My friend Kiri runs films courses at the Oxford University and is currently working on a book on the history of British film studios. A status update on facebook about her course triggered a brief discussion on Universal monsters, Lego, et cetera, which I shall share here... (Thank you Kiri and John)
KIRI BbWALDEN: I’d watch that!
JOHN A C ALLEN: The Universal movies (and the early Frankensteins in particular) really boil down to the strength of the lead players and the indelible charisma they managed to show. Karloff had been in (I think) over 200 films by the time Frankenstein came around and he and Lugosi (Lugosi in particular) were very undervalued as actors (critics of Lugosi's 'wooden' acting should look at his portrayal of Ygor in the third and fourth Frankensteins where he is as blackly comic as Ernest Thesiger is in 'Bride'). James Whale of course has to be included as pivotal with his assimilation of expressionism and mixing together or many elements into a strong whole. Once the Laemmle family lost control of the studio, Whale concurrently lost control of his movies and retired. And let us not forget Jack Pierce (who incidentally died a pauper!) who created most of the stable of iconic monsters we know so well today, and that Universal Studios profit so much from. As Pierce was unceremoniously sacked (for being too slow and painstaking) during the late forties he didn't give us Creature from the Black Lagoon but he was behind all the others. In recent years the Karloff, Lugosi and Chaney estates have managed to claw something back in the way of licensing of likenesses but decades after the money horse bolted the stable.