31 Weeks to Halloween: The Recap

Back on March 28th - seven months ago - we began our Halloween countdown with a little project we called 31 Weeks to Halloween. Together with our complete 30 movie film collection of Universal Monster movies, we've spent every Saturday for the last seven months watching, absoring, and reviewing all of the classic Universal Monster movies that were released over a twenty five year period from 1931 to 1956. We checked out all of the classics like Frankenstein, Dracula, the Invisible Man, the Wolf Man, The Mummy, The Bride of Frankenstein, the Creature From the Black Lagoon, and even the Phantom of the Opera. We dove pretty deep into the iconic roles played by Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains and Elsa Lanchester; roles that became so iconic that they've been labeled the originators of the horror genre as a whole. These movies, as cheesy and silly as they may seem in 2020, played an absolutely essential role in a hundreds - if not thousands - of films that have been released since. Spending the last thirty weeks with these movies never once felt like a chore and even the weakest of the movies felt somewhat enjoyable. Honestly, after watching all of these movies it feels like there are so many that feel like they are essential viewing not only for horror fans but for fans of movies in general. The cultural significance of such simple stories like Frankenstein or Dracula go way, way deeper than one could even imagine. These monsters - these creatures of the night - are all household names for a reason, and while the actors behind the roles may not be as notorious as the characters they portray, it was these faces and names that brought the horror to life, many with hours upon hours of makeup and filming. When you really put yourself 80 years in the past and realize what these guys had to do to get these movies together, it's almost unbelievable how much work had to go into it. Take Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man for example: his transformation scenes in the film may only last thirty or so seconds, but the process for Chaney took almost ten hours to complete! The dedication and effort that went in to all of these movies is immeasurable and the end result - what we have and take for granted today - is some of the best storytelling and horrifying tales in all of filmmaking. Watching these movies each week felt less like a chore and more of an obsession, and now that it's finally over - 31 weeks later - it feels like there's a hole in my blackened heart, as weird as it sounds. With sundown tonight, we officially have only seven days until the best night - our night - of the year.

Trying to pinpoint what exactly makes these movies so fucking good is actually way harder than it sounds, to be totally honest. And for good reason: for a lot of the movies, it's not so much one thing that really stands out, but the finished product as a whole that makes these movies rule so hard. The actors behind the characters absolutely play a huge role in this, obviously by bringing these lovable monsters to life, giving them faces (well, maybe not the Invisible Man, huh?) and voices, but it's definitely way more to it than that. It took a lot to put these films together, and even 80-something years later, the effort absolutely shows. Let's be real, though - not all 30 movies are equally as amazing; we had to wade through some of the weaker movies to get to the good stuff. Movies like Werewolf of London, Dracula's Daughter, Invisible Agent, and even the original Mummy film may go under the radar because they simply don't stand well against excellent classics like Frankenstein or the Wolf Man. Not saying they're shit movies by any means, but it's hard to put them against some of the most iconic films of all time. That was another benefit of going into this box set full force: being able to see the range of storytelling and moviemaking as it unfolded over a twenty five year history, all ending with some of the most elaborate movies of its time: the Creature movies that involved a full suit and no shortage of underwater scenes. Even though the movie countdown is finally over, it's help build an incredible relationship with these timeless classics. And with that, I truly hope everyone who has been on board with this countdown from the beginning has enjoyed my complete coverage and fascination with these movies. The support this countdown - and Soulless Cult as a whole - has gotten still leaves me speechless every time I log on in the morning. I'd also love to send some special Frankenstein-sized hugs to @hauntingtime for giving me the gift of Universal Monsters which was the total driving force behind this whole 30-week long project. With just seven days left until Halloween, the crisp autumn air this morning reminds me why we did this and why we continue to do this project: it's all for the love of horror, terror, and being scared to the point of pulling the covers over our heads late at night. Seven days until Halloween... let's make this one a night to remember!