Tuesday, February 06, 2007
As a child he terrified me. A hulking shape. Unstoppable. The Frankenstein Monster. An abomination. A golem. The personification of the flaws of humanity. But in a time of cloning and mapping of the human genome, has science taken the horror from this great monster? And that question can be applied to not just the Frankenstein's monster but Dracula and others who haunted the black and white screen, crepping among gravestones, shadowy figures in the mist.
Look upon the faces of Frankenstein, the incarnations that have come to represent more than a character, but an archetype. Here, the classic Karloff. In his stead, the features reworked around the faces of Glen Strange and Bela Lugosi. There, Frankenstein reimagined by Hammer films first as Christopher Lee's twisted image, then again the almost bestial David Prowse interpretation. And of course, there's DeNiro, the mutilated, tortured visage of fury and vengeance.
Most recently, of course Dean Koontz has dragged the poor creature into the 21st century. In his new series, which I believe now spans two novels, biotech tycoon Victor Helios (actually Victor Frankenstein) wants to create a new race, raised in pods, programmed without the flaws of humanity. This new version, steps into the bright light of science, ripping the legend away from its dark roots.
Which returns us to the question...have we outgrown the monster. He is now a scientific oddity, a children's cereal, a cardboard cut out to use on halloween with no real effect, with no real meaning. If so, how sad. For me? I'm going to watch Karloff again and enjoy one of the greatest performances ever given.