We love movies, among other things.
October 2008, issue 38
"Please! Remain in your seats,
I beg you! We are not children here, we are scientists! I assure you
there is nothing to fear!" --Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder),
Bride of Spooky Monster Midnight Thriller Chiller Halloween Issue!!!
If you have ever browsed these pages, you know we luv Halloween around here. October is always one of my favorite issues of the BCLMC, and you can see the older Halloween issues here, here, and here. [Maniacal laughter ensues.] And now, follow me, if you dare, to this year's installment....
This year, we're talking Frankenstein, baby. We just got a nice and ghouly little set called Frankenstein: the Legacy Collection, which includes five of the great Universal Frankenstein flicks from the 30's and 40's - the ones I was raised on [see: Ghastly, Sir Graves], and the ones which cemented the flatheaded, neckbolted Monster in the pop culture canon [thanks to monster makeup whiz Jack Pierce]. Plus all kinds of grave-robbing extras. In fact, we have been holding Franky Fridays in honor of this neato set, screening Frankenstein flicks in our Now Playing program every Friday this month.
What are the five films, you ask breathlessly? Well, walk this way, my dear, and I will elaborate for you....
The first three are considered a self-contained trilogy, the ones with Boris Karloff playing the Monster: Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Son of Frankenstein. The first two were directed by the sophisticated James Whale, the second of which is one of those rare movie creations, the sequel which is better than the original. It also remains one of the wittiest and most intelligent films ever made in the lowbrow horror genre. Son was the source of much of Mel Brooks' and Gene Wilder's great and affectionate parody, Young Frankenstein.
The role brought Karloff great fame and success, and locked him into the horror genre for the rest of his career. And his is still the definitive portrayal of the Frankenstein Monster, though a far cry from the literate and philosophical creation who lives in Mary Shelley's book. Karloff's monster is both soulful and dangerous at once, the kind of misunderstood creature who lives on in later pop culture in creations like Marvel Comics' Incredible Hulk. Karloff tired of the arduous makeup process and the physical demands of the costume after the third film, however, and a host of Universal horror actors stepped into the heavy, hobnailed boots in later movies, including Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney, Jr., and the fortuitously monikered Glenn Strange.
Chaney is the Monster and Lugosi reprises his insane, hunchbacked Ygor role from Son in Ghost of Frankenstein. Meanwhile, House of Frankenstein is an all-star monsterfest, an episodic film containing three separate stories dealing in turn with Dracula, played by John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr.'s tortured Wolf Man, and Glenn Strange in the neck bolts this time. Karloff ties together the tales as the mad Dr. Niemann, who wants to use the monsters for revenge against his enemies, and do a bit of brain transplanting here and there for extra kicks. House is great fun, your basic matinee pleasure and, I can say from personal experience, fodder for any self-respecting seven year-old with a set of crayolas and a pad of paper.
Later, the British film studio Hammer revived itself by taking on several of the monsters that had been in the Universal stable, adding color, a bit more gore, and sexiness. After the success of their Dracula films, Hammer tried their hand at Frankenstein, and Peter Cushing excelled as the mad doctor. In Evil of Frankenstein, directed by Oscar-winning cinematographer Freddie Francis, the Monster is an instrument of revenge for a shady mesmerist named Zoltan, and the usual torch-wielding villagers blame the not-so-good doctor [Cushing].
In the art house portion of our Transylvanian tour, we stop at 1973's The Spirit of the Beehive, a Spanish film set in a small village in 1940 and which revolves around the arrival of Frankenstein at the local movie house, where it has different effects on two young girls.
And next we move to the teen-movie era of the 1980s's [of course!] for the adolescent [fantasy] take on the Frankenstein story, Weird Science. Two teenage boys with a knack for computer science create the woman of their dreams who helps them fulfill themselves via her magical powers, which she uses much more competently than, say, Barbara Eden did for Larry Hagman.
Finally, let's take a look the Frankensteinian romantic comedy Making Mr. Right, with John Malkovich as an emotionless doctor who makes an android in his likeness for space missions, and Anne Magnuson as Frankie Stone [sound familiar], the comely and wacky PR woman hired to teach the android human behavior and emotions. Can robot love be far behind? An underrated and enjoyable little comedy. Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich!
The Media Center is located on the fifth floor of the Library Learning Center. Come up and see us some time.
"Put...the candle...back!!" --Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), Young Frankenstein
Tues, Wed, Thu: 9am-7:45pm
Closed on Sundays
And Don't Forget the Golem
In Jewish folklore there is the Golem, a giant creature fashioned of clay and animated by a slip of paper in his mouth on which is written the name of God. We have two films based on the story of the Golem of Prague, created to protect the Jewish people in the ghetto of Prague in the 16th century. Paul Wegener's Der Golem is the more famous of the two, featuring a hulking, wedge-haired creature, while Julian Duvivier's Le Golem: the Legend of Prague is a kind of sequel to Wegener's story, set in a later time, but one in which the Golem's protection is again needed.
Other sites we like:
This issue of BCLMC is brought to you all the way from the back row by zippernecked Media Assistant Patrick Jewell. Tell your friends.
BCLMC BROOKLYN CAMPUS LIBRARY MEDIA CENTER