Universal Taking the Horror Out of Classic Movie Monsters Reboot

November 14, 2014
Source: THR

Universal Monsters

There's been some buzz about the developing reboot of Universal's classic movie monster universe ever since Dracula Untold hit theaters. The action thriller was said to be the first film to have ties to the new shared universe for the studio's reboot of their most famous properties, and the next films in the bunch will be The Mummy, directed by Alex Kurtzman, coming in 2016, and also The Wolf Man in 2017. But if you were hoping for a great new round of horror movies, you may want to sit down for this, because we have some bad news. Universal's plan to reboot these franchises involves taking the horror out of the properties.

In the same executive roundtable discussion from THR where news about the Fast & Furious franchise came from, Collider noticed that chairman Donna Langley also had some stuff to say about the Universal monsters reboot, and it's disconcerting to say the least:

“We don’t have any capes [in our film library]. But what we do have is an incredible legacy and history with the monster characters. We’ve tried over the years to make monster movies — unsuccessfully, actually. So, we took a good, hard look at it, and 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, bringing these incredibly rich and complex characters into present day and reimagine them and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience.”

This is almost as frustrating as Langley talking about mining the Fast & Furious franchise as if they were just looking for diamonds. She's basically saying, "Well, we don't have any big comic book properties, so we're going to repurpose something we do own, bastardize it, and turn it into something that fans of the original properties absolutely hate." I'm not even someone who holds the classic Universal monsters in high regards as beloved, and I'm already completely turned off by this idea now. But get ready for Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Dracula to combine their powers and save the world before they return to Monster Mash, a bar they all run together. Thoughts?

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Boo. Hiss. Bah. Lame.

DAVIDPD on Nov 14, 2014


We could not fuck with them and make new original movies with new original talent but our creative decision making team wanted more bananas.

Rauncor on Nov 14, 2014


when the *creative* decision is 'more bananas', you know these chinless executives will soon be bringing you Shakespeare without the verse, tough street dramas without the swearing and sex comedies without the raunch. not to mention endless sequels without numbers, only the: Colon of Doom.

son_et_lumiere on Nov 14, 2014


can we get transformers without michael bay instead

Rauncor on Nov 14, 2014


now *that* might be something i'd watch.

son_et_lumiere on Nov 14, 2014


So, basically turning the monsters into some kind of action heroes? Well, yeah. we definitely need more of that! Argh. No, thanks.

Movie Bear on Nov 14, 2014


I am one those people "who holds the classic Universal monsters in high regards as beloved", and all my hopes for this have been flushed away.

Astroboy3000 on Nov 14, 2014


You know what's missing from The Avengers? Horrid, psychotic, cursed, mutant, damned, hell-creatures with an insatiable bloodlust! Now, give Frankenstein a shield and some spandex!

Astroboy3000 on Nov 14, 2014


So they're vying for a spot in the Worst Ideas Of All-Time? Well done!

cuckoozey on Nov 14, 2014


Well, Stephen Sommer's The Mummy in 1999 wasn't exactly a horror movie and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

JuanJondre on Nov 14, 2014


And the 2 sequels? The 99 Mummy is the exception to a world of shit.

Alexander Calvo on Nov 15, 2014


I actually thought Mummy Returns was quite good. And thinking back on them for all their stupid action adventure, they got an awesome actor to be Imhotep - he was an intimidating dude. Unfortunately he also had magic superpowers so bleh on this whole thing.

OfficialJab on Nov 17, 2014


This will fail.

Nielsen700 on Nov 14, 2014


So disappointed, as much as I ended up liking Van Helsing on it's second viewing... it wasn't what I wanted and it really broke my heart. The same with The Mummy reboot... I'm really getting tired on spending money on movies that disappoint me.

Bill on Nov 14, 2014


Seriously, by now (considering the 3 dozen superhero-flicks planned for the next 6 years and now this as indicators), I believe this is shaping up to be the dullest decade for Hollywood in history. All the auteurs that are household names seem to be making films rarely, if at all, (and some have arguably left their best days behind,) and most new talent, even if they might be good at what they do, are complete edge-less and lacking balls. My hopes lie with the independent filmmakers and foreign cinema.

Terry Craig on Nov 14, 2014


Can't disagree with you more.

Tuomas Lassila on Nov 15, 2014


Like I thought - well there go my tickets. Even if they end up being positively reviewed I'm not going - they can make action adventure movies without using these franchises.

OfficialJab on Nov 14, 2014


I'm 100% okay with this. We've seen these stories/characters done as horror movies countless times, I'm all for making them more action/adventure oriented with 'thriller' elements to them.

Chris Groves on Nov 14, 2014


Because Van Helsing, the Mummy franchise, and Dracula Untold were all so great? Give me a break, this is going to be a disaster.

Alexander Calvo on Nov 15, 2014


I'm not going to write it off yet. I still find Van Helsing to be a terribly under-rated and thoroughly entertaining movie, and the first two Mummy movies were almost as enjoyable. Dracula Untold wasn't great, but it was quite good, better than the reviews would have anyone believe. I am certainly interested in seeing Luke Evans and Charles Dance reprise their roles. I'm not going to write it off as a disaster until I actually start seeing material from the first movie being officially developed under this effort...and that is The Mummy. Dracula Untold was adjusted mid-swing to be a prelude to this franchise. The Mummy is the first film being developed by the "brain trust" of 'Monster Men' that they've put together. It won't necessarily be good, and it won't necessarily be terrible, but I'm going to at least give it a chance, I'm an optimist by nature.

Chris Groves on Nov 15, 2014


Van Helsing for all the hate it receives, I would still call over rated. I have never walked into a movie with such high hopes and walked out with such disappointment. Mummy 2 and 3 were dreadful... if you are willing to look past garbage because you love the characters more power to you. They are still horrific movies, in all the wrong ways,

Alexander Calvo on Nov 15, 2014


It isn't "looking past garbage", it is simply you and I having a very different opinions on the film. If you didn't like them, that is fine, I don't care for the Mummy movies as much, but Van Helsing is quite an entertaining movie.

Chris Groves on Nov 16, 2014


Indiana Van Helsing was quite an entertaining movie... there was so much to like about it, but it wasn't what people wanted, and it failed. They could have made the same movie with the Van Helsing character being called something different, and gotten away with it.... IMHO of course. This reminds me of early Godzilla, a few fairly serious and cool movies (for the time and budget) followed by silly ones to please more people and no one was happy.

Bill on Nov 16, 2014


These characters stopped being scary to audiences decades ago....Dracula no longer scares anyone, the Frankenstein monster no longer scares anyone, neither does the Wolfman, the Creature or the Mummy.....they're loveable now. If they tried to make seriously scary horror movies for today's audiences with these characters, they would fail, that's a fact. Can't blame them for not going the route that would guarantee failure. Yes they risk pissing off a few anal retentive purists (like whoever wrote this article)....but the chances for success are greater by trying to adapt to the new age rather than be buried by it. I love the classic Universal monsters. I just bought the complete 30 movie dvd set, and my movie collection also includes all the Hammer Dracula and Frankenstein films. Part of me understands the frustration of this article....but the more mature, less childish part of me understands that those movies are from a different era.....and that today's audiences don't scare so easily. In order to survive, these characters have to change. I don't know about you but I care too much for these characters to have them disappear entirely from popular culture just because a few people can't accept change. The old movies will always be there and can be revisited whenever you please.

MovieGuru on Nov 15, 2014


These characters in their black and white corny incarnations stopped being scary years ago yes. But if you really go back to the source material they can be truly terrifying. I notice you leave out the books... which even the most faithful films completely fail to capture. Dracula or Frankenstein done in a style that accurately portrays the originals stories could be incredible. And even if they are not full horror they are incredible dramas with horror themes, which I will take over an action adventure wolfman any day. How about a creature story more in line with H.P. Lovecraft's deep ones (the original inspiration for the creature)? A mummy movie that focuses on the death wrought from its curse? There are much better and more appropriate ways to handle these characters than action adventure movies. Trying to turn Van Helsing into a super hero was a disaster, these will fare much the same. People like you defending this cash in, copy the popular trend of the day garbage, are the reason film is becoming such a dull medium. Enjoy the next 5 transformers movies.

Alexander Calvo on Nov 15, 2014


I love the novels but they're not scary either. They're interesting, fascinating characters and stories but they're no longer either of their incarnations. But anyway....with your dumbass Transformers remark (real original btw) you've made it clear that you're unable of having a mature discussion about movies. Guess I should have known better than to expect an intelligent exchange of differing opinions on the internet without resorting to childish insults. My mistake. My time is too valuable to waste on you.

MovieGuru on Nov 15, 2014


Someone is butthurt.... If you don't see the connection it's because you don't want to. This is one of the clearest examples of sacrificing integrity to jump on the band wagon that you could find in modern film Mr. Gurur (lol). If you are willing to accept a watered down "action and adventure" monster series you have already shown that you don't care for integrity in film making. This is a completely transparent attempt to mimic marvel's success. And if you don't think there are brilliant, and terrifying elements to the novels that would be much better represented in horror laced dramas then action pop corn movies you obviously have not read them.

Alexander Calvo on Nov 15, 2014


I think you are taking a general statement about 'action adventure' and assuming that they are going to turn every one of these properties into Indiana Jones or something. I think in general they are just communicating that these aren't going to be full on horror attempts such as films like Sinister, Insidious, or The Conjuring...and are rather going to be bigger films with a larger scale element. I think we can be pretty confident that The Mummy isn't going to be the next Iron Man, or something like Rush Hour.

Chris Groves on Nov 16, 2014


Dracula Untold was the first right ? It was basically Batman with fangs and seemed as much of a Dracula movie as The Smurfs

Jesse Sikora on Nov 16, 2014


Not everyone knows, but if you'd read around, you'd know that Dracula Untold was not developed by the 'team/initiative/group/whatever' that is developing this franchise under Chris Morgan and Alex Kurtzman. It was a movie green-lit on its own, then, in mid-swing, they started moving forward with this 'Monster Franchise' idea so they had to try and change and adjust Untold mid-swing to make it gel with what they were doing with this franchise. Basically, that largely amounted to adding a final scene that moved the setting to modern times, because that is where these other films will take place. Untold isn't necessarily representative of the quality or exact tone/execution that rest of these movies will have.

Chris Groves on Nov 16, 2014


Exactly Alexander!!

Jesse Sikora on Nov 16, 2014


Just like I was hoping. I don't like horror films and I got interested of this universe. And I'm sure Action-Adventure-format will work with these properties.

Tuomas Lassila on Nov 15, 2014


This reminds me of what Capcom did to the resident evil video game franchise. The first few games were survival horror masterpieces. Then ever since game number four, the franchise was turned into a huge action-adventure shooting gallery. Fans of resident evil couldn't either understand nor forgive Capcom for doing this

Alex on Nov 15, 2014


Actually I think you just undid your own point, because 4 is popularly considered the best one and that the modernization was the best thing to happen to that series.

OfficialJab on Nov 17, 2014


I can understand where they're coming from. These characters haven't been frightening to audiences for decades now. Even Coppola realized this and turned Dracula into a sympathetic character back in the 90's. Audiences today are a hell of a lot harder to shock and frighten than they were in the 30's and 40's. So rather than try to make these characters scary (which would guarantee failure), they're trying a different approach instead. I have no issues with seeing these characters played up as protagonists (there's a big difference between protagonist and superhero).

MovieGuru on Nov 15, 2014


While I enjoy a good horror I can't help but agree with your sentiments.

Steven on Nov 15, 2014


Haha, KISS were never frightening. (Neither were Alice Cooper and Ozzy really, it was just their style to seem cool and dangerous, not frightening.) To be honest these Van-Helsing (or Underworld or whatever) type of unhorror films remind me more of KISS than anything; it's cheap Halloween-make up hiding the fact they're making pop music. I think your reasoning that these monsters cannot be scary anymore was the same reasoning behind the awful Joel-Schumacher-Batman movies in the 90s. It took a decade until someone like Christopher Nolan realized that just by adding a bit of realism to an old, played out character could resurrect it. If they did that to these Universal monster movies you bet your ass they could be scary again.

Terry Craig on Nov 16, 2014


If their not scary anymore maybe they should hire someone who can make them scarier. And even if their not scary their still cool. Anyway this is extremely disappointing. Donna Langley says they are taking the horror out of the upcoming classic monster remakes and instead are making them action adventures set in present day. She referred to the characters as incredibly rich and complex with an incredible legacy and history. So then why piss on their legacy ? I read a comment from Steve Barton (Dread Central) and it says it all "You know what makes sense? Taking these wonderful horror franchises and making good movies instead of abandoning their roots and heritage. Stop making silly decisions like trying to turn Van Helsing into a superhero or hiring Rick Baker to do Wolfman effects and then opting for a CGI transformation. Or how about giving directors who actually care about these movies a shot at making them?" Dracula Untold was nothing more then a terrible CGI infested movie, and it looks like that's what the rest will be.

Jesse Sikora on Nov 16, 2014


What odds if they do? If you don't like them, don't see them and nothing is ruined for you. I have all the originals and have no interest in the 'reimagining versions', so nothing will be ruined for me. So sick of this nonsense, the way I got sick of people whining over having their childhood memories of Star Wars ruined by Jar Jar Binks (who never even appeared in their childhood memories) or by who shot first Han or Greedo. Besides, The Munster's TV show took the horror out of them 50 years ago.

Jason on Nov 15, 2014


This is great, bring back all my classic horror characters to the big screen. and please Universal make reboot of Ginger Snap.

Chelsea on Nov 16, 2014


As Frankenstein flies in the room on his hyper-bike he crash lands into a castle wall... standing up he stubs his size 38 toe into a table leg and the Wolf Man howls with laughter... Dracula spits his teeth out onto the floor and The Invisible Man puts them in his mouth and smiles a toothy grin.... The Mummy wets himself and The Creature from Black Lagoon thinks that's a great idea... Mmmmm weeet.... No Thanks.

Bill on Nov 16, 2014


So, they're turning these monsters into The Avengers pretty much....I guess everybody wants Marvel's success.

TheOct8pus on Nov 17, 2014

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