Now that Universal has officially revealed their intent to revive their old monster movies for the modern age as part of their Dark Universe initiative, film fans everywhere aren’t quite sure how to feel. Sure, it’s clear that the studio is attempting to build their own version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by reviving their classic horror properties, but not everyone recognizes the potential in this ambitious plan. Those who are still hesitant to buy in would be well-advised to read into the fact that Universal is attempting to reboot a series of movies which helped establish America as the center of the film world and helped horror movies become a blockbuster film genre.
As popular as movies like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and The Mummy are, there is quite a bit that you likely don’t know about them. You have to remember that these films were made at a time when major studios liked to keep stories about the filmmaking process secret, as not to ruin the illusion. That, or they just didn’t want anyone knowing how much or how little they paid their actors. While their secrecy is the source of many of these factoids, others….well, some other unknown tidbits are downright spooky.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Universal Monster Movies.
15. John Carpenter Was Supposed to Direct a Remake of Creature From The Black Lagoon
Following the box office success of Halloween and the release of such cult classics as The Thing, They Live, and Big Trouble in Little China, every Hollywood studio wanted to get in on whatever John Carpenter wanted to do next. Universal stepped up and offered the director the chance to dive into their library and pick any property he wanted to remake. He instantly chose 1954’s Creature From the Black Lagoon. Immediately, Carpenter began to work on an ambitious remake that would have used the titular creature’s origins as the basis for religious commentary.
So what happened? It’s not entirely clear, but many feel that the tremendous commercial failure of Carpenter’s 1992 film Memoirs of an Invisible Man played a role in Universal pulling the project out from under him. Since then, the remake of Creature From the Black Lagoon has become something of a cursed project. Everyone from Peter Jackson to Guillermo del Toro has been associated with it at some point, but nobody has brought it to screen. Yet.
14. 1925’s Phantom Of the Opera Is Made Up of Footage From Two Awful Versions of the Movie
Technically, The Phantom of the Opera isn’t the first Universal monster movie, but the success of the film did help inspire the studio to give that whole “horror genre” thing a shot. The 1925 adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s novel was so terrifying for its time that Univeral urged theaters to supply smelling salts for those viewers that passed out upon the reveal of the Phantom’s face.
The success of Phantom of the Opera is made all the more surprising once you learn that the final version is comprised of footage from two supposedly awful versions of the film. The first version, directed by Rupert Julian, received such poor reviews that Universal ordered a reshoot. The second version, done by Edward Sedgwick, was met with a similar reaction. Finally, Maurice Pivar and Lois Weber stepped in and managed to cut together the best scenes from Julian and Sedwick’s versions in order to deliver the film that is now considered to be a true classic.