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.
Movie lore has it that Bela Lugosi could barely speak English when he was chosen by Universal Pictures to star in “Dracula” (1931). Lon Chaney had been scheduled to play the role, a wise casting decision after his success in… silent classics … But he died as “Dracula” was going into production, and the mysterious 49-year-old Hungarian, who starred in a 1927 Broadway production of “Dracula,” was cast. Legend must exaggerate, because the Hungarian emigre Lugosi had been living and working in the United States for a decade by the time the film was made, and yet there is something about his line readings that suggests a man who comes sideways to English–perhaps because in his lonely Transylvanian castle, Dracula has had centuries to study it but few opportunities to practice it. … Certainly it is Lugosi’s performance, and the cinematography of Karl Freund, that make Tod Browning’s film such an influential Hollywood picture. (Roger Ebert)