Frankenstein Fake News
It was initially planned by Universal that Bela Lugosi would take the role of the Monster in the original Frankenstein (1931). Due to the heavy makeup required and the fact that the character does not speak, Lugosi reportedly rejected the role. But not before the following advertisement appeared in the trades announcing his participation. It’s interesting that this depicts a Monster the size of King Kong terrorizing a modern metropolitan city.
Universal was eager to capitalize on the enormous success of Frankenstein with a sequel. Below is an ad for an early idea. This eventually resulted in Bride of Frankenstein (1935).
Vintage Newspaper Ads
Universal Studios Film Posters
Hammer Film Posters
Foreign Film Posters
Film Posters for Frankensteins on the Edge
I had a copy of this Classics Illustrated comic when I was a kid, and later some of the Monster of Frankenstein comics beautifully drawn by Mike Ploog. I don’t recall encountering any of the others, though The Frankenstein Monster vs. Winter Olympics is intriguing, if indeed it is real.
The less said about this, the better.
Aurora Plastics Corporation sold plastic model kits mainly of aircraft and automobiles. They also had a licensing deal with Universal Studios to market model kits based on the classic Universal monsters. The first of these, in 1961, was the Frankenstein monster. Here are the assembly instructions.
Basil Gogos drew nearly 50 covers for Famous Monsters of Filmland in the 1960s. These were often beautiful, and had a painterly quality. Here are some examples of his work. His rendering of Elsa Lanchester as the Bride of Frankenstein is incredible.
One of the most well-known scenes in Bride of Frankenstein is when the Monster, trying to elude an angry mob, encounters a blind hermit in his cabin. It’s the only time in the entire series when he’s treated warmly and with compassion. Below is that scene in two separate videos, followed by Mel Brooks’ version of it in Young Frankenstein (1974).
Last month I saw Depraved (2019), a modern-day update of the Frankenstein story set in New York. It was directed, written, edited, and produced (!) by Larry Fessenden. It’s quite good, very well made, and resonates with many aspects of Shelley’s novel and the earlier films. It’d no longer in theaters, as far as I know, but is available for streaming via Amazon Prime.
I also recently read that a film titled Bride of Frankenstein is in the works for release in 2021. Per IMDb, Javier Bardem is slated to play the Monster. Yesterday when I checked, Bill Condon was listed as director, but today he is not. He would be a good choice. He has a connection to the material via a film he directed in 1998, Gods and Monsters. That film dealt with the later years of James Whale and his infatuation with a hunky handyman, played by Brenden Fraser. We’ll just have to wait and see, but this is more evidence that the Frankenstein monster continues to lurk about and haunt our movie screens.
Here, in a portrait I saw at the Frankenstein exhibit at the Morgan Library, is Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley herself, the mother of all this.
Below is a 1963 interview with Boris Karloff regarding the Frankenstein films he was in. He comes across as an intelligent, decent man, and quite articulate concerning the Monster.
I think we’re at the end of this excursion. I want to close with a portrait I really like by Basil Gogos of Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster. And as Dr. Pretorius says to Henry Frankenstein while making a toast in The Bride of Frankenstein, “To a new world of gods and monsters!” — Ted Hicks