I may be a bit skeptical about The Mummy and Universal’s attempt to take a bite of the shared universe fad via their classic horror properties in what they’re calling the Dark Universe, but I have to admit that this companion featurette they’ve put together is pretty cool. It’s chock full of clips from the classic movies they’re remaking, paired together with the creative minds behind the universe hyping up what’s to come.
Along the way, we see snippets of James Whale’s Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, George Waggner’s The Wolfman, Jack Arnold’s Creature from the Black Lagoon and Karl Freund’s The Mummy, all edited together in a modern style. While I grant that they’re cherrypicking the best shots from these films, it’s remarkable how great they look stacked up. It’s particularly nice to see Boris Karloff’s somewhat forgotten Prince Imhotep in action, movingly bemoaning his lost love and reminding me just how awesome those movies were.
Despite all that, The Mummy director Alex Kurtzman’s argument that Universal Monsters was the first cinematic universe is in my opinion a bit of a stretch. The vast majority of these films have zero connection to one another other than that their IPs are owned by the same company, though it’d probably look a little mercenary if they sat down and said, “we’re really jealous of how much money Marvel is making and so we scoured what properties we owned to see what we could crowbar into a shared universe.”
The proof of the pudding will be in The Mummy, upon which Universal is pinning all its hopes on to launch their Dark Universe (having failed once already with the abortive Dracula Untold). If nothing else, they definitely seem confident enough in the film, having just confirmed the casting of Javier Bardem as Frankenstein and Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man.
We’ll find out whether the second time’s the charm for Universal when The Mummy opens on June 9th.