Meet the Universal Monsters Starting Lineup!
In preparation for The Wolfman, we look at some of Universal's most iconic monsters.
For centuries, monster legends have romped over geographic boundaries to permeate folklore stories around the globe. And for decades, ever since Universal first began creating monster flicks in 1923 and subsequently introduced the concept of the horror franchise, movies have made a select few of these monsters legendary through their birth and occasional resurrection on screen. With The Wolfman making his hairy return to theaters on February 12, we at RT thought it was time to recognize the journey that a few of the most iconic and classic Universal Monsters that have made over the years to blaze a path in not only cinema, but popular culture, breakfast tables, and beyond.
Suave, worldly, seductive, and deathless: is it any wonder folks have never tired of Count Dracula? Ever since his debut in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, the Count has made boundless villainy seem positively charming -- how else can he sink his fangs into so many young necks? For moviegoers, two early characterizations helped define the character: F.W. Murnau's loose 1922 adaptation of Stoker's book Nosferatu (Stoker's widow successfully sued for copyright infringement) and Tod Browning's 1931 classic for Universal, Dracula. While the former, starring Max Shrek, depicts the Count as a rat-like freak, the latter, featuring Bela Lugosi -- he of Eastern European accent, impeccable dress, and hypnotic eyes -- became the archetype for onscreen vampires thereafter.
However, Lugosi wasn't the only actor to put a distinctive stamp on the role. In the late 1950s, Christopher Lee stepped into the cape for the bloody, lavish, Horror of Dracula. In more recent years, Francis Ford Coppola mixed bloody gothic horror with eroticism in Bram Stoker's Dracula, starring Gary Oldman. Since then the Dracula story has undergone endless transformations -- it's been played for laughs (Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Love at First Bite), dark artistry (Guy Maddin's Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary), and high camp (Andy Warhol's Blood for Dracula). Even Universal got back into the act with Van Helsing in 2004. The Count may suffer from a terrible curse, but audiences have been blessed with his presence for nearly a century.
Strengths: Eternal life, superhuman strength, control over weather and animals, hypnotic abilities, shapeshifting, invisible in mirrors.
Weaknesses: Sunlight, garlic, crucifixes, Sacramental bread, requires Transylvanian dirt to sleep, constantly needs to drink fresh blood.
Most recent appearance
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Did You Know?
- Pop Culture Presence: Count Chocula, Count Duckula, Count von Count, Blacula, the Castlevania series, Quacula, The Drak Pack, Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead."
- Fun Fact: Plans for a Dracula-themed amusement park in Transylvania were scraped after protests from UNESCO and environmentalists, who said the park would wreak havoc on the rural area. However, the concept remains undead, as Romanian tourism officials still hope to build a Dracula Park closer to Bucharest, where the real-life count, Vlad Tepes, maintained a castle.