Movie adaptations of Frankenstein always miss the mark. Sure they capture the morbid way in which the monster was made (from dead body parts). They show the mayhem the creature causes. Some point out the folly of the scientist who created life just because he could.
Sadly, most versions omit the pathos of the rejected monster himself. But in The Monsters’ Monster, Patrick McDonnell’s children’s book about a similar science experiment gone wrong, readers get an ending that delights rather than chills.
Post format: A Tale of Two Books
Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley in 1818. It’s the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant scientist consumed with making life. When he succeeds, he is horrified by his creation and quickly abandons it. The hapless creature is left to fend for itself. In a number of touching scenes, Frankenstein’s creature tries to make friends and live among humans. But his hideousness scares everyone away. Only then does he become crazed and murderous. Shelley’s description of the monster’s super strength and speed is truly terrifying as is his relentless pursuit of the doctor who made and then denied him. I’ve always thought this haunting, beautiful tale would lend itself more to a Masterpiece Theater series than a horror film.
In McDonnell’s tale, The Monsters’ Monster, three monsters quarrel about who is the worst and then decide to settle the argument by making “the biggest, baddest monster EVER!”. But when a lightning bolt brings their creature to life, its first words to its creators are “dank you.” Disappointed, they then watch helplessly as he gently pets the snakes and spiders around him. His foray into the nearby village takes him to a bakery where he buys treats. Unlike Dr. Frankenstein, the three monsters’ initial disgust with their creation turns into affection by the book’s end. In a touching scene, the monster hands each one a warm, jelly doughnut and the group gazes happily into the sunset forgetting about being monsters at all.
Now The Monsters’ Monster is a picture book which pretty much guarantees a happy ending. And yes, Frankenstein, considered the forerunner to today’s science fiction and horror genres, would have faded into obscurity without its tragic conclusion. But anyone who takes the time to read Shelley’s original tale will feel for this creature. While the terror makes for great storytelling, part of you will wish someone had rather just taken the time to accept him.
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite horror book or movie?