The Horror Movie Turns 100!
To celebrate the genre’s birth with Thomas Edison’s 1910 short film Frankenstein, we round up our all-time favorite bolt-necked monstrosities.
Not only did Thomas Edison invent a genre when he filmed his 1910 Frankenstein short, he basically invented the Hollywood studio system. Rather than make something original, he went, “Look, people love Shelley’s book, right? It’s an easy sell. Just make a movie out of that. Built-in audience and a rabid fanbase. Quick, mock up some posters of Charles Ogle shirtless.”
Hands down the most famous incarnation of Frankenstein’s monster. Boris Karloff established the flattop, the bolts in the neck, the “Bill Walton in the fourth quarter” gait—pretty much everything you associate with the character.
Pretty much everything Karloff built, Mel Brooks tore down. Peter Boyle’s version of the monster practically rivals Karloff’s in terms of iconic status at this point, and it is a well-earned honor. Because Karloff never had the balls to try and pull off a song and dance number.
PHIL HARTMAN’S FRANKENSTEIN
Luckily, Boyle wasn’t the only Frankenstein’s monster willing to do the odd musical number. Hartman established a proud Frankenstein tradition on Saturday Night Live, one that we’re happy to see is still alive and well.
“FEED MY FRANKENSTEIN”
Aging eyeliner aficionado Alice Cooper penned perhaps the ultimate tribute to recently reincarnated crimes against nature (and we’ll fight you if you disagree, Edgar Winter Group). We’re not sure Frankenstein’s monster was ever a cannibal, but hey, are you going to argue with a guy in a frilly pirate shirt named Alice? We swore we’d never make that mistake twice.
Not since Adidas partnered with Patrick Ewing has a sneaker been so carefully crafted with a heavy-footed collection of barely-functioning body parts in mind. Behold, the Nike Frankenstein’s—which allowed Mary Shelley to finally achieve a branding success that could erase the ill-fated Percy Bysshe Latchet Tie Shoe disaster (Also known as the “Air Percys”).
Singing Frankenstein? Done. Leave it to Fred Gwynne’s doofy suburban Dadenstein to kick it up a notch with a poetry slam. This is just one of the many reasons to love the big, vampire-schtupping dolt. And anyone who mentions The Munsters Today gets the business end of an electrode in the babymaker.
DOYLE WOLFGANG VON FRANKENSTEIN
The Misfits had to dig pretty deep to find someone to out-creep founding member Glenn Danzig, and Doyle did so with flourish. Looking like the world’s only emo-themed professional wrestler, Doyle earns bonus points for trying to cultivate a scary monster image while hailing from New Jersey.
“From the makers of Basket Case and Brain Damage…” You have been warned. This 90s gem comes the closest, we feel, to bringing full circle the artistic endeavor kickstarted by Edison. Because we feel this is really what he was striving to achieve. And if we had a dime for every time someone said, “I need female body parts” around the office…
The epic struggle between Frankenberry and Count Chocula goes back centuries and has been well-documented. We, however, feel the ultimate outcome was never in doubt. A giant pink monster with strawberries for fingernails and an English butler accent? It’s like every letter we’ve ever written to Santa and Jesus come to life!
It’s pretty well known that ultimate Method actor Robert DeNiro tends to go to extremes when researching a role. Prepping to play the monster in Kenneth Branagh’s melodramatic take on the story, DeNiro (3:46 mark) apparently spent a lot of time around strip club bouncers and old baseballs.
We promise, we’re not making this up. In very recent continuity, Marvel Comics’ The Punisher—you know, Vietnam vet Frank Castle turned heavily-armed, mob-obsessed vigilante—has been killed and reanimated as a hulking body mod. He’s also leading a team that includes a vampire and a werewolf. You may balk, but we have to admit that this sounds more interesting that the movies he’sbeenin.
MAD WORLD’S FRANK
The Sin City-looking video game puts you up against a giant, bolt-covered Frankenstein’s Monster because, well, why not? Do video games have to explain themselves to you now? Can’t you just accept that some things are awesome, and their awesome need not be spelled out?
FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN
Leave it to Andy Warhol to make everything—soup cans, celebrity portraits, Frankenstein movies—creepy and disturbingly sexual and generally uncomfortable in every way. Of course, that also explains star Udo Kier’s entire career as well.