Remaking classic monsters

In your book ‘Behind the Mask of the Horror Actor’ you cover the different eras of horror movies. Lon Chaney was The Phantom of the Opera in 1925, Bela Lugosi was Dracula in 1931, Boris Karloff was The Mummy in 1932. Years later we saw Claude Raines as The Phantom of the Opera (1943) and Christopher Lee as Dracula (1958) and the Mummy (1959). Years after that we saw Robert Englund as the Phantom of the Opera (1989), Gary Oldman as Dracula (1992) and Arnold Vosloo as The Mummy (1999).

What do you think makes these classic monsters so appealing to filmmakers to reinvent them over and over again during each new horror era? And do you think a horror icon like Pinhead might ever get reinvented?

Doug Bradley:
Well, I did recently have someone come up to me at a convention and say: ‘Great movie. Are there any plans to remake it?’ And I’ve been threatened with recast on every Hellraiser movie since Hellbound, so you’ve been closer to a re-interpretation of Pinhead than you might have thought.

With The Phantom and Dracula, like Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll, these are adaptations of novels anyway, so the original films are already interpretations of someone else’s work. And what’s definitive? Which is the definitive Dracula? Todd Browning’s or Nosferatu. Universal weren’t the first to visit Frankenstein and, as I pointed out in the book, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is, I believe, the novel which has had most screen adaptations. Wouldn’t stop me getting excited about a new one, though.

The appeal to actors, writers and directors lies, I believe, in the mythical quality of the characters. It’s partly why sequels and franchises abound in the horror genre like nowhere else: there’s always a new twist, a new angle, a new insight, a new what if? to be explored. The well of horror seems to be pretty much inexhaustible. We’ll have fun trying, anyway.

Karloff (left), Lee (right) and Vosloo (top) as The Mummy

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