The Universal Monster Marathon – introduction

Do not adjust your thingie…are you sitting comfortably?…Good then welcome to the Universal Monster Marathon.

Each day this week here on Scary Motherfucker we will be reviewing a Universal Creature Feature, looking at selected movies in the canon from 1931’s Dracula to 1948’s Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Expect an in-depth feature on all of the key movies.

Universal Pictures effectively invented the horror movie when, in 1925, the studio produced a cheap shocker starring Lon Chaney – that movie, The Phantom of the Opera was a runaway hit for the studio and started the studio’s association with horror movies. Earlier in 1923 the studio had scored a surprise hit with its gothic version of, The Hunchback of Notre Dame which also starred Lon Chaney but Phantom was the first real all out horror movie. Both of these movies are today in the public domain and can be viewed at the Internet Archive.


However it was not until the 1930’s and the great depression that the studio made their true footprint in the world of cinematic horror, and even today many fans (myself, included) consider the Universal Monster Movies to be among the best horror movies ever made. The studio didn’t have any big name stars when the horror cycle truly began with 1931’s Dracula, but they did have a lot of contract players on their books and so the studio took many of these contracted stars and turned them into superstars. So successful was the studio in creating stars that today many of the biggest names, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, John Carradine and Lon Chaney Jr remain true icons of the genre.


The cycle of horror movies – Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, Gill Man, The Invisible Man – are responsible for many of the conventions of the genre that are still in use today. the creaking staircase, the cobwebs, the swirling mist and the mobs of peasants pursuing monsters with torches all came from the Universal classics.


The Universal Classics are available on DVD, with the more iconic titles featuring hosts of special features including all new documentaries and archive footage. And of course the films are subject to the highest quality digital remastering making them, when viewed on a large screen TV, a superior viewing experience to that of the original cinema audience. Keeping popping back this week as Scary Motherfucker takes your hand and leads you through the world of the Universal Monster Movies, making suggestions along the way, offering trivia to amuse and delight and hopefully releasing you safe and sound at the end of our journey.



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