The Frankenstein Film Sourcebook

The Frankenstein Film Sourcebook

The Frankenstein Film Sourcebook

The Frankenstein Film Sourcebook


The endurance of the Frankenstein narrative as a modern cinematic myth is undeniable. Its flexibility has produced classic and contemporary horror films--most notably the Universal films of the thirties--but it has also resulted in unusual hybrids, such as musical horror-comedy (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), hyperbolic parody (Flesh for Frankenstein), and science fiction (the Alien and Terminator series). This sourcebook provides a complete guide to all of the story's filmic incarnations--including essential information such as cast, creative personnel, and plot summaries--and also guides the reader to relevant primary texts such as scripts, posters, production histories, and newspaper clippings. Utilizing an approach that is both popular and scholarly, and including spotlight essays that deal with contemporary academic approaches to the subject, The Frankenstein Film Sourcebook reveals the depth of the cinematic range of interpretations of a classic modern myth.


It is a commonplace that the story of Frankenstein has become a modern myth. It is not just the subject of a novel by Mary Shelley. It is a theme, like the story of Heracles, that has been played and replayed in countless variations—in novels, but also comic books, on radio, and in theater, TV, and film, with accompanying poster art. The story is reinterpreted again and again, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But however bad the re-tellings of the myth get, there always seems to be a new generation of fabulators ready to try once more—ready to re-locate and adjust for their own times the significance of the tale of the creature brought back from the dead.

Undoubtedly one reason for the frequent re-interpretation of the Frankenstein story is its multidimensionality—its weaving together of many themes including, birth, death, the family, science, and God. Simply at the level of character, the story explores the monumental rage of the monster, contextualizing that rage in the primal rejection of the progeny, the monster, by its progenitor, the creator/father Dr. Frankenstein. The destruction it wreaks, then, is made psychologically intelligible as a kind of existential envy—the wrath of the monster against all those better off than himself, all those with families, with communities, all those who belong.

For not only is the monster cast out of anything resembling a family—and more than once as the myth accumulates—but he is rejected again and again by all other forms of human association. He is an ultimate outsider, cosmically estranged, and the loneliness he feels gives way to furious anger, taking human life with abandon so that others too may feel his alienation.

The story rehearses in the most compelling and dramatic way a recurring psychological scenario, recognizable by anyone who has ever felt betrayed or rebuffed (and who hasn't?); and yet it also warns against the arrogance of science plunging into unknown waters, unaware of the catastrophic ripple effects that may follow in its wake. If in the nineteenth century, British caricaturists could use the monstrous rage of Frankenstein's monster as a figure for rebellion; if in the twentieth

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