This summer kickstarted Universal Studios' much awaited for "Dark Universe" series. In sum, the series will try to rewrite and recreate the world of Universal monsters.
Way back in the early 1930s, Universal was at the forefront of the horror film revolution. Thanks mostly to two films that both premiered in 1931 (Dracula starring Bela Lugosi and Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff), the name "Universal" became synonymous with daring fright films that often features expert cinematography imported from Weimar Germany.
While the monster craze died out in the late 1930s, Universal maintained a strong grip on the American horror film industry. During the 1940s, Universal pioneered the monster "cross-over" genre, with movies like House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein featuring multiple monsters. If reports are to be believed, then such movies will appear at the very end of the "Dark Universe."
For now, Universal is attempting to breathe new life into their undead creations. The idea is to get a whole new generation of viewers interested in The Mummy, The Wolfman, Dracula, and Frankenstein's monster. But, before a new generation of creepy crawlies can take shape, let's see how much you know about Universal's famous monsters first.
So, are you an expert on what bumps in the night?
Which Universal film is this?
While Universal's age of horror supremacy did not start until 1931, several Universal films won acclaim during the silent era. In particular, two films starring Lon Chaney made the relatively new film studio a major player in Hollywood. Chaney's greatest role came in 1925 with an adaptation of a classic novel by the French writer Gaston Leroux. In this film, viewers were not only treated to one of the greatest reveals in cinema history, but also a minor glimpse of technicolor.
Which comedy duo appeared in a famous monster film in 1948?
Many horror purists consider this 1948 film the final nail in Universal's coffin. Rather than make monsters frightening, this movie makes them look like buffoons. A large part of this comedy comes courtesy of two famous comedians. This comedy duo would later make other horror-comedy films for Universal. One features Boris Karloff as a "killer." Another one features the Invisible Man voiced by a very young Vincent Price. Finally, one of the duo's last films pits them against The Mummy.
What is the name of Count Dracula's chief antagonist?
Universal's first major hit was "Dracula." Although the film is mostly a shoddy reproduction of the 1920s play, "Dracula" thrilled audiences from New York to Hong Kong. The film made a star out of the dashing Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi, who had earlier portrayed the vampire count on the stage. While the film bears very little resemblance to Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Count Dracula's chief antagonist remains the same. This doctor and expert on the occult is the first to recognize Count Dracula for what he truly is.
What is the name of the vampire in "Son of Dracula"?
Frequently listed as a Southern Gothic, "Son of Dracula" was made during the age when horror movies had lost a little bit of starch at the box office. The reality of the Second World War probably provided enough fear for the average American. No vampires need apply. However, this short film set in the swampy backcountry of Louisiana stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as the world's most famous vampire. You may recognize his name, especially if you're a fan of Japanese anime.
Which Universal monster appeared in the company's first horror film of the 1940s?
When 1939 became 1940, Universal's popularity was beginning to wane. However, the studio had enough talent in order to keep its monster movie franchise going. After all, "The Wolf Man" debuted in 1941 and quickly became on of the studio's most successful feature films. A year before, the company decided to continue its monster franchise with a rather unexpected pick. Rather than Count Dracula or Frankenstein's monster, the company decided to give a sequel to one of its second-tier creatures.
What is the real name of the Phantom of the Opera?
Originally written by the French journalist Gaston Leroux in 1910, "The Phantom of the Opera" is one of the most popular and enduring myths of the modern world. In the novel, a beautiful French stage actress is secretly couched by a hideous figure who lives beneath the Palais Garnier in Paris. Even at the novel's conclusion, little is revealed about the Phantom besides the fact that he once lived as a trained assassination in the court of the Persian king.
Who is the mad scientist who creates miniature humans in "Bride of Frankenstein"?
When people argue about those rare sequels that are better than the original, the movies that are most often acknowledged are "Godfather, Part II" and "The Empire Strikes Back." "Bride of Frankenstein" should be included on this list. This more faithful adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel not only features a better script, but its plotting and actor are superior to 1931's "Frankenstein" as well. The film's one original addition is the lisping, slightly effeminate and thoroughly mad scientist played by Ernest Thesiger.
Universal is often credited with producing the first werewolf film. Which film is it?
The werewolf genre of horror films is not as prestigious or as prolific as its vampire, ghost, or demon counterparts. However, Universal created arguably the most well-known werewolf movie of all time in 1941. Six years prior, the studio actually created their first cinematic werewolf to little fanfare. This movie tells the story of a British scientist (played by Henry Hull) who is bitten by a werewolf in Tibet. Back in London, the scientist is tormented by the original wolf man.
What was the name of the Mummy in 1932's "The Mummy" ?
"The Mummy" may be the most visually stunning of all the Universal monster films. Directed by a noted German cinematographer who played a huge role in that country's horror boom of the 1920s, "The Mummy" tells the story of a resurrected priest from Ancient Egypt. Karloff's shambling corpse has come back to modern-day Cairo in order to look for his lost love. If this story sounds familiar, then that is because "The Mummy" franchise of the 1990s and early 2000s essentially tells the same story.
What is Dr. Mirakle's goal in "Murders in the Rue Morgue"?
Dr. Mirakle, played by Bela Lugosi, is one of the more unhinged of all of Universal's many mad scientists. A madman obsessed with illegal experimentation, Mirakle scours the streets of Paris during the night in order to find his victims. Although this film's name comes from an early detective story by Edgar Allan Poe, it bears zero resemblance to its source material. Universal would repeat this process later with other Poe stories and poems like "The Black Cat" and "The Raven."
Which famous British writer wrote the original "The Invisible Man" novel?
Originally published in the same year as Bram Stoker's "Dracula," "The Invisible Man" was hailed as one of the best "scientific romances" of the age. A fast-paced novel about a deranged scientist who discovers an elixir that makes him invisible, "The Invisible Man" is one of the more pulpy novels written by this famous author. When not writing fiction, this author wrote massive histories of the world and political texts espousing his support for "scientific" socialism. This author is also famous for his prognostications.
1941's "The Wolf Man" is set in what country?
"The Wolf Man" is the most recognizable werewolf film in the history of cinema. This is the film that made Lon Chaney, Jr. a bonafide horror film star. An older, fading star, Bela Lugosi, makes an easy-to-miss cameo in this landmark movie. "The Wolf Man" is a tale about an American man who returns to his native land in order to inherit a castle. One night, while attending a gypsy carnival, he is attacked and bitten by an old werewolf.
What is name of Basil Rathbone's character in "Son of Frankenstein"?
Basil Rathbone is not a name widely remembered anymore. for a time, this South African actor was a fixture on the silver screen. In the 1930s, he cut his teeth in Universal horror films, where he typically played mad scientists. A decade later, Rathbone became Hollywood's most famous and prolific Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, Rathbone is often cited as the quintessential Great Sleuth of the cinema. This is a long cry from his playing the offspring of a mad Swiss doctor.
Which playwright wrote the play "Dracula" and co-wrote the screenplay for "Frankenstein"?
The name of this writer will probably go unrecognized. In his day, this author was best known as one of the co-writers for the extremely successful stage production of "Dracula." After the success of Universal's film, this writer moved out to Hollywood in order to write screenplays. He particularly specialized in writing adaptations of novels, including Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein." Outside of the monster movie genre, this playwright, screenwriter, and journalist is best known for his work on the film "Gaslight."
Who is the feared pyromaniac in "The Old Dark House"?
Unlike other Universal productions, "The Old Dark House" is knowingly ridiculous. This black comedy is set during a nasty rain storm in Wales. The eccentric cast includes a working-class millionaire from Manchester and a decidedly middle-class couple from London. Most of the scares come from the creepy Femm family who host those strangers caught in the storm. Later, in 1963, "The Old Dark House" was remade by schlock king William Castle, the man responsible for "The House on Haunted Hill."
Which German cinematographer directed "The Mummy"?
Before the horror boom in Depression-era America, Germany produced its own classic fright films. 1919's "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," which was actually written and film by Austrians, exposed the moviegoing public to German Expressionism. 1922's "Nosferatu," an unofficial adaptation of "Dracula," remains a cinematic masterpiece in experimentation. Later films, such as "Metropolis," further underscored the remarkable array of talent being cultivated by Berlin-based studios (again, there is some irony that most of these talents were either Austrian or from the former Austrian Empire).
Which two horror stars appeared together in "The Raven"?
"The Raven," like another Poe-inspired horror film produced by Universal, cast two of the decade's biggest stars in the same picture. Even by this point, one of the two was clearly in ascendancy, while the other was in decline. By the 1950s, the declining star was a certified drug addict. The rising star, on the other hand, was the face and voice of horror cinema. Later, during the 1960s, American International Pictures produced a string of Poe-inspired horror films that were inspired by earlier Universal productions.
Which horror legend was originally supposed to play the vampire in "Dracula"?
During the silent era of Hollywood, this actor was synonymous with horror and the grotesque. The son of deaf parents, this actor was noted for his very expressive body language. This actor also went to great lengths in order to achieve his performances. In 1920's "The Penalty," he folded his legs into painful leather stumps in order to play a double amputee. In "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," he wore hot and heavy pounds of make-up in order to play the titular character. All told, this actor is considered the godfather of cinema make-up and special effects.
Which Universal horror film inspired The Joker?
While technically a romantic melodrama, this film is noteworthy due to the hideous make-up worn by German actor Conrad Veidt. Veidt then already a veteran of the German horror film scene. His credits include "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," "Waxworks," and the Austrian film "The Hands of Orlac." It is believed that Batman creator Bob Kane was inspired by this film. Such a suggestion is not unthinkable given that Batman himself inspired by a popular film villain called The Bat.
Who plays Count Dracula in "House of Dracula"?
"House of Dracula," like "House of Frankenstein" is an ensemble horror film which features a mad scientist tasked with unleashing all of Universal's monsters on a vulnerable public somewhere in Central Europe. By this point in Universal's history, both Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff were no longer making big production movies for the studio. Lugosi was busy performing in poverty fow films, while Karloff was making classic films produced by Val Lewton. Neither man had much interest in playing the monsters that made them famous.
Which actor portrayed the Frankenstein monster after Boris Karloff?
Long after the success of 1931's "Frankenstein," Universal considered the monster to be its biggest moneymaker. That's why "Bride of Frankenstein" was their first monster sequel. By 1944, during the age of the ensemble monster film, Boris Karloff was no longer interested in playing the monster. However, as the protagonist in "House of Frankenstein," he took it upon himself to coach his replacement. This replacement was unlike Karloff in many ways, notably he was 6'5 and American. This actor would go on to play Frankenstein's monster for decades.
What is the name of the main vampire in "Dracula's Daughter"?
Because of the immense popularity of "Dracula," Universal quickly set to work on producing sequels featuring Dracula or his extended family. "Dracula's Daughter" is a moody and somewhat underrated horror story that is primarily psychological. Gloria Holden is the primary vampire of the story, and Edward Van Sloan reprises his role as the tenacious Dr. Van Helsing. "Dracula's Daughter" is most commonly known for its supposedly lesbian subplot and subtext. Either way, the success of this film led to "Son of Dracula."
Which 1934 horror film is infamous for its portrayal of necrophilia and extreme violence?
Not everything was safe and squeaky clean in the 1930s. Indeed, so-called Pre-Code films, which were produced before the age of heavy censorship, frequently dabbled in sex, violence, and dark suggestions. One such film details an elaborate revenge plot by a former officer in the Austro-Hungarian army. His nemesis, a famous Austrian architect who has built his very modern home atop of the dead bodies of his former soldiers, not only betrayed his men, but also stole the wife and daughter of main protagonist.
Which famous British director filmed 1931's "Frankenstein"?
This man was pretty Universal's chief maestro during their heyday in the early 1930s. His first major hit was "Frankenstein," the studio's most popular film. This director scored later hits with the campy "The Old Dark House" and the excellent "Bride of Frankenstein." A British auteur who frequently injected humor into his horror movies, this director is the main subject of the 1998 film "Gods and Monsters." Many scholars believe that this director consistently included nods to his own homosexuality in his films.
What is the name of the property that Count Dracula purchases in England?
In Bram Stoker's novel, Count Dracula is a Hungarian nobleman who seeks new blood in the imperial and commercial capital of London. Before leaving his native Transylvania (then part of Austria-Hungary, now part of Romania), the Count purchases a decrepit piece of property near an insane asylum run by Dr. Seward. While the movie is notoriously liberal with its source material, it maintains the Count's English address and even has one of the characters recite a ghoulish poem about the place.