Racine's 1938 Battle For Halloween Receipts
Halloween Harvest 2016: Frankenstein/Dracula vs. The Lone Ranger
I admit fixation on the Frankenstein/Dracula reissue of 1938. It's a long chapter in Showmen, Sell It Hot!, as search goes on for ads touting these oldies but forevermore goodies, a happy revival instance where timing was right and the combination ideal. As said before, Frankenstein without Dracula was nothing special, just as Dracula minus Frankenstein rang few bells, but team them, and crash went doors (literally in one case, where onrush took an entrance off hinges). This was success that spawned a Frankenstein sequel (Son Of ...) and set off 2nd cycling of monsters at Universal.
There had been a draught for horror films from 1936 and Universal give-up after Dracula's Daughter and hostility toward the genre expressed by Brits and not a few US sectors. Vigorous-enforced censorship made them hardly worth effort to do. Like any cycle, novelty had to maintain, horror's being spent, or seemed so. Still, there was memory of how Dracula, then Frankenstein, had chilled. These two stood for scariest of the lot, everything else distant toward shade, except for King Kong, of course, which thrilled, but not in gothic sense. Kong got an encore in 1938 and smacked balls from profit plate; surely some figured Dracula and Frankenstein for same potential before a legendary
You could excuse others standing down for All Hallow week that seemed the
A "Wild Bill Hickock Serial" was the Rialto's entrant to Saturday contest, no match for The Lone Ranger, and well in progress besides, but youngsters got six cartoons, a nickel bag of Cracker Jacks for free, with Frankenstein/Dracula to wash them down, so how to beat that? Hope Rialto and Mainstreet management were pals outside struggle for tickets sold, as this could have got ugly otherwise. Not to be forgot, though they probably were, was the Uptown, which went head-to-head against Rialto with "Original Monster" Boris Karloff as The Man Who Lived Twice and Bela Lugosi in The Death Kiss, two to inevitably disappoint beside brand names that were Frankenstein and Dracula. Nothing wrong with the Karloff, among his 30's best outside of Universal, but the Lugosi was mere mystery w/ nothing other than his name to suggest horror. It was easy for Frankenstein and Dracula to rise above fray of these and go on defining screen chills, which they did for cumulative twenty-five years before Hammer seized advantage of color and greater gore to finally ease the senior class out of theatres. Dominance on television, however, would give the originals another two (at least) decades to define movie horror in purest terms.