Universal Monster Movies Analysis

1683 Words 7 Pages
Following the Great Depression, movie studios in the 1930’s were forced to alter their filmmaking practices in order to conserve money and turn a profit. During this period a series of films from Universal Studios dubbed the “Universal Monster Movies” made their way into theaters and began to shape the Horror genre in America. These films, which were based on classic literature, featured foreign stars, had low budgets, and saw influence from German Expressionism, were met with financial success and audience approval. The Universal Monster Movies display a significant era in film history where a genre was shaped, not necessarily through intention, but as a result of a financial crisis. Although popularized in American cinema in the 1930’s, …show more content…
Dracula (Tod Browning 1931), Frankenstein (James Whale 1931), Werewolf of London (Stuart Walker 1935), The Invisible Man (James Whale 1933), The Mummy (Karl Freund 1932), are some of the most popular films of this era. All were either based on or inspired by gothic literature, with Frankenstein being directly adapted from Mary Shelly’s novel of the same name, Dracula from Bram Stoker, and Invisible Man from H.G. Wells. Although it could be argued that The Hunchback of Notre Dam (Wallace Worsley 1923), and The Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian 1925) were the first monster movies from Universal, the post-talkie films began with Dracula. This film was a big success for the studio and opened the doors to more films based on gothic literature, which was proceeded by Frankenstein. There was an obvious formula that worked, and that was to base these films off of gothic literature, or at least pay homage to it. This wasn’t the only aspect that created this era of films, though, as one of the biggest factors relates to the same problem that Germany encountered, financial …show more content…
Forced to rethink production methods in order to maximize profit, Universal introduced “B Pictures” which accompanied higher budget films in theaters with double features. Universal drew inspiration from German Expressionist films when creating their monster movies, which relied heavily on gothic atmosphere in sets, makeup, and general mise-en-scene. Since sound had been introduced, these films also relied heavily on dialogue to progress their stories, unlike their German relatives which were silent films. These elements were repeated within the monster movies and are what separated them from German Expressionist films. Frankenstein, which followed Dracula, was chosen not just because of this formula, but also because “[its] theatrical rights were much cheaper to acquire, and the literary rights were in the public domain and thus free of charge” (Edwards 29). There is still a significant parallel between the two in terms of how financial crisis caused the creation of a new

Related Documents