This past weekend audiences clearly had little desire to put down their hard earned cash for the latest horror inspired action flick I, FRANKENSTEIN. Yes the reviews are dismal and even moviegoers didnít seem all too enthralled with a man-made creation in Aaron Eckhartís form. I personally missed the flick but according to our own Eric Walkuskiís review, I didnít miss much. For an old-school horror fan like me, itís a shame that we canít breathe new life into this classic Universal Monster. From DRACULA to BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN all the way down to THE WOLFMAN youíd think these ghouls of yesteryear could find a place in our very own modern day nightmares. Or can they?
With remakes and reboots hitting the theatres nearly every week, the idea of taking on a classic shouldnít be all that impossible of a task. When Universal released the big budget Joe Johnston directed THE WOLFMAN in 2010 the reviews and box office receipts were terrifying. Even with the strong cast that included Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt this didnít transform into the moneymaking beast the studio had hoped for. Looking back on this old-fashioned horror/thriller there was a solid horror movie hidden within. While not nearly as haunting as it could have been I appreciated the attempt at recreating the story of a man who turns into a wolf. While far from a hit, the classically inspired nature of it all occasionally struck me in the right way. Maybe it was simply a case of nostalgia for the monsters of old that worked. I just wish it had actually been scary with a little less ďfamily drama.Ē
One of the most successful Universal Monster reboots came in the form of THE MUMMY franchise which was strictly a family friendly adventure with none of the chills and thrills of the old. The Stephen Sommers action extravaganza was so heavy on CG that there was little to really relish for horror fans Ė even if general audiences seemed to enjoy the exuberantly goofy nature of it all. Of course with two sequels and THE SCORPION KING spin-off franchise, there was money to be made from this series which completely abandoned the horror featured in the original 1932 film starring the legendary Boris Karloff. Word is that we will be seeing yet another remake of THE MUMMY. We may be in for a long sleep however as this project has gone through a list of names including Len Wiseman and according to IMDB, Andrťs Muschietti (MAMA) is currently rumored to be involved.
Another classic that has been swimming around in the remake pool is the 1954 aquatic horror flick THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. Hell, years ago Universal even brought this to the theme park for a short-lived staged musical at Universal Studios Hollywood and it didnít make much of a splash. As for a cinematic revision, this has gone way back to 1982 when John Landis (AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON) had set his sights on recreating CREATURE for a possibly 3D release, but JAWS 3-D beat them to the surface. Ever since, a number of major players have had their hands in this including John Carpenter, Ivan Reitman and Gary Ross and so many more but to no avail. According to Wikipedia however, the official remake title is THE BLACK LAGOON and it is rumored to be set for a 2014 release with THE CRAZIES Breck Eisner possibly directing.
What about the main man DRACULA? I personally have been able to avoid the Dario Argento fiasco DRACULA 3D and from what Iíve heard that is a blessing. Even still the name Dracula is far from buried as FAST AND FURIOUS SIX baddie Luke Evans will be appearing as Vlad Tepes in DRACULA UNTOLD. The film is part historical drama with a little bit of vampire mythos so it will be fascinating to see how dark the legacy of ďVlad the ImpalerĒ is presented. Being that this legend of a monster has had what is arguably the most success over the years it is not surprising to see more of the bloodsucker. Drac even has a television show featuring Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the title role. Iíve yet to take in this 10 episode NBC series but it would be interesting to see if this small screen version has any bite. Will Evans big-screen take on the character turn Meyers to dust? I certainly hope so, as Dracula has long been a favorite of mine, one of the rare names that would be worthy of a return to the multiplexes.
Maybe itís the booze talkiní, but Iíd like to see Hollywood let the Universal Monsters rest. We donít need a CG laden adventure. We could do without a convoluted tale of a Wolfman with daddy issues. With the numerous remakes planned it is nearly impossible to keep track of the constantly changing roster of names being thrown around. Aside from DRACULA, there has been little success with recreating the monsters of old. For their time they satiated the fears of those sitting in the darkened movie theatre, but all these years later our fears have changed as have our icons. Could you really give life to the BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN in this day and age? Universal Monsters are timeless. They represent an important part of film history one which will always be there for us. Must we sully this legacy with unwarranted remakes and origin stories?