Universal Monsters

Last year, Universal irked a lot of fans when head Donna Langley revealed the studio’s plan for the rebooted Universal Monsters franchise was to “take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre.” But those same fans may be able to breathe a bit easier now that director Alex Kurtzman has offered a clarification.

Kurtzman has promised “there definitely will be horror” in the upcoming films — including his own 2017 directorial effort The Mummy, which is expected to kick off the whole franchise. Read his Universal Monsters horror comments after the jump.

Kurtzman addressed fans’ displeasure regarding the “action-adventure” label in a chat with Collider, and then explained that the Universal Monsters will actually be horror after all.

Yeah, I think it’s a fair response and it’s actually not — I think there was some lost in translation quality to the way it was received, because I promise you there will be horror in these movies. It is our life goal to make a horror movie. The tricky part is actually how you combine horror with either adventure or suspense or action and be true to all the genres together. In some way, Mummy, dating all the way back to the Karloff movie, was the first to do that. It was the first to combine horror with — I wouldn’t say action, but certainly a lot of suspense. So it’s more about how you blend the different elements and stay true to each one, but there will definitely be horror in the monster movies… We will hopefully serve it up good and plenty.

That sounds much more palatable than Langley’s earlier comments, which suggested they’d treat the Universal Monsters more or less like modern-day superheroes. While some of the properties can work (and have worked) as adventure films, they’re still rooted in horror and it seemed like an odd choice to jettison such a fundamental part of their heritage.

So far the rebooted Universal Monsters franchise has been off to a slow start, with Kurtzman’s The Mummy recently delayed by nine months. Nevertheless, Kurtzman sounded confident that they’re on the right track.

The monster universe is coming together very very quickly, we’re very excited. There will be announcements soon. We have actually started doing a lot of design work, we’re getting scripts in, everything is feeling really really good, so I don’t want to curse it by saying too much to you, but it’s going well.

Kurtzman is spearheading the franchise with Chris Morgan (of the Fast & Furious movies), and they’ve put together a promising writers room that also includes Noah Hawley (FX’s Fargo), Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners), and Ed Solomon (Now You See Me). Kurtzman spoke about trying to keep the projects distinctive yet unified.

[We] really thought long and hard about which writers felt right for each monster. So our goal is to have each movie retain the identity and the individuality of the specific monster, but you’ll see how they start to fit into a larger universe as the movies unravel.

Basically, it sounds like the Marvel Cinematic Universe approach — though even the MCU, which started this entire craze for shared universes in the first place, has struggled at times to balance individuality and cohesion. Kurtzman’s The Mummy opens March 24, 2017.

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