Universal Monsters

universal monsters collection dvd bluray boxset cover.jpg

Last October I listed my ten favorite Halloween movies, so this time I decided to write about some Halloweeny films I’ve seen since then.

 

Earlier this year, my girlfriend bought a blu-ray box set collection of old Universal Studios monster movies.

I enjoyed all of these film on some level, but a few of them did fall short compared to the others.

 

One thing I will not be mentioning too much is how these films look, but they have all been graphically restored, so you can just keep in mind that they all look amazing!

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Dracula (1931)

dracula 1931

Directed by Tod Browning, this classic based on Bram Stoker’s novel is probably the best film out of all of these.

 

The vampire Count Dracula, played by Bella Lugosi, moves to England and sets up residence next to an insane asylum.

There he feeds on the daughter of Dr. John Seward, an action which garners the attention of Professor Abraham Van Helsing, who then attempts to defeat the bat!

But the count has many abilities, and the aid of his insane brainwashed slave Renfield.

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Frankenstein (1931)

frankenstein 1931

The first out of three films directed by James Whale, this is sadly the one I like the least of these movies.

Much of my dissatisfaction with the film is due to how the story and presentation does not depict ‘Frankenstein’ as how I understand the book was meant to be read.

 

Dr. Frankenstein is depicted as a likable guy with an obsession with science, but by the end of the film he leaves that life to go get married, and gets a happy ending.

While Boris Karloff does an admirable job in portraying him, the monster is just a crazed confused beast stumbling into murder and mayhem, instead of an introspective individual.

By the end of the film, the monster is slain by an angry mob of villagers as retaliation for him accidentally killing a little girl. And it feels like we are meant to cheer on the crowd.

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The Mummy (1932)

the mummy 1932

This film by director Karl Freund seems very much like an Egyptian retread of ‘Dracula’, and I am fine with that.

The setting and flavor adds enough to this to place this on the top half out of these films, in terms of my enjoyment.

 

This time it is Boris Karloff who gets to play a calm, intelligent and hyper-powerful being who controls people with hypnosis.

The plot centers around the mummy of an ancient Egyptian high priest named Imhotep, who believes that a woman played by Zita Johann, named Helen Grosvenor, is the reincarnation of his long since dead lover, forbidden lover, the Princess Ankh-es-en-amon.

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The Invisible Man (1933)

the invisible man 1933

While ‘Dracula’ is probably the best film on this list, this one is my favorite. I’m a sucker for comedy, and this is a really funny movie.

The fact that this was also directed by James Whale makes me think that some of the silliness I did not enjoy in ‘Frankenstein’ might have been silly on purpose.

 

Claude Rains stars as the titular character, and it is clear that he is having a blast in the role, hooting and hollering his way into our hearts!

When Dr. Jack Griffin invents and consumes a formula for gaining invisibility, he soon turns mad from the effects it had on his mind.

Now he is menacing the English countryside, and the police are powerless to stop him!

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The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)

The Bride of Frankenstein 1935

James Whale’s second shot at directing Frankenstein hits the bullseye, and this film has everything the first one lacked.

In the sequel, Boris Karloff’s monster is an intelligent and lonely creature, rather than a bumbling oaf.

 

The best scene in the entire film, and probably in the entire box-set, is when the monster makes friends with a blind hermit. When I was watching it, I was honestly wishing that the movie could just end there and then, but I knew there would be some tragic outcome that would ruin their rare and sweet friendship.

I may go back to just see that part again, and then turn it off, to pretend that is where it ended.

 

Just don’t get to exited about The Bride’s appearance, she is barely in this.

She is good when she gets there, but I suspect they just wanted a catchy title.

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The Wolf Man (1941)

The Wolf Man 1941

Larry Talbot, played by Lon Chaney Jr., returns to his father, played by Claude Rains.

(While I first thought that these actors were the same age, or that Lon Chaney could even be slightly older, Claude Rains is in fact 17 years his senior.)

 

Larry tries out his fathers new telescope by looking into the windows of homes in the town nearby.

When he sees a lady getting dressed in her bedroom, he naturally visits the antique store she works in, on the ground floor of the same house.

When she tries to sell him some antiquities, he tells her that he would rather have the earrings on her bedside table.

Despite her being visibly unnerved by the situation, and continually saying no, he insists on them going on a date together.

When he shows up later, despite being explicitly told not to come, she has brought a friend for protection.

Even when learning that she was engaged to be married, Larry did not stop his pursuit.

 

And all of this is played as romantic, with whimsical music in the background!

The only person playing it as creepy is Evelyn Ankers as Gwen Conliffe, and that may have just been due to her and Lon Chaney Jr. reportedly not getting along due to some dressing room drama.

 

Oh yeah, and Larry also turns into a werewolf when a gypsy Bella Lugosi bites him.

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Phantom Of The Opera (1943)

phantom of the opera 1943

This film directed by Arthur Lubin sticks out like a sore thumb in this lineup, as it is filled with color, lightheartedness, melancholy and music!

It seems like only a select few scenes are meant to convey fright, and the mood quickly reverts back to either joyful or sad.

 

Claude Rains really is a half-forgotten treasure, and should be remembered as well as Bella Lugosi and Boris Karloff have been remembered.

Here he plays a violinist who gets his face (slightly) disfigured by acid, and has to hide out in passages under the opera he used to work at, after killing a music publisher for wrongly assuming that he was trying to steal his own original music.

 

Even before becoming the phantom, this man was obsessed with a singer, played by Susanna Foster.

From clues in the film, you can work out that he is actually her estranged father, but an overt reveal of this were removed from the final film, as censors for some reason felt the whole thing was very incesty.

I have to say that this is something that the censors must have brought to the table themself, not something that would have crossed the mind of most people.

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The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)

The Creature From The Black Lagoon 1954

Despite coming out over ten years later than Phantom, this film directed by Jack Arnold feels much more of kind to the other movies I’ve written about here than that one did.

 

A crew of scientists’ search for the remains of a fossil instead leads them to a descendant of the fossilised beast.

The Gill-Man now stalks them from the water, and the crew has to use whatever they have at hand on their boat to defend themselves.

But remember, it was they who disturbed him in his natural habitat.

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Happy Halloween! 🎃

My New Comic

Part One - Cover

Part One - Page 1

Part One - Page 2

 

Anubis – Dog of Death is a comic about Anubis, the Egyptian god of death.

Once a powerful creature, he now spends his days as a purse dog.

anubis dog of death comic

The comic is written by Sindre L. Finnøy (me) and drawn by John Barry Ballaran.

​It features action, comedy, drama and amazing art!



John Barry Ballaran is an incredibly talented artist, and draws for a living.

​And while I would like to fund the artwork entirely out of my own pocket, I am only allowing myself to pay for one page each month, to avoid financial ruin.

​So by utelising the Patreon crowdfunding website I hope to find some people who are interested enough in reading the comic as to speed up our release schedule by throwing us a buck or two.

support anubis dog of death on patreon

If you would like to help us out, go to patreon.com/dogofdeath to sign up.

Even if you can only spare $1 a month, it will help us immensely.



Reaching a funding goal will enable me to order one more page each month.

​We may not release that many each month, as we value the quality of our output more than getting it out on schedule, but any contribution will help speed up the making of this comic.

​And we will release some form of new content each week, be it new pages or behind-the-scenes material.



​I hope you check out the Patreon page, even if you are not able to contribute.

​We have a lot of cool stuff we want to share with you 🙂

.​

Mimic Kings

MimicKing mimic king dungeon and dragons dark souls dnd fantasy rpg sindrelf brian coldrick monsters

Welcome friend!

Make yourself comfortable, while I regale you with some information about a strange creature I came across on my travels!

Or maybe I should say; A strange group of creatures.

 

You have heard of mimics before, right?

Shape-shifting predators who lure adventurers and other curious folk in by disguising themselves as interesting objects, and then sticking to them like glue, before devouring them with their massive mouths.

One moment you think you are opening a treasure chest, the next moment the treasure chest has grown limbs and is trying to open you with its sharp teeth.

mimic

 

And you have heard of rat kings?

Stories of as many as 50 rats living in so crowded conditions that their tails would get permanently entwined, forcing the creatures to function like one entity.

Ratking

 

What you may not have heard of before, is a combination of these two concepts.

 

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Mimic kings are not that common, for unlike rats, mimics prefer to hunt and live alone.

If they are ever together in large groups, it is likely that something or someone has forced them to be.

But it has happened, and when it does, it is clear why they prefer to stay to themselves.

The adhesive qualities they so masterfully use when they hunt, spell disaster if they are forced too close to other mimics.

Quite simply, they stick together.

 

Now, being stuck together does not alter the mimics natural instincts.

All the individual mimics will attempt to take a form that will look somewhat inconspicuous in their environment. So after some trying and failing, they will eventually take on forms that compliment each other.

A mimic stuck under another mimic could take the form of a table, whereupon the smaller mimic on top would take the form of a vase, resulting in a symbiotic camouflage.

And the larger the number of mimics stuck together, the more intricate the symbiosis becomes. When that number is higher than eight, you are starting to get into mimic king territory.

 

A mimic king can take on a lot of different shapes and sizes, based on how many mimics it consists of, but they usually collectively disguise themselves as some sort of building in the hope that they can lure a victim inside, where its meat can be shared among the group.

Since a dead mimic cannot disguise itself, it is in the mimic kings collective interest to keep all members alive, as they would have a hard time fooling anyone if they had a dead mimic in their midst.

 

But sharing such a relative small amount of food among so many mimics does take its toll, and they lose much of their adhesive capabilities.

The outer mimics are the least adhesive, being weakened by the forces of nature as much as the lack of food. But further into “the house” the mimics gradually get more and more sticky, eventually being able to trap you as well as any normal mimic.

Once one mimic starts attacking, all the others react to its squirming, resulting in the “rooms” being filled with a mass of wriggling tongues and pseudopodic limbs striking around themselves.

 

Now, if you want to take down such a collective of creatures, you have a few options.

First, you could simply take them on one by one and patiently kill your way through the house. Since the mimics are stuck in place, you would not have to worry about getting rushed or flanked. But their tongues and pseudopods do have a remarkable striking distance, so you would be open to attack from quite a few of them at the same time.

Secondly, anything that would destroy a normal house would likely take care of the problem. If you could manage to get a giant to step on it, that would be ideal. Otherwise there is always fire. But keep in mind that even if mimics can look like wood, they are not quite as flammable as that.

 

You should also be aware that any attempt at large-scale destruction could result in freeing some of the mimics, who would now rush you in confusion and anger.

Worst case scenario? Picture the result of swinging your sword at a beehive.

 

An effective (but less rewarding) approach would be to simply kill the mimic that is imitating the door, and then leave.

By defacing the mimic kings honey-trap, you will have both warned other travelers from entering, and doomed the mimics to slowly starve.

 

But then, I’m sure you would much rather take the challenge head on.

If for no other reason than to be able to loot the valuables from the countless of victims  claimed by the beasts.

 

So the next time you enter an unfamiliar building, take extra care to examine your surroundings.

If the walls are breathing, you should start thinking about an exit strategy.

 

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading the first of hopefully many fantasy short stories I will be posting here.

But I will probably not post them as often as my normal blogging content, as fiction is way more time-consuming than just writing about my life.

 

The illustrated gif of the Mimic King was made by the wonderful Brian Coldrick!

Check out more of his work at www.briancoldrick.com, particularly his ‘Behind You’ series, which consists of more illustrated gifs of the monstrous variety.