24 Bewitching Facts About Classic Horror & Monster Films

Updated on November 12, 2019
Rachel M Johnson profile image

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for over two years.

Moviegoers and audiences everywhere can't get enough of a good horror flick. Some of the most acclaimed and iconic films of the genre shined during the Golden Age of Hollywood, and this period in Tinseltown introduced beloved movie monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man. Let's take a look at some bewitching facts about classic horror & monster films.

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1. Dracula (1931) never once blinks his eyes, an effect that enhances the undead's character's otherworldy aura, abetted by Bela Lugosi's famous, menacing stare.

2. For his role as the titular character in The Wolf Man (1941), Lon Chaney Jr.'s make-up took six hours to apply and three hours to remove.

3. Though he starred as the iconic horror character The Monster in 1931's Frankenstein, Boris Karloff was considered such an anonymous actor by Universal that he was not invited to the December 6th premiere of the film.

4. In Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), the Creature's appearance was based on old seventeenth-century woodcuts of two bizarre creatures called the Sea Monk and the Sea Bishop. The Creature's final head design was based on that of the Sea Monk.

5. For The Invisible Man (1933), in order to achieve the effect that Claude Rains wasn't there when his character took off the bandages, director James Whale had Rains dressed completely in black velvet and filmed him in front of a black velvet background.

6. The movie poster for The Mummy (1932) holds the record for the most money paid for a movie poster at an auction: more than $453,500.

Bela Lugosi as Dracula.
Bela Lugosi as Dracula. | Source
Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man.
Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolf Man. | Source
The Mummy (1932).
The Mummy (1932). | Source

7. During the filming of Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Boris Karloff sweated off 20 pounds laboring in the hot costume and makeup.

8. The opening "Scare Trick" in House on Haunted Hill (1959) was so effective that it actually started the idea of novelty "haunting records." Records of spooky sounds, sound effects and music-often used for Halloween, parties, and haunted house attractions.

9. Although Janet Leigh was not bothered by filming the iconic shower scene in Psycho (1960), seeing it on film profoundly moved her. She later remarked that it made her realize how vulnerable women are in the shower. To the end of her life, she always took baths.

10. In Night of the Living Dead (1968), when the zombies are eating the bodies in the burnt-out truck they were actually eating roast ham covered in chocolate sauce. The filmmakers joked that it was so nausea inducing that it was a waste of time putting makeup on the zombies, as they ended up looking pale and sick anyway.

11. Nosferatu (1922) was an illegal and unauthorized adaption of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Stoker's heirs sued over the film and a court ruling ordered that all copies be destroyed. However, Nosferatu subsequently surfaced in other countries and came to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema.

12. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) was the first horror film ever to win an Academy Award; Fredric March won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of the titular character.

Boris Karloff in Frankenstein.
Boris Karloff in Frankenstein. | Source
Janet Leigh in Psycho.
Janet Leigh in Psycho. | Source

13. Not a single photograph of Lon Chaney as the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (1925) was published in a newspaper or magazine, or seen anywhere before the film opened in theaters. Universal Pictures wanted the Phantom's face to be a complete surprise when his mask was ripped off.

14. For his film 13 Ghosts (1960), director William Castle gave audience members a choice of how to watch the movie: the "brave" ones could watch it with colored cellophane glasses to see the ghosts while the more apprehensive ones could opt out of the horror and watch it without the ghosts.

15. House of Wax (1953) was the first 3-D color film to ever be produced by a major American studio. Filming only took 33 days to complete.

16. Bela Lugosi was so eager to repeat his stage success and play the Count Dracula role for the film version that he agreed to a contract paying him $500 per week for seven weeks of shooting. This was an insultingly small amount even during the days of the Depression, and his salary was only a quarter of the actor playing John Harker, David Manners.

17. In The Wolf Man (1941), Evelyn Ankers (Gwen Conliffe) suffered a terrible scare when a 600-pound bear (his sequence in the film was later cut) escaped its trainer and chased the actress up a ladder where she was pulled to safety by an electrician.

18. In Frankenstein (1931), Boris Karloff's shoes weighed 13 pounds each.

The Phantom of the Opera (1925).
The Phantom of the Opera (1925). | Source
13 Ghosts (1960).
13 Ghosts (1960). | Source
Evelyn Ankers in The Wolf Man (1941).
Evelyn Ankers in The Wolf Man (1941). | Source

19. The remarkable Jekyll-to-Hyde transition scenes in the film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) were accomplished by manipulating a series of variously colored filters in front of the camera lens. Fredric March's Hyde makeup was in various colors, and his appearance registered on the film depended on which color filter was being shot through.

20. So many layers of cotton were glued to Boris Karloff's face to create the wrinkled visage of Imhotep as a mummy in The Mummy (1932), that he was unable to move his facial muscles enough to speak.

21. When the cast and crew began work on the first day of filming Psycho (1960), Sir Alfred Hitchcock had them raise their right hands and promise not to divulge one word of the story. He also withheld the ending part of the script from his cast until he needed to shoot it.

22. Elsa Lanchester was only 5'4" but for the role of the Monster's Bride in Bride of Frankenstein (1935), she was placed on stilts that made her 7 feet tall. The bandages were placed so tightly on her that she was unable to move and had to be carried about the studio and fed through a straw.

23. According to the film's cameraman Charles Van Enger (one of Lon Chaney's most trusted associates), Mary Philbin's reaction to the unmasked Phantom in Phantom of the Opera (1925) was real. She had no idea what he would look like until that exact moment.

24. The large grosses for the film House on Haunted Hill (1960) were noticed by Sir Alfred Hitchcock. This led him to create his own low-budget horror film: Psycho (1960).

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931).
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931). | Source
Boris Karloff & Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935).
Boris Karloff & Elsa Lanchester in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Rachel M Johnson

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      • Rachel M Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel M Johnson 

        3 weeks ago

        @John

        Of course! Thanks for checking it out!

      • John Plocar profile image

        John Plocar 

        3 weeks ago from Weatherford

        @Rachel

        Sweet! Well I thank you again for taking the time to share this article. I found it to be really cool learning some of these fun facts about some movies I grew up with.

      • Rachel M Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel M Johnson 

        3 weeks ago

        @ John

        I’ve heard a few of these facts over the years since I’ve always been a huge fan of classic films. But many I researched this morning for a few hours. It was interesting reading up on them!

      • John Plocar profile image

        John Plocar 

        3 weeks ago from Weatherford

        @Rachel

        I bet. How long did it take you to find all of this? Was this research all in one go or did some of these you learn over the years?

      • Rachel M Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

        Rachel M Johnson 

        3 weeks ago

        Hi John, I’m glad you enjoyed the article! It was fun researching!

      • John Plocar profile image

        John Plocar 

        3 weeks ago from Weatherford

        Right on! I actually didn't know a lot of these facts. Pretty cool, thank you so much for sharing!

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