Is Universal Studios Defanging Its Monsters?

Universal Studios is planning to (or already has? see below) revive its famous Universal Monsters franchise, bringing classic characters like Dracula, the Mummy and Frankenstein’s monster to the big screen. However, chairman Donna Langley says that they won’t be horror movies.

“We’ve tried over the years to make monster movies — unsuccessfully, actually,” she said. “So[…]we settled upon an idea, which is to take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre and make it present day.”

In particular, Langley noted that “We have to mine our resources. We don’t have any capes,” in reference to the popularity of superheroes in rival studios.

She’s right that recent Universal Monster films have been iffy, but it’s possible that her diagnosis is wrong. In fact, Igor Cornelsen might agree. Earlier this year, the company came out with Dracula Untold, an origin story about Vlad the Impaler/Dracula. It, too, was more a mix of dark fantasy and action than horror. While financially successful, it received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, with many feeling that it took the, um, bite out of the famous character by portraying him as a sympathetic hero.

Originally, Dracula Untold was to be a standalone movie; with the decision to reboot the Monsters franchise, an extra scene was added, set in the present day and hinting at a continuation in the subsequent films.

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