Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Doctor Is In


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.

6 comments:

SQT said...

I read the first Dean Koontz Frankenstein book and was fairly underwhelmed.

I don't know, Frankenstein was never the scariest of the monsters to me. Both The Mummy and Frankenstein moved a bit too slow to seem very threatening. Kind of like zombies, are we really threatened by something that moves like molasses?

My favorite Frankenstein monster will always be Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein. I guess I like monsters as comic relief.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I remember being eleven and dreaming about the Karloff monster. While he may not have moved quickly, he always seemed to be blocking the doorway. He was immovable. He was a force. He terrified me.

When I purchased the Universal Monsters Frankenstein set, I turned off all lights, got my popcorn (literally) and tried watching it anew.

Peter P said...

If the most threatening monsters are fast, I guess werewolves can be very scary.

Even though some monsters are slow, getting trapped in a room with them can also be very scary.

Least-scary monster: that creature from the black lagoon.

deslily said...

*lmao here*.. least scarey monster was the creature from the black lagoon...

well peter, that depends on your age when you saw it I guess *still cracking up* I can remember seeing that movie in the theater, where I watched the "monster parts" between the cracks of the seats LOL..

Even funnier is I've met Ben Chapman (one of the two men who played the creature) at autograph shows ! (talking about the Original movie here)

Crunchy Carpets said...

I think the classic tale was not about scarey monsters without..but scarey monsters within.

In the novel Frankenstein is far scarier with his drive for almost god like status and then his psychotic fear of the creature.

The creature is a tortured soul. He knows what he is. There is nothing he can do about it. He is a freak....there is no place for him especially when his creator turns on him.

That is the story that should be still relevant today...not big scary monsters.

Besides..in the novel, he didn't look that scary..big and a bit beaten up....

SQT said...

Yeah, Dr. Frankenstein was far scarier than the monster no matter what incarnation of the story you prefer. The monster is more pitiable.