Frankenstein’s Legacy: 5 Books and Movies

The name "Frankenstein" conjures up images of a green, grunting monster stomping about with bolts in its neck. The monster was most notably portrayed by Boris Karloff in the Universal Classic Monster films of the 1930s. Frankenstein is, of course, Victor Frankenstein, created by 18-year-old Mary Shelley in her 1818 novel, Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus. For 200 years, authors, screenwriters and assorted artists have found inspiration in her classic tale of horror and science, family and abandonment.

There have been countless film and TV adaptations including dark, psychological explorations of the monster and its creator, visions of the monster as action hero and even slapstick comedy. Mel Brooks took Dr. Frankenstein to new comic heights with Gene Wilder as Young Frankenstein. Kenneth Branagh brought a more faithful adaptation to the screen in 1994 with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein starring Robert DeNiro as "The Creature."

Many novels have reworked the characters and themes of Shelley's original work. For a modern twist, try Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series beginning with Frankenstein: Prodigal Son. Koontz combines gothic horror with a contemporary police procedural as the 200-year-old monster makes his way to modern-day New Orleans on the trail of a serial killer and a whole slew of newly formed, more advanced creatures.

Comics fans should check out Mike Mignola's Frankenstein Underground, a Hellboy spinoff that honors the source material but sends the creature out on a mysterious new adventure. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg! For a deep dive into Mary Shelley and her Creature's lasting influence on literature, science and popular culture, check out Monstrous Progeny by Lester D. Friedman. 

Two hundred years have passed and Shelley's work still has us thinking about the ethics of innovation, and it continues to inspire new scares. Do you have a favorite Frankenstein from the page or screen? Let us know in the comments!

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