Monster Mash: 'Alien Vs. Predator'

Now that the decrepit Mike Tyson has entered the point in his career where he has to be carried into the ring, bloodthirsty fight fans are left with Alien Vs. Predator and re-engineered Frankensteins battling vampires with dentures.

Pardon me for spoiling the outcome of Alien Vs. Predator, but don't we already know who wins? The victory goes to the filmmakers who squeezed one more sequel out of two moribund film franchises, both of which revolve around killer space aliens.

The one thing you probably won't see is a clear-cut victory. Last year's monster mash, Freddy vs. Jason, brought in $82 million in box office blood, and as long as the monsters bring home the money, they'll never be killed off.

In the final scene, Jason walked away with Freddy's severed head, and Freddy winks, as if to say, "This isn't over yet."

But is it really ever over? A horror movie slugfest might be a sure sign that a film franchise is in trouble, but it's a gimmick that's worked over and over again — and for the likes of Dracula and Godzilla, it's just as sweet as fresh blood. Let's look at a few:

1. Frankenstein vs. The Wolf Man

Bela Lugosi, better known as Dracula, passed on the opportunity to play Frankenstein's Monster, a role that went to Boris Karloff in the landmark 1931 classic. A distinguished stage actor in Hungary, Lugosi had high hopes in Hollywood.

By the time of the 1943 sequel Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, however, Lugosi was well on his way to becoming a tragic Hollywood figure who would take any role he could get. He was eventually buried in his Dracula cape.

"The whole movie started as a joke," says Bob Madison, author of Dracula: The First Hundred Years. "Frankenstein movies were a big hit, but by the mid-1940s, the series was running out of gas. Instead, this movie started the trend for decades of monster battles."

Curt Siodmak, who had written The Wolf Man, was sitting in the Universal Pictures commissary when a studio head asked him what he'd been working on. As a joke, he said, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, thinking that the studio might have had its fill after the likes of Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein.

Universal Studios wasn't kidding, however, and Siodmak suddenly had to pull a script out of thin air. Lon Chaney Jr., the original Wolf Man, was called in to literally revive his most famous role, as grave robbers unearthed Wolfie. Instead of going on another full moon rampage, our troubled furry friend sniffed out Dr. Frankenstein, who apparently was listed under his HMO, for the treatment of infernal canine curses.

Lugosi and Chaney end up in a death battle as the walls of Frankenstein's Castle come tumbling down, saving the studio from declaring a winner and allowing both creatures to return in such monster mashes as House of Frankenstein and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, wherein Dracula seeks to install Costello's brain in the flat-headed fiend for his own ghoulish pleasures.

2. King Kong vs. Godzilla

When Japan's most famous lizard squared off with America's super-sized gorilla it was a true World Series of Monster Slapdowns, but this 1962 slugfest only came into being when no American studio would back Frankenstein vs. King Kong.

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