Arguably the lasting power of the Universal Horror owes as much to their subtext as they do to their iconic imagery. Frankenstein, for instance, explores what it means to be human—and what it really takes to ‘a monster’. The Creature From The Black Lagoon is an ecological tale in which man—not the creature—is the real enemy. The Mummy is a tale of love, loss and belonging.
Released at the end of what is generally regarded as the Golden Age of horror, the three Universal creature features included in Eureka’s Three Monster Tales Of Sc-Fi Horror, may not be as well-known as the likes of Dracula, but they still share same multi-layered approach to storytelling that made their predecessors so relatable and memorable.
In Man-Made Monster, a mad scientist transforms a carnival performer (Lon Chaney, Jr.) int a murderous beast. In The Monolith Monsters (dir. John Sherwood, 1957), a giant meteor crashes to Earth and, as the fragments begin to spread, everyone they come into contact with is turned to stone. And finally, fear stalks the seemingly tranquil halls of Dunsfield University in Monster On The Campus (dir. Jack Arnold, 1958) when a palaeontology professor becomes infected with irradiated blood and begins to devolve into a primitive beast.
Produced on the brink of America’s entry into World War II, Man-Made Monster employed class-conscious themes to express the growing fear that joining the conflict would result in the deaths of many ordinary working people. The Monolith Monsters, subverts 1950s Red Peril tropes to spin a tale with an environmentalist theme. Monster On The Campus, is another subversive reversal of expectations, in which a respectable professor becomes the ‘wild’ subject of a very unusual teenage monster movie.
The results aren’t always top-notch, but the Universal magic is there in spades, along with a host of genre legends including Lionel Atwill (Son Of Frankenstein), Lon Chaney, Jr. (The Wolf Man), and Grant Williams (The Incredible Shrinking Man).
As ever, with these lush Eureka releases, there are plenty of extras to enjoy, including:
A limited Edition O-Card
Monster on the Campus in both 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 aspect ratios.
Man-Made Monster, brand-new audio commentary with author Stephen Jones and author / critic Kim Newman.
The Monolith Monsters, brand-new audio commentary with Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby.
Monster On The Campus, brand-new audio commentary with author Stephen Jones and author / critic Kim Newman.
Optional SDH subtitles.
A limited-edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films included in this set by film scholar Craig Ian Mann.