I wrote this post last year so I apologize if you read it and are bored by it, I wanted to update it a bit and re-post it for this Halloween.
For the vintage loving horror fan their are two essential series to know: Universal Horror, also referred to as the Universal Monsters, and Hammer Horror. Universal monsters gave audiences a chill from 1923 to 1960 and was the provenance of horror meistros Lon Chaney, Bella Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney Jr. The universal horror films began with Lon Chaney Sr. starring in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera in the 1920s
|Lon Chaney in the Phanton of The Opera|
These were extremely lavish productions for the time with elaborate sets and costumes and audiences flocked to see them again and again. Thankfully unlike many films from this era both survive to this day.
Universal Horror's hey day was the early 1930s with the advent of the classic monster films Dracula and Frankenstein.
|Bride of Frankenstein 1935|
The iconic performances of Bella Lugosi and Boris Karloff made these films classics, but the gorgeous sets, clever cinematography, and beautiful 1930s costumes certainly didn't hurt. I don't think there has ever been a more beautiful wedding dress on film then the one in 1931s Frankenstein
and of course Bride of Frankenstein, 1935 had a minimalist modern look that was decades ahead of its time.
Encouraged by the enormous success of Dracula and Frankenstein during the heart of the depression Universal began making scores of monster movies.
Films like The Mummy 1932, The Invisible Man 1933, and The Wolf Man 1941 remain eternal classics.
|The Mummy 1932|
|The Invisible Man 1933|
|The Wolf Man 1941|
By the 1940s Universal may have been running out of horror film ideas, or at least monsters, and began churning out monster meetup films.
These films, charming though they may be, were clearly the swan song of the Studio, the reign of the Universal Monsters was over . Thankfully Hammer Horror was there to pick up the monster film torch.
While Universal Horror films are black and white with a Gothic sensibility and a certain restrained subtlety, Hammer Horror films luxuriate in techni-color. Innocent as they are as compared to todays scary movies, they are a blood bath. Specifically a blood bath of brightest red blood you have ever seen.
|The Curse of Frankenstein 1957|
|Dracula Has Risen From The Grave 1968|
Severak of the films, such as Horror of Dracula, starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. They make excellent screen partners and elevated the somewhat low brow fare.
|Hound of The Baskervilles 1959|
Most Hammer films are costume dramas set in the Victorian era or earlier, but you can see a definitely early 60s vibe in the clothing, and the flesh, on display.
If you are interested in either the Universal or Hammer Films there are box set collections available from Amazon. The Universal Classic Monsters Blu Ray set and the Hammer Horror Series 8 Film Collection, both make excellent October viewing.