WRITTEN HISTORY: Defining The Classic Universal Horror Movie Canon

EDITOR’S NOTE This podcast is dedicated to Universal Monsters, but there are many excellent (and some awful) vintage Universal Horror films out there that don’t feature any of these classic monsters and so won’t be featured on our show. They are absolutely still worth covering, so we’ve invited guest writers from our listenership to share their thoughts on the finer points of the lesser-known Universal Horror films. Now, enjoy this chronicle of the classic Universal Horror movie canon, from Dark Mark Longfield.

Universal Pictures is a movie production company that was formed in 1912 with Carl Laemmle as president. It’s the oldest still-operating studio in the United States and has produced thousands of films. Among those films, Universal is famous for its early production of iconic horror films that helped create and define the genre of horror as we know today. In this article I will outline a canon of horror films produced by Universal Pictures during its classic era, beginning with The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and ending with The Leech Woman (1960). The focus will be on defining the canon, rather than going in-depth on any individual film, actor, or filmmaker.
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WRITTEN REVIEW: Man Made Monster (1941)

EDITOR’S NOTE This podcast is dedicated to Universal Monsters, but there are many more excellent (and some awful) vintage Universal Horror films out there that don’t feature any of these classic monsters and so won’t be featured on our show. They are absolutely still worth covering, so we’ve invited some guest writers to share their thoughts on these non-monster Universal Horror films. Now, enjoy this film review from Sal Roma.



Title: Man Made Monster . Studio: Universal Pictures . Writers: George Waggner and Harry Essex . Director: George Waggner . Released: March 28, 1941 . Country: United States . Rating: 7/10

After a bus accident results in the electrocution of all the bus passengers but one, the lone survivor, Dan McCormick (Lon Chaney Jr of The Wolf Man), is hired by Dr. Lawrence (Frank Albertson, the wealthy “Tom Cassidy” in Psycho) to take part in some experiments. Joined by Lawrence’s partner, Dr. Rigas (Lionel Atwill, a regular in many of the Frankenstein sequels), the duo tries to learn more about McCormick’s apparent immunity to electricity. Little does Dr. Lawrence realize that Dr. Rigas has his own sinister side experiments planned to use McCormick’s immunity to turn McCormick into a “Man Made Monster,” compelled to follow all of Rigas’ orders.
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WRITTEN REVIEW: Horror Island (1941)

EDITOR’S NOTE This podcast is dedicated to Universal Monsters. This season is focused mummies and we have several seasons coming up, each devoted to one of the iconic Universal Monsters. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man … you get the idea. But, as most fans know, there are many more excellent (and some awful), vintage Universal Horror films out there that don’t feature any of these classic monsters and so won’t be featured on our show. They are absolutely still worth covering, so we’ve invited some guest writers to share their thoughts on these non-monster Universal Horror films and they’ll be occasionally posted here on the site, in the regular feed. Posts will range from film or Blu-Ray reviews, to historical insights and think pieces. Enjoy the first of those posts, a review of Horror Island (1941), by longtime Horror Movie Podcast listener and friend of Universal Monsters Cast, Sal Roma.



Title: Horror Island . Studio: Universal Pictures . Writers: Maurice Tombragel and Victor McLeod . Based on the story “Terror of the South Seas” by Alex Gottlieb . Director: George Waggner . Released: March 28, 1941 . Country: United States . Rating: 6.5/10

With yet another business venture deemed a failure, struggling businessman, Bill Martin (Dick Foran, star of The Mummy’s Hand), decides to turn his one asset, a mysterious island inherited from an uncle, into a potential business by promising paying customers a hauntingly fun ghost experience. Joined by his buddy, Stuff Oliver and Tobias Clump, sailor who believes there’s buried treasure on the island (Leo Carrillo, star of 1944’s The Phantom of the Opera), Bill and his customers quickly realize that there’s a mysterious Phantom that is set on doing anything it takes to get his hands on the believed gold on the island, even if it means by killing all that arrive at horror island.

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