Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Wolf Man are just a small handful of classic monsters who have left their mark on the big screen and horror history. Slashers and masked freaks come and go with the decades, but nothing beats a good old school monster movie with all the trimmings, and Hollywood knows it.
While the stars of these Universal Monsters series classics can be spooky icons, an old favorite never goes out of style, and many of these spooky characters have been remade and reinvented for a new audience. They might have a new coat of paint, but they’re still spooky creatures and creatures fans know and love.
The thing (the thing from another world)
It’s surprising how many people forget that John Carpenter’s classic, The thing, is actually a remake of a 1950s sci-fi horror film. While the 1982 version definitely terrified audiences with its chilling practical effects and sense of suspicion and dread, the original was the movie that coined the phrase “Look at the sky”.
Both versions are full of suspense, but where ’80s audiences were more terrified of a shapeshifter monster, those of the’ 50s dreaded the effects of nuclear war, unknown experiments, and deranged science. Fans still have a lot of questions about The thing, but either way, it’s easy to see which one has remained a classic.
The invisible man (The invisible man)
If fans are looking for a blatant reimagining of a classic monster, there are fewer films that hit the nail on the head than the 2020s. The invisible Man. What started as a sci-fi horror story involving a scientist, formula, and an unfortunate lab accident has grown into a terrifying psychological thriller.
What can’t be seen is hard to fight against, and Elizabeth Moss certainly had her work cut out for her when her abusive ex discovers a way to make herself invisible. Inspired by more films like hollow man than HG Wells’ novel, the Mad Scientist’s motives are traded for a story bordering on the slasher genre.
Edge of Reason (Jekyll and Hyde)
This film may not be the brightest example of a reimagining, but it gives an original flavor to the Jekyll and Hyde myth. The classic gothic horror story gets a dose of reality by swapping Dr. Jekyll’s potion for hard drugs and the character of Edward Hyde with Jack the Ripper.
From scientist to psychopath, the film presents the battle between the two personalities as a fight for life and reason rather than the duality of man. To call this story twisted would be to say it delicately.
Depraved is an almost perfect example of a horror film classic brought into the modern era. An obvious interpretation of the history of Frankenstein, this reinterpretation of Shelley’s iconic novel is more of a science-oriented warning than a monster-centric horror story.
While Adam is a great replacement for Frankenstein’s Monster, the use of more medicine-focused imagery and motifs definitely gives the film a surprisingly effective sense of reality. It is still the classic story of the mad scientist, but with a more polished presentation.
Dracula’s Horror (Dracula)
Francis Ford Coppola wasn’t the first to reinvent the count with the 1992 film, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, he was not the last either. But if one is to point the finger at one of Dracula’s most memorable reinventions, the honor goes to Hammer. Dracula’s Horror makes the list due to the fact that it takes more of the 1931 Universal movie than the novel.
To call Christopher Lee’s interpretation a remake of the Bela Lugosi version wouldn’t be a stretch, but it certainly has a lot more gore and spectacle than its American cousin. Of course, if a studio really wants to remake Dracula, he must do everything in his power.
The Mummy (The Mummy)
Universal could have had Imhotep, but Hammer had Kharis. While it’s true that Kharis hails from the sequels that followed the original mummy movie, Hammer’s reimagining made him a much more terrifying entity. Of course, Christopher Lee also took part in this action.
From his unstoppable nature to the way he walks and strangles his victims, it seems Jason Voorhees may have learned some lessons from this undead Egyptian. No more poetic reflections on gods, monsters and romance, a real mummified monster walked in.
Phantom of Heaven (Phantom of the Opera)
Horror movies don’t have more of the 70s than Brian De Palma’s Ghost of Heaven. While a crashing chandelier may be missing, this Faustian version The Phantom of the Opera was more than worthy of its cult film status and cultured following of fans, who are still learning a lot of hidden things they didn’t know about the iconic Phantom of the Opera.
The music is eclectic and the design and direction is absolutely dripping with overdone rock-and-roll cheese, but the ghost himself is the star. Trading the reclusive musical genius for a vengeful artist tortured in a deal with the devil was certainly an interesting take, but not unrecognized.
Edward Scissorhands (Frankenstein)
It may not seem like it at first glance, but Tim Burton’s gothic fairy tale is directly influenced by the original. Frankenstein, but with a decidedly softer and softer touch. It has its spooky castles, eccentric inventors, and a misunderstood creature, all bound by a vision only Burton could offer.
The original creature may not have the fair complexion of Johnny Depp, but the two are gentle souls who only want the company of one another. Shelley herself would almost certainly appreciate it.
Sleepy Hollow (The Headless Horseman)
Honorable mention, but Sleeping Hollow Winning it on two counts, Tim Burton’s adaptation of the Washington Irving original is not just a reimagining of classic history, but another arguably more famous rendition as well. Those familiar with both films will see references to Disney’s version of Ichabod Crane’s fateful midnight journey.
The sequence where Crane returns home across the bridge, followed by his encounter with a false headless horseman, uses several visual and aural cues taken directly from the Disney adaptation. It’s enough to wonder what Burton would do with a film adaptation by the book. Nevertheless, Disney Sleeping Hollow is arguably the most accurate account in history.
The shape of water (creature of the black lagoon)
Although the idea that Guillermo del Toro remade The creature of the black lagoon with The shape of water is up for debate, it is undeniable that the amphibian man drew direct influence from the original riparian monster.
Resemblance aside, they are both gilled river monsters found in the Amazon, they are captured by a team of scientists, and someone is bitten after provoking them. Del Toro might have had a more romantic angle in mind with The shape of water, but the connection between the two is still painfully obvious.
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