Here’s a MUST READ, MUST SEE post, up on John McElwee’s Greenbriar Picture Shows blog, about the 1938 re-release of Frankenstein and Dracula, the legendary double-bill that kickstarted Universal’s second monster movie cycle.
McElwee writes entertainingly about Universal’s all-thumbs attempts at finding a companion feature for their horror classics, mix and matching Frankenstein and Dracula with assorted titles, but never together, to indifferent box office. It was a private exhibitor, Emil Umann, who would come up with the idea of showing Frankenstein and Dracula together at his Los Angeles theater, the Regina. With the first showing, on August 4, crowds were already lining up. Additional shows were added and still patrons had to be turned away. Within a week, the papers were reporting on the phenomenon and Bela Lugosi was popping over for daily personal appearances.
Universal would soon shunt Ulmann aside and launch the “Horror Boys” double-bill across the country — with Lugosi in tow — to terrific business. Seattle reported crowd too big to handle, and there was even a bona fide riot in Salt Lake City.
The house was sold out by ten o’clock in the morning. Four thousand frenzied Mormons milled around outside, finally broke through the police lines, smashed the plate glass box-office, bent in the front doors, and tore off one of the door checks in their eagerness to get in and be frightened.
John McElwee’s Greenbriar Picture Shows is a miraculous blog, always entertaining, crammed with fascinating, revelatory details and always accompanied by superb iconography. This time, we are treated to wonderful We Dare You vintage newspaper ads and trade ballyhoo.
This is one post you can’t miss. Go see, fast, and while you’re at it, explore the site’s archives. It’s a treasure house. You could become addicted, as I am, to the Greenbriar Picture Shows.
Here is the post, The Pair That Curled Your Hair, and stand by for Part 2 that will follow the Frankenstein/Dracula tandem into the 40’s and beyond.
UPDATE: Part Two, Dracula/Frankenstein Forever, is posted, and it's terrific.
The Selling of Frankenstein