Director John Landis , film director fixture for Universal, doesn’t think the latter studios attempts at a Dark Universe are either respectful of the source material, or very original in their conception. Landis directed An American Worewolf In London, and also Michael Jackson’s movie monster-themed Thriller way back when. He’s also an author chronicling the history of horror films in Hollywood with the 2011 book Monsters in the Movies. So there’s not much reason to think he doesn’t know what h’s talking about.
In an interview with Entertainment ie, Landis is railing on Universal’s new shared monster universe, first by pointing out that“it’s not a new idea.” He adds:
“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! (laugh) And then of course, one of the great ironies is what was considered… OK – it’s over now!… was Abbot & Costello Meets Frankenstein, which is actually a very funny movie and very respectful of the monsters. I think, y’know, maybe that’s one of the problems with Universal’s Dark Universe is that it isn’t respectful of the monsters.”
“What’s happening is the studios now will make a film for $150, $200 million but they’re afraid to take risks. You asked me about the Dark Universe, if you’re gonna make a movie of The Mummy, why the fuck do you need Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe?! As soon as you announce that Tom Cruise is in The Mummy, you know you’re not going to see a horror picture! It’s not gonna be The Mummy, it’s going to be the Tom Cruise Show. I don’t know.”
My take: he’s right on both accounts, but how the hell do you make a movie these days where the mummy, or Dracula, is the focus instead of the stars, and how do you make such a movie make money?