Most people forget that the name "Frankenstein" refers to the doctor
who created the creature – the monster himself is known mostly as Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster. (Check out the classic Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, airing on AMC October 24, 25, and 28. )While this might seem like a matter of semantics, the fact that the Frankenstein name has come to be shared by both the doctor and his creation raises the interesting question of who is more evil — the monster or the man?
Frankenstein’s Monster has seen many lives, from the classic 1931 Frankenstein and the campy Flesh for Frankenstein to the goofy fun of Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster and Young Frankenstein. At some point in virtually every film, Dr. Frankenstein screams, "It’s alive! It’s alive!" as lightening
crackles and his monster, stitched together from deceased bodies,
Playing God, Dr. Frankenstein breathes life into his own creation, only to have it run amuck. Dr. Frankenstein embodies our desire for control over our own world but shows how even the best laid plans can go horribly wrong.
Frankenstein’s Monster is the original problem child. In the Boris Karloff original, it’s not that Frankenstein’s Monster was a heartless killing machine; though he did kill the little girl picking flowers, it was more misunderstood than malicious. The Monster is an unknowing, bumbling brute and the response of the mob is to kill him. Just as Doctor Frankenstein reflects our desire for control, Frankenstein’s Monster reflects our fear and hatred of something we don’t understand.
In Mary Shelley’s original novel title, "Frankenstein" had the subtitle of "The Modern Prometheus." As everyone (who studies Greek mythology) knows, Prometheus was a titan who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the mortals (thanks Wikipedia). Doctor Frankenstein found the keys to creation and let it loose on society. While fire ended up working out for us in the long run, animating a body made of dead bodies is a bit too far fetched for most people, especially when the original was released in 1931.
Today, Frankenstein and his Monster are a horror staple, welcomed with open arms.Read More