While searching around for Halloween fare, I came across an interesting, yet totally irrelevant - and surely made up - fact: October 29 is National Frankenstein Day. What does that mean to 99.9 percent of the public? Oh, nothing. But since our day of spook and scare is right around the corner, why not celebrate one of the greatest and most complex monsters of all time.
The original Frankenstein novel, by Mary Shelley, was first published anonymously, when she was only 21 years old. A reprint was published only a few years later with Shelley as the author, catapulting her into literary history. Initially, critics panned the book, but it became incredibly popular with the reading public. Much of its success was credited to a stage adaptation of the book that came out around the time of the second printing. Since that first adaptation, writers, playwrights and screenwriters alike have been turning the monster made up of nuts and bolts into various iterations, both successfully and not.
Why are we so obsessed with the Frankenstein monster, whose name isn't actually Frankenstein in the book? Do we all wish that we could have god-like powers to create another human being (isn't that what pregnancy is all about)? Or perhaps there is something more to it - the notion of creating a perfect human specimen is romantic and frightening; it's impossible. Or maybe we all just want to make ourselves a best friend... that can kick other people's asses for us.
Regardless, Frankenstein has captivated us decades and here are 10 of the best:
10. Frankenstein Unbound
This is a really bad movie; it's a futuristic take on the classic Shelley novel that involves time traveling and a cameo by Shelley herself. It has one redeeming feature and that is of Raul Julia playing the Frankenstein monster. Other than that, don't waste your time.
9. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Dr. Frank N. Furter makes the cardinal mistake of trying to create a man, Rocky. Rather than killing small children, Rocky is muscular, sexy and sensitive and he entices a young Susan Sarandon.
8. The Diary of Anne Frankenstein
Yes, there is a movie about Hitler creating a monster to rid the world of all his adversaries. It's absurd and silly and only slightly offensive. It is a short film, which was a part of the B-movie compilationChillerama
. You can probably guess that the "monster" eventually gets the best of Hitler and all is saved! If only it happened that way for real.
7. "Adam" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Series
I will admit that the Fourth Season of Buffy was never my favorite, the whole Initiative thing is kind of annoying. However, the "Adam" character, who was comprised of various demon parts, is pretty frightening, especially when he walks around calling Dr. Maggie Walsh, "mother." And of course it was even better when he kills her by accident/on purpose.
6. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
In 1994, Kenneth Branagh decided that the world needed a Frankenstein reboot and he brought in quite a few actors' actors to help him. The part of the monster is played by Robert Di Nero. The movie wasn't much of a commercial success, mostly because it isn't very good, but De Niro is frighteningly upsetting and human as Dr. Frankenstein's creation. It's worth a viewing only because of his performance.
5. The Bride of FrankensteinThe Bride of Frankenstein
is the classic tale of boy meets girl who was made specifically for him because he is a monster and girl finds him disgusting. So sad. But without her, the world would never know the beauty of bleaching white stripes into dark curly hair.
4. SNL's Frankenstein (Phil Hartman)
You can't not love Phil Hartman as Frankenstein. He's brilliant.
3. Frankenweenie (1984)
Before director Tim Burton made it big, he worked for Disney and spent a whole bunch of their money making the short live-action film,Frankenweenie
. Disney hated it and fired Burton (big mistake) for wasting their time and money; they deemed the short too scary for the kiddos. But it is a lovely little movie, sad and touching, and was eventually released on the collector's edition ofThe Nightmare Before Christmas
. Even sadder than the fact that it took so long for the world to see this little gem, but then the director decided to remake this film into a 3D stop motion animation, and it's just not very good.
2. Young Frankenstein
Maybe I am biased because the Frankenstein monster's brain came from someone named "Abby Normal," a nickname bestowed upon me for all my years, but I think it has more to do with the fact that this film is a comedic masterpiece across the board.
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It's alive! Some films stick with us forever, and the 1931 originalFrankenstein
starring Boris Karlof is one such film. It's scary, it's depressing and no matter how many time they try to recreate it, it can never be redone.