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.

Stagefright to be released thanks to Shameless
Posted in News, Saturday 4th December 2021
Stagefright Cover

Combining graphic, blood-splattered set pieces with his trademark wit and filmmaking elegance, Michele Soavi's (Dellamorte Dellamore, The Sect, The Church), Stagefright is now unleashed in a new 4K restoration.

When a masked killer infiltrates a group of actors rehearsing overnight in an isolated theatre, thesta ge is set for carnage! Featuring an abundance of over-the-top kills and spills, shot with Soavi's typical style, marvel at the mayhem as the iconic chainsaw wielding 'Owl Man', delivers a bloodsoaked performance for the ages.

From one of the masters of Italian horror, Stagefright is at the pinnacle of 80s slashers. Michele Soavi was schooled by Dario Argento and Terry Gil...

Scream - Legacy cast posters revealed
Posted in News, Saturday 4th December 2021
Neve Campbell (“Sidney Prescott”)

It's always someone you know.

Twenty-five years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro, a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask and begins targeting a group of teenagers to resurrect secrets from the town's deadly past.

Neve Campbell (Sidney Prescott), Courteney Cox (Gale Weathers) and David Arquette (Dewey Riley) return to their iconic roles in Scream but will all three survive?

The cast also includes Melissa Barrera, Kyle Gallner, Mason Gooding, Mikey Madison, Dylan Minnette, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid, Marley Shelton, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Sonia Ammar.

Paramount Pictures and Spyglas...

Finally, Argento's masterpiece to get 4K restoration release
Posted in News, Saturday 4th December 2021

From master of horror Dario Argento (Suspiria, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) comes Phenomena - one of his most eccentric and unique thrillers, featuring telepathic insects, maggots galore, and even a razor-wielding chimp!

Jennifer Corvino (Jennifer Connelly), daughter of a world-renowned movie star, arrives in the so-called "Swiss Transylvania" to attend an exclusive girls' school. However, a vicious killer is targeting the pupils, and sleepwalker Jennifer finds herself in the assassin's headlights when her nocturnal wanderings cause her to witness the death of a fellow pupil. Aided by paraplegic entomologist John McGregor (Donald Plea...

Video nasty classic Don't Go in the House will reopen next year
Posted in News, Saturday 4th December 2021

A legendary title from the Video Nasties era, Joseph Ellison's relentlessly bleak and disturbing Don't Go In The House has lost none of its power to shock in the decades since it was first censored by the BBFC and seized by UK authorities.

Donny Kohler (The Sopranos' Dan Grimaldi in a gripping central performance), a disturbed loner unhealthily obsessed with fire, comes home from his factory job one day to find his abusive mother has died. Now all alone in the large Gothic mansion he calls home and consumed in an inferno of insanity, he is finally able to fulfil his violent revenge fantasies against her. Soon, any woman unlucky enough to enter...

Hammer returns from the grave!
Posted in News, Wednesday 1st December 2021
Woman in Black (photo c Hammer Films)[3]

Network Distributing has concluded a deal with Hammer Films to form Hammer Studios Ltd. The new company will manage and control Hammer's interests in its substantial library of content such as The Woman in Black (2012), Let Me In (2010), Dracula (1958), The Abominable Snowman (1957) and The Quatermass Experiment (1953), and will see heavy investment both in restoration and new production development from both its owned and newly created IP.

Network's Managing Director Tim Beddows and Financial Director Jonathan Lack, and Hammer's CEO Simon Oakes will head the new company.

Network Managing Director Tim Beddows said: 'This partnersh...

Horror Channel premieres zombie musical Anna And The Apocalypse on Xmas Day
Posted in Features, Tuesday 30th November 2021
Anna & the Apocalypse-WEB2

There is a Xmas Day treat in store for genre fans, with the Horror Channel premiere of Anna And The Apocalypse, a pure gore delight with a mental, maniacal and magical edge. John McPhail's infectious zombie musical stars Ella Hunt, Mark Benton and Paul Kaye.

Anna is looking forward to the end of high school. But while her widowed father dreams of university, she has other plans - jet-setting around the world to experience life before settling down. Suddenly a zombie apocalypse threatens her sleepy Scottish town, forcing Anna and friends to struggle, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the living dead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. Shaun O...

Horror Channel unwraps eight UK TV premieres for December including Tales From The Lodge, Aquaslash and Sacrifice
Posted in Features, Tuesday 16th November 2021
Horror Channel Dec highlights - tweet banner

Horror Channel comes bearing gory gifts for the Xmas season, presenting eight UK TV premieres, including Abigail Blackmore's gruesome and comically dark Tales From The Lodge, starring Mackenzie Crook, Sophie Thompson and Johnny Vegas, cosmic chiller Sacrifice, starring horror icon Barbara Crampton and Aquaslash, a mad exploitation slasher harking back to the classic 1980s era of gushing blood and teenage turmoil.

Also showing for the first time on British TV are Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's romantic body horror Spring, Greg McLean's supernatural horror The Darkness, starring Kevin Bacon, deadly thriller, Desolation, Brit mon...

Swallow to get an extra special release.
Posted in News, Monday 15th November 2021
Swallow Cover

Second Sight is delighted to announce Carlo Mirabella-Davis' visually stunning, critically acclaimed feature debut Swallow is set to receive a fantastic Limited Edition Blu-ray Box set release, complete with a slew of fascinating new bonus content this November.

Haley Bennett (Hillbilly Elegy) gives an outstanding performance as Hunter a young woman who on the surface appears to have it all, the handsome, successful husband, the idyllic house, and a baby on the way. But is her life as perfect as it seems? As domineering husband Richie (Austin Stowell), and his overbearing family put pressure on Hunter to play the dutiful wife, she becomes overwhelmed and powerless. Desperate to reclaim contr...

Horror Channel takes off with premiere of action series Airwolf from Thursday 25 November
Posted in Features, Thursday 11th November 2021

Horror Channel is dedicated to bringing great cult action thrillers to its audience and this trend continues with Season 1 of the 1984 US military drama series Airwolf, created by Donald P. Bellisario and produced over four seasons.

A renegade helicopter pilot, Stringfellow Hawke, played by Jan-Michael Vincent, is given the chance to know the whereabouts of his imprisoned brother if he conducts daring missions for a shadowy intelligence agency. Hid first mission is to go to Libya and steal back a high-technology military helicopter, code-named Airwolf, at all costs. With its riveting, high-tech, battle scenes, AIRWOLF is consid...

Horror Channel invaded by week of Sci-Fi Horror
Posted in Features, Wednesday 3rd November 2021

Horror Channel goes extra-terrestrial with Sci-Fear Week (Saturday 20th to Friday 26th, 9pm), in which strange science, terrifying tech and insidious invasions takes control, highlighted by the Channel premiere of jolting sci-fi thriller The Last Days On Mars, starring Liev Schreiber, Romola Garai and Olivia Williams. It also includes the channel premieres of 1980 British science fiction movie Saturn 3, which stars Farrah Fawcett, Kirk Douglas and Harvey Keitel and XTRO, an unsettling slice of Sci-Fi Horror and one of the few British films that landed on the UK film censors' infamous 'Video Nasty' list. The week also includes Scanners, Ce...

One for your Christmas list, the new book from Kim Newman
Posted in News, Wednesday 27th October 2021
Something More Than The Night Cover

From the award-winning author of Anno Dracula comes a masterclass in wit and cinematic vision as the legendary maestro of horror teams together two icons of page and silver screen in a daring and horrifying tale that puts a twist on the genre, as only Kim Newman can. Something More Than Night promises to be a genre-bending horror thriller that brings together two icons of the 1930s.

Hollywood, the late 1930s. Raymond Chandler writes detective stories for pulp magazines. Boris Karloff plays monsters in the movies. Both understand that these streets are dark with something more than night. Under Home House, the mock gothic mock mansion of a film mogul, is a mad science du...

88Films to release the classic euro horror The Doll of Satan
Posted in News, Tuesday 26th October 2021
The Doll of Satan

After her uncle dies unexpectedly, Elizabeth Balljanon inherits his sprawling castle. The walls are crumbling, the electricity doesn't work and there's a fully equipped torture chamber in the cellars but interior decoration is the least of her worries: a black-gloved killer haunts the halls at night and, even worse, the tales she's been told about the castle's ghosts might not be stories after all...

Part giallo, part modern-dress Gothic, The Doll of Satan is a gloriously ripe slice of Italian horror, heady with atmosphere and steamy eroticism too. 88 Films has rediscovered this genre gem and given it a superb HD release in the UK for the very first time.


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