Book Review — Vault of Frankenstein: 200 Years of the World’s Most Famous Monster

We are quickly approaching the 200 year anniversary of a novel written as a part of a challenge by a British woman staying in a castle on Lake Geneva. Mary Shelley’s little project has become one of the most recognized characters in the twentieth and twenty-first century. The novel floated around with classic literature of the period without making a huge wave until Universal Studios’ full-length movie in 1931. Since that time the Monster has appeared in numerous films and just about every form of entertainment from cartoons (Frankenstein Jr and Scooby Doo), an Aurora model kit, Lurch from the Addams Family and Herman Munster, and even the X-Files. Although these modern interpretations drift from the original storyline, many newer versions try to stick closer to the original in the story of themes such as the series Penny Dreadful. His fame has not been limited to America. A rather comical looking giant Frankenstein monster joins the Japanese monster collection battling a Godzilla-like monster.

The Vault of Frankenstein will give the reader a detailed history of the creature in all his variations. Today’s along with last century’s version of the monster have changed quite a bit. Shelley would never have dreamt that her monster would meet the Wolfman, Abbot, and Costello, or grace the box of breakfast cereal. She would also be surprised to find that there was an Igor (or “eye-gor” in Mel Brooks version) or the movies most quoted line “It’s Alive” was never written in the novel. In fact, the creation of the monster itself is under-represented in the book compared to the movies.

The Vault of Frankenstein is filled with photographs and memorabilia of Frankenstein’s creation. Photos of Shelley’s original writing, movie posters, photographs of the actors who played the creature, and various items and props are included in the pages of the book. The book includes all outgrowth that is influenced by the creature’s fame — from the Monster Mash to postage stamps. A well written and illustrated history of a cultural icon.

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One response to “Book Review — Vault of Frankenstein: 200 Years of the World’s Most Famous Monster

  1. Looks good. Regarding those newer film versions that try to stay close to the original (e.g., Kenneth Branagh’s), I think they are most boring when they follow the original (1st third of the movie) and become very interesting when they part ways with the novel (I don’t want to inject spoilers, but let’s say the final 3rd of the movie). Same with Coppola’s Dracula (see https://shakemyheadhollow.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/coppolas-dracula/). But the unsung hero in the history of Frankenstein is Jack Pierce, the make-up artist for Karloff in 1931. I love Shelley’s novel, but it was Pierce who created (with few cues from Shelley) the face that has haunted the popular imagination for over 100 years.

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