Universal Horror Icons in Blockbuster 3D?
Universal Studios is running short of ideas these days. In a movie world dominated by superheroes, it is clear that the seasoned company are being forced to drill to its core in effort to discover original, box-office friendly material. Although Despicable Me and Fast and Furious may have the potential to churn out several more outings, recent potential franchises (such as Cowboys & Aliens, Battleship, and R.I.P.D. ) have backfired, forcing Universal to begin reviving older classics with recognisable titles in effort to take less risks and make a fast buck in return. This has resulted in huge pressure for next year’s Jurassic Park reboot to be a hit, refuelling the beloved series in hope to kickstart a new trilogy. Now I am a huge fan of the Jurassic Park trilogy, but Universal’s recent “fourquels” have only served to hamper the love for original trilogies such as American Pie and Bourne. Although I have every hope that Jurassic World will break this disappointing trend and deliver a refreshing new direction for the series, this article has a more important reboot proposal to discuss…
In case you have not heard, Universal Studios has recently declared its intent to revive its most iconic and treasured horror characters from its classic back-catalogue. This impressive list includes Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy, and The Wolfman, among others. Now as history will tell, each of these characters has already seen countless interpretations, re-imaginings, and visions, most recently through Joe Johnson’s failed Benicio Del Toro-starring The Wolfman. Yet despite that film’s failings, it displayed the right approach to rebooting one of Universal’s original horror icons with its emphasis upon practical effects, and a dark, noir-like tone. However, recent reports of Universal’s intentions have filled me with the wrong kind of fear for the future of these characters.
“Muschietti had reportedly wanted to take the film in a much darker direction, but Universal, presumably with one eye on this new plan, are adamant that it be a more family-oriented adventure than anything particularly horrifying.”
Now I will always try to avoid bashing films, but I am quite sure that nobody wants to see another Van Helsing. If Universal is hoping to make some sort of Avengers franchise for the cursed and undead, I believe they will be tarnishing the characters that arguably made the studio famous in the first place. I have no problem with a reboot, my only hope is that they honour what has come before. So from here, I will attempt to provide a template for what could help save Universal from heaping further embarrassment upon their beloved monsters.
I like to think that all actors genuinely love the business they are in and may well be as big a fan of certain films and directors as any of us simple unremarkable beings. Take, for example, Ewan McGregor. Youtube any interview with him talking about Star Wars and you will see his inner child come bursting out of him. I love to see this passion from all film-makers because it makes them appear human, rather than money-driven egomaniacs. This is where Universal should look to refresh their franchise. You can be full sure that there are many directors and actors, both young and old, that would be excited to appear in or be involved with a creature feature that honours the films they grew up watching. This passion goes a long way towards making something special. Just look at the huge success that was Hammer’s well-received The Woman In Black starring Daniel Radcliffe. Low-budget, well-paced, and plenty of scares to boot (All within a PG-13 rating no less), Universal would do well to learn from that template and deliver some good old-fashioned scares, starting with The Mummy in 2016.
So although there are no guarantees, I expect that audiences will be happy to be spooked by new versions of the slow-burning suspense stories of old. Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but I certainly believe that Hollywood might just be capable of milking the cash cow and delivering some quality at the same time. In fact, Guillermo Del Toro has previously stated that James Whale’s exemplary Bride of Frankenstein is one of his very favourite movies, so why not let him tackle one of Universal’s monsters for himself? I hear he is looking for something small to pass the time until Pacific Rim 2… Here’s hoping.
So what direction would you like to see Universal take? Have you any favourite monster classic?
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