3 Strange Reinterpretations of Classic Monsters
Some monsters in fiction are so striking, so terrifying that they become icons recognizable around the world. You wouldn’t think that these monsters need any sort of re-imagining, but that’s why you’re not a Hollywood director. The secret to fiction is that no matter how well respected a story may be it can always be done much better, or at least in a way that will rake in ungodly amounts of coin.
Sadly, these people missed the mark.
In Mary Shelley’s novel, Victor Frankenstein conducts some pretty badass experiments with nothing but academic grant and poorly guarded cemetery. He ultimately succeeds, creating what he believes to be the perfect man, composed entirely out of body parts of the dead. However, upon his creation’s awakening, Frankenstein is taken aback by how horrible it looks (something he should have considered when he was hacking apart dead people’s limbs, really) and shuns his creation, forcing it to seek revenge against its cruel creator however it can. The novel raises several questions of morality, specifically if we should be playing God by shoving electrodes up the asses of the recently deceased.
In the original novel, the reader is left to wonder if the monster is evil by nature or if its abandonment made it that way. The classic film tends to ignore this, as man with large bolts in his neck is probably going to have an attitude problem to say the least.
Frankenstein vs. Baragon
In 1945, Nazi soldiers come to possess of the heart of the Frankenstein monster. They are then promptly served up some Allied justice but not before passing their treasure off to Japanese scientists. Stationed in Hiroshima, the scientists also find themselves on the receiving end of American vengeance when the atomic bomb is dropped. Fifteen years later, a boy who was present for the bombing is mutating rapidly, gaining mass and developing immunity to radiation, becoming a new Frankenstein monster. As scientists debate on what to do with him (with ideas ranging from “keep him in a cage” to “saw off a limb and hope a new Frankenstein grows”), the subterranean monster Baragon shows up and starts trashing cities as a subtle reminder that science isn’t necessarily a field to be dabbled in casually. The two giants battle only to be sucked up by the Earth because resolving plots is hard work.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula depicts the charismatic Count Dracula terrorizing the Transylvanian countryside before packing his bags and shipping off to England to terrorize those high-class broads he’s read so much about in travel brochures. In the meantime, he traps the solicitor Johnathan Harker in his castle, who takes his sweet time in discovering that the count is actually a vampire. After turning notable hussy Lucy into a human twisty straw, it’s up to a rag-tag team of renegade war veterans and their awesome van to rescue Johnathan Harker and stop the ultimate evil murdering any more of their prized skanks. Or something.
Bram Stoker originally wrote the story as a means to frame the racism, xenophobia, and sexuality of the Victorian era in a work of fiction in such a way as not to be called an angry, bigoted pervert.
Thinking that perhaps the themes in Stoker’s novel were a bit too subtle for a modern audience, director William Crain took the classic horror story and exploited, sorry, blaxploited the hell out of it.
In an effort to suppress the slave trade, Prince Mamuwalde seeks out the help of Count Dracula, traveling from Africa to Transylvania, presumably because no other Gothic-horror icons lived near-by. Unfortunately for him, Dracula is revealed to be a racist and gives him the old Bela Lugosi action. Now the vampire Blacula (apparently centuries of being evil greatly skews one’s sense of humor), Mamuwalde is sealed in a coffin while his wife Luva is imprisoned, though not bitten, ultimately dying.
Two centuries later, Dracula’s estate is purchased by two interior decorators who make the logical decision of shipping Blacula’s coffin back to Los Angeles without checking first to see if anything’s inside. Upon opening the coffin, the two men are killed immediately. Also, they happened to be gay, because apparently you can’t be a vampire in this movie without blindly hating at least one group of people.
As the vampire continues his killing spree, he falls in love with a woman whom he believes to be the reincarnation of Luva. Shockingly, the local honky brigade, er, police notice the sudden spike in grisly murders and begin an investigation, leading to a shootout that mortally wounds Blacula’s would-be bride. After his attempts to save her life by turning her into a vampire are met with a stake through the heart, Blacula takes his own life by climbing to a rooftop and into daylight, killing himself in protest of the gross misconduct of the LAPD.
Universal’s 1941 film had a tremendous influence on how werewolves were depicted in fiction. After returning to his home in Wales, Larry Talbot takes up an interest in local fine piece of “arse”, Gwen Conliffe. Gwen happens to run an antique shop and Larry, ever the player, decides the easiest way to hit on her is to buy something from her. He chooses a walking stick with a silver wolf head, which Gwen then informs him represents a werewolf. Finding absolutely nothing creepy about this, Larry goes about his day with his new pimp cane.
Despite the fact that everyone in his village is actively discussing werewolves, Larry finds nothing out of place about their fears and poorly metered poems until he rescues a woman from a wolf attack. Unfortunately for Larry, he’s bitten in the process. Even worse, there doesn’t seem to be any hospitals about, so he instead has a gypsy confirm that yes, he was bitten by a werewolf and yes, he’s totally boned. Now becoming a wolf monster, Larry wanders the countryside in search of a cure until his father brutally murders him with his own cane. Sunrise, sunset.
The Bollywood film Jaani Dushman, while not directly related to the Wolf Man, does make bizarre use of a werewolf like creature: a husband discovers on the day of his wedding that his bride to be has another lover. Filled with anger and sadness, he becomes possessed by a vengeful spirit and murders them both. Not content with you basic revenge package, the monster continues killing every bride he encounters in red dress. Despite this blatant pattern, women continue to get married while dressed in red.
The monster is absolutely impervious to weapons. When it does somehow meet its end it simply possesses another male and continues cutting people up because it’s also some kind of ghost as well. In between dance scenes with catchy little tunes (presumably about the hideous murders of innocent women):
The monster continues jumping from body until it the most anti-climatic ending in monster movie history:
The ghost, having grown tired of being stabbed by strangers, hurls itself across a cave before Quantum Leaping into space, or something. That’s neat.
What other bizarre monster mash-ups have you seen on the silver screen? Post a comment below!