Universal Monster Legacy - Frankenstein

Universal Proudly Shares Its Universal Monster Legacy!

Beginning back in 1923, it can be said a Universal monster legacy was born by the studio. Starring Lon Chaney, the legendary “Man of a Thousand Faces” in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. While his appearance as the misshapen and tortured Quasimodo brought shock and fright to audiences. I say it was a mere two years later when Chaney would portray The Phantom of the Opera that a true Universal monster legacy was birthed!

[Via] BFI Trailers

It was in fact, Gaston Leroux, the author of the novel we have to thank for this film. As well as then Universal Pictures President Carl Laemmle who was vacationing in Paris in 1922. The two men met and Laemmle admitted to Leroux he was enamored with the Paris Opera House. Leroux was of course happy to give Laemmle a copy of his 1910 novel.
Universal Monster Legacy - The Phantom of the Opera

However I have to also add that the Universal monster legacy that we know best. All came about in 1931. With Tod Browning’s film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in February. Then capturing lightning in a bottle again…so to speak…when Frankenstein was released that November.
Universal Monster Legacy

Consequently Universal Pictures became known as the house that horror built. While of course many films by the studio could be considered thriller or macabre. The Universal monster legacy continued in 1932 with The Mummy. The titular role offering Boris Karloff another chance to show off the make-up effects of Jack Pierce!
Universal Monster Legacy

From there it certainly seemed like Universal Pictures was on a roll. In 1933 you had The Invisible Man starring Claude Rains. April of 1935 saw the release of The Bride of Frankenstein. And while I have related my experiences with Frankenstein at three-years-old it is in fact James Whale’s 1935 sequel I hold as the better film.

1935 was also the year that the Werewolf of London stunned audiences. Followed by 1936’s Dracula’s Daughter and then 1939’s Son of Frankenstein. The Invisible Man Returns hit theaters in 1940 as well as The Mummy’s Hand and The Invisible Woman.

It was on December 12, 1941 however when Universal added a new icon to their Universal monster legacy. The Wolf Man starring the son of the actor who helped Universal Pictures begin said legacy. Lon Chaney, Jr.!

Perhaps when you have the time you might care to listen to episode 53 of the Saturday Frights Podcast – featuring The Wolf Man?

Together with more sequels as well as remakes like 1943’s The Phantom of the Opera. Universal Pictures sort of closed the curtain on that legacy with 1954’s The Creature from the Black Lagoon and its following two sequels.
Universal Mosnter Legacy

I of course find that most of the creatures from the Universal monster legacy are sympathetic. I would stress that is what in fact makes them such memorable film icons. However with the likes of Dracula, Ihmotep (The Mummy), as well as the Invisible Man. There is some real terror, fear of the insane or the unstoppable. I will certainly admit that I have always possessed a fondness for these films as I think my shelves will attest.

On Friday, Universal Pictures is releasing the latest reboot of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella as the titular character, Anabelle Wallis, and Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll. This is step one in Universal’s new Dark Universe, an attempt to revive these franchises in a shared cinematic universe. I will be quite honest as always. I’m kind of looking forward to this and I most certainly hope they can pull it off. However as the video below shows, the studio has NOT forgotten their…

Universal monster legacy!

Werewolf Of London

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Year: 1935
Director: Stuart Walker
Writers: John Colton, Harvey Gates, Robert Harris, and Edmund Pearson
Music: Karl Hajos
Starring: Henry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie Hobson, Lester Matthews, Clark Williams, and Lawrence Grant

Favorite Quote: “The werewolf is neither man nor wolf, but a Satanic creature with the worst qualities of both.”

What better way to get your weekend off to a start than spending an evening watching a classic Universal Monsters picture? While a fantastic film, Werewolf of London doesn’t quite reach the level of awesomeness that the Wolf Man did in 1941. But it’s a Universal Monster picture which means that no matter what you are in for an entertaining film!

When world-renowned and wealthy botanist Wilfred Glendon (Hull) and his friend Hugh Renwick (Williams) travel to Tibet in search of the elusive mariphasa plant, they should have perhaps paid attention to not only their fleeing Sherpa but the traveling Missionary who tells them that the valley that houses the plant is inhabited by Demons. A fact that seems supported when just before the discovery of the mariphasa, Hugh finds himself unable to walk further and Wilfred is struck by unseen assailants. His search at an end, Wilfred pushes on through the valley alone and begins to cultivate the rare plant. Unaware that above him hidden in the rocks a clawed and furry monster watches him intently until it springs down upon him, savagely attacking Wilfred, biting him on the forearm before being driven away by the Botanist’s attacks with a knife.

We next see Wilfred with two long scars on his arms where the creature bit him, he has returned home to London in triumph but is having difficulty with the mariphasa plant. The legend that we learned early in the film is that it takes it’s sustenance from the rays of the moon. Wilfred has constructed a Moon Lamp in an attempt to entice it to bloom for him but is missing out on the social party being held by the Botanist Club and his wife, Lisa (Hobson), good-naturedly scolds him about it. At the party Wilfred is introduced to Captain Paul Ames (Matthews) who just so happens to have been an old flame of his wife and the Botanist seems less than pleased that they are getting along so well. Also in attendance is Dr. Yogami (Oland) who informs Wilfred they had met before…in Tibet…and that they were both searching for the mariphasa plant at the same time. The two Doctors retire to the study after Wilfred refuses to allow Yogami to examine his mariphasa and Yogami openly tells him that the plant is an antidote to those who suffer from Lycanthropy.

Wilfred obviously doesn’t believe Dr. Yogami, not until the next night when his Moon Lamp experiment yields results with the mariphasa…and when the light touches his exposed hand it begins to sprout long claws and fur!

[Via] Universal Movies

The make-up effects for Werewolf of London were handled by the legendary Jack Pierce and the original design for the Henry Hull “Wolf Man” features would have been the same as the one Lon Chaney Jr. ended up wearing in 1941 if the studio hadn’t nixed it in favor of the more simpler make-up, it didn’t help that Hull refused to sit for hours having the make-up applied.

Hull’s Lycanthrope is different than the type we would come to love in 1941’s The Wolf Man as he seems to be quite intelligent, he dons a scarf, coat, and cap before prowling the streets of London in search for a victim.

Werewolf of London is available for viewing on Netflix Streaming this very moment. It’s a great film and not only the first Hollywood mainstream Werewolf film but earns it’s worthy spot in the pantheon of Universal Monsters. It receives four and a half pumpkins out of five!
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