Study Guide

Frankenstein Fandoms

Fandoms

We're going to go ahead and say that everyone is a fan of Frankenstein, even if you don't have a vintage Frankenstein poster hanging in your room. (Um, why not? It's awesome.)

Because Frankenstein's monster's bellow echoes down through popular culture, and still make fans tremble…and/or giggle. Whale's film hasn't just been imprinted on the cultural consciousness: it's burned images into each of our brains.

Close your eyes and picture Frankenstein's monster. You're probably thinking of a squarish head, gross neck bolts, and a stiff stride. And that image is 100% Whale—Mary Shelley had a very different idea of what ol' Monstro looked like:

His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips. (Source)

Lustrous, flowing black hair? That's a far cry from the flat-top that make-up artist Jack Pierce styled for the 1931 Universal film.

In fact, all of the Universal Pictures monsters remain touchstones and have been recycled and repackaged in innumerable hideous forms. There are still Dracula, Wolf Man, and Frankenstein's monster costumes—we're willing to bet that some guy at your last Halloween party was too lazy to do anything but wear a white tee and don a greenish mask with neck bolts.

The 1962 novelty song "The Monster Mash " celebrated the Universal monsters, as did Whodini's 1983 novelty rap hit "Haunted House of Rock."

In the early 1980s there was a cartoon series called "Drak Pak" which featured Universal monsters as superheroes (no, really.) In the 50's and 60's, two sitcoms, "The Munsters" and "The Addams Family" were inspired by the Universal films. There have even been breakfast cereals based on Universal Monsters—Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Fruit Brute (inspired by the Wolf Man).

Old Universal films still get (loosely) remade, too. The Mummy from 1999 and Victor Frankenstein (2015) hark back to the old Universal pictures. Frankenstein's monster keeps getting revived and re-revived, a corpse that never rests. You can even see him, perhaps, as a kind of dead daddy to all those popular zombies—if Henry Frankenstein were to watch The Walking Dead, he'd probably shout, "It's alive!"

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