Just before sunset on April 5, 1815, a massive explosion shook the volcanic island of Sumbawa in the Indonesian archipelago. This destroyed the village of Tambora, erasing the unique culture, and changed world history (previously, more). Among the impacts, a small group of authors and creative types holed up in the Villa Diodati in June of 1816 and wrote two iconic "monster" stories that set up the next two centuries of story telling. You can read the inspiration and subsequent works of Lord Byron, Mary Godwin, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John William Polidori and Claire Clairmont below the break. [more inside]
Shelley's Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family [The Bodleian Library] This exhibition is a collaboration between the Bodleian Libraries and the New York Public Library. Few families enjoy such a remarkable reputation for their contribution to the literature and intellectual life of Britain as the Godwins and the Shelleys. Shelley's Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family explores how the reputation of this great literary family was shaped by the selective release of documents and manuscripts into the public domain. It also provides a fascinating insight into the real lives of a family that was blessed with genius but marred by tragedy. [more inside]
The Science of Life and Death in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein [The Public Domain Review] Professor Sharon Ruston surveys the scientific background to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, considering contemporary investigations into resuscitation, galvanism, and the possibility of states between life and death.
You've tuned back into Radio FLTR, where we're digging up more hits from the past and doin' a monster song with ya on this beautiful November night. Here's that young dreamboat with the wacky expressions, Bobby Pickett doing the Monster Mash back in 1964 on American Bandstand, two years after his hit was first released, when he first cashed in on two hits at once - songs about dancing and monster mania. Bobby "Boris" Pickett didn't rest on those laurels in '62, but swiftly came back with a whole album of monster songs that same year .... [more inside]
"Since I was a little girl I’ve been afraid of monsters. I’d put garlic on my window ledge to ward off vampires and sage in the corners to protect me from zombies. Even as a young adult I lay on my ratty futon surrounded by library books terrified someone or something would break into my apartment. After my daughter was born, my fear escalated. I’d check the front door several times a day to make sure the deadbolt was secure and the chain latched. At night I lay in the dark, my mind sending out waves of panic."
"The spirit of the 60s lives in these trailers, leaning hard on mood and music, not plot. The same is true for the Godfather trailer, as Coppola gives audiences a peak into the Corleone family.-- An epic history of the movie trailer, by Matthew Schimkowitz
However, the closer Hollywood gets to the age of the blockbuster, the more the modern trailer starts to reveal itself, and it all starts with Jaws -- the film phenomenon of the summer of 1975. [ ... ] It introduced something new to trailers: relying almost entirely on the narrative of the film to advertise it. In 3 minutes and 21 seconds, the entire story arc of the film, save for the ending, is given away. There’s a shark terrorizing the beach on the 4th of July, it’s up to a local sheriff to take care of it, and he teams with a scientist and a fisherman to get the job done."
Dear Jennifer, I very much appreciate your letter of 10/29. From the wording of one of your questions, I suspect that the message may have been intended for my monster, "Frankenstein's Monster." I have included his address, should you wish to contact him (the monster) directly.
Jill Lepore talks with Amelia Lester and David Haglund about the role of women in contemporary science fiction - A discussion on the New Yorker Podcast
Director Mel Brooks spent a lot of money on white handkerchiefs while making his 1974 tour de farce, Young Frankenstein. "I gave everybody in the crew a white handkerchief," said the 88-year-old comedy legend during a recent phone interview. "I said, 'When you feel like laughing, put this in your mouth.' Every once in a while, I'd turn around and see a sea of white handkerchiefs, and I said, 'I got a hit.'"An interview with Mel Brooks on the 40th anniversary of Young Frankenstein, with an overview of the events that lead to what Mel Brooks calls 'by far the best movie I ever made.' [more inside]
Young Frankenstein was more than a hit. It is a comic masterpiece.
On 10 April 1815, Tambora produced the largest eruption known on the planet during the past 10,000 years. As described in Gillen D'Arcy Wood's new book, the explosion was only the first dose of Tambora's destructive power. In terms of its enduring presence in folklore, as well as its status in the scientific literature, 1816’s cold summer was the most significant meteorological event of the nineteenth century. After the tsunami and famine came cholera, opium, and failed Arctic expeditions. [more inside]
"The cinema was made for horror movies. No other kind of film offers that same mysterious anticipation as you head into a dark auditorium. No other makes such powerful use of sound and image. The cinema is where we come to share a collective dream and horror films are the most dreamlike of all, perhaps because they engage with our nightmares." And so Mark Gatiss opens his three-part series, A History of Horror. "One of the great virtues of this series is that it is thoroughly subjective. Gatiss does not feel any particular obligation to give us an A to Z of horror, but instead lingers lovingly over his own favourites," taking the viewer with him from the Golden Age of Hollywood horror through the American horror movies of the 1960s and 1970s. [more inside]
You can read online original hand-written versions of all of the known manuscripts of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, in its various stages of editorial development. "All of these notebooks can now be viewed in high quality, resizable page images accompanied by TEI-conformant transcriptions, which enable several different ways to sequence and view the pages of the notebooks, including according to which parts have been written by Mary or Percy Shelley."
As reported at SingularityHUB human astrocytes were engrafted into neonatal mice. The study found that the human glial cells which were once thought of as filler cells for the brain "differentially enhance both activity-dependent plasticity and learning in mice."
Mark Lynas, author of several books on climate change and once a leading figurehead of the anti-GMO movement, has made an about turn on his opinions regarding GM crops. In an address to the Oxford Farming Conference, he stated: "For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment. As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely. So I guess you’ll be wondering—what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist." [more inside]
From their archives, Mary Shelley writes about the origins of Frankenstein.
Lord Byron's copy of Frankenstein, inscribed by author Mary Shelley, is being offered for sale at Peter Harrington Books in London, where it will be on display from 26 Sept to 3 Oct. If you are interested in buying they are accepting offers in excess of 350,000. GBP ( about $568,000). [more inside]
Comics artist Frazer Irving adapts Mary Shelly's Frankenstein in hauntingly beautiful black and white: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.
Universal Horror: history of the early horror films made by Universal Studios such as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, King Kong, The Mummy and many more. Directed by Kevin Brownlow. Narrated by Kenneth Branagh. 1 :: 2 :: 3 :: 4 :: 5 :: 6 :: 7
The Edison Frankenstein, the first movie adaptation of Mary Shelley's story, and the first horror movie, is 100 years old as of last week. The Frankenstein blog has more details.
Frank Minyard, colorful coroner of New Orleans, and a focal point for post-Katrina stories, is in a tough reelection campaign. His opponent has taken some creative liberties in putting out a commercial. [more inside]
A Hierarchy of Classic Horror Monsters: Regular vampires are shit. They can only beat Zombies, Witches, assorted Poltergeists, and Mr. Hyde. That is BARELY BETTER THAN A REGULAR PERSON. Shut the fuck up about vampires. [more inside]
"It is a scene etched in film history. ...the drowning of the little girl in Frankenstein was a truly transgressive moment in a film already overloaded with gruesome happenings. Actor Boris Karloff protested, as did audiences and critics when the film previewed. The scene was jettisoned, cutting off suddenly as The Monster reaches for the child." John Cox went looking for the spot where this scene was shot, join him in The Return to Malibou Lake. [more inside]
Vampires are over, argues Neil Gaiman. (Via the Guardian, who rather oddly suggest the similarly over-exposed zombies as a replacement)
Frankensteinia. Just about everything you can think of having to do with Victor Frankenstein and his monster is here. Everything from the actors who portrayed the doctor and the monster, toys, Nazi Frankensteins, illustrations, movie posters, and of course the story behind the book.
Though film is not generally Andy Warhol's field of greatest fame, some see his long and storied history in film as "where Warhol's supreme achievement lies". And then there are the two horror films from 1973: Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (or Flesh for Frankenstein) and Andy Warhol's Dracula (or Blood for Dracula). The two films were filmed quickly and inexpensively in the Spring of 1973, using the Roger Corman method of filming two movies at one location using the same actors to decrease costs. Frankenstein was filmed first, using Space-Vision 3-D. But filming 3D footage was too expensive and time-consuming, so Dracula was shot in standard 35mm film. [more inside]
Hammer films are back! ... The classic British horror film company has returned from the dead with the first new film in 20 years to be first broadcast in instalments via MySpace. This has allowed some news programs to camp it up just a little... See the trailer here. Behind the scenes. [more inside]
"The Man Who Wrote Frankenstein" is a shortly forthcoming book by gay activist and scholar John Lauritsen which claims that Percy Bysshe Shelley, not his wife Mary wrote the famous novel. Camille Paglia has read an advance copy, and she seems to have liked it. (It's discussed on the fourth page of her column.)
Halloween Webcam - kill Frankenstein View over 7,000 Halloween Lights and a giant inflateable Frankenstein. Turn the lights on and off - or better yet, decide if Frankenstein lives (inflate him) or dies. What do the neighbors think of this?
Striping Guitars with Eddie Van Halen (in what appears to be his living room). More of his painted and unpainted guitars. Extra guitar geekiness: watch the evolution of Frankenstein.
Who would you rather vote for - Frankenstein, Hitler, or Tony Curtis? That's the decision facing some voters in India ... Have you ever run across other 'repurposed' names?
Paging Dr. Frankenstein A team of geneticists has announced that it is going to create an artificial lifeform. The project raises philosophical, ethical and practical questions. For instance, if a man-made organism proved able to survive and reproduce only under a narrow range of laboratory conditions, could it really be considered life? More broadly, do scientists have any moral right to create new organisms? (From the Washington Post. First-time users may be asked to provide demographic information.)
Godplaying for the Do-it-yourselfer. Well, it's a frigid October Monday, and Bride of Frankenstein is on the telly. So, for the would-be re-animator, some helpful hints: First, some background research. Biochemical Cascades associated with cell death. And even Newton knew to stand on the shoulders of other mad scientists. You'll also need a corpse. Manbeef seems to be defunct. You might be able to steal one from a University. If you're on a budget, you can probably get a good deal from these guys. Apparently it's a buyer's market. Obviously you'll need one of these things too. This page has full plans for an assortment of tesla coils and lighting balls and the like. If you're a purist, you'll want your choice of human brains. This might be a good place to start. But you really gotta ask yourself: Why bother with all that wetware?