Frankenstein, circa 1910

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Everyone knows the Universal Horror version of Frankenstein from 1931 but few know of the earlier, stranger silent adaptation that dates all the way back to 1910 that none other than Thomas Edison made! It was the first adaptation of Mary Shelley's story and perhaps should be more well known, if only for how strange it is...

In this very truncated version of the story (It is all of 12 minutes and 41 seconds) Victor Frankenstein is a young scientist heading off to college (While wearing a very dapper cape and excellent top hat). Thanks to a sudden title card we jump forward in time two years to discover that Frankenstein has 'discovered the mystery of life!' Wow! Thanks College! 

Now, of course the mystery of life refers to Victor being able to resurrect the dead. Oh boy! And not only that, but by doing so Victor feels he can create 'the most perfect human being that the world has yet known....' Once he has done this he will then claim his sweetheart for his bride, because, of course, you can't ask for someone's hand in marriage until you've brought an unrelated dead hand back to life...Preferably one attached to a dead arm attached to a dead torso and...you get the drift. 

Now, of course, Victor doesn't create a perfect human. Instead he creates a lumpy, lumbering scarecrow skeleton man with spindly puppet arms that flap and flap like a baby bird trying its best to fly. It's a crazy visual and one well worth seeking out! Truly this creation sequence is an excellent thing...It was shot with the creature on fire, crumbling and falling to bits and it was then projected in reverse to show the drippy puppet thing instead come lurching up out of a bubbling cauldron, forming together in a herky jerky fashion. EXCELLENT.  It is the stuff of silent nightmares and is much more shocking and graphic than the Universal Picture one, for sure. 

Once the creature is fully formed it is played by the lumpiest, weirdest, most burlap sack of a man you've probably ever seen. So do yourself a favor and check it out! I'd say more, but...I don't want to spoil such a new and fresh film, aha!



About the author

CharlesPieper

Charles Pieper is a stop motion animator, concept artist, director, editor and monster maker who lives in Los Angeles. He has made music videos for the bands Dufus, Summerbirds in the Cellar, Setting Sun, Quitzow, Brit and the Cavalry, Skidmore Fountain, Lo Fi Sugar, YesMisterBloodVessel, and Man's Assassination, Man. He…

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