Run for your lives! Frankenstein LIVES!!
Wait—sorry. What we meant was Frankenstein is LIVE, on stage, in the Olivier-winning production of Frankenstein by the National Theatre of Great Britain. The production, which starred Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller (both of whom have played Sherlock Holmes on TV), ended its run in 2011, but not before it was filmed for broadcast to cinemas around the world. This week, it’s being re-broadcast for a special encore presentation—check your local theaters for show times.
Frankenstein’s return to the big screen reminds us that some of the scariest films of all time were based on classic horror novels. So this Halloween, when all the candy is gone and the trick-or-treaters have deserted the streets, curl up under a blanket and watch one of these timeless Hollywood movies. Then, when your house mysteriously looses power, light a candle and read the books that spawned these tales of terror. And then…when a gust of wind comes from nowhere and blows the candle out…you’re on your own!
The granddaddy of horror films, director Tod Browning’s classic (certified “Fresh” with a Tomatometer score of 91 percent by the cinematic website Rotten Tomatoes) is the wellspring of virtually every vampire tale we know (including this year’s Dracula Untold). Bela Lugosi’s iconic portrayal of the Count was a performance which Lugosi would never escape, and it still resonates throughout our cultural conscience. Like Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic novel, the film tells the story of Dracula’s terrifying seduction of the innocent and Van Helsing’s pursuit of the vampire throughout Victorian England.
On the heels of the success of Dracula, Universal Studios released Frankenstein, based on the 1818 novel by Mary Shelley. Certified Fresh with a whopping 100 percent Tomatometer score, the film, like the book, features a scientist who creates a grotesque creature out of the parts of dead bodies. The movie made a star of Boris Karloff, whose lumbering portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster haunts us even today. The book is remarkable for the manner in which Shelley structures the story—it’s a tale within a tale within a tale told from the points of view of multiple characters. A great book to huddle up with on a dark and stormy night.