Well, I figured I do some kind of post having to do with creepy stuff for Hallowe'en, but I couldn't see any of the scary shows that were playing in my area. So instead, here's a rundown of my favourite depictions of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in the media.

There's something extremely evocative about the book that has caused hundreds, maybe thousands of artists to interpret it to their medium. I chose five adaptations, but I have many other favourites and I love to talk about all the incarnations. Please post your favourites in the comments!

National Theatre, London
Danny Boyle

Nick Dear's theatrical adaptation, which was directed with typical finesse by Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting, sold out its run almost automatically. This was possibly due to the lucrative gimmick concept of having Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch swap roles as the Creature and Frankenstein every night. Luckily for me, there were cinema broadcasts of the event in my area.

The performance that I saw had Benedict Cumberbatch as Frankenstein and Johnny Lee Miller as the Creature. I may be unimaginative, but I couldn't have had it any other way.

There was so much to love about this show that it was extremely easy to overlook the shortcomings. These weaknesses mainly had to do with the script, which got cartoonish and episodic at times.

But the acting was fantastic all round, the staging was gorgeous and on an epic scale, the score by Underworld is a masterpiece in its own right (I have it on permanent replay on my music player at the moment), and the end product was something thought-provoking, intricate, and unforgettable.

I hope to God that this gets a DVD release!

Young Frankenstein
Mel Brooks

This easily makes my top three of Frankenstein films, which some people find surprising. But it was written by one of the greatest comics of film, Mel Brooks, and has a superb and multi-talented cast. Rather than the film 'parodies' of today, which are frankly tasteless and pointless, Young Frankenstein is an erudite and affectionate take-off of the early black and white monster movies that gave rise to such giants as Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. It is also extremely faithful to the concepts of Shelley's book, which is as surprising as it is delightful.

Young Frankenstein was made into a musical that hit Broadway a few years ago and almost immediately fizzled out. I personally enjoy the soundtrack immensely, because of the witty score and amazing cast. It's certainly a curiosity, at any rate:

Bride of Frankenstein
James Whale

This movie. Oh, this movie.

A product of the thirties' monster mash that Young Frankenstein sought to parody, Bride of Frankenstein is one of the most bizarre films I've ever seen, filled with camp appeal and taking every trope for a Frankenstein spin-off to the extreme.

It's also possibly the best Frankenstein film. Ever. It's impossible to explain why this is, the movie really must be seen to be believed. Underneath the camp 30's veneer is some deep and profound stuff, thoughts on fate and the Creator/Creation dynamic, and loads of evocative imagery that is open to interpretation and debate.

Plus Elsa Lanchester. Va-va-voom. :D

Frankenstein Created Woman
Terence Fisher

We have this odd little gem courtesy of Hammer Horror.

This is one of my favourite Hammer Horror, and I find it far superior to Hammer's other Frankenstein movies. It has little to do with its predecessors - Peter Cushing's Doctor Frankenstein carries scars from the previous installment but little else - so it's very much a stand-alone film. It also has a female creation, though Susan Denberg's creature is very different from the conception of Elsa Lanchester's bride.

Though initially slow to start, Frankenstein Created Woman manages to keep me involved with discussions that one wouldn't expect to find; the material aspect of a soul and when, exactly, it departs from the body. The script is about ten times better than its predecessors, and as should always be the case, Baron von Frankenstein is given the very best one-liners and quips.

Instead of creating a creature from bits and pieces, Frankenstein is more concerned with the preservation of a soul. He posits that a soul can be preserved if one can catch it quick enough and put it in a body without that spark. The creature he creates is a hybrid of two lovers, the soul of murderer's son and the body of a scarred and crippled barmaid. He also takes the opportunity to beautify the body, hence the presence of Playboy bunny Susan Denberg (who acts very well).

It's far from a perfect film, but Frankenstein Created Woman is interesting and highly imaginative, with a great script and cast and the typical vivid colour associated with Hammer Horror.

Tim Burton

Here's another affectionate parody, a short film made my Tim Burton while he was working for Disney. Incidentally, he was fired from Disney after he made this short film. It concerns a young boy who is determined to bring his dead dog back to life after he sees Galvanization demonstrated in his biology class. It's absolutely charming.

It's also been recently announced that Tim Burton is making a black and white stop-motion feature based on this film, so we'll see how it measures up to its original.


So, these are my top four Frankenstein adaptations. I know there are loads I've missed that are also excellent: the original Universal flick with Boris Karloff, any of the numerous comics, manga, and graphic novels that have Frankenstein as their launchpad, the many many films that take aspects from the story such as Rocky Horror. But I like these five best.

What are your favourites? Any recommendations?

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