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Frankenstein Variants

The following came about when a webgroup I frequent was asked if they knew of any film and book variants on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein novel. I answered at excessive length, but others threw into the mix, too. Thanks to the members of the Mt Lawley Mafia (especially Chris Dickenson, whose handy thematic snapshot I quote at the end).

Rough Notes on Frankenstein variants

Film versions

There was a silent Frankenstein (1910) (it was a very early contender in the popular film race), and a very successful stage adaptation, which inspired the famous James Whale version (a good source on this is David Skal's The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror, which gives a thorough account of the film’s genesis. There is also an excellent documentary, narrated and written by Skal, on the recent classic Universal Monster Classics DVD of "Frankenstein").

The success of the 1931 Frankenstein with Boris Karloff led to a series of follow-ups:

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) (a must-see in any terms)
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
House of Frankenstein (1944)
Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

In this series of films, the consistent element is the monster -- firstly played by Karloff and then less successfully by others, including Bela Lugosi (who, in a fit of ego-driven miscalculation, had refused the role first up on the grounds that the monster had no dialogue, only grunts), Lon Chaney Jr and Glenn Strange. The impact of the ‘interfering with nature will destroy us’ theme was gradually lost to the demands of franchising.

In the late 1950s when Hammer films started their successful run of horror films -- and in the process revitalised the whole horror film industry – the story they started with was "Frankenstein". However, they couldn't get the copyright to use the make-up designs of the famous Universal version, and this governed the nature of their film sequence by forcing a concentration on the good doctor (played by Peter Cushing) rather than his creation.

The director of the series was Terence Fisher, and his Frankenstein films, taken as a whole, are my favourite variant on the novel. The films are:

Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)
Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1974)

The Evil of Frankenstein was directed by Freddie Fisher, as Fisher wasn't available, but nevertheless stars Peter Cushing in the title role and more or less fits into the sequence. Hammer made one other Frankenstein film, this one without Cushing: Horror of Frankenstein (1970). It was not meant to be part of the main sequence and was in fact a humorous/satirical variant.

Generally, it's Hammer's Dracula films that get the kudos, but in my opinion, the Frankenstein films are Fisher's greatest achievement, taken as a sequence rather than as individual works. There is a definite development that takes place, with Dr Frankenstein himself as the central protagonist (rather than, as in the Universal Frankenstein films, the monster). His character is developed as the series progresses -- with the relative moralities being explored and themes of class structure and responsibility high on the agenda. Often Cushing’s Frankenstein is seen as a man out of his time, misunderstood and hounded by the ignorant, and conservative, scientific community. He is up against a particular (and failing) social background – a class system based on aristocratic privilege – that is fighting for its life, though what he offers in return is another utterly pragmatic and amoral power structure that is equally self-serving and in the end self-destructive: he represents the modern scientific world that replaces the old feudal one. In Revenge of Frankenstein he even becomes his own creation! The films get rather dark and cynical as they progress.

The last film (Monster from Hell) was finished mere weeks before the director's death and really does represent a pessimistic view. The fact that it is set in a madhouse and that the only sympathetic characters are a young deaf and dumb woman who is raped by the inmates and exploitatively destroyed, and the monster, who is literally torn to bits by the mob, says heaps about what Fisher felt about the moral possibilities inherent in modern sensibilities.

At any rate, these films were the beginnings of the modern horror film and set the basis for what was to come.

There was a rush of great (and greatly bad) exploitation horror films based on Frankenstein in the 1970s and 1980s – often Italian. One of the best is Andy Warhol's Flesh for Frankenstein, directed by Paul Morrissey according to the credits, through really it was Italian exploitation master, Antonio Margheriti, who did the deed. Filmed in 3D, no less, it’s real 'liver-in-your-lap' stuff (as someone once described it), and totally amoral.

There have also been assorted other variants featuring the Frankenstein character, with Frankenstein and/or his creature in the old West (Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966)) and I Was A Teenage Frankenstein (1959) (a good one, this – Frankenstein as a metaphor for socially conditioned teenage acne), not to mention The Teenage Frankenstein Meets the Teenage Werewolf (1959), and lots of others. The Monster Squad, a very entertaining horror-comedy pastiche from the 1980s, re-envisions all the universal monsters (including the Creature from the Black Lagoon). In this film the monster teams up with a gang of kids to defeat Dracula’s world-conquering ambitions.

Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965) [Furankenshutain tai chitei kaijû Baragon (1965)] and its sequel, War of the Gargantuas (1966) [Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira (1966)] are Japanese daikaiju films. The premise is this: The Nazis ship the still beating heart of the monster to Hiroshima just before the bomb is dropped, it is eaten by a scrounging vagrant kid, who subsequently gets bigger and bigger and escapes into the backwoods. Eventually he gets to be the size of Godzilla but retains his passing resemblance to Frankenstein's monster. Fantastic!

In 1976, there was a Doctor Who episode that directly draws upon the Frankenstein story, called The Brain of Morbius. In this story, a renegade Time Lord scientist is building himself a new body from the corpses of unfortunate space travelers who happen upon his planet. The four-part story is very gothic and very dark, with a definite Hammer horror vibe, as did many of the Doctor Who stories from this period of Tom Baker's time as the famous Time Lord.

Gods and Monsters (2000) is about James Whale (director of the 1931 film) in his dying days, based on the novel Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram (1995).

Mel Brooke’s Young Frankenstein (1974) is essential viewing for its referencing and loving parody of the Universal film tradition of Frankenstein.

Frankenhooker – a young man who's girlfriend has been killed by a lawn mower, scavenges bits from exploded hookers -- who die through ingestion of a sort of explosive form of cocaine – in order to re-build her, and ends up creating a Frankenstein monster with a strong sexual attitude and street-walker clothes (as well as stitches).

An X-Files episode, "Postmodern Prometheus”, filmed in lovely black-and-white, is a tribute to the Universal film tradition, but (as the title suggests) also explores some of the novel’s issues.

As well as stories based on the novel, there is a tradition of stories based on the history of the writing of the novel (you know, the Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Dr Polidori, Mary weekend of drugs and storytelling in a Swiss chalet). Bride of Frankenstein includes a sequence in this vein. But there is also Ken Russell's excellent Gothic (well, I like it), and several others that skip my mind at present.

There were also several TV mini-series/telemovies that extended the book. The best was Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) (which concentrates on the doppelganger aspect of the story). Another was The House of Frankenstein (1993) , which takes a sort of modern corporate slant – Frankenstein meets Dallas, as it were.

Meanwhile, to see a good listing of the various Frankenstein films, go to the Internet Movie Database:

Afterthought: Tim Burton's early cartoon Frankenweenie (1984) -- about a dog.

And there’s always The Rocky Horror Picture Show: “In just seven days I’m gonna make you a man”…

Another trend has seen Frankenstein (the monster, not the man) depicted as an action hero. I, Frankenstein, directed by Stuart Beattie in 2014 and based on a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux, depacts the monster, now named Adam, becoming entangled in a war between demons and gargoyles, thus gaining a soul in the process due to his selfless actions. The monster-as-hero trope also drives the DC Comics' Frankenstein, as he fights to save the world in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory. Later he re-appeared as part of a team of movie-inspired monsters called the Creature Commandos, and in 2011, as Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. – the Super-Human Advanced Defense Executive. When that series was cancelled he joined the Justice League Dark team, fighting supernatural evil wherever it arises.


Literary variants

Frankenstein Unbound, Brian Aldiss (and the Roger Corman film of the same name) is a sort of time travel/alternate reality experiment, and reflects Aldiss’ view, expounded in his history of SF, The Billion Year Spree, that the novel Frankenstein represents the beginnings of the genre.

Friend by Diana Henstall (with a lesser film version by Wes Craven – Deadly Friend): a robotic variant that makes direct reference to Frankenstein.

The Cross of Frankenstein – a supposed sequel to the original novel by Robert J. Myers, who also wrote The Slave of Frankenstein.

There was also a series of 'pulp' novels in the 60s or 70s, with the monster as hero. Reminiscent of a DC comics series with the monster in a similar role.

Leonard Wolf's The Essential Frankenstein (annotated), Radu Florescu's In Search of Frankenstein, Chapter III of Stephen King's Danse Macabre, Christopher Bram's Father of Frankenstein (faithfully filmed as Gods and Monsters), and some of the stories in Byron Preiss's The Ultimate Frankenstein.

The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak (1994) gives an account of the Frankenstein experiments from the point-of-view of Dr Frankenstein’s wife – a feminist retelling with a narrator whose character is very similar to that of Frankenstein’s creator, Mary Shelley. And a film has even been made of it, apparently (2002).

Michael Bishop's Brittle Innings has the monster playing baseball in an amateur southern league in the early 1940s.

The Jigsaw Woman by Kim Antieau is a feminist Frankenstein story. See for a review of it.


"Of course, most of the texts named above take the moral of the story to be one of "don't mess with creation, it will come back to bite you". This is a bit simplistic. The original moral of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein story -- that a creator must take responsibility for his creation (as must any parent) is very relevant to our times, and has been repeated countless times. The original book was subtitled "The Modern Prometheus", a reference to the classical myth of the Titan who created humankind, against the wishes of the other gods (and then suffers greatly for giving them the secret of fire, making them potential rivals of the gods for power)."

Chris Dickenson

Media list (from IMDB)

1. Frankenstein (1931)
2. Frankenstein (1984/II)
3. Frankenstein (1994)
...aka Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)
4. Frankenstein (1910)
5. Frankenstein - 1970 (1958)
...aka Frankenstein (1958) (USA: TV title)
6. Frankenstein 80 (1972)
...aka Frankenstein 80 (1972) (USA)
...aka Mosaic (1972) (Europe)
...aka Mosaico (1972)
7. Frankenstein 90 (1984)
8. Frankenstein: A Cinematic Scrapbook (1991)
9. Frankenstein all'italiana (1975)
...aka Frankenstein: Italian Style (1975)
10. Frankenstein and Me (1996)
...aka Frankenstein et moi (1996) (Canada: French title)
11. Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)
12. Frankenstein & the Werewolf Reborn! (2000)
13. Frankenstein's Cat (1942)
14. Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)
...aka Frankenstein Made Woman (1967)
15. Frankenstein's Daughter (1958)
...aka She Monster of the Night (1958)
16. Frankenstein, el vampiro y compañía (1962)
...aka Frankenstein, the Vampire and Co. (1962)
17. Frankenstein General Hospital (1988)
18. Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie (1984)
19. Frankenstein Island (1981)
...aka Frankenstein's Island (1981)
20. Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)
...aka Duel of the Space Monsters (1965) (UK)
...aka Frankenstein Meets the Space Men (1965)
...aka Mars Attacks Puerto Rico (1965)
...aka Mars Invades Puerto Rico (1965)
...aka Operation San Juan (1965)
21. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
22. Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)
23. Frankenstein's Planet of Monsters! (1995)
24. Frankenstein Punk (1986)
25. Frankenstein Reborn! (1998)
26. Frankenstein Trestle, The (1899)
...aka Frankenstein's Trestle (1902) (USA: copyright title)
27. Frankenstein Unbound (1990)
...aka Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound (1990)
28. Big Monster on Campus (1998)
...aka Boltneck (2000) (USA: video title)
...aka Teen Monster (1998)
...aka Frankenstein lebt (1998) (Germany)
29. Flick (1970)
...aka Dr. Frankenstein On Campus (1970) (USA)
...aka Frankenstein on Campus (1970) (UK)
30. Furankenshutain no kaijû: Sanda tai Gaira (1966)
...aka Adventure of Gargantuas (1966)
...aka Duel of the Gargantuas (1966)
...aka Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. Gailah (1966)
...aka Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira (1966) (literal English title)
...aka Sanda vs. Gailah (1966)
...aka War of the Gargantuas, The (1970) (USA)
...aka Frankenstein hyökkää (1974) (Finland)
31. Furankenshutain tai chitei kaijû Baragon (1965)
...aka Frankenstein Conquers the World (1966) (USA)
...aka Frankenstein Meets the Giant Devil Fish (1965)
...aka Frankenstein and the Giant Lizard (1965)
...aka Frankenstein vs. Baragon (1965) (International: English title)
...aka Frankenstein vs. the Giant Devil Fish (1965)
...aka Frankenstein vs. the Subterranean Monster (1965)
...aka Furankensuten to Baragon (1965)
...aka Frankenstein alla conquista della terra (1965) (Italy)
32. Gojira-Ebira-Mosura: Nankai no daiketto (1966)
...aka Big Duel in the North (1966) (International: English title)
...aka Big Duel in the North Sea (1966) (International: English title)
...aka Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966) (UK)
...aka Ebirah, Terror of the Deep (1966)
...aka Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster (1969) (USA)
...aka Great South Seas Duel, The (1966)
...aka Frankenstein und die Ungeheuer aus dem Meer (1969) (West Germany)
33. Kaijû sôshingeki (1968)
...aka All Monsters Attack (1968)
...aka Attack of the Marching Monsters (1968)
...aka Destroy All Monsters (1969) (USA)
...aka Gojira dengeki taisakusen (1972) (Japan: reissue title)
...aka March of the Monsters, The (1968)
...aka Monster Attack March (1968)
...aka Monster Invasion (1968) (literal English title)
...aka Operation Monsterland (1968) (UK)
...aka Frankenstein und die Monster aus dem Weltall (1971) (West Germany)
34. Marca del Hombre-lobo, La (1968)
...aka Frankenstein's Bloody Terror (1972) (USA)
...aka Hell's Creatures (1972) (USA: promotional title)
...aka Mark of the Wolfman, The (1968) (International: English title: informal literal title)
...aka Vampire of Dr. Dracula, The (1968)
...aka Werewolf's Mark, The (1968)
...aka Wolfman of Count Dracula, The (1972) (USA: promotional title)
35. Monster Mash: The Movie (1995)
...aka Frankenstein Sings (1995) (USA: video title)
36. Munster, Go Home (1966)
...aka Frankenstein et les faux-monnayeurs (1966) (Belgium: French title)
37. Projected Man, The (1967)
...aka Frankenstein 70 - Das Ungeheuer mit der Feuerklaue (1967) (West Germany)
38. Robot Wrecks (1941)
39. Vindicator, The (1986)
...aka Frankenstein '88 (1986)
40. Viva Frankenstein (2003)
41. Billy Frankenstein (1998)
42. Young Frankenstein (1974)
43. Blackenstein (1973)
...aka Black Frankenstein (1973)
...aka Return of Blackenstein (1973)
44. Son of Frankenstein (1939)
45. Victor Frankenstein (1977)
...aka Terror of Frankenstein (1977) (USA)
46. Evil of Frankenstein, The (1964)
47. Teenage Frankenstein Meets the Teenage Werewolf, The (1959)
48. Teenage Frankenstein, The (1959)
49. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
...aka Bride of Frankenstein, The (1935) (USA: poster title)
50. Curse of Frankenstein, The (1957)
51. Edison's Frankenstein (1990)
52. Ghost of Frankenstein, The (1942)
53. House of Frankenstein (1944)
54. Lust for Frankenstein (1998)
...aka Lady Frankenstein (2002) (Spain: DVD title)
55. Figlia di Frankenstein, La (1971)
...aka Daughter of Frankenstein (1971/II)
...aka Lady Frankenstein (1974) (USA)
...aka Madame Frankenstein (1971)
56. Flesh for Frankenstein (1974)
...aka Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (1974) (USA)
...aka Andy Warhol's Young Frankenstein (1974)
...aka Carne per Frankenstein (1974) (Italy)
...aka De la chair pour Frankenstein (1974) (France)
...aka Devil and Dr. Frankenstein, The (1974)
...aka Flesh for Frankenstein (1974) (UK)
...aka Frankenstein (1974)
...aka Mostro è in tavola barone Frankenstein, Il (1974) (Italy)
...aka Up Frankenstein (1974)
57. Horror of Frankenstein, The (1970)
58. Mostro di Frankenstein, Il (1920)
...aka Monster of Frankenstein, The (1920)
59. Gods and Monsters (1998)
60. Revenge of Frankenstein, The (1958)
61. Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1971)
...aka Blood Seekers, The (1971/I)
...aka Blood of Frankenstein (1971)
...aka Revenge of Dracula, The (1971)
...aka Satan's Bloody Freaks (1971)
...aka Teenage Dracula (1971)
...aka They're Coming to Get You (1971)
62. Grave of the Vampire (1972)
...aka Seed of Terror (1981) (USA: reissue title)
...aka Enfants de Frankenstein, Les (1977) (France)
63. Monstruos del terror, Los (1969)
...aka Assignment Terror (1969) (USA)
...aka Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1969)
...aka Dracula jagt Frankenstein (1969) (West Germany)
...aka Man Who Came from Ummo, The (1969)
...aka Operation Terror (1969)
64. No Telling (1991)
...aka No Telling (Or the Frankenstein Complex) (1991)
...aka Sindrome di Frankenstein, La (1991) (Italy)
65. Rock 'n' Roll Frankenstein (1999)
...aka Rock & Roll Frankenstein (1999) (USA: video box title)
66. Drácula contra Frankenstein (1972)
...aka Dracula Against Frankenstein (1972)
...aka Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein (1972)
...aka Dracula Vs. Dr. Frankenstein (1972)
...aka Dracula prisonnier de Frankenstein (1972) (France)
...aka Dracula prisonnier du docteur Frankenstein (1972) (France)
...aka Drácula contra el Dr. Frankenstein (1972)
...aka Screaming Dead (1972)
67. Atomic Samurai (1993)
...aka Samurai Johnny Frankenstein (1993) (Japan: English title)
68. I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957)
...aka Teenage Frankenstein (1957) (UK)
69. Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966)
70. Ritorno dalla morte (1991)
...aka Frankenstein 2000 (1991)
...aka Return From Death: Frankenstein 2000 (1991)
71. Vampiro de la autopista, El (1970)
...aka Horrible Sexy Vampire, The (1970)
...aka Vampire of the Highway, The (1970)
...aka Vampir von Schloss Frankenstein, Der (1970) (West Germany)
72. Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein, The (2002)
73. Millón de Madigan, El (1968)
...aka Dollaro per 7 vigliacci, Un (1968) (Italy)
...aka Madigan's Million (1968) (UK)
...aka Madigan's Millions (1969) (USA)
...aka Ich wollt' ich wäre Frankenstein (1968) (West Germany)
74. Hollow-My-Weenie, Dr. Frankenstein (1969)
75. Orlak, el infierno de Frankenstein (1960)
...aka Hell of Frankenstein, The (1960) (USA)
...aka Orlak, the Hell of Frankenstein (1960)
76. Terror! Il castello delle donne maledette (1974)
...aka Dr. Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (1974)
...aka Frankenstein's Castle (1974) (UK: video title)
...aka Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (1974) (USA)
...aka House of Freaks, The (1974)
...aka Monsters of Dr. Frankenstein, The (1974)
...aka Monsters of Frankenstein (1974)
...aka Terror (1974)
...aka Terror Castle (1974)
...aka Leichenfabrik des Dr. Frankenstein, Die (1974) (West Germany)
77. Santo contra la hija de Frankenstein (1971)
...aka Daughter of Frankenstein, The (1971/I)
...aka Hija de Frankenstein, La (1971)
...aka Santo vs. Frankenstein's Daughter (1971)
78. Expériences érotiques de Frankenstein, Les (1972)
...aka Curse of Frankenstein, The (1972)
...aka Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, The (1972) (UK)
...aka Maldición de Frankenstein, La (1972) (Spain)
79. Bud Abbott, Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
...aka Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) (USA: alternative title)
...aka Abbott and Costello Meet the Ghosts (1948) (UK)
...aka Brain of Frankenstein, The (1948)
80. Allen and Rossi Meet Dracula and Frankenstein (1974)
81. She's Alive! Creating the Bride of Frankenstein (1999)
82. Santo y Blue Demon contra el doctor Frankenstein (1974)

1. Frankenstein (1968) (TV)
...aka Mystery and Imagination: Frankenstein (1968) (TV) (UK: series title)
2. Frankenstein (1973) (TV)
3. Frankenstein (1987) (TV)
4. Frankenstein (1984/I) (TV)
5. Frankenstein (1993) (TV)
6. Frankenstein's Baby (1990) (TV)
7. Frankenstein Mark II (1966) (TV)
...aka Out of the Unknown: Frankenstein Mark II (1966) (TV) (UK: series title)
8. Frankenstein Meets the Chipmunks (1991) (TV)
9. Frankenstein: The College Years (1991) (TV)
10. Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) (TV)
11. Frankenstein: Une histoire d'amour (1974) (TV)
12. Tales of Frankenstein (1958) (TV)
13. It's Alive: The True Story of Frankenstein (1994) (TV)

Made for video
1. Frankenstein de Moisés Neto - Versão Muda, O (1989) (V)
...aka Frankenstein Silent Version (1989) (V) (informal English title)
2. Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster, The (1999) (V)
3. Mistress Frankenstein (2000) (V)
4. Sangre de Frankenstein, La (2002) (V)
...aka LSD Frankenstein (2002) (V) (Argentina: short title)
5. 100 Years of Horror: The Frankenstein Family (1996) (V)
6. Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein (1999) (V)
7. Frankenstein vs the Creature from Blood Cove (US-2005; dir.
William Winckler)

TV series
1. "Frankenstein Follies" (1993) TV series
2. "Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles" (1966) TV series
3. "House of Frankenstein 1997" (1997) (mini) TV series
4. "Frankensteins Tante" (1986) (mini) TV series
...aka "Frankenstein's Aunt" (1986) (mini)
...aka "Tante de Frankenstein, La" (1990) (mini) (France)

Video Games
1. Frankenstein (1990) (VG)
...aka Frankenstein: The Monster Returns (1990) (VG) (USA: video box title)
2. Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster (1996) (VG)
3. Interactive History of Frankenstein, The (1995) (VG)

Lists compiled by Robert Hood and the members of Mtlawleymafia 2003
(with help from the Internet Movie Database


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