Ep 1.1: A New World of Gods and Monsters – Part 1

It’s alive! Welcome to the very first episode of the very first season of Universal Monsters Cast, where your horror hosts – Gillman Joel, Dr. Shock and Wolfman Josh – will regularly brave discussions of many a monstrous thing, with a special focus on the Universal Monsters, both the classic films and the emerging, shared cinematic universe.

Season 1. Episode 1. This is the premiere episode of our debut season and the 1st part in a 3-part series that we’re calling “A New World of Gods and Monsters,” wherein we discuss everything we know about the new Monsters Universe. Part 1 features a discussion amongst the hosts telling you what we know so far. Part 2 will feature a discussion with some of our listeners, telling us what the fans really want. And Part 3 will feature a discussion with some industry insiders, giving us some insight into what we can actually expect the studio to give us.

And now it is time to listen to the children of the night. What music they make!

SHOW NOTES

[00:00:00] I. Intro

– We bid you welcome
– Meet the monstrous hosts
– What is Universal Monsters Cast?


[00:07:28] II. General Thoughts on Rebooting a Shared Universe

 

[00:27:12] III. Stephen Sommers and Brendan Fraser’s The Mummy (1999)

Surprising online reactions to The Mummy trailer and Monsters Universe announcement:


[00:34:57 – 01:15:37] IV. What we know so far

[00:34:57] a. The Mummy (2017)

Abbott & Costello’s Mummy as well as monsters from Bubba Ho-Tep, The Monster Squad, StarGate, and Thundercats.

[00:47:44] b. Frankenstein (2019)

[00:52:41] c. Bride of Frankenstein (forthcoming)

[00:56:36] d. Van Helsing (forthcoming)

[01:01:34] e. The Invisible Man (2018)

[01:05:53] f. Creature From The Black Lagoon (forthcoming)

[01:11:29] g. The Wolfman (forthcoming)


[01:15:37] V. Final Thoughts


[01:19:27] VI. Wrap-up and Plugs


LINKS FOR THIS EPISODE

– Subscribe to Universal Monsters Cast on iTunes
– Subscribe to Universal Monsters Cast on Stitcher
– Follow @MonstersCast on Twitter
– Listen to the Horror Movie Podcast episode that inspired the creation of this show (HERE).

Reference articles for this episode:

Why Rebooting The Universal Monsters Is A Dumb Idea
by Devin Faraci for Birth. Movies. Death.

How the Universal Monsters Movie Universe Will Emulate Marvel Over DC
by Peter Scieretta for /Film”

The Internet Wants To Revive Brendan Fraser’s Career After ‘The Mummy’ Snub
by Tim Lock for The LAist

Watch the first featurette about The Mummy and the wider Monsters Universe
by James White for Empire Magazine

Dr. Jekyll Arrives in New Mummy Photo, Mr. Hyde Details Unveiled
via MovieWeb

Javier Bardem Eyed for Frankenstein Role in Universal’s Monster Universe
by Justin Kroll for Variety

David Koepp Says His ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ Script Is a Tale of Female Liberation
by Matt Goldberg for Collider

‘Van Helsing’ Reboot Inspired by Mad Max; Writer Teases Diversity of Monsters Universe
by Adam Chitwod for Collider

Johnny Depp to Star in Universal’s ‘Invisible Man’ Reboot
by Borsy Kit for The Hollywood Reporter

Scarlett Johansson Circling the ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ Remake?
by Robert Yaniz for Screen Rant

Rumor: Universal Wants Dwayne Johnson For ‘The Wolf Man’
by Jacob Hall for /Film (from a Deadline article)

Alex Kurtzman confirms Dracula Untold not part of the Universal Monsters shared cinematic universe, but classic films may be a part of this continuity.
by Jim Vegvoda for IGN

UMC Producer and Composer Kagan Breitenbach’s links:
Check out Kagan’s music at KaganBreitenbach.com
Subscribe to Kagan’s YouTube Channel QuartetMacbre
Follow Kagan on Twitter @KRBrietenbach

Gillman Joel’s links:
Joel covers retro movies at Retro Movie Geek
Follow @RetroMovieGeek on Twitter
Join the Retro Movie Geek Facebook Group
Joel used to cover forgotten flix Forgotten Flix Remembers

Wolfman Josh’s links:
Follow Josh on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @IcarusArts
Josh covers horror movies on HorrorMoviePodcast.com
Josh covers streaming online movies on MovieStreamCast.com
Follow MSC on Twitter @MovieStreamCast
Like MSC on Facebook

Dr. Shock’s links:
Dave writes daily movie reviews on DVDinfatuation.com
Follow Dave on Twitter @DVDinfatuation
Like Dave’s DVD Infatuation, now on Facebook
Dave covers horror movies on Horror Movie Podcast and  Land of the Creeps
You can read all of Dave’s “Universal Horror” reviews (HERE) at DVDinfatuation.com

30 thoughts on “Ep 1.1: A New World of Gods and Monsters – Part 1

  1. Great new podcast, guys! I’m very excited to get into some discussions about the Monsters. Love the intro music, Kagan! Now, I have inexplicable need to watch The Monster Squad.

    • I always have that need to watch The Monster Squad … but it’s not inexplicable, it’s irrevocable. Glad you’re enjoying the show so far. We’d love your feedback (but we also have a nice recording of your feedback that I’m looking forward to sharing with the other listeners).

      I agree with you about Kagan’s music. I love how he goes from an old school “monsters theme” – reminiscent of the classic films – to a new “action-oriented” vibe – like what presume we’ll get from the new films.

      I do hope that we’re wrong and the new films end up having a more monstrous, scarier sound. That’s probably too much to ask since we know that Brian Tyler is on the film and has been working on epic-scale actioners like Marvel’s Thor films, Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Expendables films, the now You See Me films, several Fast/Furious films, Iron Man 3 and the Hawaii 5-0 reboot series. Basically, worst scenario imaginable, for me.

      BUT, But, but – Having said that, looking back at the beginning of Tyler’s filmography, there are also gems like Bug, Bubba Ho-Tep, and Frailty. Frailty! Plus, other lesser horror properties like Constantine, several Final Destination films, and Darkness Falls. Not my favorite, but the guy defintely has some legitimate horror roots. That’s very encouraging. Hoping for the best.

      I also like that he is the guy behind the Universal Pictures 100th Anniversary theme. He’s got this great video about it posted on his YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sazcPopqBJE

      • I liked the sound of the plane at the beginning and I thought the percussion toward the end of Kagan’s music fit very well. It’s more modern to add drums all over the score but I like that he kept it orchestral and the instrumentation was made up of non-electronic instruments. I’m not sure in what time periods these new movies will occur but I’m sure the score will fit the time period. I’m not looking forward to having an 80’s synth score like It Follows. I loved the score for It Follows but I don’t think that sound is as timeless as the Universal Monsters need. I thought The Witch score was very tense but real and I hope that might be an influence on these new universal films. Dracula didn’t have a score but it had a main title they got from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Suite. Now I can’t hear that piece without thinking of Dracula. I would like to hear some nods to the original scores from Tyler. Thanks for sharing that video, Wolfman.

        Kagan, your string techniques (harmonics and slides) sound cool too. You don’t have to give away any tricks but is everything from samples or do you have some live instruments mixed in?

        • Haha. I can’t imagine any of these films getting an ’80s synth score, but I’m actually kind of interested to see it, now that you mention it. As long as it is more of a knowing throwback ’80s score as opposed to the ones we got at the time – more It Follows than Ladyhawk.

          From what we have been told, these films all take place in the modern day, which is why Dracula Untold had that added, contemporary ending, I believe.

          I agree that the films deserve to have a timeless feel. For me, someone not as educated in music as the two of you, that just means John Williams. But I’d love to hear hints of the old scores (even Swan Lake) or something akin to this “monsters theme” sound that Kagan came up with.

        • Thanks so much for your kind words Mark! I had a lot of fun writing this. I really wanted to tap in to that early monster sound. I grew up watching Creature From the Black Lagoon, Tarantula, and other classic Universal horror films, and I love how those have the gnarly flutter tongue brass and fast running strings. It’s so iconic!

          I believe Brian Tyler’s score is going to be exactly what you might expect. I’m really hoping to have a nice interview in episode 3 of this podcast with a composer friend of mine where we’ll really get in to our predictions about what The Mummy score might sound like. At this point I’m skeptical, but hopeful, that we will get any musical nods to the classic films.

          And yeah Mark I actually did add in some live strings. In the intro I’m actually playing my violin and cello to create those rich textures and builds near the end. I’m a huge advocate of including live instruments even if it’s just me throwing in some effects. Everything else is sample instruments.

          Oh, and if you listen to the outro music, I also composed that, and that’s where I did more of my nod to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. I was initially planning on that violin piece to be the intro, but I didn’t think it would be exciting enough. The violinist in the outro is actually my good friend John Shin who is in group Quartet Macabre.

          • Awesome, Kagan! I didn’t know you had some string skills yourself. Thanks for sharing some of your process. I’ll check out your nod to swan lake. That creature theme is pretty iconic too. I can’t picture his flipper claw without hearing those three notes.

  2. One of the listeners mentioned this on Twitter (I think it was CakeWolf), but I just wanted to clarify that Hugh Jackman was not my issue with Sommer’s Van Helsing (2004). It was the design of most of the world and characters, it was the ridiculous weapons, it was the terrible CGI, it was the cartoonish action sequences … I actually quite like Hugh Jackman and I think he did fine in the role and looked great in his costume. Bring me the Hugh Jackman that we’re seeing in the trailers of Logan (2017) and I’m all in. Same goes for Benicio Del Toro. I’d be fine with him coming back. The only problem is that it would validate those films as part of this continuity – and we can’t have that.

  3. So … I was looking up some Star Gate clips, looking for images for the show notes, and it looks awful. WAY worse than I remember. First, I realized that it was the bird and dog headed sentinels than it was Ra that I was reacting too. But I fear I may have been dead wrong about that as a reference. I do own the DVD (which I’ve never watched) so I may revisit it to say for sure in an upcoming episode. But all apologies if I cam off as insane. I do stand by Mumm-Ra from Thundercats, however. [wink]

    • Star Gate really hasn’t held up well. Though with that said I have a distinct memory of watching it on TV when I was about 12 and kind of wanting to like it but finding it a bit boring even back then.

      • It may have had more to do with expectations for me. I remember watching it at a girl’s house in high school and having zero interest in seeing it, but then being so pleasantly surprised that I went out and bought it on VHS. I really have to revisit it to see if I can figure out what I saw in it.

  4. Universal Monster Thoughts:

    First… while I would love to see more of a tragic-inspired sense of horror to permeate each film, I’ve kind of just settled in to expecting a “Goth-Avengers” sort of story… it’ll have creepy images and an occasional moment of creeping dread, but I don’t think we’ll see any of the films go into a full “horror” realm. In the meantime, here’s a sort of a dream list for future Universal films.

    1. I’d like to see a Christoph Waltz-styled “Van Helsing”… a nice guy, very congenial, kind of nerdy, but with a surprising depth of will against the forces of evil. I am honestly sick of the “dark avenging angel of heroism” trope… let’s see an unlikely hero. Something closer to the root performance in the classic Dracula. Additionally, I think that there will be more than enough “darkness” in all of these films that we need a character to create a dichotomy. We can’t be seeing all shadows if there isnt’ any light to balance it. It’s also in his film that I’d like to introduce the concept of Dracula… foreshadow him with a satellite story, something like that.

    2. DRACULA should be the villain… the over encompassing force of evil whose shadow looms over all of the films. He should be pulling strings and making things hard for the “heroes” of the series. I think Leonardo DiCaprio could probably play him quite well… but how about a Kit Harrington? Having him appear far younger than his true age is necessary for a character like this.

    3. Dwayne Johnson as the Wolfman: I’m a bit hesitant about this… but it is worth noting that Larry Talbot in the original film was a bit of a hulking brute… a gentle giant, sort of. He was a hands-on laborer and a major point of the original film was that he wasn’t as well educated as his father and had fallen pretty far from the family tree. I think this is an odd casting, but not as odd when I think of it from the point of view of breaking Larry Talbot down.

    4. One of the things bugging me about these reboots is the insistence in casting “name’ actors… Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Dwayne Johnson…. I dislike seeing this casting in general because now I’m seeing those Actors as those characters, rather than those CHARACTERS in a new film. Angelina Jolie is probably the worst possible choice to play a new Bride of Frankenstein in this instance. Elsa had maybe three minutes on screen and she leaves a lasting impression of the Bride… an intense, disgusted, and haughty creature. If I see Jolie, all I’ll see is Angelina Jolie in Bride make-up.

    5. SIDE CHARACTERS: There’s a lot of focus on some of the titular characters… but what about the other signature characters created through the Universe? What about a “Gypsy Woman”? What about Dr. Praetorius? Felix / Igor / whatever the other assistants names were…? The Harkers? Dr. Seward?

    • RedCapJack sez: “It’ll have creepy images and an occasional moment of creeping dread, but I don’t think we’ll see any of the films go into a full horror realm.”

      I just don’t understand why not. Horror has traditionally been looked down upon in the mainstream, but with the widespread success of horror on television with shows like Penny Dreadful, Stranger Things, and especially The Walking Dead, I don’t know why anyone is worried about creating a quality horror story and letting the strength of the work draw the audience. I do wonder if it has something to do with the talent that they are trying to attract to these projects. Maybe they simply can’t get Russell Crowe or Tom Cruise for a horror film. To which I say, great! There are plenty of other quality actors with big foreign draws who aren’t afraid to act in a horror film.

      RedCapJack sez: “I’d like to see a Christoph Waltz-styled Van Helsing… a nice guy, very congenial, kind of nerdy, but with a surprising depth of will against the forces of evil. I am honestly sick of the dark avenging angel of heroism trope…”

      I’m totally cool with that. I think Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds is absolutely terrifying and convincing as a skilled hunter. When I said that I hoped for something more “gritty,” what I actually meant was “grounded.” I want to get away from the cartoonish comic book adventure of Sommers’ movie with overdone visual effects and have something set in a believable word. A man with a stake and a mallet who kills monsters. You don’t need spinning blades from the Vatican vault and CGI flying vampire brides. In fact, they suck.

      RedCapJack sez: “It’s also in his film that I’d like to introduce the concept of Dracula… foreshadow him with a satellite story, something like that.”

      Love that idea. A satellite story introduction to Dracula is perfect. In fact, they should do as many satellite stories connecting these films as possible. Kit Harrington is fine, but I think someone like Rami Malek, Alden Ehrenreich, or Oscar Isaac could be cool too.

      RedCapJack sez: “Dwayne Johnson as the Wolfman: I’m a bit hesitant about this… but it is worth noting that Larry Talbot in the original film was a bit of a hulking brute…”

      It’s a fair point. I will say, and I’m sure it’s not a popular opinion, Lon Chaney Jr is not my favorite element of The Wolf Man or my favorite cinematic werewolf.

      RedCapJack sez: “Angelina Jolie is probably the worst possible choice to play a new Bride of Frankenstein in this instance. Elsa had maybe three minutes on screen and she leaves a lasting impression of the Bride… an intense, disgusted, and haughty creature. If I see Jolie, all I’ll see is Angelina Jolie in Bride make-up.”

      I couldn’t disagree more. Jolie was excellent as Maleficent, for instance, and disappeared into that character. Because The Bride only had three minutes of screen time, there is huge potential for growing and expanding that character here. And I think Jolie is skilled enough to pull it off. I also like that she is physically similar enough to Elsa Lanchester that we can keep the iconic look, which I am very hopeful that they’ll do here. I know it is a long shot, but if Marvel can have a Hulk, why can’t we have a Bride? This is actually a reason that I think the films need to maintain their gothic feel, so that a character like The Bride can believably exist in them.

      • Oh, I really WANT a Bride movie… but just one where I can escape into the Bride character. The thing is, even in Maleficent, I really only saw Angelina Jolie… not so much the Bride herself. I can’t really discount Jolie entirely, but I really want to see someone else in the role… I just don’t really know who, though.

        • So, is it a movie star thing or do you just have a personal vendetta against Jolie? Man, she would look so good in that hair and make-up, though.

          I’m going to try and brainstorm someone better. Charlize Theron, I think, would be equally good. She’s also got features that would compliment the look of the character. Lena Heady would have a better temperament than maybe Theron or Jolie, but still looks the part. Margot Robbie could be okay, but is maybe just that step too gorgeous for the character. Lauren Cohan has the perfect look if they are willing to go with a TV actor. Eva Green, potentially, on the slightly creepier side. Brit Marling, maybe, if you’re going indie.

          I think if they are going with a movie star, Jolie is still my top choice.

  5. Glad to see this podcast up and running! Love the references to Thundercats. And Monster Squad. I do love that movie too, and perhaps it’s the best we’ll ever get in terms of a Universal reboot, despite not being a Universal film.

    I’ve re-watched all of the original Mummy films – most of them are close to an hour long – and none of them are really good films, comparative to others in the original Universal cycle. I found a new appreciation for the 1932 film though. It’s definitely a “slow burn,” without much of an actual burn, which I think I found hard to appreciate when younger. It’s more like a Val Lewton film. I even wrote a poem inspired by it, something I’m going to try to do for each of the characters that will be rebooted. I was actually kind of shocked by the ending, with Isis defeating Imhotep rather than the rather inept “heroes.” I find it kind of interesting that Seth is listed as a character for the upcoming film. Makes me wonder if they are indeed going to incorporate more of Egyptian myth, a good point Doc (I think) brought up.

    I’m hoping that my comments don’t seem too scatterbrained in the upcoming episode. I found a hard time answering the “what’s your best case scenario?” question. I think I found it hard to get beyond my expectations.

    Despite all the talk about the Sommers 1999 film, I’m wondering if you’re going to talk about the Hammer remakes (if you can call them that?). I actually really like those movies, and I actually prefer the Terence Fisher 1959 Mummy to any of the universal Mummy movies. I would love to see them take a note from the visually stunning Hammer films and combine that with the action/superhero style I know will inevitably touch these films.

    I think I contradicted one of the other guests (Jody I think) who said they’d love to see the reboots done in the atmospheric gothic style. I probably didn’t articulate myself well there. In all honesty, I probably would love that too. But what I was thinking is that if they go that route, I’m worried it will end up even worse and more disappointing than what it looks like they’ll be doing. My expectations would be higher, and the letdown (if there was one) would be that much more painful. Also, I really don’t just want a re-tread of the originals, since they have been redone so many times – we’ve got the Hammer films for that, and the occasional gems like Bram Stoker’s Dracula. If done right, these films could actually be unique, more than simply retellings, and more than just superhero films with monsters and monster hunters injected in.

    At least that’s what I’m telling myself….

    • I love the Mummy (1959)! I can’t say I like it more than Universal’s but I’m pretty biased.

      I think it was me that you contradicted, AnDread, but no worries. Ideally, I would love them to make a film very close to the originals but modern. I want german expressionism, black and white picture, shadows, fog, sound stages with gnarly trees, tense music, great creature designs, intimate European villages, a creative and tight story, dedicated actors, and even a couple of angry mobs. Mostly, I want the horror to be amped and no punches pulled.

      Unfortunately, I highly doubt that any of this would lead to a shared universe or be appealing to a wide audience.

  6. Gillman Joel, great name! I really appreciate your love for The Creature. You have some awesome memorabilia from this film as well.

  7. Those tweets above, where people think the Mummy (1999) is the original, are unfortunate. I hope the new franchise will inspire people to look back to the actual original films.

    The Mummy with Brendan Fraser was fine as it’s own thing but the tone and aesthetic are way different than The Mummy with Boris Karloff.

    I’ve never seen Van Helsing.

    Dracula Untold was fun and I’ve rewatched it a few times. I wasn’t a fan of the movie ending in modern day. Universal also remade Dracula in 1979 with Frank Langella.

    Overall, I liked The Wolfman (2010). The look of the film and the horror felt right to me. Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins were very good.

    Monster Squad captured that Universal Monster feel. Young Frankenstein was also a great take on the Universal films. It may be a comedy but the look is perfect and the references are outstanding. Frankenweenie (2012) also has that Universal Monster magic.

    • “Those tweets above, where people think the Mummy (1999) is the original, are unfortunate. I hope the new franchise will inspire people to look back to the actual original films.”

      I was baffled when I saw those. I get people being defensive over the Brendan Fraser movie as a piece of nostalgia and a fairly fun adventure film but I have no idea how someone could care about movies enough to be pissed off that there’s a remake yet somehow unaware that there were earlier Universal Mummy films. Weird.

      As for my personal thoughts on the 1999 Mummy; It’s fun for what it is. It’s schlocky, I hate the CGI and Josh is right that it has the tone of an Indiana Jones knock-off (though that’s kind of a positive in my book) but it’s an entertaining effort.

      I much prefer it to the awful Van Helsing/Underworld type crap that followed, mostly because it’s not trying anywhere near as hard to be “cool”.

      • “I much prefer [1999’s The Mummy] to the awful Van Helsing/Underworld type crap that followed, mostly because it’s not trying anywhere near as hard to be ‘cool’.”

        False dilema, David, but I see your point about the “trying to be cool.”

  8. Excellent first episode, boys. Joel moves the conversation along nicely, the chemistry between the three of you is engaging, and the production quality, introductions and accompanying music are all top-notch. As a complete newb (or is it n00b?) to the Universal Monsters movies, I’m excited to further my classic horror education along with this podcast.

    One question I have from this show, though, is why have Dr. Jekyll as the “connective tissue” for the upcoming cinematic universe? It would seem to me (and I admit to having no basis of knowledge for this thought) that Van Helsing would make more sense as the element that connects these monsters. Thoughts?

    • I think it’s interesting because Dr. Jekyll is a monster and a scientist. That way there can be some science type dimensional stuff that connects the monsters but Mr. Hyde can turn up and do some scary stuff too. Van Helsing is too much of a good guy and needs to be freed up to fight and stop the monsters while Dr. Jekyll can experiment and use them for his dirty business.

  9. I’ve yet to listen to the podcast and read the comments (I know, I’ll get to all of it eventually, sorry bro). In the meantime, I did a quick word search and there hasn’t been a mention of Guillermo del Toro. He’s expressed a lot of interest in the past and he would be perfect and you all know it. If anyone cares enough and has the skill to pull off a legitimately great reboot, it’s my Guillermo.

    • Hmmm …

      Are you talking about my recent comment on HMP that Del Toro was in early talks to do Skull Island as a Kong vs Godzilla movie? He’s defintely a Legendary boy. I haven’t done much research, but a quick search brought this up:

      http://www.slashfilm.com/peter-jackson-skull-island-guillermo-del-toro/

      Or, are you just saying that you did a word search here and we didn’t bring up Del Toro? Because then you are right. But I would! I’d bring him up all day and night, baby! Oddly, we haven’t talked much about our dream directors. Yes, he’d be an incredible person to oversee these films and we know he’s a fan.

      Legendary has been mostly paying for his films, but he had a huge hit at Universal with Hellboy II. Universal distributed Crimson Peak. I wonder if that one was considered a failure for them at only $75M on a $55M budget.

      Certainly not a success on the level of Hellboy or on the level of any of Alex Kurtzman’s Universal films, which almost all grossed over $100M and some up to $300M (admittedly with budgets mostly $100M, as well).

      Del Toro also produced Mama for Universal. That was very successful for a lower budget film, making $120M on a $20M budget.

      Now … according to IMDbPro, Del Toro is attached to write a Frankenstein movie and direct a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde movie. Neither has any other talent attached and it is unclear whether or not they have anything to do with the current Monsters Universe or are even happening at all. However, Stuber Productions, the production company attached to Frankenstein was also involved in the production of (Benicio) Del Toro The Wolf Man back in 2010 and Universal Pictures is listed as the production company of the Jekyll/Hype movie.

      Juan, your question may have lead to us uncovering breaking news! Thanks for sending me down this internet rabbit hole!

      • Del Toro has an obvious love for the Universal Monsters and monsters in general. He could bring the unique look to these Universal films that I enjoyed from the originals. The mansion in Crimson Peak reminded me of the old Universal sets.

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