The Alamo Drafthouse’s collectible art division, Mondo, debuts its largest and most expansive gallery yet, focusing on the horror genre's most influential, iconic set of characters — Universal's monsters.
The beloved collection of monsters are grouped together by Universal Studios’ run of classic films made during cinema’s early years, from the ‘20s through ‘40s. Each monster starred in its own picture, and though they weren’t considered horror at the time, they laid the foundation for a genre that dominates modern movie theaters.
For the most part, Universal’s monster pictures borrowed stories from classic literature — Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man — but they were still huge gambles for the burgeoning production company. Most audiences had never seen a horror movie, and the studio had no way of knowing if their productions would be successful or not.
Luckily, the studio had help from directors like James Whale and Tod Browning, as well as incredible talent from actors like Boris Karloff, Claudia Rains and Bela Lugosi. Together, they brought life to what are now widely recognizable characters playing parts in some of the most revered films in cinema history.
Mondo enlisted an elite group of artists to tackle the monumental task of paying tribute to the legendary creatures created by Universal over 70 years ago with standout names like Kevin Tong, Laurent Durieux, Ken Taylor, along with special contributors Drew Struzan (the legendary poster artist who created the fantastic art of Star Wars amongst other classics) and acclaimed director Frank Darabont (who might more recently be known for adapting The Walking Dead television series, but can never be forgotten as the director of Shawshank Redemption).
JC Richards’ portrayal of Frankenstein in “Pretty Things Float” captures the tragedy of the story and the humanity of its title character. Drew Struzan utilizes a subtle, understated approach in his series of portraits that puts focus on the monstrosity of each character. Jacob Bannon’s “Frankenstein,” mixed media on plywood, depicts the monster as a menacing figure unable to communicate with those that feared him.
Strolling through the gallery space immediately fills the viewer with a sense of appreciation, making it clear why some fans queued up 24 hours before the show opened to get their hands on inspiring work and be reminded of where our love for modern horror movies is born from.
The Universal Monsters gallery is without a doubt Mondo’s finest show to date. The prints alone make the show worth a visit, but the sheer amount of quality, original work on display is astounding. The gallery will be open until November 10, so there’s still plenty of time to check it out, but do so sooner rather than later. The art moves fast, and it’s almost impossible to leave without making a purchase.
The gallery opened October 19 and will run until November 10. A full gallery of images can be viewed at the top of the page.