I love me some Frankenstein. Yessir. I actually adore all the Universal Monsters dearly and if you have asked me when I was a kid it would have been Dracula for sure. There was a brief stint where it was the Mummy. I almost feel bad saying that I have a favorite, but I think of them as children or family. You’d almost not want to have a favorite because they all play together so well and they have they need to exist in a world together, but if I have to pick and when I’m asked to pick I say Frankenstein these days.
Perhaps a brief history of my Universal Monster love.
When I was a kid my mom dressed me up as Dracula for Halloween. I wanted to be Dracula for many years. Sometimes I’d be a hobo or a devil, but Drac was my guy. Now I was the typical makeup kit Dracula that you find in the store which I still think most closely resembles Bela Lugosi. The nostalgia I have felt for my early trick or treating days led me straight into Bela’s arms. I’d watch all his stuff and loved the Bauhaus song Bela Lugosi’s Dead for that very reason (which incidentally was used in American Horror Story Hotel the other night and made me so happy). I watched all the Universal Monster movies as a kid, taped off of PBS without commercials. The music fro Browning’s Dracula, The theme from Swan Lake still haunts me and excites me.
I worked at Blockbuster Video when the big VHS re-release happened for Dracula with the new score and then the strangely colorized covers of all the rest of the movies came out. I became more familiar with some of the more obscure Universal era Horror pictures thought I to this day have not seen them all (despite owning them). I never collected the whole set of re-release titles, but I enjoyed the clamshell Dracula with the updated cover and score and was fascinated to learn about the Spanish version.
When I watch them they are like chicken soup for this Horror freak’s soul. I show my kids the movies now that they can sit through black and white movies and enjoy them. I think the Mummy is the scariest of them all, the opening sequence of which is so well done and so suspenseful that it puts the rest of the Universal Monsters to shame. Dracula and Frankenstein are so perfectly quotable too.
While the Hammer films have actually taken my heart when it comes to the traditional Horror monsters created by Universal over the years, the original Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein with Karloff as the Monster still reigns supreme over any remake or new version. I love them all, but maybe it’s okay to have a favorite “child” in this case.