Monster Mash: 'Alien Vs. Predator'

Alien and Predator Square Off in Theaters; Dracula and King Kong Await the Winner

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.