Font Size

For the vast majority the horror of James Whale’s 1931 motion picture FRANKENSTEIN is the lumbering being he creates which is viewed by most who see it as a monster.

For myself there is and always has been a deeper horror to this film and its subsequent sequels and iterations.

Imagine yourself a convicted criminal who has been executed.

Suddenly you find yourself once again alive in a patchwork body so hideous your maker shuns you. When you see your body reflected in a mirror or a pool of water you react in fear and horror yourself.

The only person who does not react in horror when she sees the monster is a child sitting by a lake.

The creature, starving for affection after nothing but the most brutal treatment from Frankenstein’s hunchbacked assistant, responds to her acceptance. In doing so he inadvertently causes her death.

In THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1936) it is a blind hermit who befriends the creature, teaches him to speak and awakes him to the joys of good food, drink and a cigar. In THE SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) and THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942) it is Ygor, himself shunned by the world, who is the monster’s friend. In this film once again a child befriends the creature with her trust.

 

 

 

After THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN the Karloff creature is no more. At the conclusion of that film Ygor’s brain has been transplanted into the creature. Now old, murderous Ygor is in charge. His plans for revenge on all who wronged him come to nothing when he becomes blind.

Bela Lugosi has been wrongly faulted for not playing the creature as Boris Karloff played him. He was right to play it as he did. For from the end of THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN on it is Ygor’s brain in the creature. Now, for the first time, he truly is a murderous monster bent on revenge.

Boris Karloff received an avalanche of mail from children who identified with the monster.

That says a lot about parenting in this world of ours.

What happened to the Karloff creature after THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN? The brain was tossed into the waste.

He was no more.

From then on it’s Old Ygor.

Unfortunately Universal cut Lugosi’s dialogue as Ygor in the creature in FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1941) so that his portrayal was kneecapped. Lugosi, however, played the monster as the part was written. Perhaps one day a voice artist can restore Bela’s lines.

Lugosi should not be faulted because the studio bosses got cold feet.

From then on in HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1945), HOUSE OF DRACULA (1946) and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948) the monster was played by Glenn Strange (and played well I might add considering how little he was given to do). I don’t know if Strange knew the creature lost his original brain in THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN.  The general pubic has always seen the creature as a monster. The general public has always seen that monster as the same monster in all the films. As with so much the general public thinks it knows, the general public is wrong. This is why it is important to pay attention.

Jesus taught that unless we come as a child we can not enter the kingdom of God. Children see the world as perfect. It is so called adults who teach them it is not.

The “adults” are wrong. The world is perfect.

See as a child sees.

 

Then there are no monsters.

–Reg Hartt 2019–06–28.

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.
Philip Larkin, “This Be the Verse” from Collected Poems. Copyright © Estate of Philip Larkin.  Reprinted by permission of Faber and Faber, Ltd.
Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

 

« »