Frankenstein Adaptations
(a work in progress)                                                                                   by Victoria Machado


'The X-Files: I Want To Believe (2008)

(DVD release date 12/2/08)

            This is one of the weirdest and innovative uses of the Frankenstein story. A Russian scientist is collecting the body parts of various women to patch up a cancer ridden gay married man whose husband is the abductor/killer of the women. A psychic former pedophile priest, now castrated, helps Mulder and Scully track down the killers. Reconstructing a man’s body into a woman’s body is an apt metaphor for the literary theories currently in vogue in the study of Mary Shelley’s novel.


Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Although the story has a character named Dr. Frank N. Furter, this film goes beyond a parody of the Frankenstein story, adding Sci-Fi and horror film inspired humor into the mix. Some notable changes to the Frankenstein story are the creature having a name (Rocky Horror) and Transylvania as the home planet of the mad scientist. The film's notorious status as a cult classic has inspired adaptations of its own, and a revival of the stage version the film was based on. There was a recent San Francisco production. Rocky Horror: The Musical 

Are they celebrating a "Sweet Transvestite" or doing that "Time Warp" again?

El Espiritu de la colmena (Spirit of the Beehive) (1973)

This haunting and exquisite film tells the story of a little girl and her older sister in post-civil war Spain. After watching James Whale's 1931 version of Frankenstein, the girls are affected in very different ways.  This film is mostly a reaction to themes depicted in the film version of the Shellnovel, including the perception of  "monsters" and how people react to them. (available on DVD) 

Ana had asked her sister why the monster in the film killed the little girl. Later, Ana is traumatized after the soldier she cared for was murdered. In this clip, Ana tries to find answers to unanswerable questions.

Frankenstein Unbound (1990) -

Roger Corman's mostly faithful film version of Brian W. Aldiss's sci-fi novel. Some of the additions, such as the talking car with a built in printer, are silly. Like the book, the film creates an alternate universe in which the characters from the novel and from Mary Shelley's real life co-exist. Elizabeth is reanimated in this adaptation of the story, which also occurs in Kenneth Branagh's 1994 film version of the novel. In this clip the hero, Buchanon, appeals to Byron and Percy and Mary Shelley to save Justine who is soon to be hanged.



Another example of creating a monstrosity out of bits and pieces of Frankenstein. Why this pilot was never sold isn't easy to answer. It isn't any more or less crappy than most ill-conceived TV shows.

Fringe (2008-2013) The first promo for this binge worthy series highlighted the comparison of mad scientist Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) to Dr. Frankenstein. But the mad science of this brilliant cult series went well beyond anything Mary Shelley and her contemporaries could have ever imagined. 

Nip/Tuck:  "Frankenlaura" (2005)  A necrophiliac assembles a female creature for his sexual pleasure.  

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Several episodes dealt with themes found in Frankenstein: A holographic (yet physically solid) creature desires companionship, the machine-like Borgs and the android main character Data call into question what it means to be human.  

The X-Files: "Post-Modern Prometheus" (1997) Mulder and Scully investigate a case involving a mutated man, a mad scientist named Dr. Pollidori, and a small town of odd looking residents. This episode was nominated for several Emmys. Definitely worth viewing in its entirety. (From Season 5 - available on DVD) Adaptation Details 


Science Fiction (in which Frankenstein characters appear)

Brittle Innings by Michael Bishop - (from the inside flap) " erudite seven-foot giant by the name of Jumbo Hank Clerval. With his yellow eyes, strangely scarred face, Hank seems to have been put together in a meat-packing plant. But he plays a mean first base and can hit the ball a mile...Hank is not an ordinary man but something more complex...about to discover how ambition and desire can turn even the gentlest soul into the worst kind of monster."

Frankenstein Unbound by Brian Wilson Aldiss - This novel by one of Sci-fi's most prolific authors creates a world in which the characters from the novel and Mary Shelley's life co-exist. Joseph Bodenland tries to save Justine from execution, but can't get anyone to help him. The novel helps Victor's case for not intervening at the trial by offering an amusing and insightful parallel circumstance. "As well might I have risen and said, 'I will tell you what really happened, for this trial and the real issues involved will one day be the subject of a great novel, and I am a man from two centuries into your future who read the book as a lad...'  (see above Film list for Roger Corman film version details)

The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak is based on the premise that Victor is carrying Elizabeth’s journal when Robert Walton encounters him. Elizabeth has written an autobiography for Victor’s eyes only, which reveals far more about the relationship than Victor cared to admit to Walton. Highlights: Caroline, Victor Frankenstein's mother, teaches Elizabeth how to masturbate, and dispels the myth believed by men that women can only get pleasure from men's "grand batons." The description of Elizabeth's transcendent orgasm would have been more effective if she had shouted "It's alive!" Alternately erotic and hilariously silly. Don't miss it!


Biographical Films 

(filled with monstrously bad acting and casting, and sometimes guest starring the monster.)

Gothic (1986) - dir. Ken Russell     screenplay by Stephen Volk  Cast: Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley; Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron; Julian Sands as Percy Shelley; Timothy Spall as Dr. Polidori

Haunted Summer (1988) -Cast: Alice Krige as Mary Shelley; Eric Stolz as Percy Shelley; Laura Dern as Claire Clarmont (available on VHS)

Rowing With the Wind (1987) - written & directed by  Gonzalo Suarez      Cast:  Hugh Grant as Lord Byron; Elizabeth Hurley as Claire Clarmont; Lizzy McInnerny as Mary Shelley (available on DVD) This obscure film won 10 international film awards. Frankenstein's monster is also a character who interacts with Mary Shelley.