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Sundays with…The Future of the Universal Monsters Universe (Part 2)!

universal monsters universeBela Lugosi & Boris Karloff in "The Black Cat."

This is my Sunday with… The Future of the Universal Monsters Universe Part 2.

Ladies and gentleman, welcome back for my second installment of fan directing the new Universal Monsters Universe films. In this installment I am going to dig deeper into the classic monsters and films that helped seal the deal in establishing the “golden age of monsters” as one of the most beloved and successful periods in the history of Universal studios. This is my Sunday with… The Future of the Universal Monsters Universe Part 2.

Every day that passes marks another day closer to the highly anticipated release of The Mummy. Not only is this release highly sought after by us, the monster fans, but also by Universal themselves. Trying to recreate one of the most beloved genres in a studios history is no easy feat, and thus I believe Universal will do anything they can to make it successful. While I do have confidence in the studio, this is just some more of my opinions as to who would be a perfect candidate for recreating our beloved monsters.

The Bride of Frankenstein

Dream Director: Karyn Kusama

Notable Works: Jennifer’s Body, The Invitation

It seems like not a week can go by without me name dropping Karyn Kusama, and I have absolutely no issue with that! Kusama would be an absolutely perfect choice to helm a new Bride film for several reasons, but biggest of which would be her unique approach to actually building the character. This rendition of the character could, and probably should be a much deeper look at the woman becoming the bride instead of just a Frankenstein sequel. Aside from her filmography, Kusama has written and directed episodes of “The L Word”, “Halt and Catch Fire”, as well as “The Man in the High Castle”, all series that deal with great stakes and natural human emotion. I envision this project being approached in much of the same vein as “Penny Dreadful”, exploring how she wound up as the Bride and the aftershock that event has on the world. Aside from her mastery of writing and depicting emotion, she beautifully builds not only suspense, but horror in her works that always delivers a great pay-off. Aside from the depth of the actual story, Kusama could bring some very interesting character design to the project. In past films she has mixed sexy and scary to bring us truly subtle yet unique takes on demons, and I would love to see her run wild on The Bride.

 

The Wolf Man

Dream Directors: The Soska Sisters

Notable Works: Dead Hooker in a Trunk, American Mary

Ahh, the Twisted Twins! Since I started writing this piece I’ve wanted to include The Soska  Sisters, and there is no better place to start than here. On my list of overdone monsters we have vampires, zombies, and then unfortunately werewolves. The Wolf Man being the granddaddy of all werewolf flicks deserves the utmost respect and reverence when being done not only to help build the success of the UMU, but to also kick start the werewolf genre again.  Joe Johnston tried his hand at recreating The Wolf Man in 2010, following very closely to the original in making it a period film, and where as I enjoyed it, the film did not do that well. This is why I believe a new undertaking would benefit from a fresh look and direction. The Soska Sisters are a perfect mix of modern stylization, as well as gore. Fans of their cult hit American Mary can definitely attest to their perfection in body horror, and gore category, and those are two things that could absolutely be exploited in a Wolf Man film. With such an iconic transformation scene as in the original it would take a truly unique perspective to get audiences excited about that again, and they have all the skills to come through. The Soska’s also have a very keen eye for background and color, giving their films unique feels. Mixing all of these ingredients together I think you would have a can’t miss take on the beloved character.

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Dream Director: James Gunn

Notable Works: Guardians of the Galaxy (1, 2), Slither

James Gunn is a perfect storm of tongue in cheek humor, action, violence, horror that a project like Creature could benefit from. Aside from his name recognition, Gunn is more than qualified to bring the Creature back to the surface. With films like Guardians of the Galaxy, the upcoming Belko Experiment and even the Scooby Doo franchise, he has proven he is uniquely capable of writing for a large, talented ensemble cast. That is a technique that could only benefit this production as there are several pivotal roles not only to fill, but also to build. He is a proven commodity in giving everyone the spotlight which could only draw more big names towards his projects. Aside from this he also has a great eye not only in character development but also in setting. His scenery is big, bold, and beautifully colored, always grabbing the eye. His creatures are also not only unique, but highly memorable, and an updated take on the Gill Man would be very interesting to see. On top of all of that, Gunn is a master of nostalgia. The monster and horror films of the 50’s are all unique in the same over the top cheesiness they have become synonymous with. Gunn would have a field day with the throw backs and subtle humor he could inject into this film. The final product would be an approachable film that would get both newbies and monster lovers alike flocking to the theater.

Bonus: The Black Cat

Dream Director: David Fincher

Notable Works: Seven, Fight Club

Now this one is strictly a fantasy of mine, but for a few lines you are all going to be part of it! Aside from the obvious monster films of the 30’s and 40’s, The Black Cat is my favorite non-monster straight forward horror flick of that time period. It bolsters the two most synonymous actors with monster films (Karloff and Lugosi) in their first feature film together. It has a great, creepy backstory that would be a perfect slow burn of a thriller in today’s market. The obvious choice for me to direct this project would, of course, be David Fincher. Fincher is master of the story telling process. Each and every film he makes tells an intriguing story filled with realistic twists and turns that audiences cannot stop applauding. He would be the perfect man to delve deeper into the history of the rivalry between the two main characters, as well as expand upon the plot. His filmography establishes dark, almost satanic characters and motives and he delivers them in such a realistic light that the already unsettling plot is made even more terrifying. Add his beautifully dark, gritty visual presentation, it is tailor fit for both the train sequences as well as the Budapest scenes. To me it’s a no-brainer and a film that not only fits his style in tone and substance, but also something that he could masterfully expand on. One of my favorite films re done by one of my favorite directors, hey a guy can dream can’t he?!

So there you have it, my re-imagined Universal Monsters Universe films. You can catch up if you missed my part 1 here, and of course I would love to hear not only your feedback, but who would direct your dream Universal Monsters Universe films.

(Rob Texter – @GrundyXIII)

About the author

Rob Texter

Rob is a self-appointed horror and monster movie nerd. He's got a pretty sizable 'Big Trouble' collection and a real, manly man-crush on Kurt Russell. Favorite monster move? Wrong question - "As ole Rob Texter says at a time like this, my favorite horror/science fiction director? John Carpenter, not even a question." His marriage proposal to Megan Fox is still pending

Readers Comments (6)

  1. I would gladly have James Gunn direct a Universal Monster film if it were up to me! Although if he does, personally, I would hope humor wouldn’t be a MAJOR element like it is in Guardians of the Galaxy. I LOVE the humor in Guardians, but don’t think it makes sense for the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe having seen the first trailer for The Mummy. At least that’s where I stand at the moment. There is supposed to be a good dose of humor in the The Mummy per an interview with Tom Cruise (which I want), but I fully expect the overall tone to be serious. I think The Dark Knight trilogy in many ways is the perfect model for the tone that The Mummy and perhaps the rest of the Universal monsters movies should generally have…and there actually are a good number of genuinely funny moments in Nolan’s trilogy (at least it’s humor that I love)! I would also say Batman Begins applies the most out of the three here….since it has the scariest and darkest imagery of trilogy.

    Reply
    • The question of ratings in the new UMU is an interesting one, and as much as I would love a dark blood soaked franchise I doubt that will be the case. Universal’s bottom line is to create a successful franchise both commercially and financially. The easiest way to do that is to make films that are inclusive to all audiences which means injecting some more humorous aspects to them. Do I think they will be comedies, absolutely not but expect some levity.
      As far as Logan goes I did see it opening night. Let me preface this by saying I am a DC loyalist so the marvel films rarely do it for me. That being said I loved Logan. It was an extremely satisfying if not emotionally taxing end to a character. It took 17 years, but they finally made a good X-Men film!

      Reply
      • The Marvel films rarely do it for you?! What? I’m into A LOT of stuff (as you probably noticed already), so its kind of hard for me to understand the mindset of saying only a few Marvel films are good. Whereas with me, I don’t even have a single Marvel or DC movie I’ve seen that I dislike (there’s a number of them I haven’t seen yet). My worst reaction to a superhero movie has been “that’s Okay”….and that was for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and 2015’s Fantastic Four.

        No hard feelings though! It’s all opinion.

        Reply
  2. On a separate note, did any of the Universal Monsters staff get to check out Logan?!! I haven’t seen all the X-Men movies yet, but man, Logan would appear to be the crowning achievement of the series….and probably will remain that way for years to come. If anyone saw Hell or High Water (fantastic Academy Award nominated movie that’s a modern day western), that’s the type of tone Logan has (but Logan is much faster paced)!

    Any of you guys think the success of Logan will have a hand in how Universal approaches there monsters movies post-The Mummy?

    Reply
    • I saw “Logan” opening weekend and enjoyed it very much. I’ve been a fan of the X-Men series since X-Men 1 in 2000. I’ll never forget seeing it opening day. I actually saw it three times during it’s theatrical run, the third time being when it was re-released in theaters in September 2000. I don’t know how many people remember that that happened. But I did enjoy “Logan” but I found it to be quite a heartbreaking and exhausting film (in a good way.)

      That’s an interesting thought in regards to Universal Monsters rating. I really can’t see getting an R for any of the Universal Monsters films. I know the 2010 “The WolfMan” did, but I don’t see any of the new installments getting that rating. I know we’re getting further and further away from when “The Dark Knight” released in 2008, but I see Universal wanting their monsters to be accessible to everyone.

      I think “The Mummy” will be the best example. However, I do know each film will have a different tone and style so, with that said, who knows?

      Also, I’ve seen a previous comment asking about the trailer. From what we know at UMU and through our sources, expect a trailer on April 10th. I believe that’s supposed to be when the new trailer releases. Will write more on that later this week.

      Reply
      • This may sound strange, but I have yet to see X-Men 1, X2, X3, and Days of future Past! But the rest of the bunch I’ve seen. I’m really looking forwarding to seeing Logan again though! There’s a lot to ponder there, which should make for fantastic repeat viewings. When the first trailer for Logan came out, initially I wasn’t all that into it, but over time I ended up LOVING the trailer. With the actual film, I REALLY enjoyed it having seen it once, but think there’s a lot of room for it to grow on me even more. I was amazed with the production values and intensity of the action. X23 was killer 🙂

        Personally, I don’t think that just because a movie is PG-13 means its accessible to everyone….even though younger audiences will obviously have more opportunity to see PG-13 than R-rated material. I consider The Dark Knight trilogy and the Andy Serkis Planet of the Apes series to be material for adults first. You know what I’m saying? Also consider the darkness in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad. Even in Star Wars, Marvel, and DC movies, there are mature themes….and much of the time kids watching this stuff are also interested in “the dark side”, although they typically don’t realize that until much later in life.

        I also highly consider The Mummy to be material for adults….even though there will be a lot of young peeps who want to see it as well. Genuine horror to me is for adults first. It’s also interesting because Chris McQuarrie recently was talking with Empire about Mission Impossible 6 and how it will be very character driven….we’re going to get to REALLY know Ethan Hunt’s story. And he implied it would be taking a Jack Reacher approach to storytelling…which he said is for adults, and I agree with him.

        Reply

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