When it comes to the classics, I tend to read – romance usually which means anything by Jane Austen. For this October, I wanted to go with a scary story so I decided to read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I also have to mention a few more classic books turned into movies.
This brings me to the topic of movie or book? Our Frankenstein from the movies, is generally known as the black haired, hulking green guy with screws in his neck and stitching all over his body and (not to put too fine a point on it) stupid. But reading the original story of Frankenstein, I was amused and slightly horrified that there was so few descriptors of what Dr. Frankenstein’s monster really looked like. There were only four real clues as to this creature: black hair, straight teeth, 8 feet tall, and a hand like a mummy. This doesn’t quite sound like the Frankenstein that we’ve dressed our kids as for many many Halloweens. Apparently, the movie version was grotesque enough that it has lived on in our imaginations as the creature that Mary Shelley dreamt up in her book. I’m not sure I’m ashamed that I haven’t seen the original movie but pop culture has trained us on how this monster should look and act. I say I was horrified because after so many years of watching each new evolution of movie Frankenstein, no one wants to move away from this type of creature and imagine an alternate version with the same 4 characteristics that Shelley gave us in her book. And if they did, would we as a group, accept it as such? What do you think?
Continuing with horror stories, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was both an amazing novel and a scary movie. The movie definitely had more of a sensual air to it and the book more of a thriller mystery but it was close enough. I have to say that I really enjoyed both but preferred the movie for it’s sheer theatricality. And for some reason, the descriptions of dracula in the book were either not lacking or close enough to our pop culture image of a vampire that it didn’t stick out like a sore thumb.
A more recent movie/classic book combo is John Carter/ Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I have to consider these separately because they are so different. The premise is the same: a man goes into a cave and gets transported to Mars where he meets a princess. Wacky hijinks ensue and the fall in love. Then man gets transported back to earth to endlessly for a way back to Mars and his princess. I won’t hesitate to say that I was always leery of reading Edgar Rice Burroughs and only because of his name! It’s rather a mouthful. After watching John Carter, I decided to tackle the books and I loved them even if they were a bit long winded – but that was the style of writing back then, no?
Of course, reading is always an education and I discovered that Burroughs also wrote Tarzan which I read and enjoyed but I can’t remember well enough the Tarzan TV show that I watched as a kid and remember so fondly. As I am typing away, I’m thinking that some archetypes will just stay with us forever where others are more transitory. I just don’t think that Edward Cullen and his sparkly skin will ever replace Dracula as the vampire archetype and I haven’t yet seen any new Frankensteins worth changing the norm. Does it matter that movies and television make such drastic interpretations of these creatures? Probably not to Mary Shelley but maybe to Stephanie Meyers who put much more emphasis on appearance.
Regardless, I am big movie fan I know I won’t be stopped from watching the movie because I don’t agree with the amount of “artistic license” taken. And maybe this is all a moot point with so many of the authors nowadays being involved in the development of the movie. If you haven’t read any of the above mentioned titles, please do. Yes, they take longer to read then your modren day horror novel or sci-fi but they are totally worth it. AND you get to say “Why,, yes, I do read the classics!” Happy Halloween everyone!