The Star Wars Universe, the Monsterverse, the Jurassic Universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the X-men Universe, the Lego Universe, the terrible Transformers Universe, the Harry Potter Universe. SO MANY UNIVERSES FOR US TO CONVERSE! Oh, let’s not forget about the laughable DC Universe. Like pieces of plastic coming to life and creating a crappy high school play.
I might have forgotten a great deal. You could say there is a Pixar universe. Lord of The Rings has six films and an insanely high budgeted show coming. Also, we’re getting a slew of Game of Thrones prequels. Boy, these are some crazy film series that don’t seem to be going away. AND WHY SHOULD THEY! Disney is literally taking in billions with every boring, recycled, overly marketed researched Star Wars film. “But Nathan, The Force Awakens was a good movie.” YEA! Because it was an exact replica of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back! You’re watching one of the most well written movies and one of the best sequels ever made put into one film! Of course you’re going to like it. JJ Abrams has the creative skills of a used condom! I’m getting off topic. Back to the universe stuff.
With all this in mind, one must ask; what the hell ever happened to The Dark Universe?
You remember The Dark Universe? That 2017 attempt by Universal Studios to create their very own Avengers-esque series. Each one was meant to feature classic monsters. Those hallowed golden age horror characters like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Bride, The Mummy, The Wolfman, The Gill-man, the Phantom and the Invisible Man. Reuniting into a giant throng of films. What great vision. What great opportunity. What a way to make tons of money!
The universe craze is everywhere so it makes perfect sense why Universal Studios tried jumping on this meat wagon. With Disney and WB cashing in and having the vast titles under their belts; Universal just wants to get their foot or some appendage in the door.
In all honesty, I had legitimate excitement for The Dark Universe and was cheering for it to succeed. Maybe a mixture of cheering and begging. Begging that it would not be… well exactly what we got, because what we did get was a giant pile of sloth shit!
It didn’t work. In fact it was a disaster and it all started with Tom Cruise in The Mummy! Tom Cruise, I can’t tell if I am a fan of that guy or not. He is like that one kid in school everyone knew but never really made an effort to hang out with. Kind of creepy at times but shows that potential of coolness. Sometimes he makes a decent joke but man the bastard cannot stop running! Plus he has this crazy extended family that he insists people on meeting.
Initially my thought was, “I can dig the Mummy.” The original with Boris Karloff is amazing and the movie has a great story. It may not hold the scare potential of fellow cohorts like Dracula, but it is a start! I assumed anything Mummy related would work out the historical and onset to the entire universe. Kind of like how Captain America was to the MCU. But then I saw the trailer and it wasn’t very promising.
Nothing about it actually looked horror. Like many trailers being misleading. The Mummy trailer didn’t lie. Finally I saw the movie and it blew. The film was 5% horror and 95% action. Literally a Mission Impossible film set in dark tones… and Tom Cruise doing crazy maneuvers and a young hottie. You know what it makes me think of. The horror trend in television shows. Specifically zombie shows like iZombie. The trailers have glimmers of a horror show but when you watch it; it turns out to be another stupid boring ass cop show!
But why the hell wasn’t The Mummy horror? Is it because of market research? Is it because of the China market? It is true, the China market doesn’t approve of ghost films but love schlocky action films. From what I understand the movie did pretty well in China and if the Chinese market makes more money than the American one, then movie studios will take the more profitable road. This is a terrible trend happening in films. Movie making is less about artistic expression, passion and risk; and more about the financial gain. Could you imagine how Evil Dead or Halloween would have turned out if they were made with “market research” dictating the project? Why can’t the French market dictate our horror films because those crazy bastards know good horror! Watch High Tension or Inside and try to disagree with me.
Maybe the reboot of our classic monsters needs to be forgotten. Perhaps the classic monsters don’t work in this day in age. It’s not like Universal hasn’t attempted remakes in the past. The Mummy had three films before this. One being released in 1999 and two terrible sequels. The 2010 remake of The Wolfman was a bomb. Although, despite the overuse of CGI; in my personal opinion the movie isn’t as bad as people say it is. It wasn’t fantastic but it wasn’t a ball twisting pile of trash like 2014’s Dracula Untold or 2004’s Van Helsing. Van Helsing is a film that needs to be eradicated from history.
The only successful attempt at combining the classic monsters into one film is 1987’s The Monster Squad. The monsters are executed perfectly. Both visually and personally. Except for Frankenstein, the monsters don’t have complex stories and there is no “human” characteristic about them. Dracula, Wolfman, Gillman and Mummy act how monsters should act. But Dracula was the edifice of the groups evil and centralized the sinister plot. The werewolf, gillman and mummy were more or less servants and had no over glaring arch. They were still scary and tore shit up. But that’s all that matters.
With all this said The Dark Universe doesn’t seem to be coming back. The Mummy could be seen as a testament for the classic horror monsters. That remakes and grand schemes aren’t fitting to the genre. That cancelling this idea of a mega monster universe is a good thing. Think about the bronze age monsters like Leatherface, Myers, Krueger, Voorhees, Chucky, Pumpkinface, the Alien and Pinhead. The greatness about these monsters is that they have simple stories. Maybe with each sequel new things are revealed about them. Small things like past connections that make them vulnerable or offering a solution at beating them. Maybe we as fans of the classic monsters can possibly appreciate them for when they reigned supreme. Obviously Universal sees them as a gimmick and profit makers.