Sonyâs new animated feature, "Hotel Transylvania," invites us to the 118th birthday party of Mavis (Selena Gomez), daughter to none other than Count Dracula (Adam Sandler). In attendance at the secluded castle are all the classic movie monsters, including Frankensteinâs Monster (Kevin James), the Wolf Man (Steve Buscemi), Quasimodo (Jon Lovitz), the Blob and the Invisible Man (David Spade).
While there are some fresh ideas in the pot, the basic premise of uniting the famous creatures, many of them first made iconic through their own individual movies made by Universal Pictures in the 1930s, has been a constant idea on big and little screens for nearly 70 years. To give a run-through the history of monster mash-ups, weâve compiled a look at 15 of these predecessors, from the very well known to the very obscure.
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âVan Helsingâ (2004)
Letâs just get this one out of the way first and then we can all go back to forgetting it exists. Universal Pictures cooked up this effects-heavy blockbuster as a revival of the studioâs classic monster team-ups (see some of them in this slideshow), though only Dracula, Frankensteinâs Monster and a Wolf Man are included among the nemesis for the title hero (Hugh Jackman) to take on in 19th century Transylvania. Apparently director Stephen Sommers was all Mummied out? Perhaps the planned reboot, which is expected to be set in modern times, will throw in a few more classic Universal Monsters.
âHouse of Frankensteinâ (1944)
The very first of Universalâs monster mash-ups was 1943âs "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man," but two characters hardly makes for a party. This sequel adds Dracula, the Hunchback and a âmad doctorâ for a story revolving around the middle manâs desire for a new body that will help him win the love of a gypsy woman. Another film in this series is "House of Dracula" (1945), in which thereâs a female hunchback.
âAbbott and Costello Meet Frankensteinâ (1948)
Considered another sequel to the âHouse of... â films -- as much as those are themselves sequels to the respective original Universal Monster movies -- this comedy was in turn the beginning of another whole set of features starring the famed duo of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, also stars at the Universal studio. In spite of only one of the monsters being referenced in the filmâs name, the guys also encounter Dracula and the Wolf Man as freight handlers in charge of the shipment of the vampire and the monsterâs bodies. Later Abbott and Costello films have them "Meet the Invisible Man" (1951), "Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1953) and "Meet the Mummy" (1955), but each of these involved only their title monster.
âThe Castle of the Monstersâ (1958)
In this Mexican comedy, a couple happens upon a castle featuring a slew of monsters all blatantly modeled after Universalâs bunch, only without their proper names. Knock-offs of Dracula, Frankensteinâs Monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Wolf Man and the Mummy join a mad scientist and his hunchbacked assistant. Though not directly featured, the Invisible Man could have been there lurking about too, because how would we know?
âHouse on Bare Mountainâ (1962)
In case they werenât creepy enough already, in this classic nudie-cutie exploitation film Dracula, Frankensteinâs Monster and the Wolf Man (well, a werewolf) are thrown into the mix for a party at a mostly clothes-free girlsâ school, just to add an extra gimmick to what would otherwise be another boring stag picture. You can find this as part of a double-feature DVD with the similar monster-based nudist flick "Kiss Me Quick" 1964).
âThe Munstersâ (1964-1966)
What seems almost a cheat for this theme, it should be noted that this TV sitcom was produced by Universal and is therefore an official reworking of the studioâs classic characters. Head of the family Herman Munster is acknowledged on the show as being the creation of Victor Frankenstein, and Grandpaâs surname is Dracula. His son, Lester, is a werewolf, and their cousin is the Phantom of the Opera. On the Munsters side thereâs also a werewolf and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Ghosts, mermaids and other assorted non-classic-monsters family members appear from time to time as well.
âMad Monster Party?â (1967)
Rankin/Bass, the makers of all your favorite stop-motion holiday specials, produced this animated feature about the retirement of Dr. Frankenstein, and despite not being a Universal effort manages to combine all of that studioâs monsters, including Dracula, the Monster, the Monsterâs Bride (voiced by the late Phyllis Diller), the Invisible Man, the Wolf Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, the Mummy, the Hunchback of Notre Dame and a giant ape meant to be King Kong. Only one missing here is the Phantom of the Opera.
âAssignment Terrorâ (1969)
With an original title that translates to "The Monsters of Terror," this European multinational production features Dracula, Frankensteinâs Monster, the Mummy and the Wolf Man, all revived for destructive purposes by aliens bent on taking over the world. Fortunately the Wolf Man turns on them and foils their plan.
General Mills Breakfast Cereals (1971-present)
While not technically a TV show, many of these character-based cereals have been marketed with cartoon commercials that are likely indistinguishable from actual television programs to many kids. General Mills introduced Count Chocula and Franken Berry in time for Halloween in 1971 with Boo Berry, Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy coming and going in later years. We wonder if Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley would have enjoyed a bowl of the marshmallow-filled food they inspired.
âThe Mad, Mad, Mad Monstersâ (1972)
Also from Rankin/Bass, this animated special is hand-drawn rather than stop-motion and is only possibly considered a sequel to "Mad Monster Party?" because itâs made by the same people. This time the monsters are all together for the wedding of Frankensteinâs Monster and the Monsterâs Bride, with guests including all the usual suspects as well as their kids.
âTransylvania 6-5000â (1985)
This wacky comedy stars Jeff Goldblum and Ed Begley, Jr., as tabloid journalists on assignment in Transylvania, where they run into a female vampire played by Geena Davis as well as a Wolf Man, a Mummy, a Creature from the Black Lagoon-type animal and other assorted weirdos.
âThe Monster Squadâ (1987)
A cult classic for movie geeks who grew up in the 1980s, this kind of capitalizes on a certain appeal of the time in making basically "The Goonies" with monsters. The title refers to a gang of classic horror-obsessed pre-teens who go up against Dracula, Frankensteinâs Monster, a Mummy, a Creature from the Black Lagoon and a Wolf Man (who famously has ânardsâ), ultimately with help from Van Helsing.
âMonster Mash: The Movieâ (1995)
Around the same time as âToy Storyâ came out, screenwriters Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow also directed this adaptation of a 1960s musical based on Bobby âBorisâ Pickettâs famous song âMonster Mash,â which stars Pickett in the role of Dr. Frankenstein. The character is joined by his Monster, Dracula, Igor, the Wolf Man and a mummified Elvis Presley. Much like the Mexican film âThe Castle of the Monsters,â the plot involves a couple (including Candace Cameron and Ian Bohen of the "Teen Wolf" TV series) who wind up at a mansion full of monsters.
âBuffy the Vampire Slayerâ (1997-2003)
If we are to include the spin-off series "Angel" and both showsâ respective comic books and other such franchise ancillaries, most of the Universal Monsters or similar creatures have made their way into the "Buffyverse." The title vampire slayer has gone up against Dracula, Angel has fought Frankensteinâs Monster and werewolves and mummies have been prominent as well. Other famous monsters, too, if we expand to fan fiction, though we really shouldnât.
âMonster Kidsâ (2008)
Eventually we always get treated to baby versions of popular characters, such as Muppets, the X-Men and here the Universal Monsters. Among the young monsters featured in this very short animated film is Kid Frankensteinâs Monster, Kid Bride, Kid Count Dracula, Wolf Kid, Invisible Kid, Phantom Kid and Jr. Hyde.