In the 1960s, Castle Films released a series of Super 8 “digest” versions of Universal horror classics such as Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolfman. Each Castle digest only lasted around about four to ten minutes but each movie was carefully and expertly edited to keep the best of the action without losing out on too much of the storyline. They were the original “trash compactor” or supercut videos in a sense, distilling the “essence” of the films to the barest bones. I mean, who needs 9/10ths of most movies, anyway? Too much acting!
Castle Films started in 1924 distributing 16mm newsreels, documentaries, and sports films primarily to schools. The company was founded by Eugene W. Castle with an investment of $10,000. By 1936, the company started selling their films as home entertainment. By the late 1940s, Castle had obtained rights to produce “Soundies”—short one reelers of performances of three or four musical numbers. The company then moved from music to comedy, editing and producing highlight packages of Abbott and Costello, W. C. Fields and cartoons like Woody Woodpecker.
The shift to Universal classic horror films started when Castle released a Super 8 digest of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. This digest film’s success led to the release of a whole back catalog of Universal movies featuring monsters ranging from Frankenstein to the Creature. Eugene Castle died in 1960, so never saw the great success Castle Super 8 digest films had during the 1960s and 1970s, when they were advertised in countless comic books, nostalgia magazines and, of course, the pages of Forrest J. Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland.
The Return of Frankenstein
House of Dracula
The Mummy’s Tomb