With The Mummy opening to poor reviews and low box office numbers, it's safe to say the first entry in Universal's "Dark Universe" of reboots was a disappointment, to say the least. Prior to the film's release, iconic horror director John Landis spoke to Entertainment.ie about why he thought the movie might be a failure, which is what it ended up being.
The American Werewolf in London director explained, "First of all, it's not a new idea." He continued, "If you remember with Universal back in the '40s, once they made all their classics, they started cross-pollinating. House of Dracula, House of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf-Man – you know what they used to call those? Monster rallies! (laugh)"
Landis added, "And then, of course, one of the great ironies is...Abbot & Costello Meets Frankenstein, which is actually a very funny movie and very respectful of the monsters. I think, y'know, maybe that's one of the problems with Universal's Dark Universe is that it isn't respectful of the monsters."
American Werewolf is considered one of the defining films in the werewolf genre, so it's clear that Landis knows how to treat monsters respectfully.
The director went on to express his frustrations with studio's approach, confessing, "What's happening is the studios now will make a film for $150, $200 million but they're afraid to take risks. You asked me about the Dark Universe, if you're gonna make a movie of The Mummy, why the f**k do you need Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe?!"
Expanding on the casting decisions, Landis said, "As soon as you announce that Tom Cruise is in The Mummy, you know you're not going to see a horror picture! It's not gonna be The Mummy, it's going to be the Tom Cruise Show. I don't know. What no one understands, ideas are a dime a dozen. An idea has no real value. It's all about the execution of the idea."
Despite Landis' frustrations with the concept of reinvention, he ultimately sounds hopeful, saying, "Y'know, when they want to reinvent and sometimes it works great – look at David Cronenberg's The Fly or John Carpenter's The Thing. It can be done."
Considering Landis' son Max is set to bring a reboot of American Werewolf to life, it's understandable that the director wants to remain hopeful that not all remakes are doomed, so long as the films take the right approach.