As it turns out, the Tom Cruise-helmed new Mummy film is not the only monster movie that Universal plans to reboot. They have established the name of their new era in film as the Dark Universe. Through this new age of films, they intend to bring to life new versions of their classical horror and monster titles. Among these, they plan to reboot and revitalize films based on two iconic works: The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
As fans of classic horror films may know, in the early to mid-twentieth century, Universal established themselves as forerunners of the genre. They brought to life a stunning roster of monsters, such Bela Lugosi’s highly influential portrayal of Count Dracula; Boris Karloff’s iconic representation of Frankenstein’s monster; and the fascinating titular Creature from the Black Lagoon. Known not just for its laborious and inventive character design, Universal was no stranger to upending the constraints of canon and genre, changing Mary Shelley’s characterization of Frankenstein’s monster as deeply intelligent being tormented by the conditions of existence to the green (and equally heartrending) creature whose legacy survives to current audiences. This did not mean a sacrifice in complexity; Universal’s horror films had the prescient, canny ability to locate and portray the humanity in their monsters. Notably, Karloff’s work was essential to Universal’s horror films, shaping their perception and composition. He played both Frankenstein’s monster and the titular Mummy.
While current culture tends to think of the Disney film based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical based on The Phantom of the Opera, the works have been translated to the stage and screen decades before such adaptations. Both titles were actually among the first of Universal’s classic monster films, with Hunchback airing in 1923 and Phantom in 1925.
Universal Studios plans to continue the legacies they have created decades ago. Their next film in the Dark Universe will be centered on the Bride of Frankenstein, first played by Elsa Lanchester. It will be released in February 2019.
The first of Universal’s Dark Universe films, The Mummy, can be viewed starting June 9th.