Mary Shelley died without knowing what a movie monster she created. There are over 80 films with the name Frankenstein in their title and that’s not including movies like Frankenhooker or Bride of Re-Animator. To decide which ones you want to watch this Halloween season, visit Frankensteinfilms.com, a website that details the Universal years, Hammer Horror, and the movies made after the 70’s that follow this basic formula: Scientist creates monster. Monster runs berserk. Justice is delivered to the scientist by the hands of his own creation.
The man behind the site is Andreas Rohrmoser, an Austrian who specialized in film studies and wrote his thesis on Frankenstein films. “The idea of creating an artificial man and therefore conquering death has probably always been a dream of mankind,” he says, explaining the story’s lasting appeal. However, he adds, “Most filmmakers only use the basic idea behind the Frankenstein story and come up with their own version.”
Two films faithful to the novel are Terror of Frankenstein, a Swedish film and the 2004 miniseries, Frankenstein staring William Hurt, Donald Sutherland and Luke Goss. “The problem is that both are also quite boring,” explains Rohrmoser. “Movies that take liberties with the plot are often much better and more entertaining.” But there is such a thing as straying too far. He doesn’t recommend Frankenstein Conquers the World, “a Japanese monster movie, like the Godzilla films, which has absolutely nothing to do with the original novel.”
Rohrmoser’s first exposure to the monster was watching classic horror movies on TV as a child of the ’70s. “I was totally frightened by Karloff” he says. The website is black and white as homage to Karloff’s Frankenstein and the classic Universal monster movies Rohrmoser grew up watching. But, he says, the monster doesn’t frighten him anymore because, “Today’s world, with all the terrible things going on, is much scarier than any movie.” Perhaps that’s why his favorite Frankenstein film today is the comedy Young Frankenstein. “It has some of the best movie moments ever,” he says, “Where Wolf? There Wolf!” What’s amazing to the webmaster is how well Shelley was able to foresee things happening in science today and how the lessons in the novel still apply. “We cannot just create new things and then leave all responsibility behind,” says Rohrmoser. Nuclear power and new developments in genetic engineering are but two examples, but he says, “Even today’s economy can be seen as a Frankenstein monster that was unleashed onto mankind, and now there is nobody to control the world’s economic system any more.”Read More