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Not Your Universal Monster:
The Hammer Frankenstein Series

August 4th, 2022

It’s alive! Out of the lab and in your earbuds, the latest episode of the Horror Drafts podcast featuring a two-hour discussion of all things Frankenstein is available now. Here’s the description from the podcast site:

This week we are joined by author, screenwriter, playwright, podcaster, and all-around Frankenstein expert Lawrence C. Connolly to draft Frankenstein adaptations!  Lawrence also tells us about his experience working on Nightmare Cinema and his own upcoming Frankenstein adaptation [coming this fall from Prime Stage Theatre]. This draft has it all from films to plays to comics and stage adaptations, we hope you enjoy!

And so … as promised in my previous post, I’d like to offer some images, links, and supplementary information for anyone interested in additional information on the Frankenstein adaptations mentioned in the free-ranging discussion with podcast hosts Nicholas Schwartz and Brantley Palmer.

In “Discovering Frankenstein,” I talked about the Warner Brothers cartoons that introduced me to the Frankenstein monster. Thanks to them, I was familiar with the iconic Universal design before I saw my first Frankenstein movie. Unfortunately, that movie was Hammer’s The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), and the monster looked nothing like the one I saw in the cartoons.

First revealed suspended in a glass vivarium (right), the creature in Revenge is understated in ways that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate until years later. A brief exchange between Dr. Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) and fellow physician Hans Kleve (Francis Matthews) says it all.

Kleve:
Who is he?

Frankenstein:
Nobody. He isn’t born yet, but this time it is perfect. Except for a few scars, he’s perfect!

Well, I didn’t think so, though today I appreciate screenwriter Jimmy Sangster’s attempt to echo the words of Mary Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein when he says that the creature’s “limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful!”

Today, I like the Hammer films much more than I did then, although as a kid I did get a kick out of a pair of disembodied eyes that Peter Cushing’s Frankenstein keeps in a fluid-filled vivarium (below). With their optic nerves swaying behind them like tails on a pair of goldfish, the eyes are one of the few things I remember from that initial viewing.

Two other Hammer installments mentioned in the podcast are Nick’s selection The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and my pick Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969). The latter benefits from a strong performance by Freddy Jones, who plays a man whose brain has been transplanted into a stranger’s body.

But movies and cartoons weren’t my only introductions to the various manifestations of Frankenstein and his creation.

In my next post, we’ll consider Archie Goodwin’s “The Monster,” which appeared in Creepy Magazine in 1966. It impressed me then, and it’s still a personal favorite.

You can watch The Revenge of Frankenstein for free at the Internet Archive and the Roku Channel. You can also purchase a digital or Blu-ray copy at Amazon. Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed has recently been released on Blu-ray from Warner Home Video. It’s also available from Amazon. You can hear more about them and tons of other Frankenstein stuff by clicking the Horror Drafts player below.

I’ll meet you there!