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SYFY WIRE Renfield

'Renfield' celebrates release with Dead Meat 'speedrun' through classic Universal Monster kills

But which of the iconic beasties deserves the coveted Golden Chainsaw award?

By Josh Weiss
Renfield Trailer

With the theatrical release of Renfield this weekend, Universal Pictures delivers a fresh spin on its priceless library of silver screen monsters that made the studio synonymous with horror cinema.

Universal celebrated the film's debut by partnering with the Dead Meat YouTube channel (founded and run by host James A. Janisse and his wife, Chelsea Rebecca, it boasts over 6 million subscribers) for a nifty "speedrun" through the notable kills featured in some 25 years worth of films: Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), The Wolfman (1941), The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), and more.

RELATED: As Nic Cage takes on Dracula, remembering the most creative riffs on Universal Monsters in cinema

"We actually had to put this video together in record time — there was only a week between the script's first draft and the final upload," Janisse tells SYFY WIRE over email. "That is NOT a lot of time for a 20-minute video that covers nearly 30 films. Everyone on the Dead Meat payroll contributed to the amazing turnaround, with several writers and editors working concomitantly on different sections of the video. This video would not have been possible if the Dead Meat crew wasn't so talented. I'm grateful for them every day."

Check out Dead Meat's "speedrun" of Universal Monster kills below:

In addition to facing a tight production deadline, Janisse and his team also had to figure out how to efficiently synthesize 25 years of behind-the-scenes trivia.

"For normal Kill Counts, I like to go as in-depth as possible, explaining all sorts of production information," he explains. "With a spread this wide, that simply wasn't possible, so we had to decide on where to put our focus. We landed on the statistic that our channel is best known for — the number of kills counted for each monster — along with a few side factoids (like how many different actors played each monster). If I could, I'd make an hours-long in-depth dive into the entire Universal Monsterverse."

And while a home release is still a ways off, we can't help but ask the horror maven whether Renfield will receive a Kill Count on the channel once it arrives on Digital and physical media.

"With so many horror movies coming out each year, and so many classics I haven't covered, it's tough trying to decide when or if a movie will be covered on the Kill Count," he concludes. "Renfield is a good contender, though — it's heavily tied to the original Dracula, which has already gotten the Kill Count treatment, and it stars Nicolas Cage, whose movies tend to do well on the show. Plus, it's got a LOT of gnarly, over-the-top kills. Its likelihood will increase even more if there are juicy behind-the-scenes featurettes available. My fingers are crossed that there will be something exploring the stunt work and choreography of those fight scenes!"

Nicolas Cage in Renfield (2023)

Based on an original story from Robert Kirkman (creator of The Walking Dead and Invincible), Renfield shifts the narrative emphasis from Count Dracula (Nicolas Cage) to the lead vampire's fed-up assistant, R.M. Renfield (Nicholas Hoult). After nine decades of serving a toxic master, the insect-munching underling decides to tender his resignation.

RELATED: Breaking down the bloody ending of 'Renfield' - will we see more of Nic Cage's Dracula?

This, of course, does not sit well with the most famous bloodsucker of all time, who is not used to such blatant insubordination from individuals he has coerced into his employment. To that end, he joins forces with an ambitious New Orleans mobster named Teddy Lobo (Ben Schwartz) in an effort to exact revenge against Renfield. Hoult's nebbishy protagonist works to extricate himself from Dracula with the help of traffic cop, Rebecca Quincy (Awkwafina).

Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie, The Tomorrow War) directed the project, working off a screenplay written by Ryan Ridley (an alumnus of hit television shows like Community and Rick and Morty). James Moses (Queenpins), Adrian Martinez (Stumptown), and Shohreh Aghdashloo (The Expanse) co-star. Kirkman and McKay serve as producers alongside David Alpert, Bryan Furst, and Sean Furst. Samantha Nisenboim is an executive producer.

Renfield is now playing in theaters everywhere. Click here to sink your fangs into some tickets.

Craving even more vampire shenanigans? Check out SYFY's Reginald the Vampire, which is set to return later this year for a second season. Or head on over to Peacock, where Vampire Academy is now in session. And that's not all! Universal Pictures will release a second Dracula-inspired movie — Last Voyage of the Demeter — into theaters this August.