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Guillermo del Toro Pinpoints Why Universal’s Monster Reboots Aren’t Working

Guillermo del Toro Pinpoints Why Universal’s Monster Reboots Aren’t Working

Just last week we learned that Guillermo del Toro was at one point in time, back in 2007 he says, offered the chance to helm some form of a “Dark Universe” for Universal Studios. According to Del Toro, he was given the reins of several properties; 10 years after turning down the offer, the visionary filmmaker admits, he regrets the decision.

Now that the Dark Universe is seemingly dead in the wake of this year’s The Mummy, well, let’s just say we wish it was Guillermo del Toro who was steering the ship. After all, his own The Shape of Water is something of a Creature from the Black Lagoon remake, and it may very well contain within it the key to bringing iconic monsters back proper.

That key? A genuine love for those monsters, Del Toro posits. Speaking with Screen Rant this week, he presented a theory for why modern monster reboots haven’t worked.

I think that there is a postmodern attitude towards the genre that tries to disarm or disassemble the genre in a postmodern way,” said Del Toro. “And I think that when you approach characters with earnest love, it’s a lot less safe because you’re not above the material. You are high on your own supply and it’s easier to be ironic, so I think that’s part of it.”

He continued, “But then you have ambivalent things like Jordan Peele nailing it and making it not ironic, but reflexive. And he’s a fusion of reverence and intelligence. It’s a good year for the genre, for sure.”

Hey, maybe it’s not too late to let Del Toro take over…



  • Marla

    90% of monsters in film today are CGI tropes. They are look the same. The rest are Republicans.

    • Scott Forste

      Thats probably the dumbest thing i read so far

      • Marla

        Judging by your lack of grammar skills, I’m willing to bet you read much at all.

  • Reason

    The movies aren’t working because you can’t force something on people.

  • dukeblues

    These movies need to be set during the same time periods as the original. They need to be spooky horror movies, not action flicks. Do yourself a favor and watch the originals. They are much better than the action packed crap of today

  • McGilli

    Well it took 15 years and 6 spider-man movies to get it right where SM could fit into a ‘universe’ so maybe it’ll still happen…

  • It was bad because they tried to turn a bunch of classic horror monsters into generic mainstream action heroes, and not particularly good ones at that. If Universal gets the rights to Freddy and Jason, they will no doubt try to make a buddy-cop film.

  • Eastman420

    Way to super hero movie feel to them. Trying to be action instead of horror. Helps if you stick within the genre. Doesnt need tobe over the top scenes which is all cgi everytime. Like when we talk about friday the 13th. Get back to the simple formula. Trying to do too much.

  • Papa_spoosh

    Couldn’t agree more. No more handsome Frankenstein or action/horror crap. If you do this, you have to respect the source and stop thinking “that wouldn’t scare people today”…. Frankenstein would be scary as hell still in a modern setting… the fact that we are all desensitized to monsters due to the evolution of horror could be the very theme of the movie because at the end of the day, a reanimated monster built from the corsets of dead bodies is scary. Add the childlike innocence and you have the ingredients to make an effectively scary movie with an empathetic antagonist. I think the Bride would have been amazing based on all of the details we had before it dissolved and that’s a real shame.

  • ShadowInc

    The Universal Monsters shouldn’t be shitty, CGI filled action movies, they should be more like what PENNY DREADFUL did with the characters. It’s horror drama cinema, not monsters as superhero films.

    • Simon Allen

      Very well said .

    • Carl Chrystan

      The studios have run out of superheroes to make money off, so they’ve thought…Oh, how about this…? They’ve kinda got superpowers!

      • Necro

        YEP! Agree!

    • Necro


  • Hank_Scorpio

    Well, when you turn the Mummy into a CGI-laden Tom Cruise action movie, you no longer have an actual monster movie. You have Mission Impossible with a half-naked, tattooed, hot chick with super powers.

    Get back to the roots. Tell the original stories. Stop making action movies where Frankenstein knows kung-fu and the Mummy can level a building by screaming…..

  • Necro

    Said it before get someone in there who not only GETS IT, but also GIVES A SHIT! And you’ll have a recipe for success! Trying to turn them into Action/Superhero films with minor elements of Horror was doomed way before the word go.

  • Pikachu

    I liked Wolfman 2010…..make more like that. But dont release it on valentines day or have a 200 million budget

    • chien_clean

      Wolfman would have been a good way to relaunch this cause it was horror and there was a lot of good stuff in it but it bombed hard and really there was no scripts.

    • Master99

      Yes I agree, and I am not sure why it gets so much hate. The scene where they strapped him to a chair during a full moon to show him that he was just crazy was awesome. But then again I actually like the recent mummy movie when everyone else hates it. I never thought the original was scary, and it always seemed like an adventure movie, and to me that blends well with action. Now the creature and the wolfman need to be straight horror, but the mummy being action doesn’t hurt.

  • Grimphantom
    • Necro

      And they will be until someone explains it to them like they’re 5 year olds.

  • Jada Maes

    The studios don’t get that nobody wants to see the monsters confronting the 21st century. Their value is nostalgia, the craving for something more simple and terrifying. You could maybe change them into dark fantasy (and Del Toro is probably the only filmmaker who could pull it off), but attaching them to shitty action scripts is a mistake.

  • Does Universal ever consider that the reason the fi;ms that hey label as “beginning” the new era of Universal Monsters wind up tanking is because the monster never actually seems to be the marquee star? The star of the original Mummy? Boris Karloff–who played the Mummy. The star of the most recent remake? Tom Cruise, playing yet another version of McAction Star.

    When your main marquee star isn’t the actual monster, then you lose half the suspense from the get-go. You know Tom cruise isn’t going to wind up in a body bag (OK, actually, he did, briefly, but you know what I mean). What sense of dread is there in knowing that certain characters are “off limits” in terms of being victims?

    I still love the old monster movies. And I think it’s still possible to do them well, but Universal seems completely tone deaf about what the movies are supposed to be. They put the monsters in the least-scary context possible. Yes, this Mummy was seemingly all powerful….yet she couldn’t get a 55-year-old, 5’7″ Scientologist to stay dead? Not all that powerful apparently.

    When I was a kid, and I watched Invasion of the Giant Spiders, there was nothing all that frightening about a 50 foot spider. You’re not going to miss that coming at you. But when the giant spiders first hatched–a spider the size of the palm of your hand, or one that fits into a dresser drawer and jumps out at you? That’s freaking terrifying. Fear isn’t necessarily in the scope of destruction possible–it’s in the ability of it to quietly sneak up on you and GET YOU.

    • Dot

      They had Dracula as the main in Untold….just saying

      • Hayden Koutras

        Yeah, and tried to write him as some sort of flawed hero

  • JGuerzon

    The problem has everything to do with the Monster Universe idea where the characters from Universal’s old monster films and horror literature are in the same universe. Universal saw how much money Marvel was making from its superhero line of films and wanted to pull off a similar cash cow. Universal was planning to shoehorn all their ‘monsters’ into an Avengers plan. While I am not familiar with the comic book origins of Marvel’s superheroes, it seems that there is a shared timeline. You can’t say that for Monster Universe idea. Trying to shoehorn that into a convoluted, generic Tom Cruise action film is a pointless exercise.

    • Craig Christensen

      You are aware that the Universal Monsters are the original shared universe, right?

      • JGuerzon

        Yes. I guess it’s ultimately just a matter of opinion but I personally never liked the idea. Nor do I think that attempting to paint horror drama into something along the superhero/Tom Cruise action genre a good idea. Didn’t that begin as a half-hearted crossover joke in “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man” that dominoed into several movies?

      • JGuerzon

        Yes. I guess it’s ultimately just a matter of opinion but I personally never liked the idea. Nor do I think that attempting to paint horror drama into something along the superhero/Tom Cruise action genre a good idea. Didn’t that begin as a half-hearted crossover joke in “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man” that dominoed into several movies?

      • JGuerzon

        Yes. I guess it’s ultimately just a matter of opinion but I personally never liked the idea of shared timelines. Nor do I think that attempting to paint horror drama into something along the superhero/Tom Cruise action genre a good idea. Didn’t that begin as a half-hearted crossover joke in “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man” that dominoed into several movies?

      • Terry Powell

        Yeah, though I recently watched them again and memory had kinda played tricks on me. There’s hardly any interaction between the monsters. Sure, they battled in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, but the ones that follow are mostly episodic with one monsters story playing out followed by another. And Frankensteins monster is mostly a prop that they revive in the last five minutes just to kill him again.

    • Penny Dreadful pulled it off.

      • JGuerzon

        I haven’t seen all of Penny Dreadful but that restricts itself to Victorian English literary characters. Something that can’t be said of what Universal Pictures was trying to pull off with the convoluted and poorly written “The Mummy (2017)”.

  • acidfly

    Fuck em….don’t wanna see Tom Cruise in a so-called horror flick anymore than I wanted to see Nicolas Cage as the fucking Ghost Rider. Fuck those Studio fucktards.

  • Sanger

    The Mummy was a big giant POS.

  • Mike Messina

    I thought the Tom Cruise version of the Mummy was decent but it was nothing compared to the classics. All those movie executives are clueless when it comes to these modern remakes.

    • Meisha’s Taint

      They should simply fire every executive in the board room. I run away from Universal movies at this point it’s getting bad. They will learn nothing though.

  • Brey Compton Arriaga

    I think they’re missing the point here: The Dark Universe, Universal’s iconic MONSTERS… So monsters = horror, we have to ask the question, if they’re monsters and that means HORROR, then why are they mixing action with horror? U know what I mean? And what’s the needy to bring big stars names to the universe? F13 didn’t need that, Halloween didn’t need that, nor NOES nor Texas Chainsaw, so…

  • Gambit


    This ‘Dark Universe’ was a shit idea from day one. Everyone could see that. But there’s no reason why Universal can’t just make standalone monster movies.

    • Meisha’s Taint

      We need Universal horror movies that do not involve Universal in any way. They are the problem

  • Collin

    The problem was that it was such a blatant cash grab that everyone with half a brain saw through. When you’re watching a good monster movie, you’re not thinking “gee I wonder how the things back story connects with pinhead” you’re thinking “this monster is both scary and awesome.” Great monster movies are almost entirely self contained stories with some exception. Taking these beloved properties and classic characters and turning them into connected characters and generic action flicks entirely misses the point of why people like these kinds of things in the first place.

    It’s depressingly cynical and I wonder if universal will ever try to simply make a good monster movie ever again. The other thing that baffles me is the studio gave it a really big budget to turn it into an action mpvie. Except lots of horror moviesrecently have been hits, and that’s partially because they’re pretty modestly budgeted and small scale. And THAT is because horror works best when it’s small scale and intimate, with some very rare exceptions.

    Even if the mummy had been an okay action movie like the Brendan Fraser one I wouldn’t have minded but it was such a half assed, cynical cash grab that is amazingly transparent.

    Thank god for people like fede Alvarez and Jordan Peele who understand how to make a really tense horror movie that is both smart and plays well to audiences

  • Meisha’s Taint

    He’s above Universal. Good for him.

    It seems everyone on the planet minus Universal was aware about the mistakes they were making. They are tone deaf and don’t understand anything about horror movies.

    They are simply riding on the coattails of past film makers success they have nothing in common with the Universal of the past.

    ” Let’s recreate some of the greatest horror movies of all time soon so we can make more money but we will make them into action movies instead”

    IDIOTS it doesn’t work that way

  • Baron Tentecula

    I agree with most that all the recent remakes and reboots failed on all levels. If people would open their eyes they would realize that the Hammer approach produced the better result sometimes superior in my opinion. Slightly off topic, someone once told me that “Jaws” as great as it was ruined studio generated movies by creating formulated event movies the studio could bank on yearly. Thus creativity was never high on the agenda when these remakes were being considered. Not many mold breaking studio films post 1975. It might take another independent studio or a mainstream director who has total creative control to get the job done right.

  • abyx34

    Originality is almost dead, no wonder remakes and reboots fail. Make something new and exciting instead!

  • Peter Kushing

    It’s a different decade now. People like lame,weak,predictable shit. I’ll never get something so straightforward and awesome like “Frankenstein meets the wolfman” or “The werewolf vs. the vampire woman”. Sad but true.

  • Jonathan Larsson

    I would like him to take the chance and try and save these properties from the claws of Universal… But he’s already involved in various other projects.

  • hleroy

    Hammer resurrected the classic films and did a fine job. The Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula still work today. “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” with virtually no CG, is outstanding. The 4k Ultra HD is killer. Although I am a Tom Cruise fan, what Universal did was inexcusable.

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