Words by Dustin Meadows
This weekend at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, horror fans will have the chance to catch thirteen classic Universal films on the big screen, several of which will be introduced by horror icons like Bill Mosely, Tom Holland, and more. Decades before Star Wars or Marvel gave the world cinematic universes, Universal was creating their own with what would become the definitive portrayals of many classic horror icons.
With new horror films like M3GAN and Skinamarink opening within the first two weeks of the year, there’s certainly no shortage of options for horror fans, so why should you spend your weekend with horror icons that are nearly a century old? Here’s some fun facts to sell you on the off chance you’re not already on board for a weekend of solid monster movie mayhem!
The Phantom Of The Opera (1925)-In addition to his amazing performances on screen, Lon Chaney in the titular role was well known for his innovations and artistry with make-up, creating what has now become the iconic and ghastly visage of the tragic figure who dwells beneath the Paris Opera House. They didn’t call him the Man Of A Thousand Faces for nothing. Lon Chaney walked so that Gary Oldman could run.
Frankenstein (1931)-James Whale’s adaptation would set the standard for the look of Frankenstein’s monster (portrayed by horror legend Boris Karloff) as a towering figure complete with neck bolts, the mad scientist aesthetic and his laboratory, as well as the disfigured assistant that would become standard in future adaptations, although the name “Igor” wouldn’t become the default for such characters until Son Of Frankenstein nearly a decade later. This time you can just call him “Fritz.”
Creature From The Black Lagoon in 3D (1954)-In addition to introducing a brand new monster in the form of the Gill-Man, the film was shot and released in 3D just as the technique was losing popularity in theaters. Creature also features impressive underwater camera and stunt work, and would serve as the inspiration for director Guillermo del Toro’s 2017 Academy Awards Best Picture Winner The Shape Of Water.
Dracula (1931)-The first sound film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name, Tod Browning’s Dracula gave the world Bela Lugosi’s iconic performance as the titular count, as well as the aesthetic and characteristics that would become central to future performances of the character and vampire archetypes for decades to follow, as well as many of the tropes that would become associated with such films.
Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)-Also directed by Whale, this sequel introduced the world to Elsa Lanchester as the titular bride, giving the iconic look of the character’s towering dark hair with white lightning bolt streaks. The film has also been reassessed in later years through the lens of a queer cultural text, an important development in representation and gender studies in horror cinema.
The Mummy (1932)-Boris Karloff makes his second appearance of the weekend as the titular mummy, Imhotep. The Mummy spawned multiple spin-offs, both within Universal and later in Hammer’s films as well, and of course is responsible for the 1999 classic remake starring Brendan Fraser.
The Wolf Man (1941)-Proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Lon Chaney, Jr. appears as the titular character, giving a definitive performance and firmly popularizing aspects of the werewolf lore in future films. Chaney, Jr. would go on to reprise the role four more times, becoming the only Universal Monster to be played by the same actor through the 1940s.
The Invisible Man (1933)-Based on the H.G. Wells novel of the same name, stars Claude Rains in the title role, the film is notable for many of its special effects that included compositing shots to give the illusion of a truly invisible character freely moving throughout the film.
Dracula (Spanish Release, 1931)-Filmed concurrently with the Browning version and utilizing the same sets, the Spanish version was developed for the foreign market, and clocks in at nearly a half hour longer than the Lugosi film.
Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman (1943)-The first “monster rally,” a concept that involved having established characters meet and interact with other monsters they’d never cross paths with, a trend that has persisted through today with films like King Kong vs. Godzilla and Freddy vs. Jason.
Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)-The first in a series of comedians Abbott and Costello meeting various classic monsters, this film marked a huge shift in the Universal Monsters films, becoming comedies and turning the once terrifying characters into comedic foils for the human stars.
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1923)-Based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, Hunchback stars Lon Chaney as the tragic Quasimodo, turning in a moving performance and absolutely disappearing beneath the make-up and effects utilized to portray the hunchback.
Revenge Of The Creature In 3D (1955)-The first of two sequels to Creature From The Black Lagoon, Revenge features the big screen debut of Clint Eastwood.
The Famous Monsters FilmFest runs through Sunday. Ticket options include passes for each individual screening as well as special premium options. Options are as follows.
Friday FANGtastic Ticket – Includes offers premium reserved seating and early admission on Friday the 13th for all three screenings.
Three Day Creeper Pass – Includes a limited edition Famous Monsters Creeper button and allows early admission to every screening to “get the good seats” (except for the Super Monster Kid & Friday FANGtastic reserved seats) all 3 days.
Super Monster Kid R.I.P. Three-Day Pass – The MONSTER of all tickets. The FULL experience for ALL 3 DAYS Jan. 13th-15th! The R.I.P. is the perfect ticket for those that don’t want to wait on long lines to guarantee good seats. R.I.P.s also have early-bat admission to the theatre and access to the exclusive RIP Lounge, an R.I.P. Historic Chinese Theatre Tour, a refillable limited edition Famous Monsters Popcorn Box (refillable all 3 days), an exclusive limited edition event poster, an exclusive glow-in-the-dark FM Monster Kid button and a limited edition event shirt.
Famous Monsters FilmFest schedule:
Friday, January 13th
Phantom Of The Opera 6 pm Introduced by Bill Moseley
Frankenstein 9 pm
Creature From The Black Lagoon in 3D 11 pm Introduced by John Landis
Saturday, Jan 14th
Dracula 12 pm Introduced by Juliet Landau
Bride of Frankenstein 2 pm Introduced by Brian Yuzna
The Mummy 4 pm Introduced by Darcy the Mail Girl
The Wolf Man 6 pm
The Invisible Man 8 pm Introduced by David Dastmalchian
Sunday, Jan 15th
Dracula (Spanish Release) 12 pm
Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman 2 pm Introduced by Tom Holland
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein 4 pm Introduced by Fred Dekker
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 5:30 pm Introduced by John 5
Revenge of the Creature in 3D 8 pm Introduced by Mick Garris