Beginning in the silent era with “Phantom of the Opera” and “Hunchback of Notre Dame” with Lon Chaney, Sr., Universal Pictures made a series of classic horror films starring the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, the Werewolf, the Mummy, and the Invisible Man that ran through the 1940s.
Posters, lobby cards, glossy stills, banners—just about any memorabilia from these films—pull top-of-the-line prices that range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. While the original 1931 “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” are creaky, as well as creepy now, collectibles from either bring very high prices in good condition.
All of the Universal horror films featured excellent special effects for their time, relying solely on makeup, camera trickery and the occasional animation. All also had a certain spooky poetry that makes them standout even on repeated viewing today.
“Bride of Frankenstein,” (BOF) directed by James Whale and the first sequel to his “Frankenstein,” is considered by most critics and most fans, by far the best of these horror masterpieces. It’s the one in which the monster talks and meets the old blind man in the woods; a scene parodied to laugh-out-loud perfection in Mel Brooks “Young Frankenstein” in 1974.
BOF included a stirring score by Franz Waxman, memorable performances from Karloff as the monster and Elsa Lancaster as his scream queen bride.
Ernest Thesinger played a campy mad scientist who has created a tiny King, Queen, ballet dancer and other miniature people he keeps in jars. He shares a cigar with the monster saying, “It’s my only vice…”
The creation of the bride during a thunderstorm exceeds even the original monster-comes-alive scene in the original, Waxman’s music lending it all a grandeur seldom matched since.
Even stills in “lesser” condition from BOF sold for more than $70 each recently, and an insert sold for $33,000, while many other items ranged from a few hundred dollars to $3,000 or more for almost any poster or card in decent shape. A single lobby card sold for more than $12,000.