Contents Index

Frankenstein and the Anatomy of Horror

James B. Twitchell

The Georgia Review, 37:1 (Spring 1983), 41-78

{41} WHAT is horror, and why are we both attracted to and repulsed by it? We are now living through one of the most explosive periods yet experienced in the cycle of shudder art. Post-Vietnam horror is everywhere: in the movies (The Exorcist, Carrie, The Omen), on television (the evening news, Saturday-morning cartoons), in books (see movies, above), in popular music (the "horror rock" of Alice Cooper, Kiss) and even politics (The White House Horrors). It is not unusual that works of horror should explode in such a burst; it certainly has happened this way before: in the science fiction and the Hammer Studio movies in the late 1950's and 1960's; in Universal Studio monster movies of the 1930's; around the turn of the century in the works of Stevenson, Stoker, and others associated with the Order of the Golden Dawn; in the "bloody pulps" of the 1850's as well as in the stories of Poe; and before that in the first great unfolding of "modern horror," the Gothic novel.

Horror art seems to move in bursts, and doubtless these outbreaks are connected to cultural anxieties. The first rule of shivers seems to be that horror art will be most prevalent in times of gradual cultural shifts when people need some "object" toward which they can direct their anxieties. When the object and the anxiety connect, we can very often find ins horror art a prediction of how the society is resolving its fears. So, for instance, in the 1950's we entertained a spate of outer-space monsters at the same time we were embarked on the projects at NASA; in the 1960's eve were plagued with ecological mutants just as we started to realize the fragility of our planet; and in the 1970's we let loose a gaggle of childmonsters as we started rearranging our feeling about population and diminishing resources. We now seem particularly frightened of women; in fact, one of the most disturbing trends in modern horror is male sexual {42} violence against "liberated" (i.e., independent) women, as in Dressed to Kill, When a Stranger Calls, Halloween, He Knows You're Alone, Friday the Thirteenth -- all of which may tell us more than we want to know about the sadistic misogyny engendered by the Women's Movement. We appear to want horror art when we are anxious and insecure, not when we are truly frightened; hence the 1940's -- when there really was a Fascist monster across the seas -- were relatively barren of horror iconographies. In fact, when there actually is something menacing us we seem to want musical comedies.

This interpretation of artificial horror is rather commonsensical, of course, no more sophisticated than the fact that we tend to be more interested in pornography during times of sexual repression. Horror art, rather like pornography, seems to fill a special need, perhaps biological as well as psychological, a need to express anxiety. In fact, the word horror" carries this reference within its etymology -- the Latin verb horrére means "to stand on end or bristle" and refers to the way the hairs on the neck become erect when there is some threat to physical well-being. Horror, the aesthetic horror of art, is of course psychological, but it excites the same physiological response: we brace ourselves as if preparing for flight or fight.

Not only does make-believe horror appeal in times of cultural shift, it also seems to be attractive during discrete stages of individual maturation. And the period of growth when horror seems to be almost essential is during what Freudians call latency: a time of incubation, a time when the early adolescent starts to assimilate the enormous amount of sexual data he or she has unconsciously collected.1 In no way is this a dormant period (although latency unfortunately has that connotation); rather it refers to the process of sexual becoming, specifically becoming male or female. It is a bittersweet time: the death knell of childhood, the end of asexuality, the time when polymorphous perversity will be perverse, yet, {43} it is also a coming into one's own, a gathering together of the self, a rite of passage across the meridian of sexuality. For sexuality now no longer refers to a vague but crucial distinction between others; it now refers to ourselves and what we are becoming. And what we are becoming, in terms of sociobiology, are creatures capable of reproduction.

It is at this stage of individual development that horror seems especially provocative, and monsters who had often populated the periphery of fairy tales now come front and center to dominate the sagas of adolescence. You need only attend a few horror movies or listen to popular "horror" rock music to realize that this is the same audience which gulps down quantities of pulp fiction and horror comics. The squeals you hear have a decidedly high pitch.

But why should the horror stimmung be so appealing to adolescents in latency? Clearly part of the reason is that there is a joyous shudder associated with, and embedded in, horror; for remember, this is the same audience that will queue up for hours for the privilege of having their stomachs lifted and neck hair raised by riding the roller-coaster at the fair. This excitement is not without some social utility, for on the downward rids there is ample time for the boys to practice bravery by biting their nether lip, while squealing girls perfect their own control by surrender. But there is another reason for the susceptibility of adolescents to horror that tells us much about the nature of the experience: in the great sagas of modern horror -- and by this I mean the myths that base have been continually retelling for the last few generations (vampire, werewolf, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein monster) -- there is invariably a buried text of sexuality that addresses itself precisely to the overwhelming problems of budding, but confused, sexual desire. These sagas are centered on problems of reproduction: where did I come from? why am I sexual and most important, what am I going to do about it? 2

It would be nice to think that these questions could be answered candidly in society, but of course they can't be -- in large part because they are not yet even phraseable as questions. They are only vague murmurings beneath the surface. When they do bubble up, they are usually suppressed by an older generation (whose impatience betrays its own inability to find the answers) and/or quelled by the adolescents themselves (who compound confusion first by neglect, then by panic, and finally {44} by sublimation).3 But these confusions must somehow be addressed, and if you look carefully at horror art you will see this interrogation occurring.

The two most popular initiation myths that employ horror in our culture are the vampire and the Frankenstein monster. Although I have elsewhere tried to make the case that the "family romance" of Dracula (both in print and on film) plays out the sexual anxieties of both male and female, let me briefly reiterate it here, since these two stories form a kind of monster dyptych, each completing the other.4 Essentially a young male is interested in the vampire saga because he sees in that scenario an "acting out" of his own buried desire (i.e., that he may "conquer" the special woman, the mother who is virginal to the boy, and command her attention so that he will be the only male in her life). As the victim's sensual reactions suggest, the vampire "bite" is the displaced sex act. The price of this Oedipal fantasy is literally horrendous -- it is incest -- and so the guilty vampire must be made to suffer by living forever with an insatiable blood-lust. However, to a young woman in the audience, the female "victim" in the story is her projected self. The female virgin is a willing, although not overly conscious, co-conspirator (in the saga she always does something -- unhasps the window, opens the door -- so the vampire can enter) who is carefully inducted into sexuality by the older man, the vampire, the father. Again the price of Oedipal fantasy is to be paid, for she is inducted into the sorority of undead (read "sexual") and must also suffer blood-lust for immortality. In other words the cost of sexual curiosity and wish fulfillment is always computed within the story; you can ask the questions, you can even enact the tabooed desire, but if you do you will also pay the piper.

Although the vampire has everything any teen-ager wants -- sex without confusion, plenty of money, an eternity of all-night parties and allday sleep -- when we decode his story we see that it is full of sexual instruction. Essentially, horror can be thought of as the price exacted by the superego to let the ego learn about the id. For the most part we are not {45} really interested in horror, in having our neck hairs raised; rather we are interested in something for which we must experience horror, namely knowledge of forbidden levels of sexuality. We may think the Oedipal fantasies are the means to evoke horror, but the causality is mistaken. Horror is the means to examine sexuality. What makes the transformations from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, or from man (Lyle Talbot) to Wolfman, horrible is not that they are painful but rather that they must be undertaken before the protagonist can act out the desires of the id. It is almost as if the superego, which is just coming into its own during latency, says: "Okay, if you want to find out how that feral and exciting part of you operates, you will first have to pay the tax of horror. You will have to endure the pains of a transformation into a monster from which you may not be able to escape." We may think that it is the transformation we're interested in, but really we are much more interested in what guilt-free sexual adventures Mr. Hyde or the Wolfman has in store. The main difference between these sagas and the vampire story is that here the transformations occur before the sexual knowledge; in the vampire story it comes after. But the dreamlike desires are invariably the same: how can we learn what we want to know and what will happen to us then. It seems that if we want knowledge of tabooed sex, especially incest, what we must experience along the way is horror. And this is true even if we only wish to watch, not do. This is what makes dreams into nightmares. But clearly for the adolescent it is worth it.

With this in mind, namely that horror is the means, not the end, of sexual fantasies in latency, it may be instructive to look at one of the great modern sagas in Western lore -- the tale of Victor Frankenstein and his monster. Admittedly, Frankenstein is unique as a saga, in that we actually have a generating "text" (Mary Shelley's 1818/1831 novel), but most of what we know about the story comes from nonprint media. The novel itself tells a confusing story of a young man who creates a larger-than-life humanoid which then destroys much of the creator's family before presumably destroying himself. What distinguishes the story through its many renditions is an overwhelming amount of confusion. For instance, who is Frankenstein? If you ask your local preteen-ager he will tell you it is the monster -- it is not, of course; it is the protagonist. Then, if you ask about this protagonist, you will probably be told he is an older man, a doctor, a mad scientist. He is not: he is a most callow youth. And if you ask how the audience feels about the "monster," you will probably learn a very important fact. You will learn that this character (like the other horror monster, the vampire) is a figure of some sympathy. Al- {46} though it might seem logical to return to the text to resolve these ambiguities, that in itself is insufficient. We need to examine the entire saga to see where the "horror" comes from, how it got embedded into the text, and how it continues to exist there regardless of the medium of transmission.

Frankenstein: The Printed Text

Frankenstein is, as George Levine has written, "one of the great freaks of English literature."5 It is awkwardly written, inconsistently plotted, peopled with a host of seemingly superfluous characters, and full of the kind of inappropriate longueurs that characterize artistic immaturity. A young man, Robert Walton, writes his sister a verbatim account of what a young scientist, Victor Frankenstein, has accomplished in creating a "monster," who in turn has given young Frankenstein a verbatim account of what has happened to him during four years of the eighteenth century in Europe. This narrative Chinese-box is a characteristic device of the early novel, especially the Gothic, as it safely cocoons "meaning" inside a double layer of stories. Yet, in spite of (and because of) all the obscuring effects of these buried narratives and the ironic juxtapositions of narrators, there is not enough authorial control to save the tales from some incredible silliness as well as some profound truths. Students of absurdities have a field day wondering how Victor could create a being eight feet tall from the body parts of ordinary men (to say nothing of the fact that Victor might well have started creating life first on a less sophisticated level); how this creature could become fluent in English and French in less than a year (we are told he just happens to find the books -- Milton, Plutarch, Goethe); why Victor did not create a female partner sans reproductive apparatus to quiet the monster; how the monster finds Victor's journal or a regular-sized cloak that happens to fit someone of his prodigious size; and all this is to completely overlook the implausibilities (nay, impossibilities) of some of the time sequences and the wild coincidences of serendipitous meetings.

In this story, coincidence -- so much a staple of the Gothic anyway -- is raised, I think deliberately, beyond the limits of credulity. In fact, it is {47} taken into the levels of dream life, where, after all, Mary Shelley says the story was first enacted. However, hidden between the ludicrous coincidences is a subtext of compelling interest that has nothing coincidental about it at all; in fact, it is ruthlessly predetermined. A young man creates a being and then spurns this creation, making it monstrous. Much is made of the fact that this love deprivation has transformed prelapsarian Adam into Satan: "Remember that I am thy creature," says the monster. "I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed" (p. 95).6 In his role as satanic scourge, the monster throttles Victor's brother William and frames Justine, a family friend; harasses Victor for more than a year; strangles Elizabeth, Victor's new bride, on their wedding night; and leads Victor off on a continental chase that ends in the Arctic wastes, where Victor expires and the monster finally (supposedly) immolates himself.

But what is so interesting about this story, or more particularly, why should it have held our impassioned interest for so many generations? As I mentioned earlier, for a modern horror story to endure it must not only be adaptable into different media but must also -- and more importantly -- be appealing to either sex. Masculine horror (say, Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer) will be as soon neglected as feminine horror (for instance, Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho), if only because the latency audience -- the primary audience of horror art from the eighteenth century onward -- is unable to be interested in specific sexual roles. In my opinion, It is primarily the androgynous qualities and the sublimated sexual aspects of Frankenstein that account for its potency, even though the text seems -- like the original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde -- to be singularly devoid of any sexual let alone incestuous. references.7

Frankenstein: From the Male Point of View

{48} The "male" part of the myth is clearly the second half: what the monster does, rather than how he was created. In fact, the whole creation scene is condensed into a few sentences at the beginning of chapter five:
I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room. . . . (p. 56)
Victor abandons his creation ostensibly because it is unaesthetic, because it has "watery eyes that seemed almost of the same color as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, [a] shriveled complexion and straight black lips." Never once does Victor think what he has done is presumptuous or Faustian or sacrilegious -- only the critics think that. In fact, Victor really doesn't know why he made this creature in the first place, other than it was the result of "my obsession." Initially he doesn't even think the creature monstrous and so repeatedly calls him a "daemon," a word which originally meant a neutral spirit before becoming appropriated by the Christian fathers to mean evil spirit, as in "demon."8

Once "born" the creature must be "educated," and his schooling occurs in the rather awkward episodes where the eight-foot daemon is literally slid in behind the De Lacey household to participate passively in a {49} surrogate family. This is more than a convenient narrative device to resolve such problems as language and socialization; this is a way to mature him to Victor's level so that by the time he leaves, or rather is ejected from, the bosom of the family, he is Victor's coeval, ready to fulfill Victor's secret wishes. The metamorphosis from noble savage to awkward adolescent (separated from the family) takes only a few months in his speeded-up life, but he is now fully ready to do what every teen-ager wants to do -- he can at last "get even" with those who have restrained him.

But who is "getting even" with whom -- is it the daemon with Victor, or Victor (via the creature) with his family? What the monster does is in no way capricious; rather, from Victor's point of view, it is the fulfillment of obsessively regressive desire. The monster's first victim is Victor's baby brother, William. Admittedly, the monster is in a bad mood (he has been wounded while helping a little girl) when he happens on young William, but William does not make him feel any better by telling the creature to leave him alone; he is, after all, the son of M. Frankenstein, municipal magistrate. That's enough for the monster; it's all over for William and he is strangled straightaway. In the monster's words: "I grasped his [William's] throat to silence him, and in a moment he lay dead at my feet. I gazed on my victim and my heart swelled with exultation and hellish triumph. . . ." By wild happenstance, around the child's neck is a locket with a picture of Mrs. Frankenstein (Victor and William's mother), and the monster grasps it and gazes in rapt attention:

I took it; it was a portrait of a most lovely woman. In spite of my malignity, it softened and attracted me. For a few moments I gazed with delight on her dark eyes, fringed by deep lashes and her lovely lips; but presently my rage returned, I remembered that I was forever deprived of the delights that such beautiful creatures could bestow and that she whose resemblance I contemplated would, in regarding me, have changed that air of divine benignity to one expressive of disgust and affright. (p. 136)
Just the sight of Victor's mother is sufficient to melt the monster's rage. Now happening to pass by is Justine, Victor's surrogate sister who has been cared for by the Frankenstein family.9 She stops for a short early {50} morning nap -- it takes all of a minute -- in a nearby shed, and the daemon "places the portrait securely in one of the folds of her dress." It is a propitious act, which eventually leads to Justine's being tried and convicted of William's murder. Strangely enough, however, it will be Victor who admits responsibility. For later he learns that, sick with a fever (repressed guilt?), he has called himself "the murderer of William, of Justine" (p. 169). Precisely what he means we do not learn at that point, but we already have a hint that the monster is dutifully enacting the desires of his creator.

We are now given a short reprieve during which Victor receives a most peculiar letter from home. His father writes:

I confess, my son, that I have always looked forward to your marriage with ["your cousin" in the 1818 text] our dear Elizabeth as the tie of our domestic comfort and the stay of my declining years. You were attached to each other from your earliest infancy; you studied together, and appeared, in dispositions and tastes, entirely suited to one another. But so blind is the experience of man that what I conceived to be the best assistants to my plan may have entirely destroyed it. You, perhaps, regard her as your sister, without any wish that she might become your wife. Nay, you may have met with another whom you may love; and considering yourself as bound in honor to Elizabeth, this struggle may occasion that poignant misery which you appear to feel. (p. 144)
To be sure, in the 1831 edition Mary Shelley has struck the word "cousin," but the damage, so to speak, has been done: truth has leaked through. Elizabeth is somehow a member of the family, but what member? To find out we need to recall Victor's previous relations with Elizabeth. Here, for instance, is her induction into the "family circle":
On the evening previous to her being brought to my home, my mother had said playfully, "I have a pretty present for my Victor -- tomorrow he shall have it." And when, on the morrow, she presented Elizabeth to me as her promised gift, 1, with childish seriousness, interpreted her words literally and looked upon Elizabeth as mine -- mine to protect, love, and cherish. All praises bestowed on her I received as made to a possession of my own. We called each other familiarly by the name of cousin. No word, no expression could body forth the kind of relation in which she stood to me -- my more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only. (p. 35)
{51} So it is with good reason that Victor responds to his father's suggestion "with horror and dismay," for Elizabeth seems more than a cousin, more even than a sister, more perhaps like a mother.

Victor has a pressing problem before he can consider a wife, however: the daemon has first demanded a mate of his own. Consistent with his earlier problem-solving behavior, Victor first swoons at the news and then embarks on a leisurely trip that takes him across the continent to England and then up to the Orkney Islands. Here in splendid isolation he again engages in the "filthy process" of creation (p. 156), this time to make the companion for the monster -- the female who will become in a much later cinematic operation (thanks to popular confusion of the proper name) the eponymic "Bride of Frankenstein."10

Victor typically has second thoughts and recants on his promise. His love-sick daemon is distraught and first implores, then threatens, but to no avail; Victor will not be swayed. Finally as the creature turns on his heel to be gone, he makes one last promise to his creator: "I will go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding night" (p. 161). This is a powerfully ambiguous threat; surely the monster is promising vengeance, but on whom -- Victor or the bride? Victor -- ever the egotist -- thinks the intended victim will be himself, but he acts as if it were to be his wife. We know better: if the monster wanted Victor, he could dispatch him any time he wished. The monster wants the bride, and Victor subconsciously knows it.

After this threat Victor falls into the requisite "deep sleep," and the plot is driven through some rather conventional Gothic territory: the monster kills Victor's best friend, Henry Clerval, and frames Victor (who is freed, thanks to the good offices of his father); Victor makes some desultory attempts at suicide, but most importantly he is gently nudged by Elizabeth to think again about the unthinkable. She writes:

You well know, Victor, that our union had been the favourite plan of your parents ever since our infancy. We were told this when young, and taught to look forward to it as an event that would certainly take place. We were affectionate playfellows during childhood, and, I believe, dear and valued friends to one {52} another as we grew older. But as brother and sister often entertain a lively affection towards each other without desiring a more intimate union, may not such also be our case? Tell me, dearest Victor. Answer me, I conjure you, by our mutual happiness, with simple truth -- Do you not love another? (p. 178)
Although Victor knows that the monster has always been true to his Delphic threats, he writes back to Elizabeth of his willingness, but warns her:
I have one secret, Elizabeth, a dreadful one; when revealed to you, it will chill your frame with horror, and then, far from being surprised at my misery, you will only wonder that I survive what I have endured. I will confide this tale of misery and terror to you the day after our marriage shall take place, for, my sweet cousin, there must be perfect confidence between us. (p. 180)
Just whom is he trying to protect -- himself or her?

The wedding day arrives and with it, of course, Victor's ahedonic dread. Surely such dread is occasioned by incest -- the references to brother/sister, Victor/Elizabeth have been an unmistakable motif, even though we have often had to look beneath the pentimento of the 1831 revisions. Simply put, the monster has cleared the way for Victor to experience a level of sexuality that has been tabooed, while at the same time promising to appear on the Dies Irae to make sure the marriage is not consummated. The frisson is generated not only by sibling incest but also by hints of the Oedipal relationship as well. We know this cannot be: we have been assured that Victor's real mother has died from a disease carried into the family by Elizabeth, her "present" for her son, and that her dying wish was that her son marry this very girl. A mother would never allow anything horrible to happen; wasn't even Christabel's mother there to protect her from Geraldine? 11

To find out how Victor really perceives Elizabeth, rather than how his mother wants him to, we need to recall the dream he had during his post-monster-creation swoon. Here is the dream complete with the daemon's cameo appearance:

{53} I was disturbed by the wildest dreams. I thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel. I started from my sleep with horror, a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow fight of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch -- the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched our, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs. (p. 57)
When this element is considered, Victor's familial relationships appear at last to fall into place; for if Elizabeth is the displaced mother, then Victor will not be able to consummate the marriage without utter psychological disintegration. Recall the comment made by Henry Clerval after young William's death (not just consoling but prescriptive): "Dear lovely child, he now sleeps with his angel mother" (p. 71, italics added). But Victor is still curious and he wants, as does the dreamer, to get as close as possible to the forbidden event in this world. Ironically it is the monster who will protect him, just as he had earlier befriended him in Victor's Elizabeth/dead mother dream. All along the daemon has acted out Victor's wishes: he has destroyed family and friends, all in preparation for this central encounter of Victor's fantasy. And now, here on Victor's wedding night, Victor is so close to the sexually forbidden that he is understandably hebephrenic. Elizabeth inquires, "What is it that agitates you, my dear Victor?" and her husband can only reply: ". . . this night is dreadful, very dreadful" (p. 185). He now leaves her, ostensibly to look for the monster; the monster conveniently takes his cue and dispatches Elizabeth; Victor returns, swoons at the sight of his dearly departed, then covers her face with a handkerchief and for the first time in their entire relationship "embraced her with ardour" (p. 186). Unlike brother William, who had had to die to lie with his mother, Victor is still alive, so, of course, it is the mother figure who must go. Now, however, there is guilt as well as horror to deal with.

{54} The scene trembles with, as Coleridge said of his own incest dreams, "desire with loathing strangely mixed." Victor knows what the monster has promised, yet goes ahead with the marriage; Victor knows the monster will be there on his wedding night, yet he does not stay in the room to protect his bride; like the little boy who has been told not to stand too close to the fire, Victor's first response is to inch closer. Little wonder he gets burned. He has had more sexual excitement than he can withstand, and once again he dissembles.

If we had any doubts about the doppelgänger connection between Victor and the monster, the last quarter of the book resolves them.12 For from now on Victor pursues the monster to set things right, just as earlier the monster had dogged Victor for what he felt was just. First the shadow chases the man, then the man chases the shadow. Victor's repressed desires have broken the surface and he must now try to bury them again. It is almost as if Victor's ego, having liberated his monstrous id, now feels compelled to return to some psychological stasis. But his superego -- so to speak -- will have none of it now and so unity is denied. Victor monomaniacally pursues his "devil" (the "daemon" has now become "demon") to the ends of the civilized world, "more as a task enjoined by heaven, as a mechanical impulse of some power of which I was unconscious, than as the ardent desire of my soul" (pp. 194-95).

Here, appropriately, Victor's narrative ends, and we are returned to Robert Walton's epistolary frame. Victor is rescued from the ice-packs of insanity just long enough to warn Walton, another curious seeker after forbidden knowledge, to turn back.13 Victor expires, but the monster {55} lingers on to let us know that even now he is not satisfied. He tells the ephebic Walton:

You, who call Frankenstein your friend, seem to have a knowledge of my crimes and his misfortunes. But in the detail which he gave you of them he could not sum up the hours and months of misery which I endured wasting in impotent passions. For while I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires. They were forever ardent and craving; still I desired love and fellowship, and I was still spurned. Was there no injustice in this? Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all humankind sinned against me? (p. 210)
But separated from his other half, his shadow, the monster wanders off, presumably to immolate himself.

When the pieces of this side of the puzzle are put together, they reveal an Oedipal design in the story that explains such peculiarities as why the monster reacts to the locket-picture of Frankenstein's mother; why Elizabeth is textually displaced from "mother" to "sister" to "cousin" to "foundling"; why the monster reappears on the wedding night; and why the final symbiosis of monster and man is so fantastic, even dreamlike. All of this also explains, I think, why the story should appeal to the young male, for it is clear that such an audience is especially concerned about the choice between following the unbridled curiosity that will lead to knowledge and horror (Victor) or being restrained, which will turn us away from sexual knowledge but promise safety (Robert Walton) . Once Victor's fictive journey is over, once his rite of initiation is finished, it should be clear to us which path we ought to follow. Although the text captures the limbo of adolescence, lingering between the two choices, we know that if we are going to be "mature" we must learn from Victor to follow Robert.

Frankenstein: From the Female Point of View

The horror is equally exciting and sexually implosive from the female point of view. Although some might think me presumptuous to give a "feminine" reading of the novel, let me offer here a few points that have become almost données in recent Shelley criticism.14 First, at the risk of {56} committing biographical and intentional fallacies, it is tempting to extrapolate from the child-bearing events in Mary Shelley's life to the daemon-bearing event in the life of Victor. And, second, this single event -- child-bearing and all that it entails -- seems to be a condensed analogue to what happens both in and around the text. For here is a novel given birth by an artist who was almost morbidly obsessed by the psychological pains and complexities of giving birth.

At the time of Frankenstein's composition, Mary Shelley's life centered around the paradox of birth. Her own induction into this world had been powerfully ambiguous: she was born five months after her illustrious parents, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, were married. Clearly they married to legitimize her, yet her birth divorced them forever. After a particularly rigorous labor, Mary Wollstonecraft had difficulty expelling the placenta; infection set in, and eleven days later she died. If there is one thing the "posthumous child" soon learns, it is that coming into being is intertwined with departure. It was not a lesson later lost; in fact, Mary Shelley relearned it again and again.15 She, herself, had just become pregnant in July 1814 when she ran off to the continent with Percy Bysshe Shelley. Also pregnant at the same time was Shelley s wife, Harriet, who was to give healthy birth in November. Mary was not so fortunate: in February 1815 she gave birth, or rather in a macabre sense gave death, to a sickly and illegitimate daughter. She noted in her Journal only: "Find my baby dead, a miserable day," and a few weeks later (19 March) she continued, "Dream that my little baby came to life again; that it had only been cold, and that we rubbed it before the fire, and it lived. Awake and find no baby. I think about the little thing all day. Not in good spirits." She was pregnant again in April. As she carried this child she was doubtless full of dread and guilt, but this time birthing was a success. In January 1816, son William was born.16

When the famous pact was made in June 1816 at the Villa Diodati -- a pact that was as important to the creation of modern horror as the de- {57} cision by Wordsworth and Coleridge to collaborate on the Lyrical Ballads has been to modern poetry -- one might have guessed what Mary would have chosen.17 One does not have to delve very far below the surface to see that even in her 1831 introduction to the third edition she is still working out her own mothering anxieties: "I shall . . . give a general answer to the question so very frequently asked of me -- how I, then a young girl, came to think of and to dilate upon so very hideous an idea [as the creation of a monster]." What she does not realize, at least not consciously, is that her procreative act, what she has had to dilate, efface, and present, is the opus of art, Frankenstein. The idea may have come to her in a "dream":

My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie. I saw -- with shut eyes, but acute mental vision -- I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. . . . His success would terrify the artist; he would rush away from his odious handiwork, horror-stricken. He would hope that, left to itself, the slight spark of life which he had communicated would fade, that this thing which had received such imperfect animation would subside into dead matter, and he might sleep in the belief that the silence of the grave would quench forever the transient existence of the hideous corpse which he had looked upon as the cradle of life. (pp. x-xi)
However, the actuality -- the text -- is the compulsive abreaction of that anxiety. Little wonder that Mary Shelley, now thirty-two, concludes the introduction to her work at seventeen by bidding "my hideous progeny to go forth and prosper. I have an affection for it, for it was the offspring of happier days. . ."

Ellen Moyers, really the first critic to interpret Frankenstein as a study of female anxieties, has called the work "a horror story of teenage motherhood" and she is right.18 But it would also be correct to say that Frankenstein is a study in sexual ontology: how life is created and brought forward. And this subject seems to mandate horror in the adolescent fe- {58} male just as incest seems to terrify the young man. In other words, Mary Shelley did not write a Gothic story in which we have, say, a young heroine pursued by an evil, glowering man à la Mrs. Radcliffe; she was not interested in such fright. Horror is something else, and she knew firsthand what that was; it was somehow tied up into what she experienced as a woman -- all the dread, fear, guilt, depression, and excitement of childbirth. The marvel of her story is not that she successfully articulated her feelings but that she captured so well the shared anxieties of her sex.

Psychiatrist Marc Rubenstein has also asserted that for all "its exclusion of women, Frankenstein is really about motherhood."19 In fact, young Frankenstein's progeny becomes a monster not because he violates the demands of death like the vampire but rather because he has not been "mothered" properly. What makes him monstrous to the female audience is not his lust for revenge or his appetite for violence but rather that he has been made hideous by his creator's unwillingness to nurture. Little wonder then that the pubescent female can witness this tale of initiation into the anxieties of motherhood with as rapt attention as her male counterpart. To assemble the female side of the puzzle, let us again return to the text.

Recall that after his own mother died, Victor leaves home to pursue his own arcane studies at the University of Ingolstadt. There, although "in my education my father had taken the greatest precautions that my mind should be impressed with no supernatural horrors" (p. 50), Victor starts to tinker with the processes of creating life. "In a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and staircase, I kept my workshop of filthy creations. . . ." Here, we are told, he spends days and nights at work -- winter, spring and summer passed away during my labours" -- until finally in November new life issues forth.

The manufacture of a baby is precisely what is occurring in that womb-like room at the top of the stairs. The "labour" in that "filthy workshop of creation" is the unconscious gestation of new life. And so we should not be surprised when Victor's creation bears an uncanny resemblance to a human child:

His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely cov- {59} ered the work of muscles and arteries beneath . . . but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips. [1.4.1]20
But, of course, this cannot be -- not because it is sacrilegious or immoral, but because it is so sexually impossible. Life here is being made without a partner, without copulation, without sex. It certainly seems easier, but it is not right -- just as it was not right for Victor to act on the feelings he has for Elizabeth. And lest we forget that this child-making is not being done properly, we are respectfully told the issue is wildly inappropriate: this baby is eight feet tall! Little wonder that Victor's initial response to his newborn should be to fall into a deep postpartum sleep.

Mary Shelley tells us the phantasmagoric image of this creature came to her in a dream, and indeed it still has the ooze of dream life about it. As is typical in dreams, the one thing this creature cannot be is the one thing it is: Victor's child. In horror tales, as in dreams, it is common to have a central figure perform actions that mock all common sense. It is almost as if the reasoning powers of the superego must be short-circuited before the id is allowed out. How could Victor create a being eight feet tall from normal human parts found in nearby charnel houses and boneyards? Well, what is King Kong doing fondling the hand-sized Fay Wray -- this can't be sexual, not because he is an ape but because he is so big. Or why hasn't the vampire overpopulated himself into starvation, since his species grows in geometric progression? In horror stories, as in dreams, we try to pass by these rational objections because if we can get past them, we can find what we really want: a forbidden text of sexuality. So in each monster story that appeals to adolescents (werewolf, mummy, vampire, transformation monster) there is some obstreperous contradiction of reality that must be circumvented; the Frankenstein story is no exception.

The creation scene ends on a ludicrous note with Victor waking momentarily to see his progeny peering at him from behind "the curtain {60} of the bed." He exclaims: "Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch" (p. 57). Are we getting a continuation of the rebus-like dream puns with the word/image "mummy" as we earlier had with "conception," "incredible labour," "dilate," "workshop of filthy creation," "instruments of life," and "effacement"? I suspect so, if only because the train of associations, which initially seemed so helter-skelter, really does lead directly here to the central actor of creation: motherhood . . . mother . . . "mummy."

When the two "selves" of this extraordinary protagonist, Victor Frankenstein, are reunited we do get an almost clinical description of the anxieties of latency, for he/she unconsciously deals with the great biological and psychological dilemma of adolescence: sexuality and its consequences. How do we procreate; how is "it" done; with whom; when; what happens next; and what are we going to do about what we produce? Frankenstein thus articulates through its buried and unconscious allegory both the male impulses and anxieties about incest as well as the female impulses and anxieties about birthing. It is a horror novel not because there is a huge, violent, and destructive monster lumbering about the countryside, but because human desire, our desire, has made this protoplasm and is strangely motivating it.21

Frankenstein: On Film

I hope that this sense of embedded androgyny in some way explains why such a clumsy novel by such a green artist could have achieved such a compelling influence on popular imagination. What has happened in the retelling of the tale is that most of the superfluities of the printed text (tedious travelogues, digressions on contemporary science, descriptions of Alpine sublimities, extraneous characters) have been sloughed off in favor of the central acts of creation and sexual quest. If one doubts that Frankenstein is a central saga of initiation into adulthood, one need only {61} drop in at the local Cinema Eight and "see it with your own eyes." The movie is the ideal form of this saga's transmission, for it much more nearly approximates the dream context: we sit quietly in the dark giving ourselves up to a fantasy supposedly beyond our control. The tensions and fears of our conscious mind are muted, superego censors are stilled because it is, after all, "only a movie," only entertainment, only a dream.22

Although Victor and his monster had considerable success on the nineteenth-century stage (often as a double bill with a vampire play adapted from Polidori's novella), it is on celluloid that they have really prospered.23 Not only was this one of the first stories filmed (in 1910 Thomas A. Edison made a "liberal adaptation of Mrs. Shelley's famous story," starring the frantic Charles Ogle), it has also been one of the most enduring. In general, one need say little more about the film adventures of Frankenstein other than that they have been ridiculous, sublime, silly, profound, ludicrous, and unusually profitable; in fact, they have pretty much paralleled the fortunes of Count Dracula. When the adaptations are good, they can be very, very good; but when they are bad, they are just awful.

What I should like to concentrate on, however, are not the various renditions of the story-line but rather the mutations in the character of Frankenstein, for he has been cast -- I suspect quite unconsciously, until recently -- as bisexual. When we look at what has happened to the myth as it has evolved on film, what we see is that the buried sexual content is being progressively made manifest. And so it should come as no surprise that in the most successful remake on both stage and screen, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the role of Victor is played precisely for what had previously only been implied, namely androgyny.

Although there is only one great monster (Karloff), there are two great cinematic Frankensteins: Colin Clive and Peter Cushing. Interestingly enough, the moral tones of their characterizations vary greatly, for {62} Clive plays the young scientist as upright, considerate, and good (although too curious and careless), while Cushing plays him as haughty, misogynistic, and -- especially in the last version, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, 1972 -- downright demonic. But the sexual, or rather asexual, nature of his character has been changeless. He is a neuter, clearly sublimating his erotic energies into the mechanical creation of life. In fact, in all the Frankensteins at Universal Studios in the thirties and forties and at Hammer Studios in the fifties and sixties the creation scene as always played very close to sexual arousal. The music, the lighting, the responses are blatantly lifted from their usual matrix -- and with good reason. For, after a great deal of tantalizing foreplay with electrically charged, sparking instruments, the scene centers around Dr. Baron Professor Frankenstein's discovery: "There, you see, it moves, it's alive; I've made life!" The scene is so visual, so susceptible to pyrotechnics, that we pass by the latent sexuality that gives it such inexhaustible attraction.

But this scene is not enough to carry the sagas as the producers of the most recent Frankenstein on Broadway painfully learned. It cost them two million dollars to find out that brilliant sparks, huge beakers of colored water bubbling with foam, cyclotrons, bolts of lightning, booming organ music, and disco lighting were not all that the story was about. This incredibly visual and expensive show opened and closed in one night (11 January 1981) -- as well it should have, for the adaptor, Victor Gialanella, did not realize that the real son et lumiere of the play comes from inside Victor.

James Whale, the virtuoso screenwriter and director at Universal in the early 1930's, did. But he was clearly caught short by his intuitive knowledge that the sexuality of Victor (or "Henry," as he was called for some unknown reason) was frighteningly implosive, and by the demands of the "front office" that every Jack must have his Jill. So Whale set out to rearrange the relationship of Frankenstein and Elizabeth in a way that both he and the studio could accept. Of the many things that were added to the saga because of Whale's genius and Robert Florey's script (Fritz, the evil hunchback who delivers the damaged brain -- clearly marked "Abnormal Brain" -- the "doctor," the watchtower laboratory, the shuffling, addlepated monster) none has been more important than what he did with Elizabeth. In the 1931 Frankenstein she is heroic; in fact, she is the one who twice leads the posse (Victor Moritz and Professor Waldman) to the lab to rescue her love from the perversion of single sex baby-building. She is spurned ("You must leave me alone! You'll ruin every- {63} thing!"), of course, while the menfolk retire to create life on the operating table; but she will not be easily pushed aside and continual articulates the need for caution. Even though Henry assures her that there as nothing to fear," he is a fool and she knows it. And so when he later grandly announces, "In the name of God, now I know what it feels like to be God," Elizabeth seems to realize that the word he wants is not God but "mother."24

In this context it is interesting to speculate on the rapprochement that develops between Elizabeth and the monster, for in a sense both of them are left out and exiled by the menfolk. Perhaps this is why the creature does not kill her as in the book but simply appears on the wedding night to give her a good scare and then hustles off. Admittedly, this is also because no monster could kill a Hollywood heroine in 1931 and get away with it; nevertheless -- as we will clearly see in Whale's Bride of Frankenstein, 1935 -- there is a bond, albeit unarticulated, developing between them.

The creature is finally destroyed in a burning windmill after he has had a chance to heave Henry over the side. Frankenstein's death (he hits one of the turning vanes on the way down) was to be the end of the movie, but once again Universal demanded that no hero of theirs was going to be so shortlived, and so Whale had him revived and returned to his father. The movie thus ends with the promise of impending matrimony and a toast to the issue of the young couple. This ending is certainly the triumph of moneymakers over moviemakers, for in no way has Victor been deserving of such salvation.25 He has not learned his lesson.

Universal Studios did; it made about ten million dollars on the movie and so three years later it was time to ring up the cash resisters again. This time it was The Bride of Frankenstein -- one of the few Hollywood sequels better than the original. Once again the role of Elizabeth is pivotal for it is she who continually explains what Victor is after, but her own desires are ambiguous. For instance, just who is the "bride" of Frankenstein? In the movie there are two of them: 1) Elizabeth, now played by {64} the brunette Valerie Hobson rather than the blonde Mae Clarke of the first version; and 2) the monster's intended, the seven-foot Queen Nefertiti with the famous lightning bolt in her hair, played by Elsa Lanchester. For literary purists, of course, there can be only one "bride" of Frankenstein and that is Henry's wife; but for movie buffs Frankenstein is the monster, and so it is his bride that the title describes.

The confusion is not without intention, for Whale planned something quite extraordinary. In The Bride, Whale attempted to split off the evil aspect of his protagonist and introduce a mad-scientist, Dr. Pretorious, who would do all the genetic tampering with life. This meant Henry could remain the curious but decent scout, while Pretorious did the nasty things. And the really nasty thing Pretorious had in mind was to transplant Elizabeth's heart into the body of the female creature. Unfortunately, this bizarre plot never fully made it into the finished film, although it came close, and we can still see that Whale almost had his way. If you remember the film, one of the most unsettling scenes is when the monster is grandly presented with his "bride," but she reacts to him as if he were a pimply blind date. What happened is that this scene was shot before the "front office" vetoed the transplant idea, and Whale could not re-do the laboratory scenes since the sets had already been destroyed. Little wonder she recoils in horror, for she is to be "mated" to her husband's progeny -- by extension, the proper issue of her own body! In other words, the same "horror of incest" that permeates the text of Mary Shelley's novel also energizes the James Whale movie, except that here it is a mother/son rather than a brother/sister relationship.

Further evidence of the late script change appears in the famous explosion scene that occurs when the monster pulls the "Destruction Lever" (isn't it grand how all laboratories in the 1930's were equipped with such a well-marked lever!). Henry was initially to be among those destroyed, but since Elizabeth had been spared her vivisection by the Universal panjandrums -- Karl, Dr. Pretorious' demented lackey, kills an unidentified woman instead for the "bride's" heart -- Henry must also be saved. Unfortunately, Whale had already shot the explosion scene with Henry, and he was not entirely successful in his attempts to excise Henry in the cutting room (you can still see Henry getting blown up along with the other mischief makers); so he added an ending in which Henry and Elizabeth escape and are last seen silhouetted against the burning tower, presumably promising never again to meddle in the act of creation. Now, one hopes, they will go home and make babies the right way.

{66} Universal's subsequent sequels, from Son of Frankenstein (1939) to Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1945), never had such high production values nor such deep psychological content, primarily because James Whale had other projects to work on and no one else at Universal was really interested in the story. It is a tribute to Whale, however, that in all the sequels the Frankenstein character remains true to his hebephrenic, asexual self. Even Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein (1975), which affectionately parodies the Whale Frankensteins as well as Rowland V. Lee's Son of Frankenstein, maintains the young doctor as hopelessly adolescent and sexually ignorant -- at least until the end.

In this context it is interesting to see how the screenwriters of Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder) resolved the sexual confusions of their callow protagonist, for comedy -- especially parody -- often lets us see things we would ordinarily censor if we had to confront them directly. Parody is thus a slip of the superego's tongue, and so we may well hear in the parapraxis of Young Frankenstein echoes of earlier muffled horror. At the end of the film, while the mob is out chasing the monster, he is, in fact, being seduced by Elizabeth. Whereas in the novel the monster murders Elizabeth and in Whale's Frankenstein he simply terrifies her, in Brooks's version the monster has his cake and eats it too. This has been the monster's function all along, for he is indeed a doppelganger projection of the young male, and he is finally -- safely protected in parody -- getting what he wants but should not have.

So in a sense the monster at last is "young Frankenstein" acting out the libidinous desires of his maker. And because of his prodigious size -- a size that extends to all members of his body -- he is able to satisfy Elizabeth as she has never been satisfied before. Though detracted by this broad vulgar humor, we can clearly see the implied adolescent fantasies being played out. Not only is the id-monster the first to sleep with the tabooed partner; he is successful beyond his wildest dreams. Now in a real tour de force -- because the story simply can't end here (for what would become of the pallid Frankenstein?) -- there is a transfusion of parts between neurasthenic doctor and prepotent monster. And thanks to the transfusion machine's being shut off too soon, young Frankenstein ends up the possessor of the monster's reproductive member. The movie ends with Elizabeth asking Victor, "The monster got part of your wonderful brain [in the transfusion], but what did you ever get from him?" And then she finds out.

The Americans relinquished the Frankenstein saga in the 1950's and returned it to the English. It was just as well, for nothing new was being {67} added to the story except werewolves, more mad doctors, more transplants, and more nonsense. With the exception of I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, in which the teen-age "son" kills the father-creator (an Oedipal layer of the story strangely enough not exploited before), it was a dull time indeed for this kind of horror story. But after their success with Horror of Dracula in 1958, Hammer Studios -- then just a small-time independent producer and distributor -- decided to remake Frankenstein in its owls image. It was certainly not going to do it with Universal's images, for Universal's lawyers had copywritten the moneymaking mise en scene (from Jack Pierce's makeup for Karloff to Kenneth Strickfaden's rendition of Frankenstein's laboratory), and the studio was loath to make any deals with this upstart English studio. So Hammer did it all its own. In the fifteen years from 1957 to 1972 they made seven full-length features and each of them made a goodly profit. Having seen them all recently, I was amazed at how well most of them have held up while so many other horror movies of this time are so dated and cliched in comparison.27 Think only of the countless outerspace monsters and mutants -- let alone killer tarantulas, snakes, rats, even tomatoes -- of this decade that are not even good enough (or bad enough) to reappear on middle-of-the-night TV, and one realizes the staying power of Hammer's efforts.

This staying power is, I think, the same that has compelled audiences to the Mary Shelley novel and the James Whale films. The plot is kept simple (some would say simplistic), the anchor scenes (like the creation) are played to the fullest, and the sexuality is always there -- embedded, but never discussed. There are, however, three major shifts in the saga according to Hammer. First, Frankenstein is no longer the adolescent overreacher but now a controlled master scientist. To a considerable degree this shift was mandated by the casting choice of Peter Cushing, for he is so urbane and suave that one imagines he couldn't lose control even if he tried. And, second, the saga is no longer about creating life, but rather about transplanting life. In the days of Christian Barnard this was nothing if not relevant, and now that cloning has come front and center, {68} doubtless the next Frankensteins will be tampering with strands of DNA. In the most recent of these English Frankensteins the doctor is actually transplanting whole brains and even "souls," so one can well imagine that the possibilities for horror (i.e., tabooed sexuality) arc vastly increased. These two shifts mandated a third: the doctor is given all assistant who acts the role of the ephebic protagonist who draws back the curtains of forbidden sexual knowledge for a peek. Thanks to the insight of Jimmy Sangster, Hammer's screenwriter for the first movies, this role was not given to Igor or Fritz, some demented hunchback, but to a young, wide-eyed, sexless, lisping helper who stands by the doctor/father and asks the appropriate questions: "Should we be doing this? Can you teach me to create life? Here, let me try!" In other words, this young man is the Frankenstein of the novel -- except that he is totally guiltless because he is, after all, "just helping the doctor."

Hence in the Hammer version the adolescent gets it both ways; he sees how far life is generated by aberrations and he learns by extension how to be cautious and respectful and heterosexual. To practice the proper method he is paired with a big-breasted, gorgeous, nubile girlfriend (this is, remember, a Hammer Studios production) whom he first spurns when working with the master, but later embraces after he sees how Frankenstein has botched it. It is interesting to note in passing that in many of the Hammer Frankensteins the monster comes back to destroy (not really, since there must always be a sequel) the father-figure -- an Oedipal level of the story which could only occur after Frankenstein the father-creator had been divorced from Frankenstein the adolescent son.

Of all the Hammer efforts I think the most psychologically pertinent is the 1967 Frankenstein Created Woman. The plot, so simple and bizarre, shows how close these latency sagas are to the fairy tales of childhood.28 Teen-aged Hans is orphaned when his ne'er-do-well father is guillotined by the town mob. He is "adopted" by the kind Dr. Frankenstein who is in the midst of experimenting with cryogenic preservation (remember, this was hot stuff in the sixties). The doctor experiments on himself and {69} is amazed to discover that, when frozen, nothing leaves the body. no soul no spirit, nothing. "Dead for an hour, yet my soul did not leave my body Now why?" the doctor queries after defrosting himself.

On a more mundane level, Hans has become friends with Christina the local innkeeper's daughter. She is stunning: full-breasted but, alas, painfully shy. Not only does she limp but she also suffers the anxieties of teen-age compulsion -- one side of her face is blemished. When she and Hans fall in love, they are separated by her father who, knowing of Hans's father, does not consider him "of the proper type." Now into the inn come three dandies complete with top hats and whiny voices. These bully-boys want Christina to serve them some wine, but of course she is mortified to appear in public and they mock and taunt her. When Hans protects her, they give him a good thrashing for his trouble, escaping in the melée with his overcoat.

Meanwhile, literally back at the laboratory Dr. Frankenstein is working in his Hammer-equipped version of the Universal workshop. There is the inevitable huge water tank that resembles an oversized aquarium in which bits of human anatomy usually float about (a visual donnée in the Hammer creation scene, just as the elevating table had been for Universal) and there is also the requisite electrical apparatus -- wires sparks, levers (no "self-destruct" ones, however; these English are too cagey). The Doctor/Baron, who is up on his Nietzsche, has finally discovered that no "soul" leaves the body after death; rather there is a lifeforce: "You see the energy . . . the force trapped in the cells." The Baron hopes to use this energy to repair the feeble bodies of the unfortunate but, alas, he will have no such opportunity, for his altruistic world is soon overtaken by sad reality.

The three dandies ("Russians," the Baron calls them -- remember the 1960's?) who stole Hans's coat return to the inn later that night to steal wine; are discovered by the innkeeper (Christina's father), whom they kill; and then flee into the night, leaving Hans's coat. They are successful in framing Hans, as the police find the coat and, although the Baron testifies as a character witness, it is not enough; Hans is to be, like his father guillotined. When Christina finds out, it is too late; he is decapitated, and despondent, she jumps into the river and drowns. Now their two bodies are dutifully collected by the Baron and the operations begin.

Hans's life-force is transferred by the Baron into Christina's revived body. After the operations arc complete, one by one the bandages are removed from her body; as the last bandage is unwrapped we see from his/ {71} her point of view, looking up to the concerned face of Frankenstein. "Please, please," she/he asks, "who am I?" And the best the doctor can answer is, "You are a nice lady." She now becomes, as David Pirie has written, "an utterly sensual, hermaphroditic and polymorphous perverse rejuvenation."29 She also becomes stunning to look at because it seems that the doctor, something of a dermatologist, takes off her blemish, and, as a bonus, removes her limp. Christina, inspired by the male life-force of Hans, now sets about seducing and then decapitating the teddy-boys who killed her father and framed her boyfriends.

In all of this the Baron is a willing co-conspirator, yet he is not really evil. Hans is using Christina's sex to wreak his revenge, and the doctor goes along, realizing that some restitution of order must be made. Those Russian bullies were evil, but Hans goes too far by having Christina write his name in blood after he/she has decapitated the rascals with a meat cleaver. The townfolk believe Frankenstein must be up to mischief, and so they dig up Hans's body. They find his body, but his head is missing -- resting, we now learn, on the newel post of Christina's bed. It is only a matter of time before the mob pays the Baron a visit.

The Baron, now fearful for his life, goes off after Christina to remove Hans's life-force ("call it a soul if you want to") from Christina's body. But too late. Christina has lured the last of the scoundrels into an almost surrealistic picnic ground, and here in this locus amoenus she first entices, then decapitates her last victim. As Frankenstein happens onto the scene she is speaking with Hans's voice to Hans's head, which she is cradling between her hands as Keats's Isabella did with her Lorenzo. Amazingly, the head replies in her own voice, thereby mixing forever spiritual, corporeal, and sexual identities. We have had the doppelgänger motif, always extant in the saga regardless of rendition, carried about as far as it can go. Poor Christina/Hans ends it all, finally, by jumping again into the river and receives once and for all the blessed palliative of a watery death, just as earlier victor and his monster found peace in the frozen water of the Arctic. The Baron gets off scot-free so that he can reappear two years later in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, parody is the sincerest form of imitation. For ill parody you must recognize the essential nature of the subject as well as its effects, and then you must turn the subject in on itself so that you achieve the opposite effect. The later Hammer movies, especially The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), are really inadvertent parodies of the more vibrant work of Terence Fisher's Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Revenge of Frankenstein (1958). Yet although these later attempts to retell the saga often degenerated into desultory and febrile campiness, this blood and bosoms and aquariums had run out of steam. The same thing happened at Universal in the forties. But the saga itself is still being told in comics, in movies, on television, even on breakfast cereals ("Frankenberry"), and -- more importantly -- still being parodied.30

Just as Young Frankenstein parodies the Universal Frankensteins in what is really an affectionate tribute to American Expressionism in the horror genre, so The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a frantic and admiring burlesque of the Hammer versions as well as the English heritage of slightly skewed horror. Not only was Rocky Horror filmed at Bray Studios, where the first Hammer epics were made, it also uses parts of the sets of such classics as The Curse of Frankenstein and The Horror of Dracula. And if Brooks's Young Frankenstein is quintessentially American in its broad vulgarity and visual puns, then RHPS is almost a comic book of English schoolboy humor run amok: it is the Monty Pythons in drag. Its very Englishness may well account for the fact that the stage musical (The Rock Horror Show) was a smash hit at London's King's Road Theatre but flopped on Broadway. The same thing almost happened to the movie.

The movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, is something quite different from any other parody of the B movie; it is almost sui generis. It has become the largest audience-participation film in history (admittedly, not much competition in this category), drawing enthusiastic fans back week after week to reenact what has become almost a religious ritual. Literally from coast to coast each weekend before midnight (Twentieth Century-Fox has wisely forbidden any other kind of showing than this Friday/Saturday midnight show) thousands of adolescents line up in costume and makeup to replay and mime this mythic rite of initiation. They are increasingly being joined by their elders who go more to remember than to participate, for RHPS is not just an entertaining movie; it is one of the most artful condensation of the anxieties and excitements {74} of puberty. It does precisely for this generation what the print and celluloid Frankensteins have been doing for the last five generations: it provides a text, quite literally a recitative reading, of the dos and don'ts of sexuality. Little wonder then that first-time viewers are referred to as "virgins" by the "veterans" who have seen the show and are so introduced to the crowd.

The plot, what there is of it, is a bit more complex than usual. Brad and Janet, a ridiculously well-washed couple from the Midwest, drive off after a friend's wedding to consult their high-school mentor, Dr. Scott, about matrimony -- a necessary step since Janet has caught the bridal bouquet and Brad has taken the cue and proposed. En route they are caught in a storm, have a tire blowout, and take refuge in a remote castle that conveniently has a sign "Frankenstein Place" out front. The castle has a rather eerie look to it -- "Enter at your own risk" the sign also says -- but it is too late to turn back. Along with Brad and Janet we are led by a menacing nosferatuesque butler through more doors, over yet more thresholds, until we enter the grand ballroom filled with a giddy assortment of penguin-like revelers in spats and sunglasses dancing the Times Warp." It is clearly a sexual dance ("But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane"), and Brad and Janet are understandably hesitant to join the throng. They are confused; we are too.

Lowered into this melée by elevator is a caped, white-faced, lipsticked, eye shadowed, sultry dynamo, Dr. Frank N. Furter. In the first shock of the movie he sings, "I'm a sweet Transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania," and as he does he bumps and grinds his way out from beneath his cape. He is wearing black fish-net pantyhose and a long-line bra. It is "Fredericks of Hollywood' at Fire Island, yet what makes it so startling is that it is so alluring. Tim Curry plays the role with so much gusto and recklessness that it can only be called lust. He is so gleefully transsexual, so raucously alive, so husky beneath the sequins that it's hard not to be swept along.31 Brad and Janet try to resist, but it's clear they are coming under his spell.

{75} After crossing the "Time Warp" we are all led upstairs to Dr. Frank N. Furter's laboratory. But wait -- it's the Hammer laboratory complete with that aquarium and all the electrical gear, yet the Hammer monster is nowhere in sight. And when Frank N. Furter unwraps his creation, it is no oversize mongoloid with a bolt through his neck but a hulk of beefcake in jockey shorts named Rocky Horror. With clear reference to Hammer's Frankenstein Created Woman, Rocky's life-force has been drained from Eddie, a "normal" delivery boy (played by the corpulent Meatloaf, a rock star in his own right) who has strayed from the normal and is now being held in cryogenic suspension. Suddenly Eddie breaks loose from his freezer and causes mayhem by accelerating around the lab on his motorcycle until Frank N. Furter brutally bludgeons him to death. It is shockingly violent, but strangely not out of character, for Frank N. Furter has always hidden his Charles Manson side with an overabundance of sexual energy Here, for a moment, we see violence without sex and it is awful, even terrifying.

We are now prepared, however, for the third shock: Frank seduces first Janet, then Brad. Janet is upset: "You're to blame! I was saving myself," she moans; while Brad complains: "You're to blame! I thought it was the real thing"; but it is clear that both enjoy forgetting, not who they are, but what they are. And when these two brittle virgins go, when these eidolons of middle-class repression fall, there is no norm left. As the music and dances continually tell us, it is only good fun and will just last a night. There is no longer any "normal" sexual identity, so nothing can be wrong. As the dour narrator intones, "It was a night they will all remember," and one might add, "and never repeat."

What this movie says (if such a movie may be said to "say" anything) is that it is okay to be sexually confused; it is okay for boys to run around in corsets and garters, to prance and flaunt and dance and sing; it is okay for girls to be naughty and dirty, to be sexual, bisexual, transsexual -- you name it as long as you enjoy it. Or perhaps, to be more accurate, it is okay to pretend to be this way. Still lingering in the backs of our minds there is always the image of Eddie being axed to death for staying too long under the spell, for not pretending but believing. Although we are continually being assured that what we see on the screen is all an elaborate trompe l'oeil, a make-believe -- and although a fatherly narrator often intrudes, assuring us that he is telling us this story from a big book just as our own fathers once read us into Fairyland when we {76} were younger -- we realize Eddie's fate could be ours if we ever took it seriously.

Ironically, for all its sportiness, this movie celebrates the end of make-believe. It is almost the exit ceremony of adolescence, the saying goodbye to polymorphous perversity. It is, in a sense, a modern saturnalia. In "Rose Tint My World" Rocky sings of this passage:

And somebody should be told
My libido hasn't been controlled
Now the only thing I've come to trust
Is an orgasmic rush of lust
Rose tints my world keeps me
Cafe from my trouble and pain
to which Brad adds:
It's beyond me.
Help me, Mommy.
I'll be good you'll see.
Take this dream away
What's this, let's see
I feel sexy
What's come over me. Whoa --
Here it comes again
Janet continues:
Oh I -- I feel released
Bad times deceased
My confidence has increased
Reality is here
The game has been disbanded
My mind has been expanded
It's a gas that Frankie's landed
Hit lust is so sincere
and Frank N. Furter concludes:
What ever happened to Fay Wray?
That delicate satin-draped frame
As it clung to her thigh
How I started to cry
'Cause I wanted to be dressed just the same.
Give yourself over to absolute pleasure
Swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh
Erotic nightmares beyond any measure
{77} And sensual daydreams to treasure
forever --
Can't you just see it. Oh, oh, hooo. Oh.
Don't dream it.
Be it Don't dream it.
Be it Don't dream it.
Be it Don't dream it. Be it.32
That such sexual exuberance should be tied to the saga-lines of the Frankenstein story is, as I hope we have seen, predictable. For victor Frankenstein, bisexual producer of a life turned monstrous, is simply the converse of Frank N. Furter, monster producer of a life turned bisexual. The allure of the myth is the same: we celebrate without real consequence the libidinous dreams of nonrole, nonspecific sexuality. Incest becomes possible.

And that, of course, is why there must be horror; society cannot exist without procreation, and procreation depends on stable sex roles. The exemplum of what happens if one stays too long under the spell of Frank is, of course, Eddie. We have earlier seen Frank brutally axe Eddie to death, and with the unexpected appearance of the partly paralyzed Dr. Scott (the mentor Brad and Janet were originally seeking) this part of the story now becomes clearer. For Eddie, according to Dr. Scott, was a rebellious child whose only concerns were rock-and-roll music, motorcycles, and drugs. He presumably has made a "delivery" to Frank and was entranced. However, by the time he wants out of "Frankenstein Place" it is too late; he has been used by Frank in the creation of Rocky and discarded. We now see what has happened to Eddie, for his rotting, mephitic body is stored under Frank's cocktail table, and Frank, as one might imaging makes quite a show of it as his "guests" sit down for drinks. It is a startlingly gross scene: Eddie's guts spilling out of his breached stomach, his head cracked and chopped. This scene finally spoils our fun; it goes too far -- we want out.

It is the bizarre Riff-Raff, a superego of fearsome proportion, who puts Frank N. Furter back in his proper place. Although Riff appears to be only a "handyman hunchback," he and his sister Magenta (one for each sex) are in reality the masters of the place. "It's all over," they tell Frank. "Your mission is a failure, your life style is too extreme." And so at the end his theme song, "Don't Dream It -- Be It," reverts to its sublimated text, "Don't Be It -- Dream It." When Brad asks Riff-Raff what {78} Frank has done wrong, it is Dr. Scott (the teacher who has sublimated his own bisexuality, as we see from his black net stockings) who answers: "Society must be protected." Riff-Raff agrees. In a finale worthy of Busby Berkeley, the Marx Brothers, Esther Williams, and King Kong, Riff-Raff and Magenta destroy Rocky and levitate the "Frankenstein Place" and all its inhabitants back to the planet of Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. Brad and Janet are cast out of the Edenic land of puberty, now to follow their crippled but steadfast mentor Dr. Scott into the prescribed sexual world of men and women. We are returned to the fatherly narrator; he closes the book; the house lights come up.

There will be many more renditions of the Frankenstein saga, but I doubt if there will soon be any as perceptive and artistic as this: Rocky Horror is a celebration of a meridian crossing, the last stage of infantile sexuality, a passage, the acceptance of procreative sexual roles. And being such, it recapitulates, in a sense, the whole history of the saga. It makes such clear sense of the import of the myth, the attraction-repulsion that has always been in the character of Frankenstein, the excitement and the horror.


1. Of all the periods of sexual growth, latency has been the least examined, if only because it is so asymptomatic a passage Oral and anal stages are so obvious by comparison, but who can observe, say, the development of the superego? This much, however, seems clear latency occurs between the approximate ages of seven and fifteen; for boys it is a time of concealed wishes for incest and patricide, while for girls it is a time marked by confusions about rape anal anxieties about reproduction. In both sexes it is a time for what Freud called "the dissolution of the Oedipus complex" and a growing awareness of genitality" Both sexes are beginning to have the physiologic capacity for complete coitus and reproduction as well as all the confusions such possibilities engender; see Sigmund Freud, "The Transformations of Puberty" (the last essay of "Three Essays on Sexuality"), Complete Works, trans, James Strachey (London: The Hogarth Press, 1953), 7, 207-30; and "The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex," CW, 19, 173-79.

2. For interesting articles on the role of monster movies in modern rituals of initiation see Walker Evans, "Monster Movies A Sexual Theory," Journal of Popular Film, 2 (1973), 353-65, as well as his "Monster Movies and Rites of Initiation," Journal of Popular Film,4 (1975), 124-42.

3. For a discussion of how various cultures resolve the pressures of transition into sexuality see Joseph Henderson, Thresholds of Initiation (Middleton, Conn.: Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1967); Mircea Eliade, Rites and Symbols of Initiation (New York: Harper and Row, 1965); and, of course, Arnold Van Gennep's groundbreaking The Rites of Passage (Chicago Univ. of Chicago Press, 1960).

4. I discuss the "family romance" of the vampire in general in my introduction to The Living Dead: A Study of the Vampire in Romantic Literature (Durham, N.C.: Duke Univ. Press, 1980) and more specifically in "A Psychoanalysis of the Vampire Myth" American Imago, 37 (1980), 83-92.

5. George Levine, "Review of Recent Frankenstein Criticism," Wordsworth Circle, 6 (1975), zo8 Although Frankenstein has been relatively exempt from psychological criticism (most commentators were more interested in Percy Shelley's role in its composition and revision), the novel is now getting its full share. For a brief but concise summary of scholarship, see David Ketterer, Frankenstein's Creation: The Book, the Monster, and Human Reality, English Literary Studies Monograph Series, No. 16 (Victoria, British Colombia Univ. of Victoria Press, 1979).

6.The problem of an authoritative text is a complicated one because we really do not know Mary Shelley's intentions. For those who like the 1818 text there is James Rieger's edition of Frankenstein (Indianapolis Bobbs-Merrill 1974), which gives the variant readings; and for those who don't really care there is a spate of popular reprints of the 1831 book. The most important shift for my purposes is that in the 1818 text Elizabeth is cast as Victor's first cousin, while in 1831, to avoid any hint of consanguinity, she is cast as an aristocratic foundling. I will be glossing quotations from Harold Bloom's Signet Edition (New York: New American Library, 1965), which is not only the most popular current edition, but also includes Bloom's provocative afterword. My major complaint with the edition is that for some reason the publisher "normalized" the spelling of "daemon" to "demon," thereby destroying an important distinction. Bloom seems to realize this, for in his afterword he properly refers to the creature the way Victor does, as a "daemon." See note 8 below.

7.The lasting nineteenth-century horror stories include references to almost everything except what they are really about, namely, tabooed sex. And this excision is why, I think these stories have endured The one thing Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde lack is scenes of forbidden sexuality. That is not the case in the usual Gothic thriller, in fact, the Gothic melodrama usually makes tabooed sex explicit We are repeatedly told an the text about the incest of Manfred, Ambrosio, Cenci, and others -- so much so that Montague Summers in The Gothic Quest (New York: Russell & Russell, 1964), p. 391, even lists nineteen examples from different novels of the period in which incest generates the plot The Gothic novel thrives on overtly Oedipal situations, and that is partly why, I think, we are no longer interested in them. When there is knowledge there can be thrills and titillation, but no horror. Horror is what we must experience to gain knowledge, albeit unconscious. For more on "forbidden" sexuality in the Gothic novel, see also Devendra P. Varma, The Gothic Flame (New York Russell & Russell, 1964), Chap. 8; Eino Ralio, The Haunted Castle (New York: Humanities Press, 1964), pp 267-81, Mario Praz, The Romantic Agony (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1933); and David Punter, The Literature of Terror (New York: Longman. 1980).

8.Victor's creature, which, since the movies, we automatically refer to as a "monster," is most often referred to by Victor as a "daemon." In the M Ii Joseph edition of the 1831 Frankenstein (London Oxford Univ. Press, 1969) the spelling "daemon" properly indicates Mary Shelley's intention that the creature represent life that is "other" than human Unfortunately the Signet Edition, edited by Harold Bloom (see note 6 above) changes it to "demon," which moans an evil spirit in the Christian mythology, and hence does real damage to the characterization of both protagonist and his creation. Admittedly, the daemon becomes a demon, but this, in part, is because of the way he is treated.

9. I suppose all the secondary female characters like Justine are really weak doubles of Elizabeth -- that is to say, fantasy sisters to Victor. For more on Justine in particular, see J. M. Hill, "Frankenstein and the Physiognomy of Desire," American Imago, 37 (1975), 335-58.

10. The creation of this "bride" of Frankenstein will become one of the most important additions to the saga made by the Universal movies, and the studio will make no attempt to resolve the ambiguity. In fact, at the beginning of Rowland V. Lee's Son of Frankenstein, 1939, the title figure (now played by Basil Rathbone) complains that everyone has confused him with the monster and things only worsen as we soon learn that even the town is called "Frankenstein"!

11. It is tantalizing to speculate on the possible influence of Coleridge's Christabel on Mary Shelley's imagination It is clear -- especially in her note acknowledging Coleridge in the 1831 edition -- that The Rime of the Ancient Mariner impressed her, but we also know that she heard Christabel not once but twice during the summer of 1816. The reason I find this interesting is that I think both works generate horror by showing a displaced protagonist acting out forbidden Oedipal desires; see my "'Desire with Loathing Strangely Mix'd': The Dream Work of Christabel," The Psychoanalytic Review, 61 (1974), 33-44.

12. The doppelgänger transformation has been extensively discussed in Masao Miyoshi, The Divided Self: A Perspective on the Literature of the Double (New York: New York Univ, Press, 1970); Carl F. Keppler, The Literature of the Second Self (Tucson Univ. Of Arizona Press, 1972); Irving Massey, The Gaping Pig: Literature and Metamorphosis (Berkeley Univ. of California Press, 1969), and elsewhere. The best psychoanalytic interpretation of the monster as Victor's double, however, is in Morton Kaplan, "Fantasy of Paternity and the Doppelgänger Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" in The Unspoken Motive: A Guide to Psychoanalytic Criticism, eds Morton Kaplan and Robert Gloss (New York The large Press, 1973), pp 119-45; and Robert Kiely, The Romantic Novel in England (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard Univ. Press, 1972), pp. 155-73.

13. The relationship between Robert Walton and his sister Mrs. Saville (is there a pun here?) mimics the role of Victor Frankenstein and his "sister" Elizabeth, as many critics have noted. Once again the doppelganger transformations and implied incestuous relationships indicate not so much the author's weakness at delineating character as it does her almost obsessive compulsion to rework the familial relationships until she "gets it right." For more on this aspect of the novel, see Gordon D. Hirsch, "The Monster Was a Lady: On the Psychology of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein," Hartford Studies in Literature, 7 (1975), 116-53; and Susan Harris Smith, "Frankenstein: Mary Shelley's Psychic Divisiveness," Women and Literature, 5 (1977), 42-53.

14. See, for instance, Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic (New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, 1978), pp. 213-47, Marc A. Rubenstein, "'My Accursed Origins The Search for the Mother in Frankenstein," Studies in Romanticism 15 (1976), 165-94; and Ellen Moyers, "Female Gothic The Monster's Mothers" first appearing in the New York Review of Books, 24 March 1974, pp. 24-28, but subsequently reprinted with minor changes as "Female Gothic" in The Endurance of "Frankenstein," eds George Levine and U. C. Knoepflmacher (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1979), pp. 77-87.

15. Not only is there a problem with surnames -- because "Shelley" usually refers to Percy -- but at the time in question (summer 18s6) Mary's last name was Godwin. 1 refer to her throughout as Mary Shelley simply as a convenience.

16. From a psychoanalytic point of view it is curious that William, the creature s first victim in Frankenstein, has the same name as Mary Shelley's father, brother, and infant son (six months old while she was writing his name into her story). This child was to die two years later, and it must have been difficult indeed for Mary to return to revise the text for the second edition.

17. For more on this famous pact, see James Rieger's introduction and appendices to his edition of Frankenstein (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1974), as well as Robert Harson "A Profile of John Polidori," Diss., Ohio Univ., 1966, Chap. 4.

18. Ellen Movers, "Female Gothic," p 81.

19. Marc A. Rubenstein, "'My Accursed Origin,"' p 165. Rubenstein has some fascinating comments on the character of Safie's mother who, he claims, is a "distorted but recognizable cartoon of the author's mother, Mary Wollstonecraft," p. 169.

20. Page 56. See also Ellen Moyers, p. 77, where she cleverly compares Victor's description of his newly created being with Dr. Spock's description of the newborn human in Baby and Child Care: "A baby at birth is usually disappointing-looking to a parent who hasn't seen one before. His skin is coated with wax, which, if left on, will be absorbed slowly and will lessen the chance of rashes. His skin underneath is apt to be very red. His face tends to be puffy and lumpy, and there may be black-and-blue marks. The head is misshapen . . . low in the forehead, elongated at the back, and quite lopsided. Occasionally there may be, in addition, a hematoma, a localized hemorrhage under the scalp that sticks out as a distinct bump and takes weeks to go away. . . ."

21. In this context one wonders how aware Mary Shelley was of the bisexuality of her protagonist. I very much doubt that Mary Shelley at eighteen, or even at thirty, quite understood the sexual dynamics of her protagonist, but perhaps intuitively she did, for she entitled her novel Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus. In classical myth Prometheus is both creator of man, the Prometheus plasticator, and the giver of fire, the Prometheus pyphoros. These functions, of course, have clear sexual correlations: the female is the molder of life, the male is the heroic rebel. In the summer of 1816 Mary Shelley certainly was exposed to both aspects of the myth, for she was not only reading Ovid's treatment of Prometheus in Book 1 of the Metamorphosis, but also doubtless listening to Byron and Percy Shelley discuss their own renditions ("Prometheus" and Prometheus Unbound).

22.For more on the relationship between dreams and film (especially horror film), see Robin Wood, "Return of the Repressed", Film Journal, 14 (July-August 1978), 25-32; and Harvey R. Greenburg, The Movies on Your Mind (New York: Dutton, 1975), Chaps. 9-11.

23. For extended information about Frankenstein on film see Donald F Glut, The Frankenstein Legend (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1973), which catalogs every appearance of the Frankenstein monster from the novel to the breakfast cereal "Frankenberry"; Martin Tropp, Mary Shelley's Monster (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977), chaps. 6-8. Albert J. Lavalley, "The Stage and Film Children of Frankenstein" in "The Endurance of "Frankenstein," (New York: Sterling Publishing, 1980). For more on the Hammer "Frankensteins" see note 25 below.

24. Elizabeth was not the only one who had troubles accepting the line; the movie censor at the Hays office did too. The embarrassment has been resolved by an abrupt jump-cut from the laboratory to the living room of the Baron (Henry's father) where the baron claims Henry's problem is with another woman. Elizabeth ironically assures him this is not so.

25. When Whale's Frankenstein was re-released a few years later with his Bride of Frankenstein, the final scene of the convalescing Henry was quite wisely removed. The end of Frankenstein is really a tribute to giddy nonsense, for the Baron (Henry's pompous father) has the last word, giggling with the servant girls and drinking wine.

26. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1964), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), and The Horrors of Frankenstein (1970) -- the only one without Peter Cushing and the worst -- and finally, supposedly Hammer's last, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974).

27. I am indebted to the American Philosophical Society for a grant that enabled me to see the Universal and Hammer Frankenstein's at the Library of Congress. The best published accounts of these Hammer epics are The House of Horror: The Story of Hammer Films, eds. Allen Eyles, Robert Adkinson, and Nicholas Fry (London: Lorrimer Publishing Ltd., 1973); and David Pirie, A Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema, 1946-1972 (New York: Avon Books, 1973).

28. Since Jung and Freud's rather brief remarks on the psychoanalysis of fairy tales, the best study has been Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses and Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (New York: Random House, 1975). To the best of my knowledge, however, there are no extended interpretations of latency sagas, although Les Daniels, Living in Fear: A History of Horror in the Mass Media (New York: Scribner's 1975), often skirts the subject as do Marcus Grant, Horror: A Modern Myth (London: Heineman, 1974); Drake Douglas, Horror (New York: Macmillan, 1966); many selections from Focus on the Horror Film, eds. Roy Huss and T. J. Ross (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1972); and Carlos Clarens, An Illustrated History of the Horror Film (New York: Capricorn, 1968).

29. Pirie, A Heritage of Horror, p. 77.

30. Of the recent revivals, two are worthy of note: Frankenstein: The True Story, with a screenplay by Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, has Dr. Polidori (played by James Mason) cast as the evil scientist; and Paul Morrissey's Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, which attempts to shock by its 3-D technique, but intermittently nauseates (as buckets of blood were poured from the screen), and bores. Of interest, however, is that Baron Frankenstein (played by Udo Kier) is aggressively and unremittingly androgynous.

31. Tim Curry's talent for portraying androgyny was not lost on the critics: he was considered "half Auntie Mame, half Bela Lugosi," "a cross between Greer Garson and Steve Reeves," "a hybrid of Sophie Tucker and Mick Jagger," "a combination of early Joan Crawford, Francis Lederer and Carmen Miranda," "Little Richard meets Elsie Tanner," "part David Bowie, part Joan Crawford, part Basil Rathbone," "Imagine Liza Minnelli in 'Cabaret,' Alice Cooper at his most demonic, Jagger at his most sensual. Then throw in Vincent Price and Bowie's drive for neuter sex," "Charles Laughton, doing Captain Bligh, and Nita Naldi at the same time," as quoted in Bill Henkin, The Rocky Horror Picture Show Book (New York: Hawthorne Books, 1979), p. 133.

32. Copyright 1974, Druidcrest Music.