-code horror films as I could. I managed 9 in about 30 days (the tenth, the Spanish Languange Dracula is still sitting in my Tivo). i think I watched about half the movies on your list.

It was really fun as all the films were not only better than I would have expected quality-wise, but entirely entertaining.

I've been hanging on to the 41 Wolfman because it has Warren William in it and I thought I'd roll that one when this new Wolfman hits the theaters.

Is it me or do all these new horror movies look blue. Like blue=scary. It's really dreary. The Universal horror movies all had wonderful production values. These new blue movies could learn a thing or too.

Rupert Pupkin said...

That;s so funny, I was speaking to a friend of mine this morning(actually the one who provided the top ten list) and we were talking about the Spanish language Dracula. How the spanish director was able to watch what Browning was doing and sometimes improve upon a few things when he shot his scenes. I need to see that version now.
I think a agree with your "blue" analysis. And the production design on the Universal films is fantastic to be sure! My wife and I both commented on the Dracula's castle set almost at the same time when we saw it. So perfectly gothic and dilapidated! I think I may watch the '41 Wolfman with my son tonight!
Oh btw, have you seen ISLAND OF LOST SOULS(1932) w/Charles Laughton? So creepy and atmospheric! Like Lewton, but more disturbing...

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