June 23, 2014

Fearless Frankenstein

Korkum yok!... I Have No Fear!

Thus reads the title of the cover story for the Turkish magazine, 46. The subject is rock/pop musician and composer, and film/TV actor Özkan Uğur, posing in an elaborate classic Frankenstein Monster makeup.

There’s a bit of a Glenn Strange vibe to Uğur’s Monster, don’t you think?

Instantly recognizable, truly iconic, the image speaks to the classic movie Frankenstein Monster’s universality. 

June 20, 2014

Eustace Frankenstein

Not an actual cover, Peter Emmerich’s illustration is a witty variation on The New Yorker’s colorfully named cover mascot, Eustace Tilley. 

Originally painted by art director Rea Irvin in 1925, adorning the magazine’s first issue, Eustace appeared as a glorified dandy, a high-hat in a high hat, with a high collar and a large coat with vast lapels. He peers blithely through a monocle at a butterfly, begging the question: Which of us is more ephemeral?

Through the years, Eustace has returned to the magazine’s cover, usually to celebrate its February anniversary. From the mid 90’s on, various artists have been commissioned to interpret the character in new and often wildly original ways. More recently, readers were invited to contribute their own takes in an annual “Your Eustace” contest.

Cartoonist and character designer Peter Emmerich submitted this Frankenstein variation in 2008, landing a spot as a Top Twenty finalist. The Monster’s expression is properly conceited as he gazes upon a flower, his high forehead a perfect substitute for Eustace’s stovepipe.

Peter Emmerich’s blog.
The New Yorker’s Flickr page for the 2008 Eustace Tilley Contest.
Mystery Man, a New Yorker article about Eustace Tilley, by Louis Menand.


June 7, 2014

Penny Dreadful's Other Monster

Season’s halfway done and the new Victorian horror TV series Penny Dreadful is shaping up as a cult favorite. Earlier this week, the Showtime Network greenlighted a second season.

It’s all beautifully done and drenched in atmosphere. Monsters are multiplying, with hints of lycanthropy, perhaps Dracula himself to come and — possible spoiler if you mean to watch it later — two Frankenstein monsters. The docile, innocent Creature, Proteus, conjured in the first episode, has been brutally superceeded by Frankenstein’s original Monster, Caliban, turning up to demand a custom-made mate for himself.

Nice twist: The Monster holds down a job as stagehand for a London Grand Guignol theater. Episode 4 featured a splendid recreation of 19th Century stagecraft with Rory Kinnear’s Monster rushing about, moving scenery and backdrops, rattling tin for thunder and operating trapdoors.

The series’ viral promo campaign makes a big deal of Kinnear’s very intense Monster — pardon me, “Creature” — being exactingly faithful to the book’s original but, of course, it isn’t. With a smooth round face, porcelain complexion and straggly hair, sporting a heavy overcoat, this Monster would look at home in a post-punk gothic alt-rock band. This version of The Monster is as different and new and, ultimately, “of its time” as any of those that preceded on film or onstage, and that’s fine. I welcome the originality of this interpretation.

June 5, 2014

Mike Mignola’s Bride of Frankenstein Poster Goes On Sale

Heads up! Mondo’s new Bride of Frankenstein poster by Mike Mignola goes on sale today, June 5, 2014. The time of release will be announced on Mondo’s Facebook page and Twitter. Print run is strictly limited to 325 copies, going for $50 apiece. I expect it will sell out in a very few minutes.

Hellboy creator Mignola has drawn several Frankenstein images evoking the Universal classics, as well as original pieces, all perfectly scrumptious. A number of these can be seen through the links below.


May 28, 2014

Ismail Yassin Meets Frankenstein

One of the great curios of the Frankenstein films list is the 1953 Egyptian-made HARAM ALEK, sometimes spelled HRAAM ALEEK and otherwise known as ISMAIL YASSIN MEETS FRANKENSTEIN. The film is notorious as a straight up, nearly scene-for-scene remake of the classic ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948).

The A&C classic was massively influencial — not to mention, box-office gold — inspiring several knock-offs, many of them from Mexico, with local comics stepping in and squaring off with the famous monsters, complete with key gags lifted from the original. The formula had also re-ignited Abbott and Costello’s movie career and spurred them to a series of “Meet the Monsters” films of their own.

Long unseen in the West, copies of HARAM ALEK have popped up on YouTube, mostly as low quality video, sometimes sporting an annoying TV logo. The cleanest, sharpest copy is here, in its original language. Worth a peek, with its devilish, pointy-beard Dracula, a downscale Wolf Man and the curious, Herman Munster-like Frankenstein Monster. It’s required viewing if you’re a serious fan of the Abbott & Costello original.


May 25, 2014

Penny Dreadful: Introducing Frankenstein

The new Penny Dreadful TV series has been playing to excellent reviews, assisted by an ongoing “viral” campaign that includes a busy, well-done website. Here, first shown to promote the series on the UK’s Sky network, is a beautifully animated introduction to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein directed by Gergely Wootsch for London-based Beakus studio.

The short piece was written and narrated by historian and broadcaster Matthew Sweet, author of Inventing the Victorians and Shepperton Babylon: The Lost Worlds of British Cinema.

This Frankenstein is the first of three animated shorts promoting the series, with Dracula and Dorian Gray to follow.

The Dracula animation is here.
Beakus Animation Studio.
Penny Dreadful website.

May 14, 2014

Rondo Awards XII Announced

The Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards for 2014 have been announced. I am grateful to our Frankensteinia friends and supporters for earning us an Honorable Mention in the Blog category. The Best Blog Rondo this year goes to the unique and handsome Vincent Price Journal, in which editor Peter Fuller shares and annotates Price’s European travel journal as a young man of 17.

A few other commendations of direct interest to us: An Honorable Mention in the Best Classic DVD/Blu-Ray Collection goes to HAMMER HORROR, which includes FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN, and Richard Raaphorst’s FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY is a Runner-Up in the Best Independent Film category. Honorable Mentions in the Best Article category go to Greg Mank’s 70th Anniversary article on FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLFMAN for Monsters from the Vault #32, and Doc Gangrene’s piece on Jack Pierce’s makeup for the 1931 FRANKENSTEIN, published in Scary Monsters #85.

Inductees in the Monster Kid Hall of Fame include the estimable Gregory William Mank, expert on classic horror and essential chronicler of Frankenstein films, and The Don Post Studio, creators of seminal Frankenstein rubber masks. Also honored were two men who left us this year, contributors to the fabled Castle of Frankenstein magazine: Editor Bhob Stewart and artist Larry Ivie. 

We send special congratulations to longtime Frankensteinia friends Mark Redfield, a Best Multi-Media/Podcast Rondo Award winner for the Poe Forevermore Radio Theater, and Ted Newsom, who scored a Best Article Honorable Mention for his piece on Peter Cushing, His Last Bow, published in Famous Monsters #268.

The full list of winners appears on the Rondo website. The Awards will be handed out on May 31 at the Wonderfest Convention in Louisville.

As ever and always, a million thanks go to indefatigable organizer David Colton, without whom there simply wouldn’t be any Rondo Awards!