John Landis: The Dark Universe Needs to Respect the Monsters

John Landis

John Landis believes Universal’s Dark Universe could flop if it isn’t “respectful of the monsters”.

The 66-year-old director has tackled all different genres during his illustrious career and he was responsible for making acclaimed 1981 creature feature An American Werewolf in London and directing Michael Jackson’s iconic horror-themed music video Thriller in 1983.

Landis is not shocked that Universal’s The Mummy reboot – which has kicked off the Dark Universe – has under-performed at the US box office because the film, to him, seems to be more focused on the cast rather than the supernatural foe of the title.

In an interview with, Landis said: “If you remember with Universal back in the ’40s, once they made all their classics, they started cross-pollinating. ‘House of Dracula’, ‘House of Frankenstein’, ‘Frankenstein Meets The Wolf-Man’ – you know what they used to call those? Monster rallies! And then of course, one of the great ironies is what was considered … OK – it’s over now! With something like ‘Abbot & Costello Meets Frankenstein’, which is actually a very funny movie and very respectful of the monsters. I think, you know, maybe that’s one of the problems with Universal’s Dark Universe is that it isn’t respectful of the monsters.”

Universal has announced plans for a Bride of Frankenstein movie – with Javier Bardem cast as Frankenstein – as well as reboots of The Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein and Dracula.

Although The Mummy has been a disappointment for the studio, Landis is certain they can make the other films a success because there is a history of great remakes in the genre.

He said: “You know, when they want to reinvent and sometimes it works great – look at David Cronenberg’s The Fly or John Carpenter’s The Thing. It can be done.”

Universal Pictures is also creating a remake of Landis’ An American Werewolf in London with his son Max Landis writing the script and helming the project with The Walking Dead‘s David Alpert and Robert Kirkman producing under Skybound Entertainment as well as Todd Garner and Matt Smith.

The original movie follows American backpackers David Kessler and Jack Goodman – played by David Naughton and Griffin Dunne respectively – who are attacked by a werewolf whilst hiking on the English moors. Jack is killed but David is saved by the locals who know of the beast’s existence but his fate is even worse as he is cursed to become a lycanthrope and goes on a killing spree in the UK capital.

It is considered a classic of the horror genre with its mix of scares and very dark humor and special effects artist Rick Baker used a number of revolutionary techniques such as robotic parts to create David’s transformation sequences earning him the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling in 1982.

Rick’s work is still referenced during the “Horror Makeup Show” which runs daily at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida.


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