How to Make the Other Universal Monsters Scary Again

Universal gave us many classic monsters in the heyday of the drive-in movie: Frankenstein‘s monster, Dracula, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and others. Each horror film that proved popular got sequels and more sequels, until they weren’t scary any more. That’s the problem with becoming a classic.  

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It’s hard to be scared by things you’ve been looking at for 90 or so years, which are so omnipresent in pop culture they’ve inspired dozens upon dozens of copycats, are sometimes turned into laughingstocks, and have generally been neutered to the point where they can safely be put in children’s cartoons and on cereal boxes. The Universal Monsters just aren’t scary anymore, but they can be—and writer/director Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man knows how.

The problem with most recent Universal Monster movies is that they’re usually not even trying to be scary; instead, they’re PG-13 action flicks like Tom Cruise’s Mummy, Dracula Untold, Van Helsing, even the 1999 Mummy film and its sequels. When the movies try for horror (like 2010’s The Wolf Man, starring Benicio del Toro) they fail, mainly because modern audiences don’t have the suspension of disbelief anymore for magic curses, ludicrous science, or creatures that can somehow explode into a bunch of bats. These monsters aren’t monstrous enough to be frightening by themselves—they need something more.

Each of the monsters in the Universal horror universe has some quality that caused dread in their original audiences. It’s not in the way they looked, although that’s what they became known for. It’s the way they affected the world around them that reflected real fears people had at the time. If monsters harnessed more modern fears, like the new movie Invisible Man, they could find new cinematic life. A list at io9 goes through what made the original idea of each monster frightening before they were turned into cartoon characters.

Source: neatorama

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