8 Classic Monster Movies You Never Knew Were Reboots

They weren't always as ground-breaking as you might suspect...

Universal Monsters
Universal Pictures

In a pop culture landscape that constantly updates its avatars of terror -- at last count it's "haunted social media accounts" -- everyone still seems to know who the original monsters are. They're the ones that get reduced to adorable caricatures for Halloween specials, the ones that wind up on postage stamps, and the ones that became plastic model kits. They're the Classic Monsters, capital "c", capital "m", a timeless pantheon of dark gods who were so compelling that they sprang to life fully formed, and became enduring archetypes of the screen. Subsequent attempts to re-imagine these bogeys is normally considered tantamount to reinventing the wheel; why bother, since the remake will never live up to the original?

That's all fine and dandy, except that many of these beloved "original" versions of monster movies were, in fact, derivative. Yes, in many cases, the most iconic versions of famous screen terrors were really especially effective remakes of earlier films. This list examines a handful of famously pioneering monster films that were, in modern parlance, reboots. After reading this list, if nothing else, you'll surely think twice before bemoaning the next big-budget horror remake.

8. Young Frankenstein (1974)

Universal Monsters
Universal Studios

Obviously Young Frankenstein is not the original Frankenstein film: that's not actually the point here. 

It's obviously an inspired spoof of the Universal horror cycle in general and of the Frankenstein films in particular, of which Mel Brooks was clearly a devoted fan. When he made this hilarious tribute to them in the 1970's, he went as far as searching out the original, then-40-year-old electrical apparatuses made by Kenneth Strickfaden to line Colin Clive's laboratory.

Despite lampooning the entire Universal canon, Young Frankenstein is actually a comedic remake of 1939's Son Of Frankenstein. Both feature sober, mustachioed descendants of the infamous monster-maker returning to claim an inheritance only to become seduced by mad science. It also offered the first ever hunchbacked Ygor, memorably played by Bela Lugosi. In 1931's Frankenstein and its immediate sequel, the doctor was aided by men called "Fritz" and "Karl." Even Kenneth Mars' Inspector Kemp, with his thick German accent and improbably British name, was inspired by Lionel Atwill's equally baffling, RP-spouting Teuton, Inspector Krogh.

So, how is it that Young Frankenstein has become better known than the film it parodies? To put things bluntly, it IS better, and while both films are funny, only one was trying to be.

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