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Posts tagged “Universal Monsters

Interview With The Vampire… Again

interview_with_the_vampire_xlgIt’s been 20 years since Neil Jordan’s film version of Interview With the Vampire saw Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt sucking blood, and now Universal is getting back into monsters in a big way. Not only are Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan spearheading a relaunch of the old Universal Monsters line, beginning with a new Mummy movie, the studio has snapped up rights to all of Anne Rice‘s Vampire Chronicles books.

So the whole 13-book series starting with Interview With the Vampire and ending with the forthcoming Prince Lestat novel, and the screenplay for Tales of the Body Thief, adapted by Rice’s son Christopher Rice, all belong to Universal for the time being.

The Wrap reports that Brian Grazer will produce for Imagine Entertainment with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, while Bobby Cohen will executive produce.

Reports of Universal getting into business with Anne Rice actually go back years; in 2009 reports came out that the studio had picked up rights to the author’s books. Imagine optioned that Body Thief script a couple years back, too. There was even a point when Robert Downey Jr. was apparently attached to play Lestat in a new film based on Interview With the Vampire.

Regardless, nothing was done with them at the time. Now, with Imagine Entertainment and the old Kurtzman/Orci producing team working on the project, we could see pretty swift movement.

Ironically, the Kurtzman and Morgan-produced Mummy reboot sounds like an action-adventure film, which is pretty far from the original Universal Monsters. But Anne Rice’s vampire books have a really romantic angle to them. The Vampire Chronicles films could end up being better standard-bearers for the old Universal Monsters identity than the new Universal Monsters films will be!


Universal Look To Relaunch Monster Franchises

universal-monstersNot sure how I feel about this, I’m still scarred from that vile Van Helsing movie… Universal Pictures most enduring legacy is its library of classic movie monsters that include Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Creature Of The Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, Bride Of Frankenstein, and The Mummy. Universal is now dedicating renewed resources and an unprecedented, far-reaching commitment to revitalise its monster heritage.

The studio is in early stages of developing a substantial new production endeavor that will expand and unify a network of classic characters and stories. The architects of that narrative will be Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan. Kurtzman recently broke with partner Roberto Orci, but his big-scale projects have included Transformers, Star Trek and The Amazing Spider-Man. Morgan is the writer behind five installments of The Fast And The Furious, which has been Universal’s most reliably lucrative franchise. It’s not set in stone yet if either will write, but they will soon be going around town enlisting talent to bring new cinematic life to these enduring characters from lore, literature and Universal’s own library. While Universal has selectively tapped its Movie Monster library for The Mummy, Van Helsing, The Wolfman, and the upcoming Dracula Untold, this will be the first time that the studio has formalized an approach to these classic characters in a cohesive, connected way rather than as a series of stand-alone projects by disparate filmmaking teams.

They’ve begun the meetings to put together an interconnected slate of Monster films, and the first will be a reboot of The Mummy, which will be released April 22, 2016. Part of their duty will be to work closely with production, marketing, promotions and consumer product to support the revival. They will also reevaluate projects which have preexisting attachments, and bring it under one cohesive strategy.

Obviously some of those monster pictures haven’t panned out. With Marvel Studios and Disney building a billion-dollar business relying on the Marvel Comics superhero character library, Universal seems to be trawling it’s heritage and is looking to dust off and modernize the classic movie monsters that inspired many of the movie monsters we see today.

I’m just wary…


Jack Pierce

Jack-Pierce_bannerJack Pierce (born Janus Piccoula; May 5, 1889 – July 19, 1968) was a Hollywood make-up artist most famous for creating the iconic make-up worn by Boris Karloff in Universal Studios’ 1931 adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, along with various other classic monster make-ups for Universal Studios.

frankenstein_jack-pierce_themanbehindthemonstersAfter immigrating to the United States from his native Greece as a teenager, Pierce tried his hand at several careers, including a stint as an amateur baseball player. In the opportunist twenties, Pierce embarked on a series of jobs in cinema—cinema manager, stuntman, actor, even assistant director—which would eventually lead to his mastery of in the field of makeup. In 1915 he was hired to work on crews for the studio’s productions. On the 1926 set of The Monkey Talks, Jack Pierce created the make-up for actor Jacques Lernier who was playing a simian with the ability to communicate. The head of Universal, Carl Laemmle, was won over with the creative outcome. Next came Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs, also a silent Universal picture. Pierce was then immediately hired full-time by the newly established Universal Pictures motion picture studio. The 1930 death of Lon Chaney, who throughout the 1920s had made a name for himself by creating grotesque and often painful horror makeups, opened a niche for Pierce and Universal, Chaney’s films provided audiences with the deformed, monstrous faces that Pierce and moviegoers so clearly enjoyed.

jack-pierce_boris-karloff_frankensteinUniversal’s first talkie horror film, Dracula, eschewed elaborate horror make-up. Pierce designed a special color greasepaint for Bela Lugosi for his vampire character, but apparently the actor insisted on applying his own makeup. For all film appearances of the character thereafter, Pierce instituted a different look entirely, recasting Dracula as a man with greying hair and a moustache. The most significant creation during Pierce’s time at the studio was clearly Frankenstein, originally begun with Lugosi in the role of the Monster. The preliminary design was apparently similar to the Paul Wegener 1920 German film of The Golem. When James Whale replaced Florey as director, the concept was radically changed. Pierce came up with a design which was horrific as well as logical in the context of the story. So, where Henry Frankenstein has accessed the brain cavity, there is a scar and a seal, and the now famous “bolts” on the neck are actually electrodes; carriers for the electricity used to revive the stitched-up corpse. How much input director James Whale had into the initial concept remains controversial. Universal loaned out Pierce for the Lugosi film White Zombie. They also loaned out some of the Dracula sets for the troublesome filming. Lugosi had collaborated with Pierce on the look of his devilish character in the film.

frankenstein_boris-karloff_jack-piercePierce’s make-up can be seen in Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Mummy (1932), Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man (1941), and their various sequels associated with the characters. He also helped comedian Bud Abbott augment his thinning hairline with a widow’s peak toupee in his early films with Lou Costello. Pierce’s final credit is as makeup artist for the TV show Mister Ed from 1961 to 1964. He died in 1968 from uremia.

Jack Pierce’s enduring work at Universal has become a huge influence to many in the entertainment field, including make-up artists Rick Baker and Tom Savini. Jack Pierce was an innovator in the world of screen entertainment and material design. Pierce understandably felt he never got the recognition he deserved and died a bitter man. Finally, in 2003, Pierce was recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the Hollywood Make-up Artist and Hair Stylist Guild.

jack-pierce_wolf-man_lon-chaney-jrIn recent years, there is a strong desire to give Pierce a Hollywood Boulevard star for his popular lasting triumphs that have been preserved for decades on the movies he worked on. Pierce undeniably created screen icons to last beyond his lifetime. His contributions still continue to attract droves of attention to his astonishingly memorable, entirely original designs.


The Creature From The Black Lagoon – By Nick Pill

Check out this ‘reinvention’ of The Creature From The Black Lagoon by concept artist Nick Pill. Click on the image for a close-up. You can see more of Nicks work HERE

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Peanut Sculpture – By Steve Casino

Steve-Casino_Creature_Bride-Frankenstein_MunstersCheck out these exquisitely made pieces of art… from peanut shells by artist Steve Casino. I’ve posted some of his horror-themed art here, there is much more at his website HERE

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Universal Monsters – Infographic

If you have a monster fan in your life who isn’t quite as in touch with the Universal Monsters legacy as they should be, send them this handy chart, which highlights all of the major films involving these core characters from 1923-1960. Courtesy of  Movie.com

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Dracula – By Geraldo Moreno

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