We’re Ready for Funny Universal Monsters

‘Dark Army’ will bring the Universal Monsters back from the dead — and they deserve to have a good time.
Monster Squad
By  · Published on September 14th, 2019

The attempted Dark Universe franchise didn’t bring new life to the Universal Monsters, but that doesn’t mean the studio is giving up on their ghouls. A few months ago, we learned that Leigh Whannell is working on a reboot of The Invisible Man, which will hit screens next year. Now, Deadline reports that Paul Feig will assemble the iconic horror characters in Dark Army.

Little is known about Feig’s new project other than it will contain characters from Universal’s Classic Monsters library as well as new ones created by the writer/director. The beauty of having someone like Feig helm a monster movie is that he’ll bring something new to the table. We can only speculate, though, about what he has in mind for the film. My money is on him exploring the fun side of the legendary creatures.

With the exception of the Hotel Transylvania franchise (which doesn’t belong to Universal), recent movies and shows featuring the monsters in a comedic light are practically non-existent. But, in the past, they’ve been very enjoyable. Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein is a beloved classic that proved the studio is more than willing to have some fun with their horror offerings from time to time. Given that the movie is now 71 years old, though, it would be nice to have these ghouls make us laugh in the modern age.

Of course, the inclusion of multiple monsters in Dark Army immediately draws comparisons to Monster Squad, Fred Dekker’s ‘80s cult classic that reimagined the monsters for the Goonies generation. Even though that movie isn’t officially part of the Universal Monsters universe either, it still deserves a spot at the table alongside those films.

Dark Army will probably vibe with these movies, albeit with a contemporary and progressive spin. Feig’s previous foray into scare fare — the enjoyable Ghostbusters: Answer the Call — focuses more on laughs than frights. While he will likely opt for a nice mix of both in Dark Army, comedy is his greatest strength and he should embrace that.

Feig is a versatile talent when it comes to comedy, and it will be interesting to see how he approaches Dark Army in that regard. Will it be littered with F-bombs and fart jokes? Will it be a family-friendly offering? Will it set out to bust stereotypes? Will it be quite dark and twisted? That remains to be seen, but one thing is guaranteed: Dark Army won’t be like the other Universal Monsters movies out there.

I can also see this movie touching people’s feels. Feig’s best movies have managed to balance comedy with just the right amount of emotional sentimentality. Bridesmaids, in particular, contains some moments of genuine pathos that elevates the film beyond mere raunchiness and gross-out gags. Dark Army will be a different movie entirely. However, given that the Universal Monsters have always been tragic beings, you can bet on Feig instilling in these creatures some emotional depth.

Regardless of how Feig approaches Dark Army, he’s an interesting candidate to write and direct a Universal Monsters movie. The studio appears to be handing their grotesque icons over to original creators, which is more exciting than making interconnected action-adventure movies based on an overarching franchise vision if you ask me.

A horror veteran like Whannell is a reliable choice when it comes to this stuff. Feig, on the other hand, is still fairly new to exploring cinematic worlds boasting gods and monsters. Sometimes, though, the unexpected choice is more exciting as there’s no telling what they’ll produce until they share some substantial information. On top of that, it makes the future of these monsters more fascinating, as there’s no telling who will be the next director to make a movie about them.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.