Are they monsters or men? Unclassifiable creatures, possessing freakish qualities and abilities inhabit a world of their own, shocking the humans with whom they come into contact with their powers and near immortality. Before the advent of modern comic book movies Universal Studios took characters from literature, stage, and screenwriters’ imagination to the silver screen, creating a series of monster classics. From the 1920s through the 1950s cinemas across the United States became home to the likes of Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein. Join us for a retrospective of some of the best horror, science fiction, and suspense classics this October as we present Universal Monsters.
For approximately a quarter-century, Universal Pictures was responsible for producing the lion’s share of the classic monster movies, atmospheric horror yarns starring such genre superstars as Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Yet even with a canon that includes the definitive versions of (among others) Frankenstein, Dracula and The Phantom of the Opera, The Wolf Man (1941) has always remained my favorite of the studios’ prolific output. Like most of the Universal crop, this intelligent and sophisticated picture unfortunately sports a brief running time (70 minutes), but the screenplay by Curt Siodmak manages to pack the proceedings with all manner of intriguing developments, including discussions on the duality of man as well as the place of superstition in a God-fearing world. Jack Pierce’s makeup design is superb, and the strong cast also includes Ralph Bellamy as the local constable, Lugosi as a doomed fortune teller, and Maria Ouspenskaya as the gypsy woman who attempts to help Larry.(Creative Loafing)