A new Tom Cruise action movie seems to come out every couple of months. When he’s not being Jack Reacher he’s defying the laws of physics in the Mission: Impossible franchise. This time however his adventures take on a new flavour. For the latest “Cruiser” outing is The Mummy, Universal’s opening salvo in their much-publicized Dark Universe series and it’s about a lot more than the defiantly toothsome star.
Moguls are hoping audiences will come to watch the Top Gunner, then get immersed in the first instalment of a proposed range of flicks showcasing those classic monsters the studio made their own in the early years of Hollywood. Russell Crowe pops up in The Mummy as Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde. Future films will see Johnny Depp as The Invisible Man and Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s Monster. Not to mention the casting of Sofia Boutella in the role of the Ancient Egyptian menace Cruise faces off against.
The aim is to bring the traditional nasties into the modern world – this breathless, explosion-laden offering appears to do just that. Throw in a female antagonist and a team up situation and you have something very different to what you’d expect from the much-loved horror brand. So with that in mind let’s take a look at other offbeat and unique attempts to revive groundbreaking blood-curdlers over the years…
BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (1992)
Director Francis Ford Coppola was celebrated as the man behind The Godfather and Apocalypse Now and an artist of eclectic tastes. His decision to adapt Bram Stoker‘s definitive vampire tale (from James V. Hart‘s screenplay) left the industry wondering what he was going to come up with. The result is one of the most distinctive and divisive horror movies a major studio ever released.
Like other versions it accentuated the sensual aspects of the text. Where it stood out was in the array of mindboggling visuals the helmer selected, from Dracula’s eyes appearing on the horizon to the extraordinary sight of Gary Oldman with hair that Donald Trump would find extreme. Employing a wide range of costumes, make up effects and indeed accents (Keanu Reeves was slated for his British delivery), the movie threw everything but the kitchen sink at the audience, leading to an eccentric feast for the viewer.
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION (1994)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise had already been on quite a journey, with Part 2 being a broad comedy in contrast to the almost documentary style of the first. 3 failed to set the world alight/cleave it in half and things fell silent for the notorious Sawyer clan and their horrifying ways. Then original TCM scribe Kim Henkel picked up the bloody baton to try and take the saga in a new and intriguing direction.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation reintroduced the macabre characters (among them Matthew McConaughey) and basic concept of terrified teens (such as Renée Zellweger). This time round however writer/director Henkel inserted greater elements of social commentary, creating a secret society which were behind the murderous antics of Leatherface (Robert Jacks, above) and his nearest and dearest. In addition Jacks portrayed the monster as an out-and-out cross-dresser, something only hinted at in his debut.
JASON X (2001)
After nine instalments, the Friday The 13th series was getting a bit stale. There’s only so much you can do with a psychopath in a hockey mask with a tendency to slaughter young campers. A trip to New York for Part VIII provided a little variety but the real shift in gear occurred down the line for the tenth entry. Turned out Jason Vorhees (Kane Hodder) wasn’t just a danger to the world: he could kill people in space to boot!
A group of students in the future discovered the slash-happy anti-hero in cryogenic suspension on an uninhabitable Earth. They then made their first rookie error, taking him back to their spaceship. Naturally Jason thawed out and set about doing what he did best, only beyond the stars rather than under them. Director James Isaac and writer Todd Farmer gave the terror another dimension by upgrading Vorhees part-way through into a homicidal cyborg. Jason X became the character’s one, only and somewhat questionable foray into science-fiction.
WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994)
Before he revolutionized the slasher film with Scream, director Wes Craven adopted a postmodern approach to his classic creation, Freddy Krueger. Craven had been disappointed with the razor-fingered dream invader’s trajectory since the first Nightmare On Elm Street. As played by Robert Englund, Krueger wound up a wisecracking figure of fun. When his creator returned to the fold, he set the record straight with a mind-bending seventh chapter.
New Nightmare treated the previous movies as just that, fictional stories that had affected the lives of their respective actors in different ways. Star of the original Heather Langenkamp portrayed herself in LA, encountering the legendary life-ender for real against the backdrop of impending natural disaster. Craven re-designed Freddy and toned down the humour, taking audiences on an unsettling trip into a more psychological realm of horror. As resurrections go, this was in a league of its own.
The Mummy is released on Friday. Are there any radical horror entries you feel we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments section.