Badass Digest Episode 7: Universal Monsters!
Last week I had a dream come true: I visited the backlot of Universal Studios. As a hardcore movie nerd, this is heaven - these are the places where some of the greatest movies of all time were shot. Most importantly, these sets (specifically Little Europe and Court of Miracles) were where the indelible classic Universal Monster movies where made. While a 1967 fire had damaged many of the facades, I was walking the same cobblestone streets as the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's monster and Dracula.
While I was on the lot I also had to check out the Psycho house. This is Hollywood, so the house had been moved from its original location and extra walls added to it (in Hitchcock's film it's a two-walled structure!), but the excitement was the same. In Hollywood seeing the phoniness is half the fun.
There was one thing we didn't get to film: Stage 28, the historic Phantom Stage. That's where Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera recreated the Paris Opera House in 1924. That set still stands to this day - possibly the oldest standing set in the country, if not the world. But don't worry, I snuck onto the set and climbed up into one of the viewing boxes. It was exciting - not just because I could have been busted at any moment (they were actually constructing another set at the opposite end of the stage) but because the history of that stage is so enormous. From Lon Chaney to the shower scene in Psycho to Jurassic Park, amazing movies had been made right there.
By the way, there's a part where I have a cobweb stuck to my sleeve. I know. I know.
If you catch me in any errors, let me know in the comments. I was going unscripted and stream of consciousness, so I bet I got a date or two wrong (we had to edit out a bit where I claimed Chaney went to MGM in 1930 - he actually went in 1925 and died in 1930). This is my mea culpa.
Final note: the Universal Monsters Blu collection is great. You need to buy it NOW so it gets to your home by Halloween.