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Universal Monsters: Cavalcade of Horror

Creators: Dave Marshall
Booklist, January 2006

Graphic novelization of movies seems supererogatory, but done with the gusto of these adaptations of the 1930s versions of The Mummy, Frankenstein, and Dracula and the 20-years-later Creature from the Black Lagoon, it's downright laudable. Except for The Mummy, well scripted and acted compared to Frankenstein, and Dracula, and very well directed by the great cinematographer Karl Freund - these flickers are classics only on sentimental sufferance. ( Frankenstein remains striking for the expressionist-constructivist realization of the monster's vivification, but director James Whale's sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, is the real classic.) And except for The Mummy, which is atmospherically rendered in the narrow color palette of Mike Mignola's Hellboy, their scenarios are more effective here than on-screen. Frankenstein's and Dracula's clunky scripts are enlivened by expressive color and the decision to paint as much as draw them. Dracula profits further from imaginative expansion of many scenes and the veiling of backdrops by swirling, colored mists and fog. Best is last, though: Art Adams' conventional-comics-style Creature makes further preservation of a terminally lousy movie unnecessary. (Ray Olson)

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