The Invisible Man Returns may not be as engaging and thrilling as 1933’s The Invisible Man. But it does have the pedigree of having Vincent Price’s first horror movie performance and what a performance it is. Price enters the shoes of the Invisible Man well and embodies what it means to be this potentially tragic character even if the character beats are a bit muddled on the page.
Despite its flaws, Son of Frankenstein still manages to be a more than worthy entry in the Universal Monster canon and an acceptable continuation of the Frankenstein story.
Dracula’s Daughter is a strong follow up to Dracula. Although Bela Lugosi’s performance as the Count drove the original film to iconic status, his absence from this film isn’t felt as heavily as one would expect. Due to a strong story, sharp writing, and careful plotting, Dracula’s Daughter stands on its own while also providing a strong coda to the events of the first film.
Though it underperformed commercially compared to the success of The Wolf Man six years later, the legacy of 1935’s Werewolf of London is indelible even if the film itself is slightly uneven and muddled with too many protagonists.
Bride of Frankenstein is replete with themes of creation and destruction amidst subtext involving identity politics, nature vs nurture, and a healthy of dose of homosexual undercurrents thrown in for good measure.
The Invisible Man is the mind-blowing journey of a man overcome with the conflicting feelings of the power he has gained and the longing to come back to the one he loves. It’s a mad scientist motif that drives a narrative more and more toward an ending that may not be as redemptive or emotionally satisfying as one might expect. With a powerful lead performance by Claude Rains and spectacular visual effects, The Invisible Man leans into its mad scientist’s descent as it leads to a thrilling conclusion.
Despite having a plot that is heavily borrowed from Dracula, The Mummy showcases Karloff’s strength and range as an actor behind it. The film also features an exotic Egyptian locale and set design that is noticeably different from the Gothic horror of Dracula or the villages of Frankenstein. More importantly, The Mummy has tense atmosphere and a sense of grandeur to its monster that keeps it from simply being a rip-off of Dracula.
Frankenstein infuses its monster with a science fiction hue to great effect. The scientific and moral concepts at the heart of Frankenstein help enhance the wonderful characterization and tragedy-laden arc of the film’s titular character and his complicated monster.
1931’s Dracula, the beginning of the Universal Classic Monster films, is a work of stunning beauty and dread from the outset. The detail in the backdrops of the opening scenes is awe-inspiring and lends to an impressive scale and cinematography that has aged extremely well.