Day 3: If Steve Harvey surveyed 100 people to name a monster, Frankenstein would make it on the board. The name has become synonymous with the monster, despite the monster not actually having a name and Frankenstein being the name of his creator, Dr. Victor. Originally published in 1818, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus tells the story of a young scientist who pieces together a person/creature and gives it life, only to abandon his creation, and be subsequently terrorized by it. The novel is rich with themes of alienation, knowledge, creation, and the purpose of life.
In 1931, Universal releases Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff with iconic make-up by Jack Pierce. This is the image most people associate with Frankenstein, even 90 years later; Flat head, green skin, bolts in the neck. Despite the film’s story having little to do with the book, it was a box office hit and was well received. Frankenstein is a great movie and still my first thought when I hear Frankenstein. Karloff created a great character with mere body language. Followed by 1935’s Bride of Frankenstein, a sequel equally as good as the original film.
I think the best book adaptation was 1994’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. With Robert De Niro giving the monster an honest, emotional portrayal, I really felt sorry for the character, making him much more human than monster. I can’t end without mentioning Young Frankenstein, the hilarious spoof directed by Mel Brooks.
Did you know: Legends Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., Bela Lugosi, and Christopher Lee have all played the role of Frankenstein’s monster. The films are (respectively): Frankenstein (1931), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and The Curse of Frankenstein (1957).
Day 2: He’s the ghost with the most. Beetlejuice hit the big screen in 1988. Brief synopsis: A recently deceased couple find themselves unable to move on, prisoners in their old house. When a family from the city buy the house and decide to completely renovate, the ghosts hire a bio-exorcist to scare them away, but once set free, he has other things in mind.
Normally, if you were to say “Directed by Tim Burton and Scored by Danny Elfman,” I’m sold, and this is no exception. The pair have worked together on many of my favorite movies, so it should be no surprise if they turn up again on another day. Beetlejuice has a great blend of creepiness, mild horror elements, comedy and larger than life characters. Betelgeuse (which is actually the spelling of the character’s name) shows up again as a cartoon (1989-1991). I remember loving to watch this on Saturday mornings. Other than utilizing characters from the movie, the cartoon has almost nothing to do with its predecessor. In the cartoon, Betelgeuse is best friends with Lydia and zany adventures in and out of the Netherworld follow.
Did you know: Michael Keaton spent only two weeks filming his part in the film, which lasts 17.5 minutes out of the 92-minute running time. It is Keaton’s favorite film of his own.
“It’s show time.”
For the 31 days in October, counting down to Halloween, I’ve decided to share my favorite monsters or ghoulies or ghosts, in no particular order.
Day 1: Zombies are everywhere, permeating every form of pop culture. Just when you think the zombie craze is dying off, it rises again. Zombies vary greatly, from voodoo mind control in 1932’s “White Zombie” starring the great Bela Lugosi, to the flesh eating risen dead, aka Modern Zombie, started by Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead.” Zombies are terrifying because zombies are us. If a friend or loved one doesn’t make it, that person is now trying to kill you.
Did You Know: The English word “zombie” is first recorded in 1819, in a history of Brazil by the poet Robert Southey, in the form of “zombi”. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the origin of the word as West African, and compares it to the Kongo words nzambi (god) and zumbi (fetish).
My Zombie top 5: Dead Snow (Film 2009), Resident Evil 2 (Video Game 1998), Marvel Zombies (Comic Book 2005-2006), The Walking Dead (Television 2010-Current), and Grave Titan (Magic the Gathering M11).