(Return of) Universal Horrors Challenge (Sorta)

So, my concentration has unfortunately been very much occupied by other things for the last several months (politics, my day job, and other things that likewise don’t really matter in the grand scheme), and because of this, the “challenge” portion of the Universal Horrors Challenge has fallen by the wayside.  That said, I’d like to get back on the wagon as it were and continue my survey of Universal’s horror film output from 1913 up to and including 1960.  I’m not sure how feasible it is to do that in a year’s time at this point, but I suppose the body of work if not the timetable is what’s truly important.

Going forward, I’m kicking around a few ideas concerning the challenge, this blog, and everything in between.

First, I’m not sure that the podcast format is necessarily working for me–or, at least, I’m not sure it’s working for me by itself.  I’ve noticed that other podcasts, vlogs, and the like simulcast in various forms of media–audio, video, and written in some cases.  I’m entertaining the idea, then, of transcribing my podcast work going forward (and working to transcribe those already released, possibly adding to them in “special editions” or “revisitations” of some sort).  This would allow those who either can’t download the podcast or don’t understand my Ohio accent to get the same amount of enjoyment and information from my posts as those who can.  It would also allow me the option of posting all of my research (including reviews), as opposed to me just awkwardly reading what is on my screen and my screen alone.

Second, I’m thinking of splitting this blog into three: One for entertainment media (movies, books, video games, etc.), one of politics, and one for missing persons and weird or unsolved mysteries.  Why would I do this?  Because in theory, this would be the online equivalent of a fidget-spinner for me, and would allow me to better regiment what I post, when, and how often–basically, to streamline my process.  It’s like folks who set their clocks five minutes ahead so they are never late; they know that their clocks are wrong, but somehow seeing the incorrect time pushes them to be on time more often.  Plus, it would allow me to unclutter my Facebook while scratching all my itches, and while appealing to all my friends and my diverse fan base.

Third, I…uh…well, there is no third.

What do you folks think?  Let me know in the comments section below, or on Facebook, or in a creepy letter mailed to my house and comprised of letters cut from old magazines.

Universal Horrors Challenge – The (Mostly) Final List

So, the more I’ve attempted to compile the list, the more I’ve discovered that trying to pin down a clear indication of what could be considered Universal’s overall silent horror film output is like trying to lasso a tornado.  Still, I think this is a fairly solid list.

Thus, it is after much deliberation and examination that I’ve decided to release what is to be my mostly final list–“mostly”, because I may add titles as I become aware of them (especially at the back end of the list–I’m still a little concerned about the completeness of my list post-1946, and I may add one or two additional silent titles as “specials” here and there).

Some titles on the list may be considered less horror and more science fiction, or espionage, or film noir, or mystery, or suspense, or fantasy, or comedy–but these titles are added here because they fit a certain criteria agreed upon by film scholars of the genre, and their place on this list will no doubt be discussed in depth when it comes time for each movie’s respective episode.

Bold means the movie is lost, unavailable, or fragmented.  Italics means I own the title.  Neither means I have yet to purchase the title.

Format will be podcast, with youtube videos for each at some point later.  Any materials that are available for public consumption (posters, stills, clips, etc.) will be linked to a corresponding “Learn More” blog post.

The episodes will consist of at least one preparatory introduction (giving a brief history of Universal Studios), at least one epilogue (offering my conclusions regarding the breadth of Universal’s horror output), and several episodes (of varying lengths) dealing with the titles on the list below.

Episodes will consist of me doing some or all of the following:

  • Summarizing the plot
  • Talking about my impressions of the film itself and where it fits in the greater scope of Universal’s horror output from 1913 until 1960
  • Referencing some background information found in the books I’ve cited in a prior blog post (click here)
  • Discussing the version or versions of the film or films which are the subject(s) of the episode (where more than one version is used, a comparison will be discussed to attempt to ferret out the “best version”)
  • Errata for a prior episode, should I find I need it
  • Miscellaneous content, as I see necessary

I may be accompanied by others for certain episodes (such as Mike Podgor and/or Jeffrey Holloway of Fictosphere fame), but I think time constraints will likely place me at the center of most episodes.  Don’t worry–I’m told I have a very soothing voice.  Considering I have a face for radio, that’s an especially good thing.

Again, Paramount horror films owned by Universal have been eliminated from the list, due to the fact that they are not “true” Universal films.  They may show up in a later project (depending upon the success of this one), but for the Universal Horrors Challenge, they shall remain off of the list.

Without further ado, the (mostly) final list:


 

  1. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
  2. The Werewolf
  3. Neptune’s Daughter (25 Minute Fragment Obtained)
  4. The Phantom Violin/The Phantom of the Violin (Novelization Obtained)
  5. The Mysterious Contragrav (Novelization Obtained)
  6. The Silent Command
  7. Undine
  8. Elusive Isobel
  9. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  10. The Right to be Happy
  11. Black Orchids
  12. The Reward of the Faithless (First Reel at BFI, unavailable)
  13. The Two-Soul Woman
  14. The Craving
  15. The Phantom Melody
  16. Legally Dead
  17. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  18. The Untameable
  19. Behind the Curtain (Eastman print exists, too fragile to view)
  20. Up the Ladder
  21. The Phantom of the Opera
  22. Lorraine of the Lions
  23. The Man Who Laughs
  24. The Cat and the Canary
  25. The Last Warning
  26. The Charlatan
  27. The Tip Off
  28. The Last Performance
  29. The Phantom of the Opera (1929 Sound Re-issue)
  30. The Cat Creeps/La Voluntad del Muerto (Audio Obtained)
  31. Dracula
  32. Dracula (Spanish Version)
  33. Frankenstein
  34. Murders in the Rue Morgue
  35. The Old Dark House
  36. The Mummy
  37. Secret of the Blue Room
  38. The Invisible Man
  39. The Black Cat
  40. Secret of the Chateau
  41. The Man Who Reclaimed His Head
  42. Life Returns
  43. Mystery of Edwin Drood
  44. Night Life of the Gods
  45. Bride of Frankenstein
  46. WereWolf of London
  47. The Raven
  48. The Great Impersonation
  49. The Invisible Ray
  50. Dracula’s Daughter
  51. Night Key
  52. The Black Doll
  53. The Missing Guest
  54. Son of Frankenstein
  55. The House of Fear
  56. Tower of London
  57. The Phantom Creeps (Serial vs. Movie Comparison Special)
  58. The Invisible Man Returns
  59. Black Friday
  60. The House of the Seven Gables
  61. The Mummy’s Hand
  62. The Invisible Woman
  63. Man Made Monster
  64. Horror Island
  65. The Black Cat (1941)
  66. Hold That Ghost
  67. The Wolf Man
  68. The Mad Doctor of Market Street
  69. The Ghost of Frankenstein
  70. Mystery of Marie Roget
  71. The Strange Case of Doctor Rx
  72. Invisible Agent
  73. Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror
  74. The Mummy’s Tomb
  75. Night Monster
  76. Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon
  77. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
  78. Sherlock Holmes in Washington
  79. Captive Wild Woman
  80. Phantom of the Opera
  81. Sherlock Holmes Faces Death
  82. Flesh and Fantasy
  83. Son of Dracula
  84. The Mad Ghoul
  85. Calling Dr. Death
  86. The Spider Woman
  87. Weird Woman
  88. The Scarlet Claw
  89. The Invisible Man’s Revenge
  90. Ghost Catchers
  91. Jungle Woman
  92. The Mummy’s Ghost
  93. The Pearl of Death
  94. The Climax
  95. Dead Man’s Eyes
  96. Murder in the Blue Room
  97. House of Frankenstein
  98. The Mummy’s Curse
  99. Destiny
  100. The House of Fear
  101. That’s the Spirit
  102. The Frozen Ghost
  103. The Jungle Captive
  104. The Woman in Green
  105. Strange Confession
  106. Pursuit to Algiers
  107. House of Dracula
  108. Pillow of Death
  109. Terror by Night
  110. The Spider Woman Strikes Back
  111. House of Horrors
  112. Night in Paradise
  113. The Cat Creeps
  114. She-Wolf of London
  115. Dressed to Kill
  116. The Time of Their Lives
  117. The Brute Man
  118. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
  119. Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff
  120. Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man
  121. The Black Castle
  122. It Came From Outer Space!
  123. Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  124. Creature from the Black Lagoon
  125. Tarantula
  126. Cult of the Cobra
  127. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy
  128. The Strange Door
  129. Revenge of the Creature
  130. This Island Earth
  131. The Mole People
  132. The Creature Walks Among Us
  133. The Incredible Shrinking Man
  134. The Monolith Monsters
  135. The Land Unknown
  136. Man of a Thousand Faces
  137. The Deadly Mantis
  138. Monster on Campus
  139. The Thing That Couldn’t Die
  140. Curse of the Undead
  141. The Leech Woman
  142. Psycho

Quick Update – The Fictosphere’s Own Mike Podgor Wins Flash Fiction Contest

As many may have heard, I’m part of a writing collaborative known as The Fictosphere (shared universes, characters, etc.).  Well, one of our own, Mr. Mike Podgor, won 2nd place in the 2016 Ligonier Valley Writers Flash Fiction contest!  Congratulations, Mike!

To read his award-winning flash fiction story, “The Infernal Dozen”, click here.

To check out The Fictosphere and some of Mike’s other work (including a novel and some comics), please click here.

Quick Writing Tip – Reading Aloud to Oneself

With November in full swing, I’m reminded that many are taking part in that great marathon writing session known as “National Novel Writing Month” (or NaNoWriMo).  And that’s wonderful.  It really is.  The point of NaNoWriMo is to get people who normally wouldn’t find time to write to, well, write.  I’ve certainly taken part in it before (never finished or “won” the event, which is determined by reaching a word count of 50,000 words by the end of the day on November 30), and if a person can come to terms with the fact that what they’ve written during the month of November is nowhere near being close to complete or worthy of publish just yet, it’s a nice little kick in the pants.

But, let’s say a person isn’t just doing this just for therapy, and actually would like to publish one day.  Let’s say that person wants to self-publish.  How does one get the manuscript to the point of being worthy of something approaching “mass release”?

Editing. 

It’s a long and arduous process, but it’s worth it in the end.  And today, I’m going to give you a quick tip on editing that I learned from the published authors (like, for realsies published) who taught me:

Vocally read your work to yourself.

Why?  Because our brains and eyes like to play tricks on us.  We know what the book, short story, or whatever we’ve written should look like, so our eyes and brains skip over an insane number of errors.  But if we read the thing aloud, we are using a different sense and two different skills (including a motor skill).  We will be 75% more likely to catch sentence structure problems, misspellings, double-word errors, typographical errors, dialog issues, and the like.

It’s an effective little technique and an easy-to-use editing tool to help get you closer to putting your work out there for the world to see.