I’ve been truly excited to see the return of Universal Monsters to the big screen, especially now that the studio is thinking mega-franchise with them. But then I saw Dracula Untold, which is the first in the new series. It was so bad that I’ve turned against the ambitious plan. If they can’t even get that right, how are they going to create a new monster mash with Frankenstein, Van Helsing, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and even The Mummy?
In one of my previous rants, I referenced how The Mummy films worked because they weren’t about The Mummy, but Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz’ characters. This also sort of turned the franchise into action films, as opposed to horror. Honestly, I think it works, so long as it isn’t forced (which is what happened with the third Mummy).
In regards to horror vs. action, THR held a roundtable in which Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley reveals plans to take the horror out of the Uni Monsters. His reason? Check out this insulting answer…
“We’ve tried over the years to make monster movies — unsuccessfully, actually,” admits Langley. “So, we took a good, hard look at it, and we settled upon an idea, which is to take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre and make it present day, bringing these incredibly rich and complex characters into present day and reimagine them and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience.”
I actually agree with the surface of Donna’s thought (see below), although it’s not as simple as “it failed because it was horror.”
Van Helsing was directed by mega-CGI hack Stephen Sommers, and The Wolfman was a behind-the-scenes mess that eventually landed the lackluster Joe Johnston as a director instead of the great Mark Romanek. And how about Gary Shore’s piece of crap Dracula Untold? That was clearly an attempt at action, which failed miserably. It feels like blaming horror is a copout, or an excuse to push “monsters” into the action subgenere.
It’s unfortunate that the execs think the reason that their Universal Monster movies are failing is because they’re horror. They’re failing because they keep making bad decisions, hiring bad directors, and using way too much CGI. The top brass at Universal are showing more and more how they don’t understand us horror fans at all.
With that said, maybe they should turn them into action films? It’s clearly where they’re comfortable. They know how to made absolutely terrible movies that are successful…
To go back to my earlier thoughts, I actually prefer these to be big-budget action films like the 1999 The Mummy. I just don’t want that to happen because they’re forcing the issue, which is what it sounds like they’re doing. I don’t find the original Universal Monsters all that frightening anymore, and prefer something along the lines of Indiana Jones Meets Frankenstein than another The Wolfman. I just don’t appreciate being told that our genre doesn’t work – what doesn’t work is their decision making skills. They need to grow some balls and pick out of the talent pool who isn’t going to just render everything in a computer….