Frankenstein: How a Monster Became an Icon
Published by Pegasus Books, 2018. 254 pages
Edited by Sidney Perkowitz & Eddy Von Mueller
Being a sucker for any books on Frankenstein, the movies, the novel, and/or anything in between, it was a no-brainer to add this one to my library when it came out. At first glance, I figured it would be another one of those psycho-babble titles, filled with such ludicrous ideas and theories. But as I started to dig into it, not only were my initial fears were wrong, I found this a very intriguing and interesting read, with plenty of ideas, theories, and information that really got my brain working.
Editors Perkowitz and Von Mueller have gathered a collection of authors that really know this subject and have quite a few interesting things to say about it, as well as giving the reader a variety of subjects relating to Shelley and her famous creation. The book covers a variety of topics, from Shelley’s original novel, to the many adaptations of it, to the science and the morals and ethics behind it. There is even an interview with filmmaker Mel Brooks, talking about Young Frankenstein (1974)! There are chapters that discuss different aspects of Shelley’s story, such as the creature and how it is looked upon, perceived, and treated, and why? These are the parts that I found most fascinating since it really gave you some ideas to think about, if Shelley really had these in mind when she wrote it. We get to hear about how Frankenstein’s creature has invaded the media over the last 200 years and how it is used, which again, I found very interesting to see how far this character has come these last two centuries.
John L. Balderston
Born Oct. 22nd, 1889 – Died Mar. 8th, 1954
Ever wonder why the original ’30s film versions of Dracula and Frankenstein didn’t seem to follow the novels too much? Well, one of the men responsible for that was writer John L. Balderston. He started his career as a journalist, even before he finished school, working for different newspapers. He would even be a war correspondent during WWI. He eventually started in show business as a playwright, while continuing the journalism gigs as well.
In 1927, he was hired to re-write Hamilton Deane’s stage play of Dracula for American audiences, making more than a few changes. Because of its huge success, he was then hired to do the same for Peggy Webling’s play version of Frankenstein. He would later have his name attached to many of the early monster classics, even if his scripts were never used. But because of his work, a lot of the foundation of these early monster flicks were due to him.
In 1953, Balderston and the heirs of Webling won a lawsuit with Universal, getting paid not only $20,000 but also 1% of any of the films that resulted from their work, including any sequels!
Larry Fessenden is one of my favorite filmmakers, because not only does he create entertaining films, but they are smart, well made, and highly effective. Ever since my first experience with his early film Habit, it still remains what I would consider one of the best of modern day vampire films. So when I read the news that he was set to direct his version of Shelley’s Frankenstein, a personal favorite classic monster of mine, I was more than excited.
The will be called Depraved and should start filming this month. It will be a modern day re-imagining of Shelley’s tale. Now, I know we all hate the phrase “re-imagining”, but in the hands of Fessenden, I am more than hopeful that it will be something highly effective and memorable. Fessenden says “I’ve been moved by the iconic character since childhood and it is a great thrill to try and put my version on screen.”
It deals with a combat field surgeon that is dealing with his PTSD once he comes back from the Middle East. While back home in Brooklyn, he creates a man out of body parts in his homemade lab. The film will star David Call, Joshua Leonard, and Alex Breaux as the monster.
I try not to get too excited or look forward to films before they are even close to coming out, but I have to say, this one is one that I’ll be counting the days until its release.
With year being the 200 year anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s immortal tale, Frankenstein, I was hoping that there would be some sort of celebrating going on during the year. And it didn’t take long for author Christopher Fraying to appease that desire.
Published at the end of last year, this book “traces the journey of Shelley’s Frankenstein from limited-edition literature into the bloodstream of contemporary culture.” Since I’m not only a sucker for reference books, when they are one of my favorite subjects of the genre, then you got me right away. This volume is just over 200 pages, and a nice 9.5″ x 11″ sixe, so it will make a nice coffee table book. Plus, it looks to be filled with a wonderful array of images, photos, artwork, from the beginning to modern day adaptations. According to the description on the publisher’s website, the book also features “new research on the novel’s origins, and a facsimile reprint of the earliest-known manuscript version of the creation scene; visual material on adaptations for the stage, in magazines, on playbills, in prints and in book publications of the nineteenth century; series of visual essays on many of the film versions – and their inspirations in the history of art; and Frankenstein in popular culture – on posters, advertisements, packaging, in comics and graphic novels.”
How could any Frankenstein fan not want to immediately order their copy of this book? The retail price is $39.95, but you can get it on Amazon right now for considerably lower. In fact, the book has 4 reviews on Amazon already, and all of them give the book 5 stars. I know once we receive our copy, we’ll get our review posted as well.
Usually in October, a free weekend is non-existent for my wife and I. But somehow this year, we had one. So we took advantage of it, doing something we’ve been wanting to do for a while, but just never had the time. Which was heading out to the Haunted Halloween Flea Market in Wheaton, IL. We have several friends of ours that go to this every year, and even had some friends setting up there too. So the wife and I headed out early on Saturday afternoon, with a beautiful day for it too! No rain in the forecast and a nice cool evening.
The thing about flea markets, or really any kind of show that has vendors, you really need to know your market to know if the prices you’re seeing are fair or way over priced. I’m sure there are plenty of fair vendors out there, but there are also that are there trying to make a living, so their prices might be on the high “collector” side. You can find some great deals there, don’t get me wrong. You just need to know your stuff before hand, otherwise you can end up spending more than you should.
I must have missed when they mentioned this on their Facebook page, but Peveril Publishing is putting the finishing touches on their latest book, The Hammer Frankenstein Scrapbook. Just like their previous Dracula edition, it will cover all of the Frankenstein pictures that Hammer did from The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 to Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell in 1974 and all the gooey bits in between!
Like all of the titles coming from Peveril, this book with be filled with wonderful images, both in color and black and white, and a ton of information about the films and the people behind him. These titles are a bit pricy, especially getting them shipped to here in the states, but they are more than worth every single penny. They are just beautiful editions and are a sound investment as well. They are hoping to have the book out by October or November of this year.
The Monster Movies of Universal Studios
By James L. Neibaur
Published by Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. 213 pages.
Anytime there is a book about the Universal monster movies, then count me in, since I’m always up for revisiting these classic films. Of course, the only problem is that since this subject has been written about just a few times before, it might be tough to come up with something new and different for readers to get information that have haven’t several times before. But overall, I think that Neibaur does a good job discussing these films.
After a very brief history of Universal Studios (which could be a book on it’s own), the it follows all the movies from there that feature their main set of monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. So any film that featured one of these monsters, or possibly their descendent, the title is covered. There is a total of 29 features covered here, starting with 1931’s Dracula and ending with The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), with each chapter covering each of the titles. The credits and cast are listed, before Neibaur gets into details of each film, such as the plot, information about the people involved, and some other trivia as well.