Horror Flicks Go Upscale

By Chris Nashawaty
Updated November 04, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

Whodathunk that when Francis Ford Coppola made 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, he’d be launching a new trend: serious directors turning the cheap horror films of yore into the lavish, highbrow chillers of today. Since then, Mike Nichols has resurrected the werewolf (via Jack Nicholson), and now Kenneth Branagh, the actor-director who’s been touted as the new Olivier, is riffing on Frankenstein. What’s next? We can only imagine:

*Invisible Man Spike Lee updates Ralph Ellison’s novel about the anonymous state of a black man in a white world, adds a dash of the 1933 Claude Rains thriller about a science experiment gone awry, and presto! This goose-bump-packed drama features a struggling rapper (Tupac Shakur) who’s forced by his sleazy white manager (John Turturro) into drinking an invisibility potion so he can exploit him as hip-hop’s hottest novelty act since the Fat Boys.

*Jane Campion’s The Blob Building upon the success of The Piano, Campion fine-tunes the low-budget 1958 sci-fi flick, emphasizing its dimension as a female-revenge fantasy. A butch rebel (Matt Dillon), who presumes to save the infested town’s ”helpless girls,” gets his comeuppance when they sacrifice him to the creature. Message: Men are the real monsters.

*Mothra This Merchant Ivory remake of the classic 1962 Japanese monster flick about a pissed-off caterpillar that transforms itself into a metropolis-ravaging moth is set in 19th-century Venice, where a Victorian dandy and butterfly collector (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his pent-up fiancée (Emma Thompson) meet a species they’ll never live to classify.

*Creature From the Black Lagoon What do you do when the person you’re fated to fall in love with lives in the Amazon and is covered with gills? If you’re Meg Ryan in a movie by warm-all-over director Nora Ephron, you love him anyway, gosh darn it. Jon Lovitz plays the prehistoric fish monster’s advice-spouting buddy. Creature features a touching romantic climax in a lobster tank in a restaurant near the top of the Empire State Building.

*Richard Attenborough’s Blacula With Dracula already reinvented by Coppola, the whitest auteur alive tackles William Crain’s 1972 blaxploitation vampire cheapie about an African prince (now played by Carl Weathers) with a blood lust stalking the streets of L.A. and turns it into a three-hour funk opera. Scored by Bootsy Collins with the London Philharmonic.