Published Oct 29, 2015Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has been revisited in pop culture numerous times. Sometimes, it works really well. Next month, for example, James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe will revisit the story in Victor Frankenstein (in theatres on November 25). Other times, however, the public-domain tale is used and abused in some seriously strange ways.
You'd think that once a famous monster has featured in an oh-so-'80s Huey Lewis video, appeared in a sketchy blaxploitation flick, and been marketed to kids as a sugary pink breakfast cereal, there would no further depths to plummet. And yet here we are, with six other outlandish misuses of the Frankenstein property.
Dell Comics' Frankenstein
Just about every major comics company has made a Frankenstein comic, so it was no surprise when the low-rent Dell Comics took their turn in 1966, putting out a standard, bland mini-adaptation of the familiar Shelley tale. The weirdness really began with the publication of issue #2, in which the tragic monster becomes a crime-fighting superhero. Guh?
Awakened by a bolt of lightning, and bequeathed a fortune from a kindly millionaire, the monster (now calling himself Frank Stone) puts on a tight wrestler's outfit and fights crime. This version of Frankenstein has a bright green face, so by day he passes himself off as a normal human by donning a flesh-coloured rubber mask. Weirdly, the rest of his body is not green, so he can go sleeveless and show off his manly biceps.
Dell's Frankenstein ran for an embarrassing four issues before vanishing.
Rock & Roll Frankenstein (1999)
This head-scratching, low-budget oddity tells the tale of a mad scientist trying to construct the ultimate rock star out of bits and pieces of famous rockers. "The King" receives the head of Elvis Presley, the hands of Jimi Hendrix, and the buttocks of Sid Vicious. All that's needed to complete this patchwork masterpiece is the virile member of Jim Morrison. Unfortunately, the doctor's comic relief sidekick accidentally dissolves the Lizard King's tallywacker in acid, so he substitutes the next preserved dong that he finds. It turns out to be Liberace's, and the monster winds up gay.
Believe it or not, you used to be able to watch this bad-taste curio on Netflix Canada!
Monster Brawl (2011)
When film festival viewers attended screenings of Monster Brawl, they were instructed to "cheer on their favourite monsters" and to treat the spectacle as a sort of pay-per-view wrestling event rather than as a movie. That's probably because it doesn't work as a movie at all. We're introduced to such pugilists as "Cyclops," "The Mummy" and "Witch Bitch," with good ol' Frankenstein's monster himself emerging as the crowd favourite. The Kids in the Hall's Dave Foley does his best as a ringside commentator, but for the most part, this flick is just for people who think that professional wrestling isn't fake enough.
Claymation Comedy of Horrors (1991)
Have you seen Will Vinton's Claymation Comedy of Horrors? In this adorable kid's animation, Wilshire Pig goes crazy, douses "Frankenswine's Monster" with growth formula, and rides the now-gigantic monster on a brutal rampage through the countryside while singing "Climb every mountain!" Wilshire's antisocial tendencies got even worse in Claymation Easter (1992), in which the nasty swine kidnaps the Easter Bunny, and feeds him to a shark. Yes, really.
Army of Frankensteins (2013)
Well, you can't say that Army of Frankensteins (2013) doesn't try to deliver on the promise of it's title. A time-travel mishap leads to an entire battalion of bolt-necked monsters joining the Civil War. Yipe!
Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (2009)
I must admit that I find the Japanese splatter comedy Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (2009) to be exhausting and tedious, despite its gleeful determination to be outrageous. Still, there is one moment of surreal insanity in the film that I wholeheartedly applaud. At one point, "Frankenstein Girl" bolts her own severed limb onto the top of her head, spins it like a helicopter blade, and takes flight. That's just… I… I love that.
20th Century Fox's Victor Frankenstein will be in theatres on November 25.