Karloff and Lugosi Become Kings of Horror (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: Bela Lugosi in Dracula and Boris Karloff in Frankenstein created the archetypes for the two most famous monsters in the horror-film genre.
Summary of Event
No two performers have been more associated with a motion-picture genre than Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Lugosi’s chilling portrayal of the vampire in Dracula and Karloff’s sensational incarnation as the monster in Frankenstein left Hollywood with a legacy of definitive performances that established a standard for horror films to come.
Dracula and Frankenstein, both released in 1931, were the first horror films produced by Universal Studios. The horror-film genre, though, dates back to the beginnings of cinema and to the works of such directors as Georges Méliès and Thomas Edison. Edison produced an extraordinary one-reel version of Frankenstein in 1910, the first attempt to transfer Mary Shelley’s novel to film. Universal’s horror hits of the 1930’s and 1940’s, however, remain the classics of the genre. The enduring popularity of horror films is to a great extent a result of the performances of Lugosi and Karloff in these early productions.
In 1930, Universal bought the film rights to a play based on the 1897 novel Dracula by Bram Stoker; the play had had a successful run on Broadway in 1927. The play, written by Hamilton Deane, starred the Hungarian-born...
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