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The Monster Movies of Universal Studios


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About the Author

James L. Neibaur is a film historian and educator who has written hundreds of articles, including more than forty essays in the Encyclopedia Britannica. He is the author of several books on film, including The Fall of Buster Keaton (2010), Chaplin at Keystone (2012), The Silent Films of Harry Langdon (2012), and The Charley Chase Talkies (2013), all published by Scarecrow. He is also the author of The Elvis Movies (2014), The Clint Eastwood Westerns, (2015), The Essential Mickey Rooney (2016), and The Essential Jack Nicholson (2017)-all published by Rowman & Littlefield.


Like Dr. Frankenstein, Universal Studios under Carl Laemmle Jr., brought the monster movie genre to terrifying new life with the 1931 Tod Browning-directed film Dracula starring Bela Lugosi in his most iconic role. The characterizations of Dracula and Frankenstein's monster by Lugosi and Boris Karloff, as well as the studio's costume and makeup design, ensured that Universal's monsters would become the standard representation of these literary monsters in popular culture. In chronological order, historian Neibaur (The Fall of Buster Keaton) details the production and reception of each monster movie produced by the studio between 1931 and 1956, including such classics as Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and each of their respective sequels. The author provides insight into the challenges that the actors faced in the roles that made them household names. Verdict: Neibaur's book honors Universal's horror legacy with exhaustive research. The detailed breakdowns of each film makes this an excellent resource for film students and monster movie fanatics. * Library Journal *
The horror movies produced by Universal Studios from the 1930s to the early 1950s featured some of the most iconic movie monsters in film history. Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, and the Creature have been portrayed more than once since their first appearances on screen, but there are many who prefer these classic movie monsters to today's CGI film fiends. Entries document the initial films as well as their sequels. After a summary with full credits, release date, running time, and availability, there is an essay that provides background information, a plot synopsis, and other details. Studio stills and trade ads for several of the films add a suitably scary touch to this treat for fans and scholars alike. * Booklist *
A must-read for any avid horror fan or classic movie buff, The Monster Movies of Universal Studios is an fascinating look back at a struggling studio and the genre that saved it. For those who weren't around at the time, the book provides a wealth of insight & trivia, and if it prompts the reader to revisit any of these classics, then it's done its job. * Free Kittens Movie Guide *
Neibaur does a good job discussing ... films.... [A]ny monster fan would have fun reading over some of their favorite titles of these classic monster films. * Kitley's Krypt *
I was impressed by the research and smooth writing skills of the author, which have become a staple of his books.... [I]t's a fact-filled, genre-fun read of a piece of Hollywood history that so many cult film fans love. It merits real estate in your book case. * Plan 9 Crunch: All About Cult Films *
While the images of Bela Lugosi's Dracula, Boris Karloff's Frankenstein monster, and Elsa Lanchester's Bride of Frankenstein dominate magazine covers, notebooks, posters, mugs and other collectibles, the series of movies that introduced these characters seems to get very little respect from film historians. A step in the right direction to correct this is the excellent new book The Monster Movies of Universal Studios by James L. Neibaur, published by Rowman and Littlefield. In this fascinating new study, the author puts Universal's horror series into proper historical context. Unlike other books on the subject, Neibaur has limited his focus to films that feature one or more of Universal's line-up of monsters.... The book is an impressive work of film scholarship and shines a spotlight on classic Hollywood moviemaking by looking at one of the longest film series at a major studio....Each chapter is full of behind the scenes information and welcome analysis into the filmmaking process. It's clear that Neibaur has studied the screenplays for these films.... The Monster Movies of Universal Studios is a great book on the history of one of Hollywood's oldest franchises.... The book is an excellent look at studio and genre filmmaking in a bygone era. It is the perfect Halloween read. * Cinema Retro *

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