Frankenstein (Cultographies) by Robert Horton

By Robert Horton

James Whale's Frankenstein (1931) spawned a phenomenon that has been rooted in global tradition for many years. This cinematic Prometheus has generated numerous sequels, remakes, rip-offs, and parodies in each media, and this granddaddy of cult videos consistently renews its fans in every one iteration. in addition to an in-depth serious analyzing of the unique 1931 movie, this publication tracks Frankenstein the monster's heavy cultural tread from Mary Shelley's resource novel to today's net chat rooms.

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With some insight to the nature of nervous laughter, Hall observed that the movie ‘aroused so much excitement at the Mayfair yesterday that many in the audience laughed to cover their true feelings’. The Times of London was not as captivated. The reviewer admitted the transformation scene was ‘ingenious and striking’ but felt that the story, and Whale’s interest in it, fell off badly after that. indb 25 25 25/11/13 12:07:34 C ULTOGRAPHIE S tional motion picture ever made’. A reviewer for Film Weekly clucked, ‘It has no theme and points no moral.

Most likely because the literary property was still under copyright (unlike Mary Shelley’s book), sequels to the 1931 hit were a stop-and-start process; Dracula’s Daughter (1936), officially based on a separate Stoker story, lacked Lugosi, while MGM’s Return of the Vampire (1935), with Lugosi striding through cobwebs amidst Tod Browning’s direction, was a clear attempt to catch some of the Dracula mojo. , trying out the cape. Perhaps more than the staggered production history of Dracula sequels, and despite the enduring popularity of vampire movies in general, there was something a little bit effete about Dracula himself, despite the avowed thirst for blood.

Those not initiated in the cult might deride these conventions. Believers understand that the conventions are very much the point. The similarities from film to film create a feeling of inclusiveness in the process – indeed, fans tend to be disturbed by violent shifts away from the core ceremonies. indb 40 40 25/11/13 12:07:36 FRANKE NS TE IN WHAT HUMP? The Monster could emerge in movies that had nothing ostensibly to do with Frankenstein stories. Karloff himself put on the make-up again for a TV episode of Route 66, to cite one example.

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