Universal Monsters are back on Horror Channel and Kim Newman is here to tell you all about them
By James Whittington, Thursday 14th October 2021
Kim Newman

Respected journalist, film critic, and fiction writer Kim Newman takes us through the Universal monsters joining Horror for our Classic Horror Halloween event running from 30th-31st of October.

With Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Wolf Man (1941) and The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954), Universal Pictures introduced the lasting icons of horror... combining the presence of stars Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr with the make-up artistry of Jack P. Pierce (except for the Creature who came later in the day and was designed by the extraordinary Millicent Patrick ). These are the genre's cornerstone fiends, and - despite the way they have been domesticated and parodied (notably in The Munsters), the original films retain the power to instil terror, awe, pity and reverence. These are the films where the story starts...

But another thing Universal more or less invented was the sequel. Decades before Marvel decided to have a Cinematic Universe, Universal decided that all their monster films were interconnected and a night would come when Dracula, the Wolf Man and the Monster would prowl together (until they ran into Abbott and Costello, which is another story). One or two silent monsters had mini-franchises - there were three Golem movies, though only one survives - but we never saw Son of Nosferatu, Bride of Dr Caligari or The Phantom of the Opera Returns.

Initially, Universal opted for follow-ups rather than sequels... after Dracula, they made Frankenstein. The reasoning was that the main acts died in their first films. It took a few years to realise monsters probably couldn't die in any lasting sense - even if they were irrevocably turned to dust, they might still have relatives around to take over the business of terrorising unwary souls who crossed their paths.

Horror Channel's Classic Horror Halloween Weekend includes Channel premieres of some of the greatest follow-ons of all time.

The Invisible Man (1933)
The Invisible Man pops up (played by Vincent Price) in the tag scene of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, confirming that he's a part of the monsterverse - though his screen career is an odd mix of science fiction, horror, humour, heroism (in Invisible Agent, he's a Nazi-fighting proto-superhero) and villainy. James Whale's The Invisible Man, based on the novel by H.G. Wells, was the last of Universal's first slate of monster movies and a special effects showcase which is imitated by every invisible man movie down to the recent reboot. Claude Rains gives raspy voice to the megalomaniac title character, sometimes under bandages and dark glasses (and a disturbing false nose) and sometimes as an unseen presence. His misdeeds range from mischief like stealing a postman's bicycle and tweaking noses to wholesale murder (by crashing a train, the Invisible Man racks up a bigger body count than Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and the Mummy put together).

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The first great horror sequel, this is also a sly send-up, shot through by director James Whale with satirical, camp, sacrilegious and whimsical humour even as it delves even more deeply into the nastily grotesque. The Monster (Karloff) survives the burning mill of the first film and wanders through the countryside one clumping step ahead of the angry mob, only to fall in with a blind hermit who teaches him rudimentary speech ('bread, gooood ... fire, baad') and the pleasures of friendship and cigars. Dr Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is tempted back into the mad science business by the supremely eccentric Dr Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), who thinks a suitable challenge would be the creation of a mate for the Monster. In the finale, we meet Elsa Lanchester as another indelible Jack Pierce creation, the shock-haired bride.

The Mummy's Hand (1940)
Though it lifts Egyptian flashback footage from the 1932 movie, The Mummy's Hand isn't strictly a sequel but a reboot. It is, in fact, the template for almost all later mummy movies, with a linen-wrapped thug limping after those who have dared violate the sacred tomb and screaming victims backed into a corner to be strangled. Unwary archaeologists Dick Foran and Wallace Ford, not to mention stage magician Cecil Kellaway and his hotcha assistant Peggy Moran, trespass in the tomb of Princess Ananka and the fez-wearing high priest (George Zucco) doses up the living mummy Kharis (Western star Tom Tyler) with a brew of 'tana leaves' that keep him stumbling and invokes the curse whereby all the infidels must die. Whereas The Mummy is a romantic supernatural melodrama on the model of Dracula, The Mummy's Hand is a lively adventure movie - this is where that Brendan Fraser version got its tone - with thrills, spills, laughs, and a bandaged bogeyman.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
Grave-robbers disturb the resting place of werewolf Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr), who returns to life and travels to middle Europe in the hope that the surviving notebooks of Dr Frankenstein hold the secret of curing his affliction. This was the first great team-up monster movie, simultaneously a direct sequel to The Wolf Man, in which Chaney Jr created his most lasting monster character, and The Ghost of Frankenstein, in which he had taken over from Boris Karloff as the flat-headed, big-booted Frankenstein Monster. Since Chaney couldn't play both title roles, it was a clever, if ironic casting stroke to put Bela Lugosi, who missed out on playing the Monster in the 1931 film that made Boris Karloff a star, into the make-up. Silly but enormous fun, complete with gypsy musical numbers and a battle royal finish as the monsters rip each other apart while some loon dynamites the dam and the castle is swept away in a flood.

Return of the Creature (1954)
In the 1950s, Universal retired their gothic monsters and concentrated on science fiction fiends - the mutant of This Island Earth, The Mole People, Tarantula! But only one of this generation earned sequels, and approached the iconic status of Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster, and company. The Creature From the Black Lagoon was such a hit that the Gill-Man, sinuously played underwater by swimmer Ricou Browning, was revived for a follow-up in which he was kidnapped from his South American habitat and transplanted to a Florida aqua park for study... only to resent captivity and rampage again. Returning director Jack Arnold stages plenty of action and remembers to include those odd lyrical moments that - as Guillermo del Toro's virtual remake The Shape of Water bears out - make the Creature one of the oddly sexiest monsters in the menagerie. Watch for a tiny bit by young hopeful Clint Eastwood as a lab assistant.

Horror Channel launches assault of premieres for June plus further seasons of Farscape
Posted on Thursday 12th May 2022

Ryan Simon's British supernatural chiller Demon Eye, starring Darren Day, and Liam Fox, and Brad Baruh's Coen-sequel mystery thriller Night Drive, starring AJ Bowen and Sophie Dalah, both receive Friday night UK TV premieres on Horror Channel.

There are also channel premieres for John Carpenter's cult classic Assault On Precinct 13 and Finnish-German sci-fi Nazi horror spoof Iron Sky: The Coming Race, directed by Timo Vuorensola (Iron Sky) and starring Udo Kier, reprising his role as Adolf Hitler.

Plus, cult classic Farscape returns with the channel premieres of Season 3 and 4. This Australian-American Sci-Fi TV series, created by Rockne S. O'Bannon, has proved a big hit with Horror...

Horror Channel celebrates history of genre cinema with The Vintage Vault
Posted on Thursday 21st April 2022

Starting in May, Horror Channel journeys into the history of genre cinema with The Vintage Vault, which will present double-bills of classic sci-fi and horror films every Sunday night.

The season premieres on Sunday May 1st with The Invisible Man, in which Claude Rains delivers a remarkable performance in his screen debut. This is paired with Bride Of Frankenstein, the celebrated sequel to the 1931 classic with Boris Karloff reprising his role as the monster. Then on Sunday May 8th, we have Christy Cabanne's frightening chiller masterpiece The Mummy's Hand, followed by Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman, featuring the original Wolf...

Kim Newman dares to check out this weekend's Classic Sci-Fi event
Posted on Thursday 14th April 2022
Kim Newman

Respected journalist, film critic, and fiction writer Kim Newman takes us through the celebrated B-movies joining Horror for our Classic Sci-Fi Weekend event running from 16th-17th of April.

The Horror Channel returns to a decade riven with fears of devastating climate change, imminent global war, mutating diseases and general paranoia... albeit in black and white, with miniature effects and make-up masks rather than CGI and the kind of urgency that means world-menacing phenomena can be invoked, allowed to run rampage and then dispelled in well under ninety minutes of crisp, sometimes poetic, sometimes bombastic melodrama.

The times weren't really simpler, and neither were the movies i...

Horror Channel reveals raft of UK TV premieres for May plus channel premieres for Dalek movies
Posted on Thursday 7th April 2022
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Stewart Sparke's award-winning dark comedic monster movie Book of Monsters and Audrey Cummings's grisly chuckler She Never Died, starring Olunike Adeliyi, are amongst the raft of Saturday night UK TV premieres on Horror Channel during May.

Also in prime-time slots are the UK TV premieres of gruesome action thriller Becky and Henry Jacobson's stylish crime chiller Bloodline, starring Seann William Scott. There is also a Channel premiere for Peter Medak's classic supernatural horror The Changeling, starring George C. Scott.

Plus, there are channel premieres for Dr Who and The Daleks and Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. The films star Peter Cushing as Dr Who and al...

Horror Channel adds Channel premiere of Farscape to Sci-Fi Zone from Monday 4 April
Posted on Wednesday 30th March 2022

Horror Channel is dedicated to bringing great cult sci-fi programmes to its audience and this trend continues with the channel premiere of Season 1 of the 1999 Australian-American Sci-Fi TV series Farscape, created by Rockne S, O'Bannon and produced over four seasons.

Astronaut John Crichton (ben Browder), on an experimental space mission, is accidentally hurled across the universe to the midst of an intergalactic conflict. Taken on board Moya, a huge bio-mechanoid "living ship" desperately trying to escape captivity, Crichton is trapped among alien creatures wielding deadly technology and hunted by a merciless military race. H...

Horror Channel celebrates Sci-Fi B-Movies with a second Classic Sci-Fi Weekend in April
Posted on Tuesday 22nd March 2022

It's back to terrify once more! Horror Channel once again celebrates the Sci-fi B-movie world of strange creatures, alien invaders and weird science with Classic Sci-Fi Weekend 2, a follow-up TV special to the popular Classic Sci-fi weekend broadcast in April 2020. The fifties are acknowledged as the Golden Age for Sci-fi movies and Horror Channel has picked ten of the most iconic, which will be broadcast on Saturday 16th April and Sunday 17th April.

The season includes five channel premieres: the heart-pounding Alien invasion classic It Came From Outer Space, pulp-horror favourite Tarantula, featuring an uncredited Clint Eastw...

Horror Channel reveals raft of UK TV premieres for April
Posted on Tuesday 15th March 2022
April Banner

Rob W King's gripping dystopian thriller The Humanity Bureau, starring Nicolas Cage, and Rob Grant's twisted survival drama, Alive, starring Angus MacFadyen, are amongst the raft of Saturday night UK TV premieres on Horror Channel during April.

Also in prime-time 9pm slots are the UK TV premieres of Owen Egerton's supernatural horror Mercy Black and Jonathan Zarantonello's sinister, psychological thriller The Butterfly Room, starring Barbara Steele and Ray Wise.

Plus, Padraig Reynolds's suspense-filled neo slasher Open 24 Hours, starring Vanessa Grasse, gets its channel premiere.

Here's all you need to know:

Our first UK TV premiere of the month arrives on the 2n...

I am not a number. I am a free man! The Prisoner tries to escape this March on Horror
Posted on Tuesday 1st March 2022
The Prisoner-socialmedia-1

Horror Channel is dedicated to bringing great cult thrillers to its audience and this trend continues with The Prisoner, a taut psycho-thriller about a secret agent who retires and finds himself thrown into a Kafka-esque world of mindplay and enigma - a man known only as No. 6.

A major cult following has built up around one of the most inventive and ground-breaking TV series ever produced. Multi-talented and twice winner of an Emmy, Patrick McGoohan who stars, also created and produced the series and wrote and directed many of the episodes.

Produced by Everyman Films for distribution by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment, a single series of seventeen episodes wa...

A tasty release from Burning Witches Records, A Banquet
Posted on Saturday 19th February 2022

On March 11th, London based composer, sound designer and recording artist CJ Mirra releases the OST to IFC Midnight and Hanway Film's A Banquet, which premieres at Cinemas on the same date. A limited run of Pea Green vinyl will be available via Burning Witches Records .

A Banquet is a visually arresting, slow-burning psychological horror that uses subtle supernatural elements to create tension within a family in the midst of a breakdown, exploiting the complicated bond between three generations of mothers and daughters. Variety likens it to Lars Von Tries' Melancholia and Jeff Nichol's Take Shelter. A Banquet sees composer CJ Mirra reunite with...

Horror Channel announces Killer Thriller week for March
Posted on Tuesday 15th February 2022
Killer THriller Week

Horror Channel turns up the tension in March with Killer Thriller Week, featuring the UK premiere of mystery thriller Paradise Cove, staring Mena Suvari and the channel premiere of cat-and-mouse road thriller Cop Car, starring Kevin Bacon. The ultimate 7-day suspense ride also includes Gus Van Sant's revival of the Hitchcock classic Psycho (1988), the 2014 version of erotic thriller The Loft starring Karl Urban, Colin Minihan's deliciously warped What Keeps You Alive, Rod Lurie's 2011 pulsating remake of Straw Dogs and Bad Samaritan, starring a cunningly murderous David Tennant.

Plus, there are four additional UK TV premieres, highlighted by the late Johnny Kevorkian's last fi...

Horror Channel announces raft of premieres for February
Posted on Thursday 13th January 2022
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February on Horror Channel keeps genre fans alive with the UK TV premiere of What Keeps You Alive - another suspenseful knife to the throat of 21st Century genre cinema from the deliciously warped mind of Colin Minihan, director of It Stains The Sand Red.

And expect more total shock and abject terror in the UK TV premiere of Paul Hyett's sinister sci-fi horror fantasy Peripheral. This twisted cross between Ex Machina and Videodrome boasts an astonishing performance from Hannah Arterton.

Plus, there are channel premieres for the gore-filled, stomach-churning zombie chiller Death Trench, Producer M. Night Shyamalan's claustrophobic supernatural thriller Devil, the...

Horror Channel ushers in 2022 with zombie invasions
Posted on Tuesday 21st December 2021

Evil-Dead II-WEB2

January weekends on Horror Channel are invaded by the undead with the UK TV premiere of Lin Oeding's newly-flavoured zombie horror-comedy Office Uprising, and the two highly acclaimed Zombie apocalypse road movies - Stake Land, receiving its Channel premiere, and the sequel The Stakelander, enjoying a UK TV premiere.

Plus, there are channel premieres for the bone-chilling The Wretched, directed by The Pierce Brothers, Sam Raimi's classic Evil Dead 2, once again starring the demon battling Brue Campbell and the original Dolph Lundgrem/Jean-Claude Van Damme futuristic thriller Universal Soldier.

Here's everything you need to know:

A VHS classic on the 8th as Je...

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