Dream Casting Halloween Special: Universal Monsters

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Nov 5, 2017, 12:03 PM EST (Updated)

Dream Casting is an imaginative look at the casting process of potential Hollywood projects based on comics and other media. This isn't just about what is being made; this is about what should be made, and who we think should be the stars.

It's Halloween! And to celebrate, I'm recasting all of the classic Universal Studios monsters of the 1930s and '40s. Universal has tried to do this a few times themselves of course, in movies like Dracula Untold and the recent The Mummy. However, they don't really seem to be having any success at it. Personally, I think their main problem is that they keep trying to make action movies when what they need are horror movies.

Furthermore, remakes of the classic monster movies need to be unafraid of humor, and not shy away from camp. Too much fear of being "cheesy" just leads to the kind of colorless grimness that we see all too often from Hollywood these days. Let these movies be weird, and spooky, and frankly, at least a little bit gay (they can't possibly be any gayer than the original Bride of Frankenstein or Dracula's Daughter).

I've cast eight monsters and four supporting characters today. Ideally, each monster gets their own movie to start out with, and once you have those, you can start thinking about "Monster Rally" movies that cross them over, just like in the original films.


Mads Mikkelsen as Count Dracula

In his 1993 book The Monster Show, film critic David J. Skal called Hannibal Lecter "the Dracula of the 1990s." Twenty-four years, a few Hannibals, and many Draculas later, it's time to bring that connection full circle and cast the most recent actor to play Hannibal Lecter as Dracula himself. And I don't want to see Mads Mikkelsen as the kind of long-haired, bearded Dracula we've seen a lot of since the 1990s. If anyone can pull off that classic tuxedo-and-cape Bela Lugosi look, it's him.


Doug Jones as Frankenstein's Monster

Obviously we all know Doug Jones mainly for roles in which he wears monster makeup. But the main reason I want to see him as Frankenstein's Monster, aside from the fact that he's a legitimately great actor, is that his body has such interesting proportions. This is particularly evident on Star Trek: Discovery, where his form-fitting Starfleet uniform accentuates his narrow frame and long limbs. A lot of recent Frankenstein Monsters are quite bulky, but what's interesting about Boris Karloff in the role is that he's actually quite thin and cadaverous.


Elizabeth Debicki as the Bride of Frankenstein

Like Jones, Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) is very tall and angular. But she also has a unique beauty not too dissimilar from Elsa Lanchester's. And Debicki's a versatile actress who can find her own take on the character, even if all she does is shriek and hiss.


John Krasinski as the Wolf Man

John Krasinski (The Office) may seem like a dark horse choice to play a werewolf. However, part of what makes the character interesting, as played by Lon Chaney Jr. in the original film, is that when he's not in wolf form he's just a kind of well-meaning big galoot. That's a quality Krasinski has in abundance.


Chiwetel Ejiofor as the Invisible Man

For obvious reasons, the casting of the Invisible Man is all about the voice. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange) has a great one, and as with Claude Rains in the 1933 movie, it'll be fun to listen to his increasingly unhinged rants as the invisibility drug he's taking causes him to lose his grip on reality.


Rami Malek as the Mummy

This isn't the shambling corpse mummy of later films. The Mummy as played by Boris Karloff in 1932 is a highly intelligent character who takes off his wrappings and passes himself off as a normal living human. That's what I want to recreate with Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) in the role. He has such an interesting face, and his deeply set eyes can seem to look right through you. It also helps that he's actually Egyptian, which no previous on-screen mummy has been, even though it seems like they should be.


Angelina Jolie as Dracula's Daughter

Countess Marya Zaleska, first played by Gloria Holden in 1936, is as refined and authoritative as her more famous father, but also conflicted about the evil within her. I'd like to see Angelina Jolie revive a bit of that "bisexual seductress" persona she had in early films like Gia and Foxfire, but combined with the supernatural and aristocratic bearing that she displays in something like Maleficent.


Jemaine Clement as the Phantom of the Opera

You can't do The Phantom of the Opera without melodrama, and Jemaine Clement (Legion) can certainly handle that. Plus, he can sing, which is important for obvious reasons. This Phantom should have the skull-like face that was described in the novel and reproduced pretty faithfully by Lon Chaney in the 1925 movie, rather than the more human disfigurements common to more recent Phantoms.


Sean Bean as Van Helsing

There are three ways to handle Professor Van Helsing, Dracula's nemesis: The buttoned up professor (Edward Van Sloan in 1931), the unhinged weirdo (Anthony Hopkins in 1992), and the action hero (Hugh Jackman in 2004). I think Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) is talented enough to balance all three of those notions to create one coherent and interesting character.


Martin Freeman as Renfield

Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) often plays fairly sedate characters. But he's an actor with range, and it'll be fun to watch him descend into giggling and eating spiders as Dracula's influence drives him mad.


Oscar Isaac as Dr. Frankenstein

Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) is one of the best actors working today, and he can definitely handle the mix of intellect, recklessness, and desperation that's at the heart of Dr. Frankenstein.


Ian McKellan Dr. Pretorius

Even more than Dr. Frankenstein himself, Dr. Septimus Pretorius in Bride of Frankenstein embodies and defines the "mad scientist" archetype as it's come to be known. Ian McKellan (Mr. Holmes) can capture the unique impishness of this very campy character.

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