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DIMINISHING RETURNS: A comedy podcast about movie sequels, prequels, spin-offs and reboots. Hosted by Allen and Chris. WARNING: Contains Scottish accents and spoilers.
In This Episode: It’s October the spookiest month of the year and we’re warming up for our annual trip to Crystal Lake by looking at, not only, a great horror sequel but one of the greatest movies of all time. This year is also the bicentennial year of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Gothic horror classic Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus (1818) so now seemed like a great time to assemble a monster of a show for you (pun intended)
We talk about how the story behind the writing of, the novel, Frankenstein is almost as interesting as the story itself. There is chat about how the Universal Monsters saved Universal Films from bankruptcy, the queer subtext of the movies, parallels into modern horror franchises and lots of chat about jerking off. Here, in the blog, we take a detour into Rock & Roll themed aside.
In pop culture terms Karloff’s Monster is one of cinema’s most iconic creations. Linked so closely with the film, its title and central conceit that he is erroneously referred to as Frankenstein. In the novel he is called many things monster, creature, demon, wretch, abortion, fiend and it. Without a name he has no identity and is spurned by his “father”. A sinning Adam cast out into the evil world by his creator, Doctor Henry Frankenstein, a man driven to the edge of madness by his god complex.
The movie, of course, changed the Doctor’s name from Victor to Henry Frankenstein. Possibly to make it more relatable or heroic for American audiences, although the book is set in Europe and the Arctic the film’s location is a little ambiguous.
Another odd popular misconception is the notion of Igor as Doctor’s assistant. An name almost as evocative as Frankenstein. Yet he’s not in the 1931 film, or the follow up, The Bride of Frankenstein. The assistant is Fritz, played by Dwight Frye who also returns for the 1935 sequel as Hans, another helper of the mad doctor. Frye also had a memorable turn in Universal’s Dracula starring Bela Lugosi released the same year as Frankenstein.
Frye was also memorialized in the Alice Cooper song The Ballad of Dwight Fry (not sure why they dropped the ‘E’) from the album Love It to Death- but more on Cooper in a bit.
It’s not until Son of Frankenstein (1939) that Ygor makes his debut as the mad scientist’s assistant. Played by Lugosi who somewhat ironically had passed on playing the Monster, after his successful turn as Dracula, due not wanting his face obscured by the heavy make up. In Son of Frankenstein Lugosi’s Ygor would appear alongside Boris Karloff on his third, and final, outing as the Monster.
Alice Cooper has spent his career cribbing from horror movies playing vaudevillian villains and occasional mad scientists in his various guises over the years. Those hints of horror can be found littered throughout his discography. Most clearly in 1975’s Welcome To My Nightmare (the first release after going solo and taking the band’s name as his identity) a truly spooky concept album featuring Drew Struzan artwork and a Vincent Price cameo.
Cooper released two Frankenstein related tracks in his long career. Feed My Frankenstein (referenced this episode by Chris), from 1991, was a cover of Zodiac Mindwarp & the Love Reaction and would feature in Wayne’s World (1992), We’re not worthy!
Prior to that Cooper was back at the movies with three tracks written for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. The lead single we mentioned over on the post for our episode covering that movie. Of course by Part VI Jason was pretty much a Frankenstein’s Monster himself, even being revived by lightening so it made sense that one of the other tracks for the movie was called Teenage Frankenstein.
That’s just as musician, Cooper has been cast in several horror movies. John Carpenter’s The Prince of Darkness (1987), Monster Dog (1984) and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991).
However, to bring it back and close out with a link to what I started talking about here, he was last on the big screen in 2012 in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows singing The Ballad of Dwight Fry, assisted by Chloe Grace Moretz.
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