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Non-Review Review: The Phantom of the Opera (1943)

The Phantom of the Opera is something of an outlier in the Universal monster movie blu ray collection. It’s the only film in the collection available in colour but, more than that, it’s really the only film in the collection that doesn’t have a serious claim to being the definitive big screen adaptation of its source material. I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed that they didn’t include the 1925 adaptation starring Lon Chaney in the title role, as it’s certainly one of the forerunners to the subgenre that would be launched by Dracula in 1931. The 1943 version of Phantom of the Opera is easily the weakest film in the set. Although not without its charms, it feels just a little bit too mangled and messy to try be a classic horror film.

In the gutter, looking at the stars…

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Non-Review Review: The Invisible Man (1933)

We’ll begin with a reign of terror. A few murders here and there. Murders of great men, murders of little men, just to show we make no distinction. We might even wreck a train or two. Just these fingers around a signalman’s throat, that’s all.

The Invisible Man is a classic, sandwiched between James Whale’s celebrated monster movies – Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. The movie was renowned at the time for its special effects, which still hold up remarkably well on the snazzy new blu ray issued by Universal Pictures. However, the film itself is still fantastic on its own terms, featuring a great leading performance from Claude Rains, a witty script and some fantastic direction from Whale. I think it’s also quite wonderfully telling that The Invisible Man manages to feature the story of simultaneously the most human and the most inhuman of these Universal Monster Movies.

The freak who came in from the cold…

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Non-Review Review: The Mummy (1932)

The Mummy is often unfairly dismissed as an inferior attempt to emulate the success of Dracula. It’s from the same writer, John L. Balderston, and the credits are even set to the same music – the powerful Swan Lake theme that opened that other iconic horror. I’d argue that the influence of Frankenstein can also be keenly felt on the picture, and not just in its leading actor. However, I think The Mummy is often unfairly overlooked when examining the Universal Monster Movies, playing more like a creepy existential romantic epic than a conventional creature feature horror film.

He needs his beauty sleep…

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Mondo Poster Monster Mania!

I do love Mundo. Yet I have still to buy one of their distinctive poster redesigns. That might change, if I can get my hands on one of these, a collection of Universal Monster Movie poster redesigns from some wonderful artists. I especially love Francesco Francavilla’s take on The Invisible Man. Anyway, I had the pleasure of picking up the Universal Monster Movie Blu Ray Collection, and I’ll be jumping into it over Halloween. That said, it looks pretty fantastic, and these posters are a great way to celebrate some of the truly iconic creature features Hollywood has produced.

Non-Review Review: Dracula (1931)

I have a soft spot for classic Universal horror. Not that it should come as a surprise – I’m a sucker (ha!) for some vintage Hammer Horror as well, and all other forms of classical horror (even if they may occasionally veer into the realm of kitsch). It’s really hard to overstate the massive influence that the 1931 Universal version of Dracula had on the subsequent adaptations of Stoker’s truly iconic novel. I honestly don’t believe that the character would the same without Bela Lugosi’s truly magnificent central performance, as seen here. Sure, I’m less than convinced about the ending, but most of Tod Browning’s adaptation is a feast for the eyes and pulpy horror classic.

Stairway to heaven?

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Non-Review Review: The Wolfman

The Wolfman was clearly intended to kickstart a relaunch of Universal’s Monster Movie franchises, updating them for a whole new generation of movie-goers. It was intended to call back to a whole generation of horror films, starring Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff and so on. However, director Joe Johnston’s attempt to update the monster movie for a new generation is a muddled affair, simple and straight-forward, but clouded with unnecessary blood, gore and CGI.

No escape claws...

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