Retrospace Takes a Look at Frankenstein

It all began with a meeting in 1816 between friends Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, Percy Bysshe Shelley and that ladies man, Lord Byron. Who would have imagined that the novel inspired from that fateful gathering would still be an object of cultural significance almost 200 years later!

Here's the official retrospace favorite pop culture Frankensteins. (Oh, and please don't comment to tell me that the scientist was named Frankenstein, not the monster - I get it.) I should also mention that if you want to see an absolutely top notch blog on Frankenstein and all his pop culture incarnations, look no further than Frankensteinia . On the other hand, if you want to see a sloppily put together pop culture list, stay here.

1. Ted Cassidy deserves a mention since he played two Frankenstein characters: He was not only Lurch in "The Addams Family", but he also voiced the robot hero Frankenstein Jr.

(Note: Ted Cassidy also provided the opening narration on the 1970s TV show "The Incredible Hulk" and the voice of the villain Black Manta on the "Superfriends". Ted rules!)

2. It's been a long time since I've heard of an instrumental breaking the top ten, and "Frankenstein" by The Edgar Winter Group is one of my favorites. The song was titled "Frankenstein" because the recording was so heavily edited and cut and pasted together (like Frankenstein's monster). Although, Edgar Winter has commented that the instrumental does have a feel that is somewhat reminiscent of Boris Karloff's Frankenstein. Watch the video and feel rock's majesty condensed into ten minutes!

3. Death Race 2000 is like a nightmarish version of Cannonball Run. I mean, it's about running over innocent people for God's sake! I don't know anything about the remake, but I assume it's equally disturbing. That being said, Carradine, no matter what role he's playing, is always extremely cool. In Death Race 2000 he plays "Frankenstein", the futureworld's top racer who was supposedly part machine (after being rebuilt numerous times after crashes).

4. Peter Cushing played the Dr. Frankenstein and Van Helsing roles so well that he was eventually typecast as a horror actor. Not to mention, he had a certain look and demeanor that lent itself perfectly to the macabre roles. In real life, however, Cushing was a quiet and gentle man. But he knew what the audiences wanted, so he stuck with the horror roles for the most part, instead of trying to branch out too much. He once remarked, "If I played Hamlet, they'd call it a horror film." He was probably right.

I'm not sure who to thank for the awesome painting above, it's been languishing on my home computer for so long. If I ripped you off, feel free to blast me in a comment.

5. Dr. Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show; a movie with a budget of just over one million. After initially failing at the box office, the film resurfaced a year later as a nationwide phenomenon, and an unparalleled cult classic. It has continually run for over thirty years and has grossed around $140 million!

6. Phil Hartman was particularly funny as Frankenstein in those SNL skits which included Tonto (John Lovitz) and Tarzan (Kevin Nealon).

7. Frankenberry has always been my favorite General Mills monster cereal, followed closely by Boo Berry, then Count Chocula, then the discontinued Fruit Brute (Quentin Tarrantino's favorite cereal), and finally Yummy Mummy.

... and speaking of Tarantino, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was Quentin Tarantino's favorite film from childhood. It features not only the Frankenstein monster, but also Dracula (played by Bela Lugosi) and the wolfman (played by Lon Chaney, Jr.).

8. You just can't have a favorite Frank list and not include Fred Gwynn as Herman Munster.

9. One of my favorite cartoons is the Groovie Goolies, featuring Frankie.

10. And finally, the mother of all Frankensteins, the Grinch himself, Boris Karloff.

Note: Peter Boyle from Young Frankenstein and Christopher Lee should be on here too, but a Top 12 list didn't have a nice ring like a Top 10 list.


  1. you might like this well managed site which is about nothing but Frankenstein in popular culture, with lots of select images. It is one of those sites I am guilty of visiting often and not leaving a comment :(


  2. bill- yeah I recommended the site in my second paragraph of this post.

    Speaking of not leaving comments, retrospace has had a good boost in visitors lately, yet comments have actually gone down. Oh well, I guess I'll never fully understand this blogging biz. But for some odd reason, I'm still having fun doing it.

    By the way, your site is looking funny when I go to it lately: I can see your nice post on your self-produced music, then I see The Collectors title and image with a completely unrelated post underneath (?).

  3. Thank you guys for the kind words about Frankensteinia. Now both of you are expected to post comments there!


  4. Really? I got a comment from Petra on that post so I assume she can see it and here on my computer it looks okay in all my different browsers :(

    Hope it is just a glitch that levels out on your side. Sometimes refresh it a couple times. I have some problems too with some sites I like to visit, including Petra's :(

    I actually saw the recommendation after I had read the post but I made my comment immediately I was so excited to have something I thought was relevant.

    I actually have some issues with leaving comments here in China and sometimes just cannot.Especially on any blogspot or blogger sites, and wordpress sites are the hardest. It is an issues with China and the Great Firewall.

    If you check the site later and The Collector is normal let me know please.

    Try a different browser sometimes too. I usually use Mozilla and Safari, but sometimes when I look in IE it looks different. IE of course is the most popular of the browsers and I have to have it look decent there. I can have some plug in conflict that makes it look normal in Mzilla but screwy in IE... so I will skip over there and look. Thanks.

  5. F--K!!! I see what you mean in IE. I checked that browser a week or so ago and it was fine. In Mozilla, Google Chrome and Safari my site is fine. As you know I have had a lot of issues with computers and the site this summer, so I do not really want to fight this again.

    Yes, I want the site to look good in IE... hell yea!!!! But it is all screwed again. There should be 10 posts and the essay in The Collector is for two Warren Magazines. I may have to monkey with my plug-ins and I fear it may be my RSS feeds that are screwing up IE, but I like those... to see when you add new things and promote other site. Damn it man... thanks for telling me because I seldom check IE these days... I will tool with ti later. :(

  6. By the way, your #4, that Peter Cushing painting is by Mark Maddox and it appeared in The Little Shop of Horrors' Terence Fisher issue about a year ago (Sept 2007).

  7. Outstanding post Gil. Great look at pop-culture through Shelley's monster. I especially love the groovy goolies shout out. What an eclectic display of the monster's saturation in culture. Great job.

  8. pierre- You truly are knowledgable in all things Frankenstein. If only I could be that focused, think of what I could accomplish.... ah, the curse of ADD.

    chick- Thanks for the nice comment. I'm a lot like Pavlov's dog in that I respond well to positive feedback - no, I don't salivate when I get nice comments, but I do get inspired to post more.

  9. I loved your list. I know what you mean. It would have been nice to have them added to the list, but a top 10 sounds better than a top 12. Oh yeah. I love Death Race 2000. Not seen the remake yet. I'm a big fan of David Carradine. There's always been something about him that I find so cool.

  10. Hi,
    This is my first time on this sight.
    I am the artist who did the Peter Cushing painting from Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. I want to thank Pierre for getting my I.D. right. I love your history article and appreciate the nice things you said about the art. I'm flattered you have my art on your computer.

  11. Mark - Fabulous work. Thank you for not minding the fact that I swiped it from you. Brilliant in not just technique but also composition. The painting really brings the film to life (pardon the pun). Cheers!

  12. I also loved the version that appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and would leave them halfway across the studio just to show them some inane object. :p

  13. There was also the Frankenstein Monster's son in the old Saturday Morning cartoon show -- " Drak Pack !! "