Happy 200th Birthday, Frankenstein

by Trae Middlebrooks, Late Night Library Supervisor

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.  First published in January 1818, Shelley’s creation has been both durable and popular. Originally written for a competition between three friends to see who could write the best horror story, Frankenstein has since inspired many cinematic and literary adaptations for every genre and audience. The book is even considered by some to be one of the first true science fiction novels. To celebrate Frankenstein’s 200th birthday, check out some of my favorite representations of one of the best known fictional monsters, all of which you can find in the HPU Libraries!

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein is a hilarious black & white parody of the classic Universal horror films of the 1930’s.  Comedy legend Gene Wilder plays Frederick Frankenstein, who aspires to continue the re-animation experiments of his infamous late father. Hilarity ensues.

The film also stars Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, and Peter Boyle.

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

This movie is part fantastical rock opera, and part horror movie spoof. The film stars Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick as a milquetoast couple that find themselves stranded at a creepy mansion on a dark and stormy night. Inside the house they meet a variety of zany characters, including Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a mad scientist from an alien planet, played by Tim Curry. This story’s version of Frankenstein’s monster is called Rocky Horror, and looks like a blonde bodybuilder in a sparkly gold speedo. This is a VERY weird movie, but is undeniably a cult classic.

Penny Dreadful (2014-2016)

This 3 season television show follows Dorian Gray, Dracula, Dr Jekell/Mr. Hyde and other iconic literary characters as they try to navigate life in Victorian London. One of the main characters is Victor Frankenstein, a skilled yet massively egotistical doctor that is obsessed with transcending death. After his first successful attempt at reanimating life, he abandons The Creature to his own devices. The Creature takes the name Caliban (after the character from Shakespeare’s The Tempest) and becomes a stage hand in a ghoulish play while he plots his revenge on his creator.

Justice League (2018)

DC’s Justice League is the story 6 superheroes that band together for the first time to stop a global threat. One of the heroes is named Victor Stone, known more frequently by his heroic moniker Cyborg. Cyborg was created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez and first appeared in 1980. After being injured in an accident that destroyed most of his body, high school athlete Victor was outfitted with advanced artificial limbs by his genius scientist father.  After a period of questioning his humanity, Victor eventually decides to use his new abilities to help others.  The name “Victor Stone” is a direct reference to Victor Frankenstein, as “Frankenstein” means “Stone of the Franks” in German.

Victor LaValle’s Destroyer (2018)

Destroyer is sci-fi/horror graphic novel written by Victor LaValle with stunning art by Deitrich Smith. In this book, Frankenstein’s monster has become a misanthropic recluse that calls himself The Destroyer. He exists solely to eliminate the human race from the planet. When Dr. Baker (the last descendant of the Frankenstein family) loses her son Akai to a police shooting, she turns to science for her own justice. This puts her on a direct course with The Destroyer and his quest to eradicate all of humanity.

We hope you enjoy these adaptations and, as always, don’t hesitate to ask a librarian if you’d like more recommendations!