Can you feel it? The Halloween season is approaching, and approaching fast.
Halloween’s my favorite time of the year, for various reasons. It’s a time when child and adult alike are encouraged to cut loose and enjoy a good scare. It’s a time when jack-o-lanterns and plastic skeletons line the Fall-chilled streets, setting the tone for the season. And it’s a time when I can roam the streets dressed as a clown without the cops getting involved.
It’s no secret I love horror… I’ve discussed it before. And it’s also no secret that I love Frankensteins. So what better way to kick off the Halloween season than an article about ol’ Frankie himself? Therefore, I present to you: the Top 10 Frankensteins.
10: Big Frank
One of the interesting things about Frankenstein’s monster is his appeal to children. Compared to, say, Dracula or the Wolfman, Frankie’s always seemed somehow adorable. To kids, Frankstein’s always just been a misunderstood big ol’ lug. So naturally, there’s been plenty of kid-friendly Frankenstein toys out there, and this is one of the best. I had Big Frank growing up… the gist of it was simple enough. You opened up his chest and tinkered around with the gears and viscera within, with the goal of “fixing” him. There wasn’t a whole lot to it, but man would my childhood have been worse off without him.
9: DC Comic’s Frankenstein
There’s no shortage of Frankenstein throughout comics. Marvel has one, Wildstorm had one, and, of course, DC had one. DC’s Frankenstein is the best of the bunch, being a heroic gun-toting badass. He has a sword too, and goddamn why haven’t they made a movie about this guy yet?
8: Hammer’s Frankenstein
Hammer films is a British production company best remembered for their horror films made from the 50s to the 70s. Generally, these movies featured the same monsters as the iconic Universal horror films… Dracula, the Mummy, and, of course, Frankenstein. However, these films were fantastic in their own right, with a dark Gothic atmosphere and fantastic performances from the likes of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee! The creature himself was far more corpse-like than the more popular Boris Karloff version, and was quite a gruesome sight indeed.
7: Frankenstein’s Monster (Van Helsing)
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Van Helsing sucks. However, Frankenstein’s Monster is probably the best thing about the film. Here, the monster is quite intelligent, being an avid reader and fully capable of speech. He’s portrayed sympathetically, and you really feel bad for him. As a friend of mine so aptly put it, you could easily rename the film “Frankenstein’s bad day”. Still, all is well in the end. I don’t feel bad spoiling that for you because the movie is shit.
6: Young Frankenstein’s Monster
Ah, good ol’ Mel Brooks. Young Frankenstein is arguably his best and most beloved film, and how could it not be? It features Frankenstein’s Monster tapdancing to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” by Irving Berlin. Played by Peter Boyle, the monster here is childlike and innocent, though still prone to being frightened. He also apparently has a huge penis, so there’s that.
Okay, so Lurch’s status as a Frankenstein monster is debatable, but hey, he’s close enough. Lurch was, of course, the enormous and imposing butler of the Addams Family, remembered for his classic line “You rang?“. Generally quiet and expressionless, he nonetheless had a close friendship with Wednesday Addams which added quite a bit of heart to the show. Of course, there’s not a single member of the Addams Family who isn’t iconic.
4: Monster Squad’s Frankenstein
In addition to being a great movie, Monster Squad taught us all an important lesson: deep down, we ALL want to be friends with Frankenstein. In Monster Squad, Frankenstein is one of several monsters assembled by Count Dracula to help him take over the world. However, Frankie’s more than a little reluctant, and instead ends up befriending a little girl, Phoebe, as well as the rest of the Monster Squad. In this movie, instead of being scary, Frankenstein’s childlike, gentle, and, dare I say, adorable.
3: Herman Munster
Like the Addams Family, the Munsters was a sitcom about a strange, spooky family living in an otherwise normal neighborhood. Which show is better is a matter of preference, but there’s no denying that both are iconic pieces of television history. Herman was the patriarch of the Munster family, somewhat idiotic but good-natured all the same. Clearly, he was inspired by the Boris Karloff interpretation of Frankenstein’s monster, and arguably started the “friendly Frankenstein” trope. Plus, he looks suspiciously like John Kerry.
2: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Here we are: the original Frankenstein’s Monster, as described in Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. There’s never quite been an accurate adaption of the novel… neither in terms of story, nor the appearance of the monster itself. In the novel, the monster could speak and expressed great rage and sorrow at his own existence. The monster, while sympathetically written, is far from guiltless and commits several vile deeds throughout the novel. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s a great read.
1: Universal Studios’ Frankenstein
Some may be disappointed that I chose to rate the film version of Frankenstein’s Monster higher than the original. Admittedly, it was a difficult choice. But, when it comes down to it, the Universal Horror version of the monster is far more iconic and memorable, and to this day remains the face of Frankenstein in the public consciousness. It doesn’t matter if you’ve actually seen the films or not… Boris Karloff’s mug is the first thing to come to mind when someone mentions “Frankenstein”. And hey, the films are fantastic… at least the first three, anyway. Boris Karloff brought a believability to the role that few could pull off. Despite rarely speaking, he commands a presence not unlike that of Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula. To this day, most modern interpretations of the character are based off of Karloff’s classic performance. And hey; that’s just fine by me.
So that’s it for this list. There’s countless other versions of Frankenstein’s monster out there, but these stand out as the most memorable… to me at least. Hopefully someday Guillermo Del Toro will get around to directing his vision of the Frankenstein story, but for now, have these dancing Frankensteins.