Monster movie mash

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The UVU Review chooses our favorite films to celebrate Halloween

Bride of Frankenstein


Directed by: James Whale | Written by: William Hurlburt (Unrated)

In James Whale’s masterful
sequel to his already brilliant “Frankenstein,” the director never plays it safe– he yanks us from the deceptively-simple moral fable of the first film into the the wild woods beyond.

What happens when the fairy tale is over and the supposed “happily ever after” sets in?

Whale’s last minute “happy” ending to the first film was subtle in its dark irony, and in “Bride” he makes his intentions even clearer through deeper thematic explorations. Boris Karloff delivers the performance of a lifetime as The Creature, Ernest Thesinger’s memorable turn as the villainous (and clearly coded-homosexual) Dr. Praetorius is both dark and delightfully camp, and Elsa Lanchester’s remarkable five-minute-performane as The Bride is truly frightening due to its incredible specificity and craft.

“The Bride of Frankenstein” is truly one of the strangest, most eccentric, least-easily defined Hollywood films I’ve come across– tonally schizophrenic, utterly inventive, frightening, hilarious, and heart wrenching. A true masterpiece that still resonates nearly 80 years after its release.

-Trevor Downs-Robertson, Art Director 

The Thing


Directed by: John Cartenter | Written by: Bill Lancaster (Rated R)

I’m a huge John Carpenter fan. But, even before I knew who he was, I thought “The Thing” was the scariest movie I had ever seen.

Premiering just a week or so after the feel-good alien movie “E.T.,” John Carpenter’s remake of the Howard Hawk’s classic “The Thing from Another World”—which was, itself, loosely based on John W.

Campbell’s novella “Who Goes There?”—didn’t do so well commercially. And even though it’s gained a cult following in the years after it’s release, it’s a shame that it’s taken so long to find a portion of the audience it deserves.

The all-male cast, lead by Kurt Russell and Utah’s very own Wilford “Diabeetus” Brimley, are stellar in this tense, taught science-fiction horror. Set in a remote Antarctic outpost, they fight to survive a shape-shifting alien that could be hiding in plain sight posing as any one of them.
It’s a departure from the ghosts and ghouls that populate Halloween time, but it’s full of some of the most well-written scares in cinema history.

-Alex Sousa, Editor-in-Chief 



Directed by: Stan Winston | Written by: Stan Winston, Richard C. Weinman, Gary Gerani and Mark Patrick Carducci (Rated R)

When I was a kid, I watched about five minutes of Stan Winston’s 1988 film, “Pumpkinhead” and it terrified me. Finally, last year, I was cruising through Netflix looking for something to watch and stumbled upon it again. Feeling empowered, I watched it. Alone and in the dark, I fell in love with the movie that had once literally given me nightmares.

The whole film is a love song to practical effects—of which Stan Winston is the absolute king—and explores

some surprisingly deep ideas about love and revenge that today’s horror films would gloss over. Lance Henricksen is, of course, a powerhouse in the film playing the grieving father of a dead son—his personal catalyst for conjuring the titular demon.

The movie feels like the ghost stories my friends and I would tell each other trying to scare each other. It’s a perfect Halloween film full of a rich folklore, the kind that I had always romanticized as a child.

– Colin Cobb, Staff Writer 

Nightmare Before Christmas


Directed by: Hanry Selick | Written by: Caroline Thompson and Michael McDowell (Rated PG)

To most people, Halloween movies usually are thought of as scary or suspenseful, but to those who don’t enjoy pure terror it’s a whole different line of thinking. “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” produced by Disney in 1993, combines two great holidays in a manner that both children and adults can enjoy.

Based on characters created by Tim Burton, it has just the right balance of adventure and romance with just a touch of suspense.

While it was created in the early ‘90s, it is a timeless motion picture that many have loved throughout the year, not just at Halloween. If you have not yet seen this movie, I would highly recommend it, especially if you find yourself in the mood for an atypical Halloween movie.

– Amanda Hollman, Culture Editor 

Horror of Dracula


Directed by: Terence Fisher | Written by: Jimmy Sangster (Unrated)

This is Bram Stoker’s classic tale by way of Errol Flynn: a simple, streamlined horror-adventure with a dynamic lead performance from Peter Cushing (best known to American audiences as the villain Tarkin in the original “Star Wars”) and an intstantly iconic take on the title character from Christopher Lee. The Count here is mostly silent and intensely physical– no supernatural transformations or otherworldly entrances. Instead, Dracula is a beast in human form involved in carriage chases and fisticuffs, a slave to his monstrous passions. What “Horror of Dracula” lacks in elegance or thematic depth, it makes up for with a wealth of wonderfully crafted thrilling moments and a large dose of technicolor gore.

– Trevor Downs-Robertson, Art Director 



Directed by: Frank Marshall | Written by: Don Jakoby and Wesley Strick (Rated PG-13)

At the tender age of 9, I was deathly afraid of spiders and was determined to beat that fear. To wit, my older brother bought me a pet tarantula to give me a bit of “immersion therapy.”

For a while, I did relatively well sharing a room with a hand-sized monster spider. The novelty and fear wears off after a while. All that changed the night our family re-watched “Arachnophobia.” When a Venezuelan spider is accidentally shipped to a sleepy California neighborhood, it breeds with a local spider and produces hundreds and hundreds of a new deadly class of spider, which start to silently creep their way through the neighborhood, wreaking havoc.

It’s one of those rare movies that pairs an unobtrusive amount of comedy with one of the most common, primal phobias we as humans possess. Needless to say, you will not be sleeping near a pet spider anytime soon.

– Sean Stoker, Editor-at-Large 


CREEPY AND COMEDIC: Shaun of the Dead, Young Frankenstein, Scream, The Cabin in the Woods
FAMILY FAVORITES: The Mummy (1932), The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Rear Window, Something Wicked This Way Comes CARPENTER CLASSICS: Halloween, The Fog, Prince of Darkness, In the Mouth of Madness
FOREIGN FARE: Nosferatu (1922), Nosferatu (1979 remake), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Let the Right One In, House (1977) MACABRE MASTERPIECES: The Shining, The Excorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead (1978)