The Rise and Fall of the Classic Monsters Part III

Here in Part III of our series, we will look deep into the misunderstood psyche of the legendary Frankenstein’s Monster.  Often simply referred to as “The Monster” or “The Creation”, Frankenstein’s Monster is a testament to science surpassing God.  Victor Frankenstein, a renowned and brilliant scientist, deems that he too can bestow life as the creator, and using the assembled body parts of freshly dead people, some scientific ingenuity, and one powerful lightning storm, he achieves that goal and unleashes his creation upon the world.

However, the story is also an allegory for mankind’s inability to accept life beyond his own perceived parameters.  While Victor is able to restore his terrible creation to life, he is incapable of giving that life what it needs to survive.  God created us in His image (perfect and beautiful) but The Monster was created in Frankenstein’s own image, his fractured, decayed, and horrific self-image.  The monster is a reflection of everything that is wrong with humanity and mankind and proves in its tragic finale that mankind being a deeply flawed creature has no right, nor true ability, to work as God does.

Though a horrific creature, the story of Frankenstein’s Monster is made all the more terrifying by the scope of its tragedy.  He is not a natural monster of legend.  He was made that way.

FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER

First chronicled in the 1818 horror novel by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein’s monster was an allegory for science run amok and the dangers inherent in mankind playing God.  A creature born purely of science, imbued with horrible life, the monster, now commonly referred to as Frankenstein, sought only solace with those who would accept it.  However, it’s horrific cobblestone body would make that impossible, and those that judged the creature harshly met a dire fate.  In turn, the creature eventually set upon its master, proving that the management of life belongs solely in the hands of God and nature.  Over the years, the allegory of “science as an evil” has taken many forms, but the monster itself is always one of pure terror, unstoppable rage, and utter tragedy.

Frankenstein (1910)

Originally, the first Frankenstein film terrified audiences, the notion of a such a creature shocking its viewers.  The concept of man playing god is solidly evil, its creation an abomination incapable of pity or remorse, aspects of humanity never taught to it by its self-centered and fearful creator.

SCARE FACTOR: 8.0

Frankenstein (1931)

When Victor Frankenstein created his monster, the creature was a beast with the mind of a child.  The creature was capable of great violence, but is now tragic in nature, a victim.  Cast out by the fearful Doctor, the monster takes to the world looking for a connection with someone, but finds only fear and repulsion.  As his intelligence and understanding grows, he begins to see himself as the victim, betrayed and tossed aside with no respect for his own feelings.  In turn, like all victims, he seeks retribution against his wrongdoer leading to the epic showdown in the conclusion.

SCARE FACTOR: 9.5

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Proving that women could be just as scary, the monster’s bride was terrifying and gave audiences a glimpse into the nature of women.  Now both sexes are seen as tragic in nature.  Stepping further into the nature of playing god, Victor creates a bride for his monster, giving him a gift that the world could never give him.  But his experiment is near perfection, and the end result a marvel.  However, she is incapable of accepting her intended mate and repels him.  If being turned away by humans was bad, nothing was more heartbreaking than being disinherited by one’s own kind.

SCARE FACTOR: 9.5

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

The monster comes back around and is a perverse, misunderstood and violent being.  Prone to uncontrollable remorseless rage, the creation is now one to be feared again.  The tale is told again, this time with better effects and a strong focus on the monster’s understanding of what he is and why he is here.  Seeing the Doctor’s selfishness before his own plight, he quickly turns vengeful and the results were far from tame.

SCARE FACTOR: 8.5

Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)

The low intelligence factor begins to turn the monster into more of a comic piece, a destructive tool to be used by other more intelligent beings.  It becomes a comic relief.  Bringing the two legends together proved somewhat ineffectual, the dimwitted colossus versus the immortal arrogance of the king of vampires.  The film is comical and never takes itself seriously, but the effects are an improvement and audiences are entertained as the monster can be seen as a hero.

SCARE FACTOR: 6.0

The Bride (1985)

Once again, the monster is tragic.  A being created by a selfish master who does not care for it.  It is a victim, forced into a world that does not and will never understand it.  One of the most poignant and deep looks at what it means to be unaccepted by those around you, the terrible price for being different, Frankenstein’s Monster finds solace in the friendship of an ambitious dwarf.  The two form a lasting bond, but when his friend is violently taken away from him, he returns home only to discover that he has been replaced by a better creation.  Needless to say, all hell breaks loose.

SCARE FACTOR: 2.0

The Monster Squad (1987)

The monster takes a turn back toward the comic relief and its low intelligence can in fact make it a good person once again as long as the influence it receives is positive in nature.  With no concept of evil or misdeed, the monster can be a valuable friend and ally in the fight against evil.  Leave it to the imagination and inability to feel hatred of a child to bridge the gap.

SCARE FACTOR: 3.5

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)

The creation is once more frightening to behold but more tragic in nature, a flawed experiment cast out by its creator.  Violence and depravity ensue as it fights to find a place in the world.  With top notch visual effects, the Monster quickly realizes that it can never belong and there is but one person to blame.  The creature in this rendition is intelligent, as it was in the original Shelley novel and that intelligence is manifested in its brilliant and brutal revenge against the cruel and selfish Doctor.

SCARE FACTOR: 3.0

OFFICIAL SCARE FACTOR:
6.0 Time has not been too kind to Bolt-Neck as his fear factor has slowly decreased over the years.  This fact can give thanks to the tragic nature of the monster and his natural dimwitted capacity or childlike nature.  Though always a horror to look at, it is always actions that speak louder than words and the monsters natural capacity to be peaceful leading those around it to push it to violence rings with audiences.  He may be a massive, towering, powerful creature, but he is a gentle giant that deserves our pity and respect as a living being.  The natural compassion of audiences has taken hold and it may take an enormous effort to bring the Creation into the limelight of horror once again.

Part IV of this series will take a look back at that notorious tomb dweller, the scourge of archeologists, the undying curse of the Pharaohs, The Mummy.

-Jarod