It’s Alive


One of Nino Carbe’s excellent FRANKENSTEIN illustrations.

Sometime between 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM* on June 16, 1816, a teenager had a vision which continues to speak to us. Well, let’s let her tell it in her own words:

“I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.”

That teenager was, of course, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, later to find literary immortality as Mary Shelley. The vision was the genesis of FRANKENSTEIN, one of horror’s greatest works as well as being my favorite novel. Without that novel, this site wouldn’t exist.

Rather than repeat myself at length, I will say, “thank you for everything, Mary Shelley.”

* Astronomer Donald Olson calculated this in September 2011. Science!



Victor Frankenstein

I liked it. Granted, this is a lighter, more “pop” take on the material — it’s not a “real” horror movie — but a Victorian setting, monsters… I’m a pretty easy mark for this kind of material. I’m sure that some people are grousing about this movie’s lack of fidelity of Mary Shelley’s novel, but if that’s your position, do yourself a favor and don’t watch any Frankenstein movies. None of them are faithful.

The tone I picked up from the U.S. trailer proved to be pretty spot-on: imagine a cross between the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes flicks and later-period Hammer Gothic. I thought Daniel Radcliffe’s Igor and James McAvoy’s Victor had a likable, easy chemistry. I was actually pretty impressed with the monster once he showed up near the end, too. He’s massive and powerful, almost Hulk-like, but realized with better special effects. Plus they kept his visual appearance simple, rather than trying to graft on various contraptions a la the monster in Van Helsing.

I guess what it boils down to is, if you saw the trailers and thought it looked fun, you’ll like the full film. It will probably turn out to be the 2010’s answer to The Bride, but, as I’ve said before, I liked that movie, too.

Happy Birthday, Mary Shelley!

Mary Shelley

I didn’t mean for this blog to be dominated by birthday announcements as of late, but this is one I cannot fail to mention: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born August 30, 1797. While she wrote many things, her best known work is, of course, Frankenstein. Frankenstein is my favorite novel, with the Monster being my favorite fictional being of all time.

While Frankenstein is a novel of ideas, I must admit that my love of it would probably be seen as superficial by many scholarly (and wannabe scholarly) types. I love the novel because it perfectly depicts the emotions of alienation; even its melodramatic aspects enhance that. Frankenstein is my The Catcher in the Rye.

Possibly because I love the story on a visceral rather than intellectual level, I’m not snooty about it. Like many people, my first exposure to the Monster was through the imagery spawned by Boris Karloff’s version. While Mary Shelley’s original, eloquent version of the Monster is my favorite incarnation, I love a lot of the “pop culture Frankenstein” depictions. James Whale’s Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein rank high in my mind, with Bride possibly being my favorite movie of all time — proof that terrible adaptations do not necessarily equal terrible films. I’m one of the few who will cop to liking Kenneth Branagh’s version with Robert De Niro.

But the best adaptation of the character I love is Rory Kinnear’s Caliban on Penny Dreadful. The show modified the Monster’s back story, but emotionally, Kinnear nails it every time he is on screen. I like to think he’s doing Shelley proud.

There’s been debate over whether Frankenstein is horror or science fiction. I think that the novel’s status as science fiction is overstated since Victor Frankenstein was a student of the occult, and the Monster’s actual creation is vague. While depicting the creation makes for some great movie imagery, the specifics are beside the point of the novel.

Oh, and it doesn’t bother me that people mistakenly call the Monster “Frankenstein.” I take the approach that children often take their father’s surnames. Besides, there are much more important things in the world to get agitated about.

At any rate… thank you, Mary Shelley.

Two “Victor Frankenstein” trailers and a poster arrive

The US Trailer

The UK Trailer

I mentioned to someone a couple of days ago that I found it odd that I hadn’t seen any advertising for Victor Frankenstein yet. So today, two trailers and a poster debuted — how’s that for service?

The tone of the US trailer is relatively light and humorous, while the UK trailer looks more serious. Taking both into consideration, I’m reminded of a cross between the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies and the later Hammer films like Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde.

The film’s Facebook page also unveiled a poster, which I’ve included after the jump…


“Penny Dreadful” action figures coming to SDCC

Caliban action figure

Bif Bang Pow! will be releasing limited edition Penny Dreadful action figures at San Diego Comic Con. Since I won’t be going, I’m hoping that some of these will be left over so I can grab them. I don’t buy that many action figures, but I would make an exception here. Besides, Caliban and Victor would make excellent additions to my collection of Frankenstein stuff.


“Entertainment Weekly” debuts new still from “Victor Frankenstein”

Victor Frankenstein

One of my most anticipated films is 20th Century Fox’s Victor Frankenstein, directed by Paul McGuigan. Entertainment Weekly unveiled a new look at the film, which stars James McAvoy as Victor and Daniel Radcliffe as Igor. Radcliffe may be best-known to the masses as Harry Potter, but he’s become one of my favorite contemporary actors due to his roles in the ghost story The Woman in Black and the marvelous dark fantasy Horns. I like McAvoy as well, and combined with the subject matter, Victor Frankenstein has a lot of potential.

The movie takes the unusual approach of being told from Igor’s perspective, with a primary focus being on the friendship between him and Victor. As readers know, the character trope named Igor is the product of popular culture rather than Mary Shelley’s novel — or the original Universal films, for that matter. Bela Lugosi played a character named Ygor in Son of Frankenstein, but that character was a free agent as opposed to a hunchbacked lackey. The Igor character type is more based on Dwight Frye’s Fritz from James Whale’s Frankenstein than anything else. Victor Frankenstein looks to be the definitive depiction of a character named Igor in an actual Frankenstein movie.

Victor Frankenstein is currently set for release on November 25, 2015.

SYNOPSIS: James McAvoy is Victor Von Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe stars as Igor in a unique, never-before-seen twist on Mary Shelley’s classic 19th century novel. Told from Igor’s perspective, we see the troubled young assistant’s dark origins, his redemptive friendship with the young medical student Victor Von Frankenstein, and become eyewitnesses to the emergence of how Frankenstein became the man—and the legend—we know today.

Image source: Entertainment Weekly