THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATES: THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN

PrintE-mail Written by Robin Pierce

Isn’t it always the way? Some weeks ago, I was feverishly researching the early Hammer Frankenstein films for my Some Assembly Required feature, now along comes a tantalisingly titled book called The Curse of Frankenstein in the Devil’s Advocates series that could’ve helped me out.

Or could it?

As I eagerly read the book, looking for any minutae of trivia or factoid that I might have missed elsewhere, it dawned upon me that this was not that type of book.

Author Marcus K. Harmes is a lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia – and what he has written here is an academic series of essays that ponder the origins of Hammer’s first colour film, its motivations, and its influence on British Gothic Cinema, previously the non-horror domain of J. Arthur Rank’s Gainsborough studios.

You’ll find no quotable soundbites from any of the actors or technicians involved with the production, no fresh insights regarding Phil Leaky’s messy make-up. What you WILL find are quotations from some of the offended Fleet Street critics of the day, whose delicate sensibilities had been, well, hammered, I guess by the vile, despicable, amoral, corrupting, fetid eighty minutes they had endured in the name of journalism.

From there, Harmes examines the origins of the film expounding in detail on the paradigm of transgressive adaptation. Simply put, that the original novel by Mary Shelley, because of its length and its sweeping location changes, not only hasn’t been adapted accurately to date, but it would be impossible to do so. Furthermore, in adapting a book that is as long as Mrs Shelley’s opus, the fact of editing scenes out and melding characters, eliminating some, giving one’s traits to another and so on, means that your transgression from the original source material has resulted in creating something completely different from those same elements. It’s an interesting and somewhat mind expanding paradigm, and does give the reader food for thought.

Overall, it’s a slim volume, running to 100 pages, but a little goes a long way as it’s written in an aloof academic style reminiscent of a thesis, which eventually becomes tedious.

THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATES: THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN / AUTHOR: MARCUS K. HARMES / PUBLISHER: AUTEUR PUBLISHING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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