June 11, 2023

Strangely enough, one might go back to Dracula’s creator, Bram Stoker, for a possible answer. Stoker’s only other real horror novel of note, The Jewel of Seven Stars, deals with a plot to resurrect an ancient, all-powerful Egyptian queen in the body of another woman. The story has been filmed a few times (most notably as Hammer’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb in 1971), but critical reappraisal in the last 50 years and underlying subtexts about imperialism and feminism could make this interesting for a modern horror filmmaker. The great modern mummy movie has yet to be made.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon

So many directors have kicked the tires on a remake of Jack Arnold’s classic 1950s creature feature (and late entry in the Universal pantheon), including John Carpenter, Gary Ross, Ivan Reitman, Peter Jackson, Breck Eisner, and Guillermo del Toro, with only GDT making more or less his own version of it with the 2017 Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water.

Since then, the property has gone silent (save for a brief mention as part of the Dark Universe before that went belly-up). Which is a shame, really; with the Amazon being slowly destroyed in recent years and nature striking back at humanity in ways thought unthinkable a few years ago (a pandemic, extreme weather), a creature representing a primal force of that nature should be easy bait for filmmakers. Plus, unlike some of the mustier monsters, it’s readily translatable to the modern world.

Lon Chaney Sr. as the Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera

For older generations, Lon Chaney’s skull-like visage in the classic 1925 silent version of this tale remains the iconic symbol of the Phantom of the Opera. For everyone born in, say, the last five decades, it’s that image of the Phantom’s half-mask which hung outside Broadway’s Majestic Theatre for 35 years. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which just ended its record-breaking stay on the Great White Way as the longest-running show of all time, is now the definitive version of the tale, far eclipsing the Chaney film (and forget Universal’s dull Claude Rains 1943 remake, Hammer’s version starring Herbert Lom, or numerous others).

There’s really no way to tell this story again beyond its stage incarnation (which itself was made into an inert 2004 film starring Gerard Butler), and it was already updated, if that’s the right word after nearly 50 years, as Brian de Palma’s 1974 rock musical Phantom of the Paradise. No, we think that the Phantom will forever exist on the stage now, which is somehow where he should be anyway.

Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Victor Hugo’s tragic, melodramatic 1831 novel really isn’t horror per se, but it became associated with the genre and the Universal Monsters when the latter studio produced a lavish 1923 version starring Lon Chaney in grotesque makeup as the title character, Quasimodo. Since then, there have been numerous other film versions of the story, including an animated Disney movie and, just this week, a comedic take from the Broken Lizard crew that’s streaming on Hulu.

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