We’ve talked about some of the specific monster movies and their origins here. The vampire and the lycan. We’ll look at the mummy, zombies and a few others soon.
But I wanted to take a look at the movies that mixed up the creatures of urban fantasy lore and see which ones combined our favorite monsters well and those that did not quite hit the mark.
Monsters, Lycans, Vampires and Mummies. Oh, my!
The most recent monster mash-up was Universal’s The Mummy, released in 2017. While 2014’s Dracula Untold was the actual reboot of Universal’s Dark Universe franchise, The Mummy was supposed to be the film that really kick-started it into high gear. For my money, Dracula Untold was a better film than The Mummy was and I hope they allow Luke Evans to play Dracula again.
Dracula Untold, however, was a one-monster film. The Mummy decided to go all-Avengers and brought in not only the Mummy herself, but introduced us to Dr. Henry Jeykll/Mr. Hyde and hinted at a few other monsters to come. So let’s look at that film first.
The Mummy (2017)
The reboot scraps the original story of Imhotep’s mummy being unearthed by archeologists from the Egyptian sands. Instead, we have an evil princess consorting with an equally evil god, killing her father and ending up condemned to an eternal prison. So far, so good. But I still say Anne Rice’s The Mummy or Ramses the Damned would have made for a much better film.
Then the movie takes a turn for the worse. Tom Cruise shows up. Seriously, between Cruise and Tim Burton are no famous franchises safe? The film is briefly saved by Russell Crowe and Dr. Jeykll with a brief glimpse or two of Mr. Hyde. If Crowe has a standalone film coming in that role I will definitely show up to watch it.
As a monster mash-up film, the Mummy comes up a little short. Fortunately, we don’t have to go too far back to find a film that did it a little better.
Van Helsing (2004)
This movie was a blueprint for how to properly mashup monsters into one story. We had Jeykll and Hyde, Dracula, Werewolves, as well as Frankenstein and his monster. We even had Igor and honest-to-god, real-life minions. And all pursued under holy sanction by a secret arm of the Church itself by the legendary Van Helsing.
Even better, we had Kate Beckinsale. Beckinsale is the anti-Tom Cruise.
Mixing in all of these monsters and their cannon isn’t easy and yet this film made it work with a storyline that actually made sense.
Speaking of Beckinsale, she is involved in another monster mash-up, a series of films involving vampires and lycans.
Underworld mixes lycans and vampires well. It even goes so far as to speculate they share a common ancestor, making the centuries of war more of a family squabble. And like most franchises the first 2-3 films are good but those that follow decline steeply in quality.
Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman (1943)
So Lon Chaney returns as the Wolfman/Larry Talbot – despite dying at the end of the original – and is looking for Dr. Frankenstein to kill him off once and for all. Only the Doctor is dead. But all is not lost as Talbot stumbles across the frozen Frankenstein monster. He convinces a Doctor to help use the monster to kill off the cursed Talbot.
The movie is okay, could have been better and should have had more conflict between the two creatures to really make it work.
House of Dracula (1945)
Having not learned their lesson, Universal doubled down two years later. Figuring that the Wolfman and Frankenstein monster would have worked if only Count Dracula had been involved.
So they added the vampire into the mix and baked a turkey of a film. Yes, it was that bad.