Frankenstein – Mary Shelley


Mary Shelley – Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus
Published in 1818
Read from February 5th to 13th

I received this beautiful edition of Frankenstein (same one as pictured) from my boyfriend this Christmas, and finally started reading it at the start of February. I had never read Frankenstein before, but as most people I felt I was quite familiar with the story, having been exposed to its numerous adaptations through the years. Therefore I started reading with quite a lot of prejudice: I was looking forward to it because it’s such a classic, but at the same time my expectations weren’t that of a superb literary work. For some reason I didn’t want to get my hopes up about it being more than a “mediocre horror novel created to shock people in its time”. I’m so glad to say that I was completely wrong.

First of all, Frankenstein is beautifully written, and though it has inspired many mediocre adaptations and other works (but also good ones of course) it is itself anything but mediocre. Mary Shelley really knew how to write, and she was only between the age of 18-20 when she wrote what would be her most famous work. The language is truly beautiful, with a lot of emphasis of describing the natural beauties in the world and humans, which contrasts much of the ugliness that later takes place in the story. With a mix of chapters in letter-form (framing the story at start and end) and characters telling each other what they know in retrospective, it might not be truly realistic (who remembers and speaks about all these details when telling someone else a story?), but in the context of the time one has to accept that this was a normal method of story-telling, and it didn’t bother me one bit.


An original manuscript page of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

I’ve read quite a few reviews that had issues with Shelley’s writing, particularly with how she described character’s thoughts of each other, with the critique being that “it’s clear a man wouldn’t think about, or describe another man in such loving affections and tenderness”. Well, this novel is from 1818, and having read many other works created in the 18th and 19th century, I’ve found this to be the norm among most writers of the time, and not something that was considered a feminine perspective. The affectionate descriptions are also keeping in touch with the elements of romanticism that can be found in Frankenstein; celebrating nature and beauty, also within man.

There’s a great contrast in how the novel clearly celebrates the wonder of man and the humanly virtues, yet also reveals the potential horror in what we create and our evils within. There has always been a debate on whether Frankenstein is mainly a horror story or science fiction, but I don’t see any reason why the two genres can’t be combined equally. The horror elements are certainly very present, and if Wikipedia is to believed, Mary Shelley originally wrote the story as a result of a bet about who could write the scariest horror story. Some people have complained about it not being scary enough to classify as a true horror story, where I would respectfully disagree. It may not be the type of story that leaves you afraid of the dark and afraid to look around the corner, but it has a creepiness present throughout its whole course, and it’s an original take on “what is the true horror”. That’s at least my interpretation, by reading Shelley’s work we are made to reflect who are the true monsters of the story and what creates hate? The truly scary part is that most people would agree that it is us, ordinary and well-meaning human beings that are responsible, and that we can see ourselves acting exactly the way the people in Frankenstein do, leading to the same horrible consequences.

That is not to say that the monster itself is not scary, or perhaps more correctly: it’s understandable how it was perceived as such as the time. Imagine Europe in the early 19th century and the changes it was going through, the natural sciences was rapidly making progress, the world was evolving insanely fast compared to previous years and it would have seemed like mankind would be able to do just about everything we could desire. It’s no wonder a horror story about a scientist using the natural sciences to create life and then facing horrendous consequences was considered absolutely nerve-wrecking! But anyhow, though the monster might make people afraid of him, there’s no question about how the true horror originates from Victor Frankenstein and people like ourselves. The monster is in fact a child, super strong, quick and abnormally big, but still fundamentally a child. He wakes up with no knowledge about the world, the people in it or himself, and is shunned from his creator (or parent one might say) from his very first living seconds. He starts as a completely blank page and soaks up everything around him, being influenced and learning everything by observing and eventually interacting, exactly the same as everyone else who are new to the world.

Mary Shelley manages to make Frankenstein a philosophic work as well as a horror story, making it a well layered work. It is a story about morals, yet it doesn’t deal in absolutes or present any of its topics in a straight forward manner. This, combined with a beautiful writing style and a clear originality makes Frankenstein one of my favourite classical reads, and I will certainly revisit it from time to time. And the magnificent edition that I’m lucky to own really looks good in my bookshelf 😉


So bad they’re good – B-movies galore

collage of postersRecently my boyfriend and I have been watching a lot of so-called B-movies. Something just got into the both of us after watching Army of Darkness a few weeks back, and since that we decided to just continue on that path for a little while. We’ve watched a lot of old sci-fi and/or horror movies that are often referred to as b-movies, a lot of them in the category “so bad it’s good” and some “so bad it’s just bad”. And some are just plain good films.

I thought I’d make a quick list of the films we have watched so far, but I’m sure it will expand in the future. We have a lot of titles remaining to be seen! I will only post my short opinion here, and mostly won’t include a summary or description, as some of these will have their own blog-post dedicated to a full review later. If you want to find out more about the plot or information about the film, click on the title and it will lead you to the film’s IMDB-page.

I would also love some tips on what to check out next based on the things we have seen, so if you have any ideas, please leave a comment 🙂

Army of Darkness (1992) – First thoughts: Oh my god, it’s Miss Honey! That is WEIRD! Otherwise, loved it as I loved the other Evil Dead-films. They increase in silliness with each film, but in a good way. THE series to watch if you want a comedy-horror film.

Young Frankenstein (1974) – This was a really fun film! Basically, it’s about a younger family member of the original Frankenstein, tired of always being compared to his infamous relative and determined not to follow in his footsteps, but end up doing EXACTLY so. Just in a more comical and absurd way. Gene Wilder is funny as always in the title role, but this films TRUE star is Marty Feldman as Igor.

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) – The title of this film is just.. Well.. What can you say? I was a bit let down by this, as it’s actually a bit more serious than the title leads you to believe. I was expecting something completely stupid, goofy and laughable, but unfortunately it was mostly stupid and boring. There’s a cute monkey though, so you have that.

The War of the Worlds (1953) – Actually a bit unsure if this is considered a b-movie or not. I thought it would be before watching it, but it was a lot more high-budget and high-tech than I expected. The set and effects are quite impressive, but unfortunately the film itself is quite dull. I think it would have been more interesting had they stayed closer to the original story. Quite a forgettable film.

Barbarella (1968) – The “classic” Barbarella. I’m actually not even sure what to think of this film. It’s just SO weird. Good weird or bad weird? I can’t decide! I certainly laughed at parts, but it also felt longer than the 98 minutes it took to watch it. It is “the ultimate b-movie” for a lot of people, and certainly the sexiest. I don’t think I’ll be tempted to re-watch it any time soon though.

Dracula (1958) – Christopher Lee! Peter Cushing! I loved this, and it also surprised me a lot. It actually changes quite a lot from the original Dracula-story, but it stays true to its spirit, and Cushing is BRILLIANT as Van Helsing! One of my favourites of the films we saw! Will have to check out some of the sequels (there are A LOT)!

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) – This was quite forgettable I’m afraid. It’s a standard monster-movie, but what’s cool about The Beast is that it’s basically almost like Godzilla, but this came first by a year! The plot revolves around a frozen dinosaur waking up to life, he’s pissed and wants to rampage a city. Sound cool, but turned out quite boring. The last five minutes are the highlight of the whole film.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) – I.LOVE.THIS! They are clowns. They come from outer space. And they just wanna kill people! With popcorn guns, cotton candy and pies! How can you not love it? This movie embraces the “so bad it’s good”-idea to the fullest, I even think the acting is bad on purpose. Or they went out of their way to find bad actors (sorry). Anyway, IT’S THE BEST, YOU HAVE TO SEE IT!

Forbidden Planet (1956) – This turned out to be something completely different from what I expected, but I quite liked it. The plot surprised me, mostly in a good way. It’s not a goofy movie as one might think from the poster, although it has its goofy moments, it’s actually takes almost a philosophical approach to its themes. A recommended watch!

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) – Decided to watch this as we liked Dracula so much, and here we have the brilliant trio of Fisher (director), Lee and Cushing again. This wasn’t quite as good as Dracula, but it was an okay watch, and my first old Sherlock-movie. Big surprise in the film: Lee plays a good guy! What is this!? Nice to see for a change though, and although the film itself wasn’t that interesting, the actors are great.

Leprechaun (1993) – Watched this in hope that it would be kind of like Killer Klowns; completely ridiculous and hilarious, but our hopes were not met. The concept of an evil murderous leprechaun seeking vengeance for his stolen gold sounds cool, but it turned out too stupid and without the fun-stupid parts. And this film has 6 sequels! I don’t think I’ll be watching any of them, although the title Leprechaun 4: In Space (Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood is another good one) sound awfully tempting.

As mentioned, I’d love to hear what your favourites in the genre are, I’m always looking for what to explore next 🙂