“His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; 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 shriveled complexion and straight black lips.”
- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Chapter 5
You know him well.
When you look at him you instantly recall those frightful childhood nights watching him on Television shambling along some dank cavernous hellhole. You remember his slow gait, the outstretched arms, the powerful grip of his undead hands. He lurked in every shadow, every dark secret place in town; he was under your bed and in your closet. You remember the malevolence in his eyes.
He wanted to send you straight to hell.
That was the part that really chilled your soul. For he had emerged from hell itself, this Titan of darkness, and he had no more sympathy for you than a reptile that knows it must feed. And no matter that
put him in oversized boots because you could never out run him. He would always emerge again from the gloom somewhere else, an eternal undying creature of evil. Hollywood
Fear tingled in your scrotum and crawled up your spine.
You’re a coward! The words spit like venom through your fevered dream. You couldn’t escape him. A creaking door swings open and there he stands, calm, dark and incredibly patient. He would wait forever just for an opportunity to get his green, clammy hands around your throat and begin slowly squeezing the life out of you.
And which evil incarnation frightened you more?
Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, Christopher Lee and dozens more have donned the graveyard pallor and stalked the celluloid shadows. Mary Shelley’s Modern Prometheus of 1817 has endured beyond her expectations. Today there are even those misguided souls in the academic community who have mistakenly promoted her work as a feminist manifesto. Don’t let the pantywaist crowd fool you. This is a Horror story – Horror in its primal form; vengeful, calculating and incredibly powerful.
“I too can create desolation; my enemy is not invulnerable; this death will carry despair to him, and a thousand other miseries shall torment and destroy him.”
- words spoken by the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Chapter 16
He dreams of electricity.
These galvanized shadows jerk in his mind like dark puppets on a string; all phantoms struggling to get free. When he wakes up he’s become a pop culture maestro – a comic book, a toy, a pulp story, a screen treatment. He can’t escape his destiny.
Here is the lesson of Prometheus.
Steal fire from Heaven and suffer then eternal torments as daily the great winged creature comes to feed on your liver. And each morning the act begins anew; it’s an existential punishment of unrelenting agony. The monster and his maker understand this torment very well.
Something evil lurks in the darkness.
The tall figure of a man in his grave clothes; an unholy fire smolders in his yellow eyes. An outcast deprived of love, self-educated, constantly hungry and constantly hunted, he waits forever in those dark places where dwell the ghouls. And very soon – when he finds you – the cold kiss of the grave will be your epitaph.
“I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on. Even now my blood boils at the recollection of this injustice.”
- words spoken by the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Chapter 24
Frankenstein’s monster is all too human and that’s what makes him so scary.
He’s just like you and I.