Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A History Of The Universal Studios Monsters

Believe it or not, there was once a time when Universal Studios was a small, modest company, not the huge corperation that it is today, but like everything in life you have to start somewhere, and Universal started with Horror.

The year is 1913, Universal was known as Independent Moving Pictures Company (IMP), they only had one Horror film, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, with a total running time of 26mins. it would be ten years before they released another Horror picture and that film was The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, starring the now infamous Lon Chaney, this time with a running time of 100mins, Universal had stepped up their game to compete with other studios that were cropping up.

Through the rest of the 1920's they would release 5 other Horror films, one of them being "The Phantom Of The Opera" (1925), which once again starred Lon Chaney. With a run of success behind them, Universal decided to keep going with the Horror theme, the 1930's was the start of Universal's success, but it was a testing time (The Great Depression had hit America). Universal made 17 Horror films in nine years (1930-1939) and most of those films are still considered classics today along with the cast. Films such as "Dracula", "Frankenstein", "The Mummy", "Murders In The Rue Morgue", The Invisible Man, "The Black Cat", "The Raven", "Werewolf Of London" & "Bride Of Frankenstein" starring actors such as Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

After their huge success the 1940's exploded with monsters, with no less than 31 films, films such as "The Wolf Man", "The Black Cat", & "House Of Horrors". Including sequels and cross overs ("The Invisible Man Returns", "The Invisible Woman", "The Invisible Man's Revenge", "The Mummy's Hand", "The Mummy's Ghost", "The Mummy's Curse", "The Mummy's Tomb", The Ghost Of Frankenstein", "Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man", "House Of Frankenstein", "Son Of Dracula" & "She-Wolf Of London"), remakes ("Phantom Of The Opera") and also steps into Comedy Horror with "Abbott & Costello Meets..."

The 1950's was a the start of the downfall of the Monsters films, with fatigue hitting fans after the abundance of releases in a short space of time, it wasn't until the release of "Creature From The Black Lagoon" that fans came back, it revived the Monsters films, with many of the older films being re-released in cinemas as double features. But once again Universal took the sequel route with 2 sequels for "Creature From The Black Lagoon" ("Revenge Of The Creature" & "The Creature Walks Among Us").

In 1957 Hammer Horror started releasing it's own monster movies, with Universal distributing the films which allowed Hammer to do their own versions of Universal's classics. Over the next few years came the merchandise, re-releases, remakes and TV & Movie homages.

Universal never made another Monster movie but it's legacy still lives on to this day, nearly a 100 years later, it affected society, pop-culture & films, it's very hard to think of life without these legendary monsters and the infamous actors & actresses that played them.

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