Wikipedia Universal Monsters
Universal Monsters or Universal Horror is a phrase used to describe the series of horror, suspense and science fiction films made by Universal Studios during the decades of the 1920s through the 1950s. The series began with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera, both silent films starring Lon Chaney. Universal continued with talkies including monster franchises Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, and Creature from the Black Lagoon. The films often featured Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney, Jr.
In 1923, Universal produced the drama The Hunchback of Notre Dame, starring Lon Chaney as Quasimodo. The production sets were built to evoke 15th-century Paris, including a re-creation of the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral.
Chaney stars as The Phantom in 1925’s horror film, The Phantom of the Opera, based on the mystery novel by Gaston Leroux. The interior of the Opéra Garnier was recreated to scale and was used again in the 1943 remake with Claude Rains.
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Cast||RT||IMDb|
|The Hunchback of Notre Dame||September 2, 1923||Wallace Worsley||Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Nigel de Brulier, Brandon Hurst||95%||7.3|
|The Phantom of the Opera||November 25, 1925||Rupert Julian||Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland||90%||7.7|
|The Cat and the Canary||September 9, 1927||Paul Leni||Laura La Plante, Forrest Stanley, Creighton Hale, Flora Finch||93%||7.2|
|The Man Who Laughs||April 27, 1928||Paul Leni||Mary Philbin, Conrad Veidt, Brandon Hurst, Olga V. Baklanova, Cesare Gravina, Stuart Holmes, Samuel de Grasse, George Siegmann, Josephine Crowell||100%||7.8|
|The Last Warning||January 6, 1929||Paul Leni||Laura LaPlante, Montagu Love, Margaret Livingston, John Boles||N/A||7.5|
|The Last Performance||November 1929||Paul Fejos||Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin||N/A||6.8|
In 1931, Bela Lugosi starred in Universal’s Dracula and Boris Karloff in Frankenstein. Actors Dwight Frye and Edward Van Sloan, who played major supporting roles in both films, made several film appearances in this decade. Make-up artist Jack Pierce created several monsters’ make-up starting in the 1930s.
The Mummy, starring Karloff, was produced in 1932. This was followed by a trilogy of films based on the tales of Edgar Allan Poe: Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) starring Lugosi, The Black Cat (1934), and The Raven (1935), the latter two of which teamed Lugosi with Karloff. Universal began releasing sequels including Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and sequels for The Invisible Man (1933). The first mainstream werewolf picture, Werewolf of London (1935) starring Henry Hull, was not a box office triumph despite being revered by audiences today.
The end of Universal’s first run of horror films came in 1936. The monster movies were dropped from the production schedule altogether and would not re-emerge for another three years. In the meantime, a theatre owner revived Dracula and Frankenstein as a resoundingly successful double feature, prompting the studio to re-release the original movies. Son of Frankenstein (1939), starring Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi, was filmed as a result of the unexpected resurgence.
During the 1940s, Universal released The Wolf Man (1941), with Lon Chaney, Jr. The junior Chaney became the studio’s leading monster movie actor in the 1940s, just as his father had been two decades earlier, supplanting the 1930s’ Karloff and Lugosi by a wide margin in terms of the number of leading roles that he played. Chaney, Jr. physically resembled his father apart from usually being somewhat overweight, which the senior Chaney never was. The studio dropped the “Jr.” from the junior Chaney’s billing almost immediately to confuse some in the audiences into assuming that this was the same actor.
The Frankenstein and Wolf Man series continued with The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), in which Chaney, Jr. played Frankenstein’s monster and Lugosi reprised his role as Ygor, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) with Lugosi as the Frankenstein monster and Chaney, Jr. as the Wolf Man. Son of Dracula (1943) featured Chaney, Jr. in Lugosi’s original role as the Count. The Mummy series was also continued with The Mummy’s Hand (1940), The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse (both 1944) with Chaney, Jr. as the Mummy in the last three films. House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945) featured many of the monsters from the studio’s previous films. As the decade drew to a close, the comedy Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) features Lugosi in his second movie as Count Dracula, starring alongside Chaney, Jr. as Larry Talbot (the Wolf Man), and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein’s monster.
Abbott and Costello appeared in films featuring characters such as the Mummy and the Invisible Man.
Creature from the Black Lagoon, directed by Jack Arnold, was released in 1954. Dracula and Frankenstein were re-released as double features in theatres, and were later broadcast in syndication on American television in 1957 as part of the Shock Theater package of Universal Monster Movies. Magazines such as Famous Monsters of Filmland covered the monster films. Universal spent the last half of the decade issuing a number of one-shot monster films.
Recurring cast and characters
- This table only includes characters which have appeared in multiple films.
- A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
- A G Cedric Hardwicke played the son of Henry Frankenstein, he also played the ghost of Henry Frankenstein.
- A P indicates the character was mentioned and shown in a photograph.
- A U indicates a uncredited role.
- A V indicates a voice-only role.
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Cast||RT|
|Dracula||July 13, 1979||John Badham||Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier||58%|
|The Mummy||May 7, 1999||Stephen Sommers||Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo||55%|
|The Mummy Returns||May 4, 2001||Stephen Sommers||Brendan Fraser and Arnold Vosloo||47%|
|Van Helsing||May 7, 2004||Stephen Sommers||Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale||23%|
|The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor||August 1, 2008||Rob Cohen||Brendan Fraser and Jet Li||12%|
|The Wolfman||February 12, 2010||Joe Johnston||Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, and Hugo Weaving||34%|
|Dracula Untold||October 10, 2014||Gary Shore||Luke Evans||22%|
|Film||U.S. release date||Director(s)||Screenwriter(s)||Producer(s)||Status|
|The Mummy||June 9, 2017||Alex Kurtzman||Jon Spaihts and Christopher McQuarrie||Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Chris Morgan and Sean Daniel||Post-production|
|Untitled film||April 13, 2018||TBA||TBA||TBA||In development|
|Untitled film||February 15, 2019||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Untitled Invisible Man film||TBA||TBA||Ed Solomon||Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan|
|Untitled Wolf Man film||TBA||TBA||Aaron Guzikowski and David Callaham||Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan|
|Untitled Van Helsing film||TBA||TBA||Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer (script)
Dan Mazeau (screenplay)
|Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Chris Morgan|
|Untitled Creature from the Black Lagoon film||TBA||TBA||Jeff Pinkner||TBA|
|Untitled Bride of Frankenstein film||TBA||TBA||David Koepp||TBA|
Creature from the Black Lagoon
|Creature from the Black Lagoon|
|Directed by||Jack Arnold|
|Produced by||William Alland|
|Screenplay by||Harry Essex
Arthur A. Ross
|Story by||Maurice Zimm|
|Music by||Henry Mancini
Hans J. Salter
|Cinematography||William E. Snyder|
|Edited by||Ted J. Kent|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
(et al., regional openings)
Creature from the Black Lagoon is a 1954 American black-and-white 3D monster horror film from Universal Pictures, produced by William Alland, directed by Jack Arnold, that stars Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, and Whit Bissell. The Creature was played by Ben Chapman on land and by Ricou Browning underwater. The film premiered in Detroit on February 12 and was released on a regional basis, opening on various dates.
Creature from the Black Lagoon was filmed in 3D and originally projected by the polarized light method. The audience wore viewers with gray polarizing filters, similar to the viewers most commonly used today. Because the brief 1950s 3D film fad had peaked in mid-1953 and was fading fast in early 1954, many audiences actually saw the film “flat”, in 2D. Typically, the film was shown in 3D in large downtown theaters and flat in smaller neighborhood theaters. In 1975 Creature from the Black Lagoon was re-released to theaters in the inferior red-and-blue-glasses anaglyph 3D format, which was also used for a 1980 home video release on Beta and VHS videocassettes.
For marketing reasons, a comedic short TV special was aired prior to film’s release titled Abbott and Costello Meet the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Ben Chapman reprised his role as the Gill-Man for the program.
Creature from the Black Lagoon generated two sequels: Revenge of the Creature (1955), which was also filmed and released in 3D in hopes of reviving the format, and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), filmed in 2D. The creature, also known as the Gill-man, is usually counted among the classic Universal Monsters.
A geology expedition in the Amazon uncovers fossilized evidence from the Devonian period of a link between land and sea animals: a skeletal hand with webbed fingers. Expedition leader Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno) visits his friend and former student, Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson), an ichthyologist. He works at an aquarium in California and has also been a guest at Maia’s marine biology institute in Brazil for more than a month. Reed persuades his boss, the financially minded Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning), to fund a return expedition to the Amazon to look for the remainder of the skeleton.
The group goes aboard the tramp steamer Rita, which is captained by crusty old Lucas (Nestor Paiva). The expedition consists of David, Carl, and Mark, as well as Reed’s girlfriend and colleague, Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams), and another scientist, Dr. Edwin Thompson (Whit Bissell). When they arrive at the camp, they discover that Maia’s entire research team has been mysteriously killed while he was away. Lucas suggests it was likely done by a jaguar, but the others are unsure. In fact, the camp was attacked by a piscine amphibious humanoid, a living member of the same species from which the fossil originated. The creature, curious about the expedition, goes to the camp. When its sudden appearance frightens the members, they attack it, and in response the enraged creature kills them.
The excavation of the area where Carl found the hand turns up nothing. Mark is ready to give up the search, but David suggests that perhaps thousands of years ago the part of the embankment containing the rest of the skeleton fell into the water and was washed downriver, broken up by the current. Lucas says that the tributary empties into a lagoon. Lucas calls it the “Black Lagoon”, a paradise from which no one has ever returned. The scientists decide to risk it, unaware that the amphibious “Gill-man” that killed Carl’s assistants earlier has been watching them. Taking notice of the beautiful Kay, it follows the Rita all the way downriver to the Black Lagoon. Once the expedition arrives, David and Mark go diving to collect fossils from the lagoon floor. After they return, Kay goes swimming and is stalked underwater by the creature, who then gets briefly caught in one of the ship’s drag lines. Although it escapes, the creature leaves behind a claw in the net, revealing its existence to the scientists.
Subsequent encounters with the Gill-man claim the lives of Lucas’s crew members, before the creature is captured and locked in a cage aboard the Rita. It escapes during the night, attacking Edwin, who was guarding it. Edwin smashes the beast with a lantern, driving it off. Following this incident, David decides they should return to civilization, but as the Rita tries to leave, they find the lagoon’s entrance blocked by fallen logs, courtesy of the escaped Gill-man. While the others attempt to remove the logs, Mark is mauled to death trying to capture the creature underwater, single handedly. It then abducts Kay and takes her to its cavern lair. David, Lucas, and Carl give chase, and Kay is rescued. The creature is riddled with bullets before retreating to the lagoon, where its body sinks into the watery depths.
- Richard Carlson as Dr. David Reed
- Julie Adams as Kay Lawrence
- Richard Denning as Dr. Mark Williams
- Antonio Moreno as Dr. Carl Maia
- Nestor Paiva as Captain Lucas
- Whit Bissell as Dr. Edwin Thompson
- Bernie Gozier as Zee
- Henry A. Escalante as Chico
- Perry Lopez as Tomas
- Rodd Redwing as Luis
- Sydney Mason as Dr. Matos
- Ben Chapman as Gill-man (land)
- Ricou Browning as Gill-man (underwater)
Producer William Alland was attending a 1941 dinner party during the filming of Citizen Kane (in which he played the reporter Thompson) when Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa told him about the myth of a race of half-fish, half-human creatures in the Amazon River. Alland wrote story notes titled “The Sea Monster” 10 years later. His inspiration was Beauty and the Beast. In December 1952 Maurice Zimm expanded this into a treatment, which Harry Essex and Arthur Ross rewrote as The Black Lagoon. Following the success of the 3D film House of Wax in 1953, Jack Arnold was hired to direct the film in the same format.
The designer of the approved Gill-man was Disney animator Millicent Patrick, though her role was deliberately downplayed by make-up artist Bud Westmore, who for half a century would receive sole credit for the creature’s conception. Jack Kevan, who worked on The Wizard of Oz (1939) and made prosthetics for amputees during World War II, created the bodysuit, while Chris Mueller, Jr. sculpted the head.
Ben Chapman portrayed the Gill-man for the majority of the film shot at Universal City, California. Many of the on-top of the water scenes were filmed at Rice Creek near Palatka, Florida. The costume made it impossible for Chapman to sit for the 14 hours of each day that he wore it, and it overheated easily, so he stayed in the back lot’s lake, often requesting to be hosed down. He also could not see very well while wearing the headpiece, which caused him to scrape Julie Adams’ head against the wall when carrying her in the grotto scenes. Ricou Browning played the Gill-Man in the underwater shots, which were filmed by the second unit in Wakulla Springs, Florida.
Creature from the Black Lagoon received positive reviews from critics upon its release and is now considered a classic. Leonard Maltin awarded the film three out of a possible four stars, writing, “Archetypal ’50s monster movie has been copied so often that some of the edge is gone, but … is still entertaining, with juicy atmosphere and luminous underwater photography sequences.” Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 84%, based on 32 reviews, with a rating average of 6.9/10. The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2001: AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills – Nominated
- 2003: AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains:
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Creature from the Black Lagoon was novelized in 1954 by John Russell Fearn under the pseudonym of “Vargo Statten”, then later, in 1977, in mass market paperback under the pseudonym of “Carl Dreadstone”. This was part of a short-lived series of books based on the classic Universal horror films. The 1977 book was introduced by Ramsey Campbell, but was written by Walter Harris. The 1977 novel offers a completely different Gill-man, who in this version of the story is gigantic, almost as big as the Rita herself, weighing in at 30 tons. It is both coldblooded and warmblooded, is a hermaphrodite, and also possesses a long whip-like tail. The gigantic creature is dubbed “AA”, for “Advanced Amphibian”, by the expedition team members. After slaying most of the team members, destroying a Sikorsky helicopter, and kidnapping Kay more than once, the creature is killed by the crew of a United States Navy torpedo boat.
The 1977 novel also differs greatly with respect to the human characters. Only David Reed and Kay Lawrence remain the same. Mark Williams is a German named “Bruno Gebhardt” and dies not as a result from drowning, but by the monster falling on him. Lucas is named “Jose Goncalves Fonseca de Souza” and is a mostly sympathetic character, until his suggestion of throwing the wounded and unconscious Reed to the monster makes an enraged Gebhardt/Williams throw “him” to the beast instead. Dr. Thompson and Dr. Maia both die grisly deaths, whereas in the movie they survive; Maia is eaten by the monster, and Thompson is impaled on a long tree branch flung at him by the creature like a spear (in an apparent nod to a deleted scene from Revenge of the Creature wherein the Gill-man killed a guard in this fashion).
|This article may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia’s quality standards. (August 2016)|
In 1982 John Landis wanted Jack Arnold to direct a remake of the film, and Nigel Kneale was commissioned to write the screenplay. Kneale completed the script, which involved a pair of creatures, one destructive and the other calm and sensitive, being persecuted by the United States Navy. A decision to make the film in 3D led to the remake being canceled by producers at Universal, both for budgetary concerns and to avoid a clash with Jaws 3-D. In July 1992 John Carpenter was developing the remake at Universal with a script by Bill Phillips. Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris wrote a new script, and Universal offered Peter Jackson the director’s position in 1995, but he chose to work on King Kong instead. In February 1996 Ivan Reitman was planning to direct the remake, but the outing never materialized. With the financial success of The Mummy remake in May 1999, development of the Creature from the Black Lagoon remake was revived.
In December 2001 Gary Ross signed on to write and produce the remake with his father, Arthur A. Ross, one of the original’s writers. He told The Hollywood Reporter, “The story my father wrote embodies the clash between primitive men and civilized men, and that obviously makes it a fertile area for re-examination.” In August 2002, Guillermo del Toro, a fan of the original, was attached as director. Because of his commitments to numerous other projects, Universal was forced to go without del Toro and hired Tedi Sarafian (credited on Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) to write a script in March 2003.
In October 2005 Breck Eisner signed on as director. “As a kid, I remember loving Jack Arnold’s original version of this film”, he explained. “What I really want to do is update an iconic image from the ’50s and bring in more of the sci-fi sensibility of Alien or John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982).” Ross said in March 2007 the Gill-man’s origin would be reinvented, with him being the result of a pharmaceutical corporation polluting the Amazon. “It’s about the rainforest being exploited for profit”, he said.
The production was delayed, however, by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike; as a result, Eisner made The Crazies (2010) the number one on his priority list instead. His new goal was to finish filming The Crazies and then begin filming Creature from the Black Lagoon in Manaus, Brazil and on the Amazon River in Peru. Eisner was inspired to shoot on location by the film Fitzcarraldo, and the boat set had been built. Eisner continued to rewrite the script, which was to be a summer blockbuster full of “action and excitement, but [still] scary”. Eisner spent six months designing the new incarnation of the Gill-man with Mark McCreery (Jurassic Park, and Davy Jones‘ designer). The director said the design was “very faithful to the original, but updated” and that the Gill-man would still be sympathetic.
In 2009 it was reported that Carl Erik Rinsch might direct a 2010 remake that would be produced by Marc Abraham, Eric Newman and Gary Ross; however, a project featuring this ensemble had been abandoned by 2011.
In March 2012 Universal announced that a reboot was in production, and would simply be titled The Black Lagoon rather than Creature from the Black Lagoon, in order to distinguish the two versions. In October 2012, the studio hired Dave Kajganich to write the film. The film was expected to hit theaters by May 2014, but was ultimately cancelled.
In 1980 Universal released Creature from the Black Lagoon on video cassette in an anaglyph 3D version, using the Deep Vision anaglyph 3D release as its source. Subsequent releases on VHS, Beta and DVD were the 2D version. On October 2, 2012, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray as a 2D / Blu-ray 3D dual format disc as part of the “Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection” box set. On June 4, 2013, the Creature from the Black Lagoon Blu-ray disc was released as a stand-alone title.
The Mummy (franchise) – Wikipedia
The Mummy (franchise)
The Mummy is the title of several horror-adventure film series centered on an ancient Egyptian priest who is accidentally resurrected, bringing with him a powerful curse, and the ensuing efforts of heroic archaeologists to stop him. These three series of films accompany a spin-off film series, two comic book adaptations, three video games, an animated television series, and a roller coaster ride.
- 1 Universal Monster Films series (1932–1955)
- 2 Hammer Horror series (1959–1971)
- 3 Stephen Sommers series (1999–2015)
- 4 Cast and characters
- 5 Derivative works
- 6 Reboot and shared universe
- 7 References
Universal Monster Films series (1932–1955)
The original series of films consisted of five installments which starred iconic horror actors such as Boris Karloff (only in the original one, as Imhotep); Tom Tyler and Lon Chaney Jr. as Kharis; and lastly Eddie Parker, who played Klaris, a cousin of Kharis. The series of films is a part of the larger Universal Monsters franchise.
|Year||Film||The Mummy actor|
|1932||The Mummy||Boris Karloff|
|1940||The Mummy’s Hand||Tom Tyler|
|1942||The Mummy’s Tomb||Lon Chaney Jr.|
|1944||The Mummy’s Ghost|
|The Mummy’s Curse|
|1955||Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy||Eddie Parker|
Hammer Horror series (1959–1971)
In 1959, the British Hammer Film Productions began its own The Mummy series of films. These include the following:
- The Mummy (1959). Set in 1895, the film stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee as Kharis. The plot is based on Universal’s own The Mummy’s Hand and The Mummy’s Tomb.
- The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964). Features Dickie Owen as the Mummy Ra-Antef.
- The Mummy’s Shroud (1967). Features Eddie Powell as the Mummy Prem.
- Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971). Based on Bram Stoker‘s 1903 novel The Jewel of Seven Stars. Features Valerie Leon as the Mummy Queen Tera and her reincarnation Margaret Fuchs.
Stephen Sommers series (1999–2015)
Trilogy box set cover
|Directed by||Stephen Sommers
(The Mummy and The Mummy Returns)
(The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)
|Produced by||Sean Daniel
|Screenplay by||Stephen Sommers
(The Mummy and The Mummy Returns)
(The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)
|Starring||List of The Mummy characters|
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith
John Debney (additional music)
|Edited by||Bob Ducsay
Ray Bushey III
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$1.415 billion|
Originally a proposed remake of The Mummy would have been directed by horror filmmaker/writer Clive Barker. Barker’s vision for the film was violent, with the story revolving around the head of a contemporary art museum who turns out to be a cultist trying to reanimate mummies. Barker’s take was “dark, sexual and filled with mysticism”, and that, “it would have been a great low-budget movie”.
In 1999, Stephen Sommers wrote and directed a remake of The Mummy, loosely based on the original film of 1932. This film switches genres from the emphasis on horror to adventure, concentrating more on action sequences and effects, and a higher element of Egyptian lore. The film became a box office success spawning two sequels, a spin-off series, and an animated television series. The first two films received mixed reviews, while the third one received mostly negative reviews.
The Mummy Trilogy
- The Mummy, 1999. It is the year 1923 and Richard “Rick” O’Connell, an American explorer, has discovered Hamunaptra, the city of the dead. Three years later, O’Connell returns to the site with a beautiful librarian, Evelyn “Evy” Carnahan and her brother, Jonathan. When Evy accidentally revives the mummified corpse of an Egyptian priest, Imhotep, the pair must find a way to kill him before he rises back into power and destroys the world.
- The Mummy Returns, 2001. It is the year 1933 and Rick O’Connell and Evelyn Carnahan are married with an 8-year-old son, Alex. When Alex triggers a curse and Imhotep is resurrected, Rick and Evy must once again try to save the world and defeat the mummy.
- The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, 2008. Set in 1946, the film continues the adventures of Rick O’Connell, his wife Evy, and his son Alex against a different mummy, the Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) of China.
Cancelled Fourth Film
After Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was released, actress Maria Bello stated that another Mummy film will “absolutely” be made, and that she had already signed on. Actor Luke Ford was signed on for three films as well. But in 2012, Universal Pictures announced that they had cancelled the film.
The Scorpion King spin-off series (2002–2015)
This spin-off series follows the adventures of Mathayus, who would later be known as the Scorpion King and, eventually, become a foe in The Mummy Returns. The films are as follows:
- The Scorpion King, a 2002 film.
- The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, a 2008 prequel (direct-to-video) film.
- The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, a 2012 sequel (direct-to-video) film.
- The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power, a 2015 sequel (direct-to-video) film.
Critical and public response
|The Mummy||56% (113 reviews)||75%||48 (34 reviews)||B||7.0 (317 080 votes)|
|The Mummy Returns||47% (158 reviews)||63%||48 (31 reviews)||A-||6.3 (247 569 votes)|
|The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor||12% (170 reviews)||30%||31 (33 reviews)||B-||5.2 (117 633 votes)|
|The Scorpion King|
|The Scorpion King||41% (156 reviews)||38%||45 (30 reviews)||B||5.5 (101 827 votes)|
|The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior||–||18%||–||–||3.8 (10 588 votes)|
|The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption||–||23%||–||–||3.7 (6 167 votes)|
|The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power||–||18%||–||–||4.2 (1 504 votes)|
|1||The Mummy||000000001932-12-22-0000December 22, 1932||Karl Freund||Universal Monsters|
|2||The Mummy’s Hand||000000001940-09-20-0000September 20, 1940||Christy Cabanne|
|3||The Mummy’s Tomb||000000001942-10-23-0000October 23, 1942||Harold Young|
|4||The Mummy’s Ghost||000000001944-07-07-0000July 7, 1944||Reginald Le Borg|
|5||The Mummy’s Curse||000000001944-12-22-0000December 22, 1944||Leslie Goodwins|
|6||Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy||000000001955-06-23-0000June 23, 1955||Charles Lamont|
|7||The Mummy||000000001959-09-25-0000September 25, 1959||Terence Fisher||Hammer Stand-alone Films|
|8||The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb||000000001964-10-18-0000October 18, 1964||Michael Carreras|
|9||The Mummy’s Shroud||000000001967-03-15-0000March 15, 1967||John Gilling|
|10||Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb||000000001971-10-14-0000October 14, 1971||Seth Holt
|11||The Mummy||000000001999-05-07-0000May 7, 1999||Stephen Sommers||The Mummy Trilogy|
|12||The Mummy Returns||000000002001-05-04-0000May 4, 2001|
|13||The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor||000000002008-08-01-0000August 1, 2008||Rob Cohen|
|14||The Mummy||000000002017-06-09-0000June 9, 2017||Alex Kurtzman||Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe|
Cast and characters
|1932||The Mummy||Karl Freund||Carl Laemmle, Jr.||Screenplay:
John L. Balderston
|James Dietrich||Milton Carruth||Charles Stumar||Universal Pictures|
|1999||The Mummy||Stephen Sommers||Sean Daniel
|Jerry Goldsmith||Bob Ducsay||Adrian Biddle|
|2001||The Mummy Returns||Stephen Sommers||Alan Silvestri||Bob Ducsay
|2008||The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor||Rob Cohen||Sean Daniel
|Randy Edelman||Joel Negron
|2017||The Mummy||Alex Kurtzman||Sean Daniel
|Jon Spaihts||Brian Tyler||Paul Hirsch||Ben Seresin|
Two video game adaptations of The Mummy (1999) were developed by Rebellion Developments and published by Konami in 2000: an action-adventure game for the PlayStation and PC as well as a Game Boy Color puzzle game. Dreamcast version was announced but later cancelled in the late 2000. The Mummy Returns released in late 2001 for the PlayStation 2 and developed by Blitz Games, the Game Boy Color version was developed by GameBrains, both versions were published by Universal Interactive. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was released in 2008, developed by Eurocom for the PlayStation 2 and the Wii, the Nintendo DS released was developed by A2M, all versions were published by Sierra Entertainment. In March 2012, a massive multiplayer online game known as The Mummy Online was released.
In May 2001, Chaos! Comics released the first of a three issue series inspired by the film, titled ‘The Mummy Valley of the Gods’. The plot was supposed to take place between the first film and The Mummy Returns. Rick and Evelyn are on their honeymoon in Egypt and end up embarking on yet another adventure where they must unravel the mysteries of the Orb of Destiny and discover the location of the Valley of the Gods hidden beneath the sands. However, the second and third issues were never published. This was most likely due to Chaos later filing bankruptcy in 2002 and selling the rights to all their titles at that time. Years later in 2008, another Mummy comic series was released by IDW Publishing, spanning four issues. This series was titled ‘The Mummy: the Rise and Fall of Xango’s Ax’. Unlike the preceding comic series, all of the planned issues were published.
From 2001 until 2003, The Mummy: The Animated Series was made by Universal Animation Studios. It was based on the Stephen Sommers series of films and was set between 1934 and 1935. The series was later renamed The Mummy: Secrets of the Medjai.
On April 4, 2012, Universal Studios announced that they are developing a reboot of the series, with Jon Spaihts to write the film and Sean Daniel who produced the three films, will be returning as producer. On May 1, 2012, Universal signed on with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman a two-year deal to produce the Mummy reboot through their K/O Paper Products banner. On September 24, 2012, it was announced that Universal has set Len Wiseman to direct the film. In December 2012, it was being said that The Mummy reboot will be different from the classic trilogy, it’ll be a completely new take on the mythology, and it will be set in present day. On February 14, 2013, Universal set The Hunger Games’ writer Billy Ray to write a competitive draft for the Mummy reboot against Spaihts written script. On July 31, 2013, director Wiseman has left the film project due of schedule conflicts. On September 13, 2013, news reported that Mama‘s director Andrés Muschietti is in talks to direct the film.
In October 2013, Orci spoke to IGN, hinted that both The Mummy and Van Helsing reboots will have a shared universe. On November 27, 2013, Universal has set the film for an April 22, 2016, release. On May 6, 2014, director Muschetti left the film due to creative differences, which Spaihts wrote the latest draft of the script, which reimagined The Mummy in modern-day with new characters not seen in previous iterations and a protagonist imbued with a human personality. On July 16, 2014, Universal announced that they had tapped Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan to develop all classic movie monsters which include Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Mummy. The first film they will develop together will be The Mummy, for which they had begun the meetings. So on July 30, Kurtzman was set to direct the film. Next day, the film’s release date was pushed back to March 27, 2017, when Universal announced the April 22 for its new film The Huntsman. The film’s plot is set in Iraq and follows a Navy SEAL and his team that battle Mummies led by Ashurbanipal.
On October 14, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Kurtzman and Spaihts has two scripts with a male and a female mummy villain. On November 24, 2015, Variety reports that Tom Cruise is in talks to star in the film. Variety also reports that Cruise isn’t expected to produce, but he will play a major part in development. On December 8, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter has reported that Sofia Boutella is in talks for the female Mummy role in the reboot. It was announced that Cruise and Boutella will star in the reboot with a June 9, 2017, release date. In March 2016, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter has reported that Annabelle Wallis and Jake Johnson are in talks for a role of an archaeologist and a member of the military. The film began production in April 2016 located in Oxford, England.
Woodcut of a werewolf attack, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1512
|Similar creatures||Therianthropy, revenant, vampire, yōkai|
|Country||Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Hungary|
|Region||The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa|
A werewolf (from Old English: wer, “man”), man-wolf, or lycanthrope (Greek: λυκάνθρωπος, lykánthropos: λύκος, lykos, “wolf”, and ἄνθρωπος, anthrōpos, “human”) is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or a therianthropic hybrid wolf-like creature, either purposely or after being placed under a curse or affliction (e.g. via a bite or scratch from another werewolf). Early sources for belief in lycanthropy are Petronius (27–66) and Gervase of Tilbury (1150–1228).
The werewolf is a widespread concept in European folklore, existing in many variants, which are related by a common development of a Christian interpretation of underlying European folklore developed during the medieval period. From the early modern period, werewolf beliefs also spread to the New World with colonialism. Belief in werewolves developed in parallel to the belief in witches, in the course of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Like the witchcraft trials as a whole, the trial of supposed werewolves emerged in what is now Switzerland (especially the Valais and Vaud) in the early 15th century and spread throughout Europe in the 16th, peaking in the 17th and subsiding by the 18th century. The persecution of werewolves and the associated folklore is an integral part of the “witch-hunt” phenomenon, albeit a marginal one, accusations of werewolfery being involved in only a small fraction of witchcraft trials. During the early period, accusations of lycanthropy (transformation into a wolf) were mixed with accusations of wolf-riding or wolf-charming. The case of Peter Stumpp (1589) led to a significant peak in both interest in and persecution of supposed werewolves, primarily in French-speaking and German-speaking Europe. The phenomenon persisted longest in Bavaria and Austria, with persecution of wolf-charmers recorded until well after 1650, the final cases taking place in the early 18th century in Carinthia and Styria.
After the end of the witch-trials, the werewolf became of interest in folklore studies and in the emerging Gothic horror genre; werewolf fiction as a genre has pre-modern precedents in medieval romances (e.g. Bisclavret and Guillaume de Palerme) and developed in the 18th century out of the “semi-fictional” chap book tradition. The trappings of horror literature in the 20th century became part of the horror and fantasy genre of modern pop culture.
- 1 Names
- 2 History
- 3 Lycanthropy as a medical condition
- 4 Folk beliefs
- 5 Modern reception
- 6 See also
- 7 Footnotes
- 8 References
|Look up lycanthropy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Look up loup-garou in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Look up werewolf in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The word werewolf continues a late Old English wer(e)wulf, a compound of were “man” and wulf “wolf”. The only Old High German testimony is in the form of a given name, Weriuuolf, although an early Middle High German werwolf is found in Burchard of Worms and Berthold of Regensburg. The word or concept does not occur in medieval German poetry or fiction, gaining popularity only from the 15th century. Middle Latin gerulphus Anglo-Norman garwalf, Old Frankish *wariwulf. Old Norse had the cognate varúlfur, but because of the high importance of werewolves in Norse mythology, there were alternative terms such as ulfhéðinn (“one in wolf-skin”, referring still to the totemistic or cultic adoption of wolf-nature rather than the superstitious belief in actual shape-shifting). In modern Scandinavian also kveldulf “evening-wolf”, presumably after the name of Kveldulf Bjalfason, a historical berserker of the 9th century who figures in the Icelandic sagas.
The term lycanthropy, referring both to the ability to transform oneself into a wolf and to the act of so doing, comes from Ancient Greek λυκάνθρωπος lukánthropos (from λύκος lúkos “wolf” and ἄνθρωπος, ánthrōpos “human”. The word does occur in ancient Greek sources, but only in Late Antiquity, only rarely, and only in the context of clinical lycanthropy described by Galen, where the patient had the ravenous appetite and other qualities of a wolf; the Greek word attains some currency only in Byzantine Greek, featuring in the 10th-century encyclopedia Suda. Use of the Greek-derived lycanthropy in English occurs in learned writing beginning in the later 16th century (first recorded 1584 in The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot, who argued against the reality of werewolves; “Lycanthropia is a disease, and not a transformation.” v. i. 92), at first explicitly for clinical lycanthropy, i.e. the type of insanity where the patient imagines to have transformed into a wolf, and not in reference to supposedly real shape-shifting. Use of lycanthropy for supposed shape-shifting is much later, introduced ca. 1830.
Slavic uses the term vlko-dlak (Polish wilkołak, Czech vlkodlak, Slovak vlkolak, Serbo-Croatian вукодлак – vukodlak, Slovenian volkodlak, Bulgarian върколак/vrkolak, Belarusian ваўкалак/vaukalak, Ukrainian вовкулака/vovkulaka), literally “wolf-skin”, paralleling the Old Norse ulfhéðinn. However, the word is not attested in the medieval period. The Slavic term was loaned into modern Greek as Vrykolakas. Baltic has related terms, Lithuanian vilkolakis and vilkatas, Latvian vilkatis and vilkacis. The name vurdalak (вурдалак) for the Slavic vampire (“ghoul, revenant”) is a corruption due to Alexander Pushkin, which was later widely spread by A.K. Tolstoy in his novella The Family of the Vourdalak (composed in French, but first published in Russian translation in 1884).
Greek λυκάνθρωπος and Germanic werewulf are parallel inasmuch as the concept of a shapeshifter becoming a wolf is expressed by means of a compound “wolf-man” or “man-wolf”.
Indo-European comparative mythology
The werewolf folkore found in Europe harks back to a common development during the Middle Ages, arising in the context of Christianisation, and the associated interpretation of pre-Christian mythology in Christian terms. Their underlying common origin can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European mythology, where lycanthropy is reconstructed as an aspect of the initiation of the warrior class. This is reflected in Iron Age Europe in the Tierkrieger depictions from the Germanic sphere, among others. The standard comparative overview of this aspect of Indo-European mythology is McCone (1987). Such transformations of “men into wolves” in pagan cult were associated with the devil from the early medieval perspective.
The concept of the werewolf in Western and Northern Europe is strongly influenced by the role of the wolf in Germanic paganism (e.g. the French loup-garou is ultimately a loan from the Germanic term), but there are related traditions in other parts of Europe which were not necessarily influenced by Germanic tradition, especially in Slavic Europe and the Balkans, and possibly in areas bordering the Indo-European sphere (the Caucasus) or where Indo-European cultures have been replaced by military conquest in the medieval era (Hungary, Anatolia).[clarification needed]
In his Man into Wolf (1948), Robert Eisler tried to cast the Indo-European tribal names meaning “wolf” or “wolf-men” in terms of “the European transition from fruit gathering to predatory hunting.”[clarification needed] 
A few references to men changing into wolves are found in Ancient Greek literature and mythology. Herodotus, in his Histories, wrote that the Neuri, a tribe he places to the north-east of Scythia, were all transformed into wolves once every year for several days, and then changed back to their human shape. In the second century BC, the Greek geographer Pausanias related the story of Lycaon, who was transformed into a wolf because he had ritually murdered a child. In accounts by the Bibliotheca (3.8.1) and Ovid (Metamorphoses I.219-239), Lycaon serves human flesh to Zeus, wanting to know if he is really a god. Lycaon’s transformation, therefore, is punishment for a crime, considered variously as murder, cannibalism, and impiety. Ovid also relates stories of men who roamed the woods of Arcadia in the form of wolves.
In addition to Ovid, other Roman writers also mentioned lycanthropy. Virgil wrote of human beings transforming into wolves. Pliny the Elder relates two tales of lycanthropy. Quoting Euanthes, he mentions a man who hung his clothes on an ash tree and swam across an Arcadian lake, transforming him into a wolf. On the condition that he attack no human being for nine years, he would be free to swim back across the lake to resume human form. Pliny also quotes Agriopas regarding a tale of a man who was turned into a wolf after tasting the entrails of a human child, but was restored to human form 10 years later.
In the Latin work of prose, the Satyricon, written about 60 C.E. by Gaius Petronius Arbiter, one of the characters, Niceros, tells a story at a banquet about a friend who turned into a wolf (chs. 61-62). He describes the incident as follows, “When I look for my buddy I see he’d stripped and piled his clothes by the roadside… He pees in a circle round his clothes and then, just like that, turns into a wolf!… after he turned into a wolf he started howling and then ran off into the woods.”
There was no widespread belief in werewolves in medieval Europe before the 14th century. There were some examples of man-wolf transformations in the court literature of the time, notably Marie de France‘s poem Bisclavret (c. 1200), in which the nobleman Bizuneh, for reasons not described, had to transform into a wolf every week. When his treacherous wife stole his clothing needed to restore his human form, he escaped the king’s wolf hunt by imploring the king for mercy and accompanied the king thereafter. His behaviour at court was so much gentler than when his wife and her new husband appeared at court, that his hateful attack on the couple was deemed justly motivated, and the truth was revealed.
The German word werwolf is recorded by Burchard von Worms in the 11th century, and by Bertold of Regensburg in the 13th, but is not recorded in all of medieval German poetry or fiction. References to werewolves are also rare in England, presumably because whatever significance the “wolf-men” of Germanic paganism had carried, the associated beliefs and practices had been successfully repressed after Christianization (or if they persisted, they did so outside of the sphere of literacy available to us).
The Germanic pagan traditions associated with wolf-men persisted longest in the Scandinavian Viking Age. Harald I of Norway is known to have had a body of Úlfhednar (wolf coated [men]), which are mentioned in the Vatnsdœla saga, Haraldskvæði, and the Völsunga saga, and resemble some werewolf legends. The Úlfhednar were fighters similar to the berserkers, though they dressed in wolf hides rather than those of bears and were reputed to channel the spirits of these animals to enhance effectiveness in battle. These warriors were resistant to pain and killed viciously in battle, much like wild animals. Úlfhednar and berserkers are closely associated with the Norse god Odin.
The Scandinavian traditions of this period may have spread to Rus, giving rise to the Slavic “werewolf” tales. The 11th century Belarusian Prince Usiaslau of Polatsk was considered to have been a Werewolf, capable of moving at superhuman speeds, as recounted in The Tale of Igor’s Campaign:
“Vseslav the prince judged men; as prince, he ruled towns; but at night he prowled in the guise of a wolf. From Kiev, prowling, he reached, before the cocks crew, Tmutorokan. The path of Great Sun, as a wolf, prowling, he crossed. For him in Polotsk they rang for matins early at St. Sophia the bells; but he heard the ringing in Kiev.”
The situation as described during the medieval period gives rise to the dual form of werewolf folklore in Early Modern Europe. On one hand the “Germanic” werewolf, which becomes associated with the witchcraft panic from around 1400, and on the other hand the “Slavic” werewolf or vlkodlak, which becomes associated with the concept of the revenant or “vampire”. The “eastern” werewolf-vampire is found in the folklore of Cebral/Eastern Europe, including Hungary, Romania and the Balkans, while the “western” werewolf-sorcerer is found in France, German-speaking Europe and in the Baltic.
Early Modern history
There were numerous reports of werewolf attacks – and consequent court trials – in 16th century France. In some of the cases there was clear evidence against the accused of murder and cannibalism, but none of association with wolves; in other cases people have been terrified by such creatures, such as that of Gilles Garnier in Dole in 1573, there was clear evidence against some wolf but none against the accused. The loup-garou eventually ceased to be regarded as a dangerous heretic and reverted to the pre-Christian notion of a “man-wolf-fiend”. The lubins or lupins were usually female and shy in contrast to the aggressive loups-garous.
Werewolvery was a common accusation in witch trials throughout their history, and it featured even in the Valais witch trials, one of the earliest such trials altogether, in the first half of the 15th century. Likewise, in the Vaud, child-eating werewolves were reported as early as 1448. A peak of attention to lycanthropy came in the late 16th to early 17th century, as part of the European witch-hunts. A number of treatises on werewolves were written in France during 1595 and 1615. Werewolves were sighted in 1598 in Anjou, and a teenage werewolf was sentenced to life imprisonment in Bordeaux in 1603. Henry Boguet wrote a lengthy chapter about werewolves in 1602. In the Vaud, werewolves were convicted in 1602 and in 1624. A treatise by a Vaud pastor in 1653, however, argued that lycanthropy was purely an illusion. After this, the only further record from the Vaud dates to 1670: it is that of a boy who claimed he and his mother could change themselves into wolves, which was, however, not taken seriously. At the beginning of the 17th century witchcraft was prosecuted by James I of England, who regarded “warwoolfes” as victims of delusion induced by “a natural superabundance of melancholic”. After 1650, belief in Lycanthropy had mostly disappeared from French-speaking Europe, as evidenced in Diderot’s Encyclopedia, which attributed reports of lycanthropy to a “disorder of the brain. although there were continuing reports of extraordinary wolf-like beasts (but not werewolves). One such report concerned the Beast of Gévaudan which terrorized the general area of the former province of Gévaudan, now called Lozère, in south-central France; from the years 1764 to 1767, an unknown entity killed upwards of 80 men, women, and children. The only part of Europe which showed vigorous interest in werewolves after 1650 was the Holy Roman Empire. At least nine works on lycanthropy were printed in Germany between 1649 and 1679. In the Austrian and Bavarian Alps, belief in werewolves persisted well into the 18th century.
Until the 20th century, wolf attacks on humans were an occasional, but still widespread feature of life in Europe. Some scholars have suggested that it was inevitable that wolves, being the most feared predators in Europe, were projected into the folklore of evil shapeshifters. This is said to be corroborated by the fact that areas devoid of wolves typically use different kinds of predator to fill the niche; werehyenas in Africa, weretigers in India, as well as werepumas (“runa uturuncu“) and werejaguars (“yaguaraté-abá” or “tigre-capiango“) in southern South America.
An idea is explored in Sabine Baring-Gould‘s work The Book of Werewolves is that werewolf legends may have been used to explain serial killings. Perhaps the most famous example is the case of Peter Stumpp (executed in 1589), the German farmer, and alleged serial killer and cannibal, also known as the Werewolf of Bedburg.
Common Turkic folklore holds a different, reverential light to the werewolf legends in that Turkic Central Asian shamans after performing long and arduous rites would voluntarily be able to transform into the humanoid “Kurtadam” (literally meaning Wolfman). Since the wolf was the totemic ancestor animal of the Turkic peoples, they would be respectful of any shaman who was in such a form.
Lycanthropy as a medical condition
Some modern researchers have tried to explain the reports of werewolf behaviour with recognised medical conditions. Dr Lee Illis of Guy’s Hospital in London wrote a paper in 1963 entitled On Porphyria and the Aetiology of Werewolves, in which he argues that historical accounts on werewolves could have in fact been referring to victims of congenital porphyria, stating how the symptoms of photosensitivity, reddish teeth and psychosis could have been grounds for accusing a sufferer of being a werewolf. This is however argued against by Woodward, who points out how mythological werewolves were almost invariably portrayed as resembling true wolves, and that their human forms were rarely physically conspicuous as porphyria victims. Others have pointed out the possibility of historical werewolves having been sufferers of hypertrichosis, a hereditary condition manifesting itself in excessive hair growth. However, Woodward dismissed the possibility, as the rarity of the disease ruled it out from happening on a large scale, as werewolf cases were in medieval Europe. People suffering from Down syndrome have been suggested by some scholars to have been possible originators of werewolf myths. Woodward suggested rabies as the origin of werewolf beliefs, claiming remarkable similarities between the symptoms of that disease and some of the legends. Woodward focused on the idea that being bitten by a werewolf could result in the victim turning into one, which suggested the idea of a transmittable disease like rabies. However, the idea that lycanthropy could be transmitted in this way is not part of the original myths and legends and only appears in relatively recent beliefs. Lycanthropy can also be met with as the main content of a delusion, for example, the case of a woman has been reported who during episodes of acute psychosis complained of becoming four different species of animals.
The beliefs classed together under lycanthropy are far from uniform, and the term is somewhat capriciously applied. The transformation may be temporary or permanent; the were-animal may be the man himself metamorphosed; may be his double whose activity leaves the real man to all appearance unchanged; may be his soul, which goes forth seeking whom it may devour, leaving its body in a state of trance; or it may be no more than the messenger of the human being, a real animal or a familiar spirit, whose intimate connection with its owner is shown by the fact that any injury to it is believed, by a phenomenon known as repercussion, to cause a corresponding injury to the human being.
Werewolves were said in European folklore to bear tell-tale physical traits even in their human form. These included the meeting of both eyebrows at the bridge of the nose, curved fingernails, low-set ears and a swinging stride. One method of identifying a werewolf in its human form was to cut the flesh of the accused, under the pretense that fur would be seen within the wound. A Russian superstition recalls a werewolf can be recognised by bristles under the tongue. The appearance of a werewolf in its animal form varies from culture to culture, though it is most commonly portrayed as being indistinguishable from ordinary wolves save for the fact that it has no tail (a trait thought characteristic of witches in animal form), is often larger, and retains human eyes and voice. According to some Swedish accounts, the werewolf could be distinguished from a regular wolf by the fact that it would run on three legs, stretching the fourth one backwards to look like a tail. After returning to their human forms, werewolves are usually documented as becoming weak, debilitated and undergoing painful nervous depression. One universally reviled trait in medieval Europe was the werewolf’s habit of devouring recently buried corpses, a trait that is documented extensively, particularly in the Annales Medico-psychologiques in the 19th century. Fennoscandian werewolves were usually old women who possessed poison-coated claws and had the ability to paralyse cattle and children with their gaze.
Becoming a werewolf
Various methods for becoming a werewolf have been reported, one of the simplest being the removal of clothing and putting on a belt made of wolfskin, probably as a substitute for the assumption of an entire animal skin (which also is frequently described). In other cases, the body is rubbed with a magic salve. Drinking rainwater out of the footprint of the animal in question or from certain enchanted streams were also considered effectual modes of accomplishing metamorphosis. The 16th century Swedish writer Olaus Magnus says that the Livonian werewolves were initiated by draining a cup of specially prepared beer and repeating a set formula. Ralston in his Songs of the Russian People gives the form of incantation still familiar in Russia. In Italy, France and Germany, it was said that a man or woman could turn into a werewolf if he or she, on a certain Wednesday or Friday, slept outside on a summer night with the full moon shining directly on his or her face.
In other cases, the transformation was supposedly accomplished by Satanic allegiance for the most loathsome ends, often for the sake of sating a craving for human flesh. “The werewolves”, writes Richard Verstegan (Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, 1628),
are certayne sorcerers, who having annoynted their bodies with an ointment which they make by the instinct of the devil, and putting on a certayne inchaunted girdle, does not only unto the view of others seem as wolves, but to their own thinking have both the shape and nature of wolves, so long as they wear the said girdle. And they do dispose themselves as very wolves, in worrying and killing, and most of humane creatures.
The phenomenon of repercussion, the power of animal metamorphosis, or of sending out a familiar, real or spiritual, as a messenger, and the supernormal powers conferred by association with such a familiar, are also attributed to the magician, male and female, all the world over; and witch superstitions are closely parallel to, if not identical with, lycanthropic beliefs, the occasional involuntary character of lycanthropy being almost the sole distinguishing feature. In another direction the phenomenon of repercussion is asserted to manifest itself in connection with the bush-soul of the West African and the nagual of Central America; but though there is no line of demarcation to be drawn on logical grounds, the assumed power of the magician and the intimate association of the bush-soul or the nagual with a human being are not termed lycanthropy. Nevertheless, it will be well to touch on both these beliefs here.
The curse of lycanthropy was also considered by some scholars as being a divine punishment. Werewolf literature shows many examples of God or saints allegedly cursing those who invoked their wrath with werewolfism. Such is the case of Lycaon, who was turned into a wolf by Zeus as punishment for slaughtering one of his own sons and serving his remains to the gods as a dinner. Those who were excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church were also said to become werewolves.
The power of transforming others into wild beasts was attributed not only to malignant sorcerers, but to Christian saints as well. Omnes angeli, boni et Mali, ex virtute naturali habent potestatem transmutandi corpora nostra (“All angels, good and bad have the power of transmutating our bodies”) was the dictum of St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Patrick was said to have transformed the Welsh king Vereticus into a wolf; Natalis supposedly cursed an illustrious Irish family whose members were each doomed to be a wolf for seven years. In other tales the divine agency is even more direct, while in Russia, again, men supposedly became werewolves when incurring the wrath of the Devil.
A notable exception to the association of Lycanthropy and the Devil, comes from a rare and lesser known account of an 80-year-old man named Thiess. In 1692, in Jürgensburg, Livonia, Thiess testified under oath that he and other werewolves were the Hounds of God. He claimed they were warriors who went down into hell to do battle with witches and demons. Their efforts ensured that the Devil and his minions did not carry off the grain from local failed crops down to hell. Thiess was steadfast in his assertions, claiming that werewolves in Germany and Russia also did battle with the devil’s minions in their own versions of hell, and insisted that when werewolves died, their souls were welcomed into heaven as reward for their service. Thiess was ultimately sentenced to ten lashes for Idolatry and superstitious belief.
Various methods have existed for removing the werewolf form. In antiquity, the Ancient Greeks and Romans believed in the power of exhaustion in curing people of lycanthropy. The victim would be subjected to long periods of physical activity in the hope of being purged of the malady. This practice stemmed from the fact that many alleged werewolves would be left feeling weak and debilitated after committing depredations.
In medieval Europe, traditionally, there are three methods one can use to cure a victim of werewolfism; medicinally (usually via the use of wolfsbane), surgically or by exorcism. However, many of the cures advocated by medieval medical practitioners proved fatal to the patients. A Sicilian belief of Arabic origin holds that a werewolf can be cured of its ailment by striking it on the forehead or scalp with a knife. Another belief from the same culture involves the piercing of the werewolf’s hands with nails. Sometimes, less extreme methods were used. In the German lowland of Schleswig-Holstein, a werewolf could be cured if one were to simply address it three times by its Christian name, while one Danish belief holds that simply scolding a werewolf will cure it. Conversion to Christianity is also a common method of removing werewolfism in the medieval period. A devotion to St. Hubert has also been cited as both cure for and protection from lycanthropes.
Connection to revenants
Before the end of the 19th century, the Greeks believed that the corpses of werewolves, if not destroyed, would return to life in the form of wolves or hyenas which prowled battlefields, drinking the blood of dying soldiers. In the same vein, in some rural areas of Germany, Poland and Northern France, it was once believed that people who died in mortal sin came back to life as blood-drinking wolves. These “undead” werewolves would return to their human corpse form at daylight. They were dealt with by decapitation with a spade and exorcism by the parish priest. The head would then be thrown into a stream, where the weight of its sins was thought to weigh it down. Sometimes, the same methods used to dispose of ordinary vampires would be used. The vampire was also linked to the werewolf in East European countries, particularly Bulgaria, Serbia and Slovenia. In Serbia, the werewolf and vampire are known collectively as vulkodlak.
Hungary and Balkans
In Hungarian folklore, the werewolves used to live specially in the region of Transdanubia, and it was thought that the ability to change into a wolf was obtained in the infant age, after the suffering of abuse by the parents or by a curse. At the age of seven the boy or the girl leaves the house and goes hunting by night and can change to person or wolf whenever he wants. The curse can also be obtained when in the adulthood the person passed three times through an arch made of a Birch with the help of a wild rose‘s spine.
The werewolves were known to exterminate all kind of farm animals, especially sheep. The transformation usually occurred in the Winter solstice, Easter and full moon. Later in the 17th and 18th century, the trials in Hungary not only were conducted against witches, but against werewolves too, and many records exist creating connections between both kinds. Also the vampires and werewolves are closely related in Hungary, being both feared in the antiquity.
Among the South Slavs, and also among the Kashubs of what is now northern Poland,[clarification needed] there was the belief that if a child was born with hair, a birthmark or a caul on their head, they were supposed to possess shape-shifting abilities. Though capable of turning into any animal they wished, it was commonly believed that such people preferred to turn into a wolf.
Serbian vulkodlaks traditionally had the habit of congregating annually in the winter months, when they would strip off their wolf skins and hang them from trees. They would then get a hold of another vulkodlaks skin and burn it, releasing from its curse the vulkodlak from whom the skin came.
According to Armenian lore, there are women who, in consequence of deadly sins, are condemned to spend seven years in wolf form. In a typical account, a condemned woman is visited by a wolfskin-toting spirit, who orders her to wear the skin, which causes her to acquire frightful cravings for human flesh soon after. With her better nature overcome, the she-wolf devours each of her own children, then her relatives’ children in order of relationship, and finally the children of strangers. She wanders only at night, with doors and locks springing open at her approach. When morning arrives, she reverts to human form and removes her wolfskin. The transformation is generally said to be involuntary, but there are alternate versions involving voluntary metamorphosis, where the women can transform at will.
Americas and Caribbean
Woodward thought that these beliefs were due to the Norse colonization of the Americas. When the European colonization of the Americas occurred, the pioneers brought their own werewolf folklore with them and were later influenced by the lore of their neighbouring colonies and those of the Natives. Belief in the loup-garou present in Canada, the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan and upstate New York, originates from French folklore influenced by Native American stories on the Wendigo. In Mexico, there is a belief in a creature called the nahual, which traditionally limits itself to stealing cheese and raping women rather than murder. In Haiti, there is a superstition that werewolf spirits known locally as Jé-rouge (red eyes) can possess the bodies of unwitting persons and nightly transform them into cannibalistic lupine creatures. The Haitian jé-rouges typically try to trick mothers into giving away their children voluntarily by waking them at night and asking their permission to take their child, to which the disoriented mother may either reply yes or no. The Haitian jé-rouges differ from traditional European werewolves by their habit of actively trying to spread their lycanthropic condition to others, much like vampires.
Most modern fiction describes werewolves as vulnerable to silver weapons and highly resistant to other injuries. This feature appears in German folklore of the 19th century. The claim that the Beast of Gévaudan, an 18th-century wolf or wolf-like creature, was shot by a silver bullet appears to have been introduced by novelists retelling the story from 1935 onwards and not in earlier versions. English Folk-lore, prior to 1865, showed shape shifters to be vulnerable to silver. “…till the publican shot a silver button over their heads when they were instantly transformed into two ill-favoured old ladies…” c. 1640 the city of Greifswald, Germany was infested by werewolves. “A clever lad suggested that they gather all their silver buttons, goblets, belt buckles, and so forth, and melt them down into bullets for their muskets and pistols. … this time they slaughtered the creatures and rid Greifswald of the lycanthropes.”
The 1897 novel Dracula and the short story Dracula’s Guest, both written by Bram Stoker, drew on earlier mythologies of werewolves and similar legendary demons and “was to voice the anxieties of an age”, and the “fears of late Victorian patriarchy“. In Dracula’s guest, a band of military horsemen coming to the aid of the protagonist chase off Dracula, depicted as a great wolf stating the only way to kill it is by a “Sacred Bullet”. This is also mentioned in the main novel Dracula as well. Count Dracula stated in the novel that legends of werewolves originated from his Szekely racial bloodline, who himself is also depicted with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf at will during the night but is unable to do so during the day except at noon.
The first feature film to use an anthropomorphic werewolf was Werewolf of London in 1935. The main werewolf of this film is a dapper London scientist who retains some of his style and most of his human features after his transformation, as lead actor Henry Hull was unwilling to spend long hours being made up by makeup artist Jack Pierce. Universal Studios drew on a Balkan tale of a plant associated with lycanthropy as there was no literary work to draw upon, unlike the case with vampires. There is no reference to silver nor other aspects of werewolf lore such as cannibalism.
A more tragic character is Lawrence Talbot, played by Lon Chaney, Jr. in 1941’s The Wolf Man. With Pierce’s makeup more elaborate this time, the movie catapulted the werewolf into public consciousness. Sympathetic portrayals are few but notable, such as the comedic but tortured protagonist David Naughton in An American Werewolf in London, and a less anguished and more confident and charismatic Jack Nicholson in the 1994 film Wolf. Over time, the depiction of werewolves has gone from fully malevolent to even heroic creatures, such as in the Underworld and Twilight series, as well as Dance in the Vampire Bund, Rosario+Vampire, and various other movies, anime, manga, and comic books.
Other werewolves are decidedly more willful and malevolent, such as those in the novel The Howling and its subsequent sequels and film adaptations. The form a werewolf assumes was generally anthropomorphic in early films such as The Wolf Man and Werewolf of London, but larger and powerful wolf in many later films.
Werewolves are often depicted as immune to damage caused by ordinary weapons, being vulnerable only to silver objects, such as a silver-tipped cane, bullet or blade; this attribute was first adopted cinematically in The Wolf Man. This negative reaction to silver is sometimes so strong that the mere touch of the metal on a werewolf’s skin will cause burns. Current-day werewolf fiction almost exclusively involves lycanthropy being either a hereditary condition or being transmitted like an infectious disease by the bite of another werewolf. In some fiction, the power of the werewolf extends to human form, such as invulnerability to conventional injury due to their healing factor, super-human speed and strength and falling on their feet from high falls. Also aggressiveness and animalistic urges may be intensified and harder to control (hunger, sexual arousal). Usually in these cases the abilities are diminished in human form. In other fiction it can be cured by medicine men or antidotes.
Along with the vulnerability to the silver bullet, the full moon being the cause of the transformation only became part of the depiction of werewolves on a widespead basis in the twentieth century. The first movie to feature the transformative effect of the full moon was the The Wolf Man in 1941.
Nazi Germany used Werwolf, as the mythical creature’s name is spelled in German, in 1942–43 as the codename for one of Hitler’s headquarters. In the war’s final days, the Nazi “Operation Werwolf” aimed at creating a commando force that would operate behind enemy lines as the Allies advanced through Germany itself.
Two fictional depictions of “Operation Werwolf”—the US television series True Blood and the 2012 novel Wolf Hunter, by J.L. Benét—mix the two meanings of “Werwolf” by depicting the 1945 diehard Nazi commandos as being actual werewolves.
The cover of the first edition
|Publisher||Archibald Constable and Company (UK)|
|26 May 1897 (1897-05-26TUK)|
The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
Dracula has been assigned to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, the gothic novel, and invasion literature. Stoker did not invent the vampire but he defined its modern form, and the novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film, and television interpretations.
The story is told in epistolary format, as a series of letters, diary entries, newspaper articles, and ships’ log entries, whose narrators are the novel’s protagonists, and occasionally supplemented with newspaper clippings relating events not directly witnessed. The events portrayed in the novel take place chronologically and largely in England and Transylvania during the 1890s and all transpire within the same year between the 3rd of May and the 6th of November. A short note is located at the end of the final chapter written 7 years after the events outlined in the novel.
The tale begins with Jonathan Harker, a newly qualified English solicitor, visiting Count Dracula in the Carpathian Mountains on the border of Transylvania, Bukovina, and Moldavia, to provide legal support for a real estate transaction overseen by Harker’s employer. At first enticed by Dracula’s gracious manners, Harker soon realizes that he is Dracula’s prisoner. Wandering the Count’s castle against Dracula’s admonition, Harker encounters three female vampires, called “the sisters“, from whom he is rescued by Dracula. After the preparations are made, Dracula leaves Transylvania and abandons Harker to the sisters. Harker barely escapes from the castle with his life.
Not long afterward, a Russian ship, the Demeter, having weighed anchor at Varna, runs aground on the shores of Whitby in the east coast of England. The captain’s log narrates the gradual disappearance of the entire crew, until the captain alone remained, himself bound to the helm to maintain course. An animal resembling “a large dog” is seen leaping ashore. The ship’s cargo is described as silver sand and 50 boxes of “mould”, or earth, from Transylvania. It is later learned that Dracula successfully purchased multiple estates under the alias ‘Count De Ville’ throughout London and devised to distribute the 50 boxes to each of them utilizing transportation services as well as moving them himself. He does this to secure for himself “lairs” and the 50 boxes of earth would be used as his graves which would grant safety and rest during times of feeding and replenishing his strength.
Soon Dracula is indirectly shown to be stalking Lucy Westenra, who is holidaying in Whitby. As time passes she begins to suffer from episodes of sleepwalking and dementia, as witnessed by her friend Mina Murray, the fiancée of Jonathan Harker. Lucy receives three marriage proposals from Dr. John Seward, Quincey Morris, and Arthur Holmwood (the son of Lord Godalming who later obtains the title himself). Lucy accepts Holmwood’s proposal while turning down Seward and Morris, but all remain friends. Dracula communicates with Seward’s patient Renfield, an insane man who wishes to consume insects, spiders, birds, and rats to absorb their “life force”. Renfield is able to detect Dracula’s presence and supplies clues accordingly.
When Lucy begins to waste away suspiciously, Seward invites his old teacher, Abraham Van Helsing, who immediately determines the true cause of Lucy’s condition. He refuses to disclose it but diagnoses her with acute blood-loss. Helsing prescribes numerous blood transfusions to which Dr. Seward, Helsing, Quincey and Arthur all contribute over time. Helsing also prescribes flowers to be placed throughout her room and weaves a necklace of withered Garlic Blossoms for her to wear as well. She however continues to waste away – appearing to lose blood every night. While both doctors are absent, Lucy and her mother are attacked by a wolf; Mrs. Westenra, who has a heart condition, dies of fright. Van Helsing attempts to protect her with garlic but fate thwarts him each night, whether Lucy’s mother removes the garlic from her room, or Lucy herself does so in her restless sleep. The doctors have found two small puncture marks about her neck, which Dr. Seward is at a loss to understand. Helsing then places a crucifix around her neck, but soon after she is discovered dead with the crucifix missing. Helsing discovers that one of the nurses stole it the night before.
Following Lucy’s death, the newspapers report children being stalked in the night by a “bloofer lady” (i.e., “beautiful lady”). Van Helsing, knowing Lucy has become a vampire, confides in Seward, Lord Godalming, and Morris. The suitors and Van Helsing track her down and, after a confrontation with her, stake her heart, behead her, and fill her mouth with garlic. Around the same time, Jonathan Harker arrives from Budapest, where Mina marries him after his escape, and he and Mina join the campaign against Dracula.
The vampire hunters stay at Dr. Seward’s residence, holding nightly meetings and providing reports based on each of their various tasks. Mina discovers that each of their journals and letters collectively contain clues to which they can track him down. She tasks herself with collecting them, researching newspaper clippings, fitting the most relevant entries into chronological order and typing out copies to distribute to each of the party which they are to study. Jonathan Harker tracks down the shipments of boxed graves and the estates which Dracula has purchased in order to store them. Van Helsing conducts research along with Dr. Seward to analyze the behaviour of their patient Renfield who they learn is directly influenced by Dracula. They also research historical events, folklore, and superstitions from various cultures to understand Dracula’s powers and weaknesses. Van Helsing also establishes a criminal profile on Dracula in order to better understand his actions and predict his movements. Arthur Holmwood’s fortune assists in funding the entire operation and expenses. As they learn the various properties Dracula had purchased, the male protagonists team up to raid each property and are several times confronted by Dracula. As they discover each of the boxed graves scattered throughout London, they pry them open to place and seal wafers of sacramental bread within. This act renders the boxes of earth completely useless to Dracula as he is unable to open, enter or further transport them.
After Dracula learns of the group’s plot against him, he attacks Mina on three occasions, and feeds Mina his own blood to control her. This curses Mina with vampirism and changes her but does not completely turn her into a vampire. Van Helsing attempts to bless Mina through prayer and by placing a wafer of sacrament against her forehead, although it burns her upon contact leaving a wretched scar. Under this curse, Mina oscillates from consciousness to a semi-trance during which she perceives Dracula’s surroundings and actions. Van Helsing is able to use hypnotism at the hour of dawn and put her into this trance to further track his movements. Mina, afraid of Dracula’s link with her, urges the team not to tell her their plans out of fear that Dracula will be listening. After the protagonists discover and sterilize 49 boxes found throughout his lairs in London, they learn that Dracula has fled with the missing 50th box back to his castle in Transylvania. They pursue him under the guidance of Mina. They split up into teams once they reach Europe; Van Helsing and Mina team up to locate the castle of Dracula while the others attempt to ambush the boat Dracula is using to reach his home. Van Helsing raids the castle and destroys the vampire “sisters”. Upon discovering Dracula being transported by Gypsies, Harker shears Dracula through the throat with a kukri while the mortally wounded Quincey stabs the Count in the heart with a Bowie knife. Dracula crumbles to dust, and Mina is freed from her curse of vampirism.
The book closes with a note left by Jonathan Harker seven years after the events of the novel, detailing his married life with Mina and the birth of their son, whom they name after all four members of the party, but address as “Quincey”. Quincey is depicted sitting on the knee of Van Helsing as they recount their adventure.
The short story “Dracula’s Guest” was posthumously published in 1914, two years after Stoker’s death. It was, according to most contemporary critics, the deleted first (or second) chapter from the original manuscript and the one which gave the volume its name,:325 but which the original publishers deemed unnecessary to the overall story.
“Dracula’s Guest” follows an unnamed Englishman traveller as he wanders around Munich before leaving for Transylvania. It is Walpurgis Night and the young Englishman foolishly leaves his hotel, in spite of the coachman’s warnings, and wanders through a dense forest alone. Along the way, he feels that he is being watched by a tall and thin stranger (possibly Count Dracula).
The short story climaxes in an old graveyard, where the Englishman encounters a sleeping female vampire called Countess Dolingen in a marble tomb with a large iron stake driven into it. This malevolent and beautiful vampire awakens from her marble bier to conjure a snowstorm before being struck by lightning and returning to her eternal prison. However, the Englishman’s troubles are not quite over, as he is dragged away by an unseen force and rendered unconscious. He awakens to find a “gigantic” wolf lying on his chest and licking at his throat; however, the wolf merely keeps him warm and protects him until help arrives.
When the Englishman is finally taken back to his hotel, a telegram awaits him from his expectant host Dracula, with a warning about “dangers from snow and wolves and night”.
A small section was removed from a draft of the final chapter, in which Dracula’s castle falls apart as he dies, hiding the fact that vampires were ever there.
As we looked there came a terrible convulsion of the earth so that we seemed to rock to and fro and fell to our knees. At the same moment with a roar which seemed to shake the very heavens the whole castle and the rock and even the hill on which it stood seemed to rise into the air and scatter in fragments while a mighty cloud of black and yellow smoke volume on volume in rolling grandeur was shot upwards with inconceivable rapidity.
Then there was a stillness in nature as the echoes of that thunderous report seemed to come as with the hollow boom of a thunder-clap – the long reverberating roll which seems as though the floors of heaven shook. Then down in a mighty ruin falling whence they rose came the fragments that had been tossed skywards in the cataclysm.
From where we stood it seemed as though the one fierce volcano burst had satisfied the need of nature and that the castle and the structure of the hill had sunk again into the void. We were so appalled with the suddenness and the grandeur that we forgot to think of ourselves.— Deleted excerpt from the original Dracula manuscript
- Jonathan Harker: A solicitor sent to do business with Count Dracula; Mina’s fiancé and prisoner in Dracula’s castle.
- Count Dracula: A Transylvanian noble who has purchased a house in London.
- Wilhelmina “Mina” Harker (née Murray): A schoolteacher and Jonathan Harker’s fiancée (later his wife).
- Lucy Westenra: A 19-year-old aristocrat; Mina’s best friend; Arthur’s fiancée and Dracula’s first victim.
- Arthur Holmwood: Lucy’s suitor and later fiancé. He inherits the title of Lord Godalming upon his father’s death.
- John Seward: A doctor; one of Lucy’s suitors and a former student of Van Helsing.
- Abraham Van Helsing: A Dutch doctor, lawyer and professor; John Seward’s teacher.
- Quincey Morris: An American cowboy and explorer; and one of Lucy’s suitors.
- Renfield: A patient at Seward’s insane asylum who has come under the influence of Dracula.
- “Weird Sisters”: Three siren-like vampire women who serve Dracula. In some of the plays, films etc. that came after the novel they are referred to as the Brides of Dracula.
Between 1879 and 1898, Stoker was a business manager for the world-famous Lyceum Theatre in London, where he supplemented his income by writing a large number of sensational novels, his most famous being the vampire tale Dracula published on 26 May 1897.:269 Parts of it are set around the town of Whitby, where he spent summer holidays.
Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, authors such as H. Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, and H. G. Wells wrote many tales in which fantastic creatures threatened the British Empire. Invasion literature was at a peak, and Stoker’s formula was very familiar by 1897 to readers of fantastic adventure stories, of an invasion of England by continental European influences. Victorian readers enjoyed Dracula as a good adventure story like many others, but it did not reach its iconic legendary status until later in the 20th century when film versions began to appear.
Before writing Dracula, Stoker spent seven years researching European folklore and stories of vampires, being most influenced by Emily Gerard‘s 1885 essay “Transylvania Superstitions”. Later he also claimed that he had a nightmare, caused by eating too much crab meat covered with mayonnaise sauce, about a “vampire king” rising from his grave.
Despite being the most widely known vampire novel, Dracula was not the first. It was preceded and partly inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu‘s 1871 Carmilla, about a lesbian vampire who preys on a lonely young woman, and by Varney the Vampire, a lengthy penny dreadful serial from the mid-Victorian period by James Malcolm Rymer. John Polidori created the image of a vampire portrayed as an aristocratic man, like the character of Dracula, in his tale “The Vampyre” (1819). (He wrote Vampyre during a summer which he spent with Frankenstein creator Mary Shelley, her husband poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron in 1816.)
The Lyceum Theatre where Stoker worked between 1878 and 1898 was headed by actor-manager Henry Irving, who was Stoker’s real-life inspiration for Dracula’s mannerisms and who Stoker hoped would play Dracula in a stage version. Irving never did agree to do a stage version, but Dracula’s dramatic sweeping gestures and gentlemanly mannerisms drew their living embodiment from Irving.
The Dead Un-Dead was one of Stoker’s original titles for Dracula, and the manuscript was entitled simply The Un-Dead up until a few weeks before publication. Stoker’s notes for Dracula show that the name of the count was originally “Count Wampyr”, but Stoker became intrigued by the name “Dracula” while doing research, after reading William Wilkinson‘s book An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia with Political Observations Relative to Them (London 1820), which he found in the Whitby Library and consulted a number of times during visits to Whitby in the 1890s. The name Dracula was the patronym (Drăculea) of the descendants of Vlad II of Wallachia, who took the name “Dracul” after being invested in the Order of the Dragon in 1431. In the Romanian language, the word dracul (Romanian drac “dragon” + -ul “the”) can mean either “the dragon” or, especially in the present day, “the devil”.
Dracula was copyrighted in the United States in 1899 with the publication by Doubleday & McClure of New York. But when Universal Studios purchased the rights, it came to light that Bram Stoker had not complied with a portion of US copyright law, placing the novel into the public domain. In the United Kingdom and other countries following the Berne Convention on copyrights, the novel was under copyright until April 1962, fifty years after Stoker’s death.
F. W. Murnau‘s unauthorized film adaptation Nosferatu was released in 1922, and the popularity of the novel increased considerably, owing to the controversy caused when Stoker’s widow tried to have the film removed from public circulation. Florence Stoker sued the film company and won; however, the company was bankrupt, and Stoker only recovered her legal fees and an order by the court for all copies of the film to be destroyed. Some copies survived and found their way into theatres. Eventually, Florence Stoker simply gave up the fight against public displays of the film.
Reaction and scholarly criticism
Dracula was not an immediate bestseller when it was first published in 1897, although reviewers were unstinting in their praise. The contemporary Daily Mail ranked Stoker’s powers above those of Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe, as well as Emily Brontë‘s Wuthering Heights.
According to literary historians Nina Auerbach and David J. Skal in the Norton Critical Edition, the novel has become more significant for modern readers than it was for Victorian readers, most of whom enjoyed it just as a good adventure story. It reached its broad and iconic status only later in the 20th century when the movie versions appeared. A. Asbjørn Jøn has also noted that Dracula has had a significant impact on the image of the vampire in popular culture, folklore, and legend.
It did not make much money for Stoker. The last year of his life, he was so poor that he had to petition for a compassionate grant from the Royal Literary Fund, and his widow was forced to sell his notes and outlines of the novel at a Sotheby’s auction in 1913, where they were purchased for a little over 2 pounds. But then F. W. Murnau’s unauthorized adaptation of the story was released in theatres in 1922 in the form of Nosferatu. Stoker’s widow took affront and, during the legal battle that followed, the novel’s popularity started to grow.
Nosferatu was followed by a highly successful stage adaptation, touring the UK for three years before arriving in the US where Stoker’s creation caught Hollywood’s attention and, after the American 1931 movie version was released, the book has never been out of print.
However, some Victorian fans were ahead of the time, describing it as “the sensation of the season” and “the most blood-curdling novel of the paralysed century”. Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote to Stoker in a letter, “I write to tell you how very much I have enjoyed reading Dracula. I think it is the very best story of diablerie which I have read for many years.” The Daily Mail review of 1 June 1897 proclaimed it a classic of Gothic horror, “In seeking a parallel to this weird, powerful, and horrorful story our mind reverts to such tales as The Mysteries of Udolpho, Frankenstein, The Fall of the House of Usher … but Dracula is even more appalling in its gloomy fascination than any one of these.”
Similarly good reviews appeared when the book was published in the U.S. in 1899. The first American edition was published by Doubleday & McClure in New York.
In the last several decades, literary and cultural scholars have offered diverse analyses of Stoker’s novel and the character of Count Dracula. C.F. Bentley reads Dracula as an embodiment of the Freudian id. Carol A. Senf reads the novel as a response to the powerful New Woman, while Christopher Craft sees Dracula as embodying latent homosexuality. Stephen D. Arata interprets the events of the novel as anxiety over colonialism and racial mixing, and Talia Schaffer construes the novel as an indictment of Oscar Wilde. Franco Moretti reads Dracula as a figure of monopoly capitalism, though Hollis Robbins suggests that Dracula’s inability to participate in social conventions and to forge business partnerships undermines his power. Richard Noll reads Dracula within the context of 19th century alienism (psychiatry) and asylum medicine. D. Bruno Starrs understands the novel to be a pro-Catholic pamphlet promoting proselytization.
Historical and geographical references
Dracula is a work of fiction, but it does contain some historical references—though it is a matter of conjecture and debate as to how much historical connection was deliberate on Stoker’s part.
Popular attention was drawn to the supposed connections between the historical Transylvanian-born Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia and Bram Stoker’s fictional Dracula, following the publication of In Search of Dracula by Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally in 1972. During his main reign (1456–1462), “Vlad the Impaler” is said to have killed from 40,000 to 100,000 European civilians (political rivals, criminals, and anyone that he considered “useless to humanity”), mainly by impaling. The sources depicting these events are records by Saxon settlers in neighbouring Transylvania who had frequent clashes with Vlad III. Vlad III is revered as a folk hero by Romanians for driving off the invading Ottoman Turks, of whom his impaled victims are said to have included as many as 100,000.
Historically, the name “Dracula” is derived from a Chivalric order called the Order of the Dragon, founded by Sigismund of Luxembourg (then king of Hungary) to uphold Christianity and defend the Empire against the Ottoman Turks. Vlad II Dracul, father of Vlad III, was admitted to the order around 1431, after which Vlad II wore the emblem of the order and later, as ruler of Wallachia, his coinage bore the dragon symbol, from which the name “Dracula” is derived. People of Wallachia only knew voievod (king) Vlad III as Vlad Țepeș (the Impaler). The name “Dracula” became popular in Romania after publication of Stoker’s book. Contrary to popular belief, the name Dracula does not translate to “son of the devil” in Romanian, which would be “pui de drac“.
Stoker came across the name Dracula in his reading on Romanian history, and chose this to replace the name (Count Wampyr) originally intended for his villain. Some Dracula scholars led by Elizabeth Miller argue that Stoker knew little of the historic Vlad III except for the name “Dracula”, whereas Stoker mentions the Dracula who fought against the Turks and was later betrayed by his brother, historical facts in the novel which unequivocally point to Vlad III:
Who was it but one of my own race who as Voivode crossed the Danube and beat the Turk on his own ground? This was a Dracula indeed! Woe was it that his own unworthy brother, when he had fallen, sold his people to the Turk and brought the shame of slavery on them! Was it not this Dracula, indeed, who inspired that other of his race who in a later age again and again brought his forces over the great river into Turkey-land; who, when he was beaten back, came again, and again, though he had to come alone from the bloody field where his troops were being slaughtered, since he knew that he alone could ultimately triumph! (Chapter 3, pp 19)
The Count’s identity is later speculated on by Professor Van Helsing:
He must, indeed, have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land. (Chapter 18, p 145)
Many of Stoker’s biographers and literary critics have found strong similarities to the earlier Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu‘s classic of the vampire genre Carmilla. In writing Dracula, Stoker may also have drawn on stories about the sídhe, some of which feature blood-drinking women. The folkloric figure of Abhartach has also been suggested as a source.
In 1983, McNally additionally suggested that Stoker was influenced by the history of Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who tortured and killed between 36 and 700 young women. It was later commonly believed that she committed these crimes to bathe in their blood, believing that this preserved her youth.
In her book The Essential Dracula, Clare Haword-Maden suggested that the castle of Count Dracula was inspired by Slains Castle, at which Bram Stoker was a guest of the 19th Earl of Erroll. According to Miller, he first visited Cruden Bay in 1893, three years after work had begun on Dracula. Haining and Tremaine maintain that, during this visit, Stoker was especially impressed by Slains Castle’s interior and the surrounding landscape. Miller and Leatherdale question the stringency of this connection.
Possibly, Stoker was not inspired by a real edifice at all, but by Jules Verne‘s novel The Carpathian Castle (1892) or Anne Radcliffe‘s The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794). A third possibility is that he copied information about a castle at Vécs from one of his sources on Transylvania, the book by Major E.C. Johnson. A further option is that Stoker saw an illustration of Castle Bran (Törzburg) in the book on Transylvania by Charles Boner, or read about it in the books by Mazuchelli or Crosse.
Many of the scenes in Whitby and London are based on real places that Stoker frequently visited, although he distorts the geography for the sake of the story in some cases. One scholar has suggested that Stoker chose Whitby as the site of Dracula’s first appearance in England because of the Synod of Whitby, given the novel’s preoccupation with timekeeping and calendar disputes.
Daniel Farson, Leonard Wolf, and Peter Haining have suggested that Stoker received much historical information from Ármin Vámbéry, a Hungarian professor whom he met at least twice. Miller argues, “there is nothing to indicate that the conversation included Vlad, vampires, or even Transylvania”, and “furthermore, there is no record of any other correspondence between Stoker and Vámbéry, nor is Vámbéry mentioned in Stoker’s notes for Dracula.”
The story of Dracula has been the basis for numerous films and plays. Stoker himself wrote the first theatrical adaptation, which was presented at the Lyceum Theatre under the title Dracula, or The Undead shortly before the novel’s publication and performed only once. The first motion picture to feature Dracula was Dracula’s Death, produced in Hungary in 1921. The now-lost film, however, was not an adaptation of Stoker’s novel, but featured an original story. In 1922, German director F. W. Murnau directed Nosferatu. Prana Film, the production company, had been unable to obtain permission to adapt the story from Bram’s widow Florence Stoker, so screenwriter Henrik Galeen was told to alter numerous details to avoid legal trouble. Galeen transplanted the action of the story from 1890s England to 1830s Germany and reworked several characters, dropping some (such as Lucy and all three of her suitors), and renaming others (Dracula became Orlok, Jonathan Harker became Thomas Hutter, Mina became Ellen, and so on). This attempt failed to avoid prosecution, however; Florence Stoker sued Prana Film, and all prints of the film were ordered destroyed. The film did survive the court-ordered purge, and subsequent rereleases have typically undone some of the changes, most notably restoring the original character names (a practice also followed by Werner Herzog in his 1979 remake of Murnau’s film Nosferatu the Vampyre).
Following Nosferatu, Florence Stoker licensed the story to playwright Hamilton Deane, whose 1924 stage play adaptation toured England for several years before settling down in London. In 1927, American stage producer Horace Liveright hired John L. Balderston to revise Deane’s script in advance of its American premiere. Balderston significantly compressed the story, most notably consolidating or removing several characters. The Deane play and its Balderston revisions introduced an expanded role and history for Renfield, who now replaced Jonathan Harker as Dracula’s solicitor in the first part of the story; combined Mina Harker and Lucy Westenra into a single character (named Lucy); and omitted both Arthur Holmwood and Quincey Morris entirely. When the play premiered in New York, it was with Bela Lugosi in the title role, and with Edward van Sloan as Abraham Van Helsing, roles which both actors (as well as Herbert Bunston as Dr. Seward) reprised for the English-language version of the 1931 Universal Studios film production. The 1931 film was one of the most commercially successful adaptations of the story to date; it and the Deane/Balderston play that preceded it set the standard for film and television adaptations of the story, with the alterations to the novel becoming standard for later adaptations for decades to come. Universal Studios continued to feature the character of Dracula in many of their horror films from the 1930s and 1940s.
In 1958, British film company Hammer Film Productions followed the success of its The Curse of Frankenstein from the previous year with Dracula, released in the US as The Horror of Dracula, directed by Terence Fisher. Fisher’s production featured Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, but it diverged considerably from both the original novel and from the Deane/Balderston adaptation. It was an international hit for Hammer Film, however, and both Lee and Cushing reprised their roles multiple times over the next decade and a half, concluding with The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (with Cushing but not Lee) in 1974. Christopher Lee also took on the role of Dracula in Count Dracula, a 1970 Spanish-Italian-German coproduction notable for its adherence to the plot of the original novel. (For instance, it was the first film version of the story to include the character of Quincey Morris.) Playing the part of Renfield in that version was Klaus Kinski, who later played Dracula himself in 1979’s Nosferatu the Vampyre.
In 1977, the BBC made Count Dracula, a 155-minute adaptation for television starring Louis Jourdan. Later film adaptations include John Badham‘s 1979 Dracula, starring Frank Langella and inspired by the 1977 Broadway revival of the Deane/Hamilton play, and Francis Ford Coppola‘s 1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula, starring Gary Oldman. The character of Count Dracula has remained popular over the years, and many films have used the character as a villain, while others have named him in their titles, including Dracula’s Daughter and The Brides of Dracula. As of 2009, an estimated 217 films feature Dracula in a major role, a number second only to Sherlock Holmes (223 films). A large number of these appearances are not adaptations of Stoker’s novel, but merely feature the character in an unrelated story.
Volume I, first edition
|Genre||Gothic novel, Horror fiction, Soft science fiction|
|Published||1818 (Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones)|
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley that tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a grotesque but sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition of the novel was published anonymously in London in 1818, when she was 20. Her name first appeared on the second edition, published in France in 1823.
Shelley travelled through Europe in 1814, journeying along the River Rhine in Germany with a stop in Gernsheim which is just 17 km (10 mi) away from Frankenstein Castle, where, two centuries before, an alchemist was engaged in experiments. Later, she travelled in the region of Geneva (Switzerland)—where much of the story takes place—and the topic of galvanism and other similar occult ideas were themes of conversation among her companions, particularly her lover and future husband, Percy Shelley. Mary, Percy, Lord Byron and John Polidori decided to have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for days, Shelley dreamt about a scientist who created life and was horrified by what he had made; her dream later evolved into the novel’s story.
Frankenstein is infused with elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement. At the same time, it is an early example of science fiction. Brian Aldiss has argued that it should be considered the first true science fiction story because, in contrast to previous stories with fantastical elements resembling those of later science fiction, the central character “makes a deliberate decision” and “turns to modern experiments in the laboratory” to achieve fantastic results. It has had a considerable influence in literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories, films and plays.
Since the novel’s publication, the name “Frankenstein” has often been used to refer to the monster itself, as it is in the stage adaptation by Peggy Webling. This usage is sometimes considered erroneous, but usage commentators regard it as well-established and acceptable. In the novel, the monster is identified by words such as “wretch”, “creature”, “monster”, “demon”, and “it”. Speaking to Victor Frankenstein, the wretch refers to himself as “the Adam of your labours”, and elsewhere as someone who “would have” been “your Adam”, but is instead “your fallen angel.”
- 1 Summary
- 2 Composition
- 3 Publication
- 4 Frankenstein and the Monster
- 5 Shelley’s sources
- 6 Reception
- 7 Derivative works
- 8 Films, plays and television
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Frankenstein is written in the form of a frame story that starts with Captain Robert Walton writing letters to his sister. It takes place at an unspecified time in the 18th century, as the letters’ dates are given as “17—”.
Captain Walton’s introductory frame narrative
The novel Frankenstein is written in epistolary form, documenting a fictional correspondence between Captain Robert Walton and his sister, Margaret Walton Saville. Walton is a failed writer and captain who sets out to explore the North Pole and expand his scientific knowledge in hopes of achieving fame. During the voyage, the crew spots a dog sled driven by a gigantic figure. A few hours later, the crew rescues a nearly frozen and emaciated man named Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein has been in pursuit of the gigantic man observed by Walton’s crew. Frankenstein starts to recover from his exertion; he sees in Walton the same obsession that has destroyed him, and recounts a story of his life’s miseries to Walton as a warning. The recounted story serves as the frame for Frankenstein’s narrative.
Victor Frankenstein’s narrative
Victor begins by telling of his childhood. Born in Naples, into a wealthy Genevan family, Victor and his brothers, Ernest and William, all three being sons of Alphonse Frankenstein by the former Caroline Beaufort, are encouraged to seek a greater understanding of the world through science. As a young boy, Victor is obsessed with studying outdated theories that focus on simulating natural wonders. When Victor is five years old, his parents adopt Elizabeth Lavenza, the orphaned daughter of an expropriated Italian nobleman, with whom Victor later falls in love. (During this period, Victor’s parents, Alphonse and Caroline, take in yet another orphan, Justine Moritz, who becomes William’s nanny.)
Weeks before he leaves for the University of Ingolstadt in Germany, his mother dies of scarlet fever; Victor buries himself in his experiments to deal with the grief. At university, he excels at chemistry and other sciences, soon developing a secret technique to impart life to non-living matter. Eventually, he undertakes the creation of a humanoid, but due to the difficulty in replicating the minute parts of the human body, Victor makes the Creature large, about 8 feet (2.4 m) in height and proportionally large. Despite his intentions, the beautiful creation of his dreams is instead hideous, with yellow eyes and skin that barely conceals the muscle tissue and blood vessels underneath. Repulsed by his work, Victor flees and dismisses him when it awakens. While wandering the streets, he meets his childhood friend, Henry Clerval, and takes Henry back to his apartment, fearful of Henry’s reaction if he sees the monster. Victor does not have to deal with that issue, however, because the monster has escaped.
Victor falls ill from the experience and is nursed back to health by Henry. After a four-month recovery, he returns home when he learns of the murder of his brother William. Upon arriving in Geneva, Victor sees the Creature near the crime scene and climbing a mountain, leading him to believe his creation is responsible. Justine Moritz, William’s nanny, is convicted of the crime after William’s locket, which had contained a miniature portrait of Caroline, is found in her pocket. Victor is helpless to stop her from being hanged, as he knows no one would believe his story.
Ravaged by grief and guilt, Victor retreats into the mountains. The Creature finds him and pleads for Victor to hear his tale. Intelligent and articulate, the Creature relates his first days of life, living alone in the wilderness and finding that people were afraid of and hated him due to his appearance, which led him to fear and hide from them. While living in an abandoned structure connected to a cottage, he grew fond of the poor family living there, and discreetly collected firewood for them. Secretly living among the family for months, the Creature learned to speak by listening to them and he taught himself to read after discovering a lost satchel of books in the woods. When he saw his reflection in a pool, he realized his physical appearance was hideous, and it terrified him as it terrifies normal humans. Nevertheless, he approached the family in hopes of becoming their friend. Initially he was able to befriend the blind father figure of the family, but the rest of them were frightened and they all fled their home, resulting in the Creature burning the cottage in a fit of rage. He then swore revenge on his creator for bringing him into a world that hated him. He traveled to Victor’s family estate using details from Victor’s journal, murdered William, and framed Justine.
The Creature demands that Victor create a female companion like himself. He argues that as a living being, he has a right to happiness. The Creature promises that he and his mate will vanish into the South American wilderness, never to reappear, if Victor grants his request. Should Victor refuse his request, The Creature also threatens to kill Victor’s remaining friends and loved ones and not stop until he completely ruins him.
Fearing for his family, Victor reluctantly agrees, with the Creature saying he will secretly watch over Victor’s progress. Clerval accompanies him to England, but they separate at Victor’s insistence at Perth, Scotland. Victor suspects that the Creature is following him. Working on the female creature on the Orkney Islands, he is plagued by premonitions of disaster, such as the female hating the Creature or becoming more evil than him, but more particularly the two creatures might lead to the breeding of a race that could plague mankind. He tears apart the unfinished female creature after he sees the Creature, who had indeed followed Victor, watching through a window. The Creature later confronts and tries to threaten Victor into working again, but Victor is convinced that the Creature is evil and that its mate would be evil as well, and the pair would threaten all humanity. Victor destroys his work and the Creature vows that he will “be with you on your wedding night.” Victor interprets this as a threat upon his life, believing that the Creature will kill him after finally becoming happy. When Victor lands in Ireland, he is soon imprisoned for Clerval’s murder, as the Creature had strangled Clerval to death and left the corpse to be found where his creator had arrived, causing the latter to suffer another mental breakdown in prison. After being acquitted, Victor returns home with his father, who has restored to Elizabeth some of her father’s fortune.
In Geneva, Victor is about to marry Elizabeth and prepares to fight the Creature to the death, arming himself with pistols and a dagger. The night following their wedding, Victor asks Elizabeth to stay in her room while he looks for “the fiend.” While Victor searches the house and grounds, the Creature strangles Elizabeth to death. From the window, Victor sees the Creature, who tauntingly points at Elizabeth’s corpse; Victor tries to shoot him, but the Creature escapes. After getting back to Geneva, Victor’s father, weakened by age and by the death of his precious Elizabeth, dies a few days later. Seeking revenge, Victor pursues the Creature to the North Pole, but collapses from exhaustion and hypothermia before he can find his quarry.
Captain Walton’s concluding frame narrative
At the end of Victor’s narrative, Captain Walton resumes the telling of the story, closing the frame around Victor’s reaccounting. A few days after the Creature vanished, the ship becomes trapped in pack ice and multiple crewmen die in the cold, before the rest of Walton’s crew insists on returning south once it is freed. Walton sees Victor’s story as a warning, and decides to turn the ship around.
Victor dies shortly thereafter, but not before telling Walton to “avoid ambition”. Walton discovers the Creature on his ship, mourning over Victor’s body. The Creature tells Walton that Victor’s death has not brought him peace; rather, his crimes have left him completely alone. The Creature vows to kill himself so that no others will ever know of his existence. Walton watches as the Creature drifts away on an ice raft that is soon lost in darkness, never to be seen again.
“How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea?” — Mary Shelley
During the rainy summer of 1816, the “Year Without a Summer“, the world was locked in a long cold volcanic winter caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. Mary Shelley, aged 18, and her lover (and later husband) Percy Bysshe Shelley, visited Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The weather was consistently too cold and dreary that summer to enjoy the outdoor holiday activities they had planned, so the group retired indoors until dawn.
Sitting around a log fire at Byron’s villa, the company amused themselves by reading German ghost stories translated into French from the book Fantasmagoriana, then Byron proposed that they “each write a ghost story”. Unable to think of a story, young Mary became anxious: “Have you thought of a story? I was asked each morning, and each morning I was forced to reply with a mortifying negative.” During one evening in the middle of summer, the discussions turned to the nature of the principle of life. “Perhaps a corpse would be re-animated”, Mary noted, “galvanism had given token of such things”. It was after midnight before they retired, and unable to sleep, she became possessed by her imagination as she beheld the grim terrors of her “waking dream”.
I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.
In September 2011, astronomer Donald Olson, after a visit to the Lake Geneva villa the previous year, and inspecting data about the motion of the moon and stars, concluded that her “waking dream” took place “between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.” on 16 June 1816, several days after the initial idea by Lord Byron that they each write a ghost story.
She began writing what she assumed would be a short story. With Percy Shelley’s encouragement, she expanded the tale into a full-fledged novel. She later described that summer in Switzerland as the moment “when I first stepped out from childhood into life”. Shelley wrote the first four chapters in the weeks following the suicide of her half-sister Fanny. Byron managed to write just a fragment based on the vampire legends he heard while travelling the Balkans, and from this John Polidori created The Vampyre (1819), the progenitor of the romantic vampire literary genre. Thus two legendary horror tales originated from the conclave.
The group talked about Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment ideas as well. Shelley believed the Enlightenment idea that society could progress and grow if political leaders used their powers responsibly; however, she also believed the Romantic ideal that misused power could destroy society (Bennett 36–42).
Mary’s and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s manuscripts for the first three-volume edition in 1818 (written 1816–1817), as well as Mary Shelley’s fair copy for her publisher, are now housed in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The Bodleian acquired the papers in 2004, and they belong now to the Abinger Collection. In 2008, the Bodleian published a new edition of Frankenstein, edited by Charles E. Robinson, that contains comparisons of Mary Shelley’s original text with Percy Shelley’s additions and interventions alongside.
Shelley completed her writing in May 1817, and Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus was first published on 11 March 1818 by the small London publishing house Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones. It was issued anonymously, with a preface written for Mary by Percy Bysshe Shelley and with a dedication to philosopher William Godwin, her father. It was published in an edition of just 500 copies in three volumes, the standard “triple-decker” format for 19th-century first editions.
The second edition of Frankenstein was published on 11 August 1822 in two volumes (by G. and W. B. Whittaker) following the success of the stage play Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein by Richard Brinsley Peake; this edition credited Mary Shelley as the author.
On 31 October 1831, the first “popular” edition in one volume appeared, published by Henry Colburn & Richard Bentley. This edition was heavily revised by Mary Shelley, partially because of pressure to make the story more conservative. It included a new, longer preface by herself, presenting a somewhat embellished version of the genesis of the story. This edition tends to be the one most widely read now, although editions containing the original 1818 text are still published. Many scholars prefer the 1818 text, arguing that it preserves the spirit of Shelley’s original publication (see Anne K. Mellor’s “Choosing a Text of Frankenstein to Teach” in the W. W. Norton Critical edition).
In 2008, a new edition of the novel, titled The Original Frankenstein, edited by Charles E Robinson, was published. This edition examined the original manuscript by Mary Shelley and noted the edits that Percy Bysshe Shelley made to it.
Frankenstein and the Monster
Part of Frankenstein’s rejection of his creation is the fact that he does not give it a name, which causes a lack of identity. Instead it is referred to by words such as “wretch”, “monster”, “creature”, “demon”, “devil”, “fiend”, and “it”. When Frankenstein converses with the creature in Chapter 10, he addresses it as “vile insect”, “abhorred monster”, “fiend”, “wretched devil”, and “abhorred devil”.
- Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
- To mould Me man? Did I solicit thee
- From darkness to promote me?
Although the creature would be described in later works as a composite of whole body parts grafted together from cadavers and reanimated by the use of electricity, this description is not entirely consistent with Shelley’s work; both the use of electricity and the cobbled-together image of Frankenstein’s monster were more the result of James Whale‘s popular 1931 film adaptation of the story, and other early motion-picture works based upon the creature. In Shelley’s original work, Dr. Frankenstein discovers a previously unknown but elemental principle of life, and that insight allows him to develop a method to imbue vitality into inanimate matter, though the exact nature of the process is left largely ambiguous. After a great deal of hesitation in exercising this power, the doctor spends two years painstakingly constructing the creature’s body (one anatomical feature at a time, from raw materials supplied by “the dissecting room and the slaughter-house”), which he then brings to life using his unspecified process.
The creature has often been mistakenly called “Frankenstein”. In 1908 one author said “It is strange to note how well-nigh universally the term “Frankenstein” is misused, even by intelligent people, as describing some hideous monster”. Edith Wharton‘s The Reef (1916) describes an unruly child as an “infant Frankenstein.” David Lindsay‘s “The Bridal Ornament”, published in The Rover, 12 June 1844, mentioned “the maker of poor Frankenstein.” After the release of Whale’s cinematic Frankenstein, the public at large began speaking of the creature itself as “Frankenstein”. This also occurs in Frankenstein films, including Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and several subsequent films, as well as in film titles such as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Furthermore, future renditions and adaptations of the story include an evil laboratory assistant Igor/Ygor, who does not actually exist within the original narrative.
Victor Frankenstein’s surname
Mary Shelley maintained that she derived the name Frankenstein from a dream-vision. Despite her public claims of originality, however, a number of other sources have been suggested as Shelley’s actual inspiration. The German name Frankenstein means “stone of the Franks“, and it is associated with various places in Germany, including Frankenstein Castle (Burg Frankenstein) in Darmstadt, Hesse, and Frankenstein Castle in Frankenstein, a town in the Palatinate. There is also a castle called Frankenstein in Bad Salzungen, Thuringia, and a municipality called Frankenstein in Saxony. Until 1945, Ząbkowice Śląskie, now a city in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland, was named Frankenstein in German, and was the site of a scandal involving gravediggers in 1606, which has been suggested as an inspiration to the author. Finally, the name is borne by the aristocratic House of Franckenstein from Franconia.
Radu Florescu argues that Mary and Percy Shelley visited Frankenstein Castle near Darmstadt in 1814 during their return to England from their elopement to Switzerland. It was at this castle that a notorious alchemist, Conrad Dippel, had experimented with human bodies, and Florescu reasons that Mary suppressed mention of her visit in order to maintain her public claim of originality. A literary essay by A. J. Day supports Florescu’s position that Mary Shelley knew of and visited Frankenstein Castle before writing her debut novel. Day includes details of an alleged description of the Frankenstein castle that exists in Mary Shelley’s ‘lost’ journals. According to Jörg Heléne, the ‘lost journals’, as well as Florescu’s claims, cannot be verified.
Victor Frankenstein’s given name
A possible interpretation of the name Victor is derived from Paradise Lost by John Milton, a great influence on Shelley (a quotation from Paradise Lost is on the opening page of Frankenstein and Shelley even has the monster himself read it). Milton frequently refers to God as “the Victor” in Paradise Lost, and Shelley sees Victor as playing God by creating life. In addition, Shelley’s portrayal of the monster owes much to the character of Satan in Paradise Lost; indeed, the monster says, after reading the epic poem, that he empathizes with Satan’s role in the story.
There are many similarities between Victor and Percy Shelley, Mary’s husband. Victor was a pen name of Percy Shelley’s, as in the collection of poetry he wrote with his sister Elizabeth, Original Poetry by Victor and Cazire. There is speculation that one of Mary Shelley’s models for Victor Frankenstein was Percy, who at Eton had “experimented with electricity and magnetism as well as with gunpowder and numerous chemical reactions”, and whose rooms at Oxford were filled with scientific equipment.
Percy Shelley was the first-born son of a wealthy country squire with strong political connections and a descendant of Sir Bysshe Shelley, 1st Baronet of Castle Goring, and Richard Fitzalan, 10th Earl of Arundel. Victor’s family is one of the most distinguished of that republic and his ancestors were counselors and syndics. Percy had a sister named Elizabeth; Victor had an adopted sister named Elizabeth.
On 22 February 1815, Mary Shelley gave birth to a baby two months prematurely, and the baby died two weeks later. Percy did not care about the condition of this premature infant and left with Claire, Mary’s stepsister, for a lurid affair. When Victor saw the creature come to life he fled the apartment, though the newborn creature approached him, as a child would a parent. The question of Victor’s responsibility to the creature is one of the main themes of the book.
The Modern Prometheus is the novel’s subtitle (though some modern editions now drop the subtitle, mentioning it only in an introduction). Prometheus, in later versions of Greek mythology, was the Titan who created mankind at the behest of Zeus. He made a being in the image of the gods that could have a spirit breathed into it. Prometheus taught man to hunt, read, and heal their sick, but after he tricked Zeus into accepting poor-quality offerings from humans, Zeus kept fire from mankind. Prometheus, being the creator, took back the fire from Zeus to give to man. When Zeus discovered this, he sentenced Prometheus to be eternally punished by fixing him to a rock of Caucasus, where each day an eagle would peck out his liver, only for the liver to regrow the next day because of his immortality as a god. He was intended to suffer alone for eternity, but eventually Heracles (Hercules) released him.
Prometheus was also a myth told in Latin, but was a very different story. In this version Prometheus makes man from clay and water, again a very relevant theme to Frankenstein, as Victor rebels against the laws of nature (how life is naturally made) and as a result is punished by his creation.
The Titan in the Greek mythology of Prometheus parallels Victor Frankenstein. Victor’s work by creating man by new means reflects the same innovative work of the Titan in creating humans.
Some have claimed that Mary Shelley saw Prometheus not as a hero but rather as something of a devil, and blamed him for bringing fire to man and thereby seducing the human race to the vice of eating meat (fire brought cooking which brought hunting and killing).
Byron was particularly attached to the play Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, and Percy Shelley would soon write his own Prometheus Unbound (1820). The term “Modern Prometheus” was actually coined by Immanuel Kant in reference to Benjamin Franklin and his experiments with electricity.
Shelley incorporated a number of different sources into her work, one of which was the Promethean myth from Ovid. The influence of John Milton‘s Paradise Lost, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge‘s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, are also clearly evident within the novel. Mary is likely to have acquired some ideas for Frankenstein’s character from Humphry Davy‘s book Elements of Chemical Philosophy, in which he had written that “science has … bestowed upon man powers which may be called creative; which have enabled him to change and modify the beings around him …”. References to the French Revolution run through the novel; a possible source may lie in François-Félix Nogaret’s Le Miroir des événemens actuels, ou la Belle au plus offrant (1790): a political parable about scientific progress featuring an inventor named Frankénsteïn who creates a life-sized automaton.
Within the past thirty years or so, many writers and historians have attempted to associate several then popular natural philosophers (now called physical scientists) with Shelley’s work on account of several notable similarities. Two of the most notable natural philosophers among Shelley’s contemporaries were Giovanni Aldini, who made many public attempts at human reanimation through bio-electric Galvanism in London and Johann Konrad Dippel, who was supposed to have developed chemical means to extend the life span of humans. While Shelley was obviously aware of both these men and their activities, she makes no mention of or reference to them or their experiments in any of her published or released notes.
The initial critical reception of the book was mostly unfavorable, compounded by confused speculation as to the identity of the author. Sir Walter Scott wrote that “upon the whole, the work impresses us with a high idea of the author’s original genius and happy power of expression”, but the Quarterly Review described it “a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity”.
Mary Shelley had contact with some of the most influential minds of her time. Shelley’s father, William Godwin, was very progressive and encouraged his daughter to participate in the conversations that took place in his home with various scientific minds, many of whom were actively engaged in the study of anatomy. She was familiar with the ideas of using dead bodies for study, the newer theory of using electricity to animate the dead, and the concerns of religion and the general public regarding the morality of tampering with God’s work.
Despite the reviews, Frankenstein achieved an almost immediate popular success. It became widely known especially through melodramatic theatrical adaptations—Mary Shelley saw a production of Presumption; or The Fate of Frankenstein, a play by Richard Brinsley Peake, in 1823. A French translation appeared as early as 1821 (Frankenstein: ou le Prométhée Moderne, translated by Jules Saladin).
Frankenstein has been both well received and disregarded since its anonymous publication in 1818. Critical reviews of that time demonstrate these two views. The Belle Assemblee described the novel as “very bold fiction” (139). The Quarterly Review stated that “the author has the power of both conception and language” (185). Sir Walter Scott, writing in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine congratulated “the author’s original genius and happy power of expression” (620), although he is less convinced about the way in which the monster gains knowledge about the world and language. The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany hoped to see “more productions from this author” (253).
In two other reviews where the author is known as the daughter of William Godwin, the criticism of the novel makes reference to the feminine nature of Mary Shelley. The British Critic attacks the novel’s flaws as the fault of the author: “The writer of it is, we understand, a female; this is an aggravation of that which is the prevailing fault of the novel; but if our authoress can forget the gentleness of her sex, it is no reason why we should; and we shall therefore dismiss the novel without further comment” (438). The Literary Panorama and National Register attacks the novel as a “feeble imitation of Mr. Godwin’s novels” produced by the “daughter of a celebrated living novelist” (414).
Despite these initial dismissals, critical reception has been largely positive since the mid-20th century. Major critics such as M. A. Goldberg and Harold Bloom have praised the “aesthetic and moral” relevance of the novel and in more recent years the novel has become a popular subject for psychoanalytic and feminist criticism. The novel today is generally considered to be a landmark work of romantic and gothic literature, as well as science fiction.
In his 1981 non-fiction book Danse Macabre, author Stephen King considers Frankenstein’s monster (along with Dracula and the Werewolf) to be an archetype of numerous horrific creations that followed in literature, film, and television, in a role he refers to as “The Thing Without A Name.” He considers such contemporary creations as the 1951 film The Thing from Another World and The Incredible Hulk as examples of similar monstrosities that have followed in its wake. He views the book as “a Shakespearean tragedy” and argues: “its classical unity is broken only by the author’s uncertainty as to where the fatal flaw lies—is it in Victor’s hubris (usurping a power that belongs only to God) or in his failure to take responsibility for his creation after endowing it with the life-spark?”
Frankenstein discussed controversial topics and touched on religious ideas. Victor Frankenstein plays God when he creates a new being. Frankenstein deals with Christian and metaphysical themes. The importance of Paradise Lost and the creature’s belief that it is “a true history” brings a religious tone to the novel.
Germaine Greer has noted technical and narrative defects in the novel (partly in rebuttal to the hypothesis that Mary Shelley could not have written the novel), and noted:
- “The driving impulse of this incoherent tale is a nameless female dread, the dread of gestating a monster. Monsters are not simply grossly deformed foetuses. Every mass murderer, every serial killer, the most sadistic paedophile has a mother, who cannot disown him. Percy was capable perhaps of imagining such a nightmare, but it is the novel’s blindness to its underlying theme that provides the strongest evidence that the spinner of the tale is a woman. It is not until the end of the novel that the monster can describe himself as an abortion.”
There are numerous novels retelling or continuing the story of Frankenstein and his monster.
Films, plays and television
- 1823:Richard Brinsley Peake‘s adaptation, Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein, was seen by Mary Shelley and her father William Godwin at the English Opera House.
- 1826: Henry M. Milner‘s adaptation, The Man and The Monster; or The Fate of Frankenstein opened on 3 July at the Royal Coburg Theatre, London.
- 1910: Edison Studios produced the first Frankenstein film, directed by J. Searle Dawley.
- 1915: Life Without Soul, the second film adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel, was released. No known print of the film has survived.
- 1920: The Monster of Frankenstein, Directed by Eugenio Testa, starring Luciano Albertini and Umberto Guarracino.
- 1931: Universal Studios‘ Frankenstein, directed by James Whale, starring Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye, and Boris Karloff as the monster.
- 1935: James Whale directed the sequel Bride of Frankenstein, starring Colin Clive as the Doctor, and Boris Karloff as the monster once more. This incorporated the novel’s plot motif of Doctor Frankenstein creating a bride for the monster omitted from Whale’s earlier film. There were two more sequels, prior to the Universal “monster rally” films combining multiple monsters from various movie series or film franchises.
- 1939: Son of Frankenstein was another Universal monster movie with Boris Karloff as the Creature. Also in the film were Basil Rathbone as the title character and Bela Lugosi as the sinister assistant Ygor. Karloff ended playing the Frankenstein monster with this film.
- 1942: The Ghost of Frankenstein featured brain transplanting and a new monster, played by Lon Chaney Jr. The film also starred Evelyn Ankers and Bela Lugosi.
- 1942–1948: Universal did “monster rally” films featuring Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula and the Wolf-Man. Included would be Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The films introduced Glenn Strange as Frankenstein’s monster.
- 1957–1974: Hammer Films in England did a string of Frankenstein films starring Peter Cushing, including The Curse of Frankenstein, The Revenge of Frankenstein and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. Co-starring in these films were Christopher Lee, Hazel Court, Veronica Carlson and Simon Ward. Another Hammer film, The Horror of Frankenstein, starred Ralph Bates as the main character, Victor Frankenstein.
- 1965: Toho Studios created the film Frankenstein Conquers the World or Frankenstein vs. Baragon, followed by War of the Gargantuas.
- 1972: A comedic stage adaptation, Frankenstein’s Monster, was written by Sally Netzel and produced by the Dallas Theater Center.
- 1973: The TV film Frankenstein: The True Story appeared on NBC. The movie starred Leonard Whiting, Michael Sarrazin, James Mason, and Jane Seymour.
- 1981: A Broadway adaptation by Victor Gialanella played for one performance (after 29 previews) and was considered the most expensive flop ever produced to that date.
- 1984: The flop Broadway production yielded a TV film starring Robert Powell, Carrie Fisher, David Warner, and John Gielgud.
- 1992: Frankenstein became a Turner Network Television film directed by David Wickes, starring Patrick Bergin and Randy Quaid. John Mills played the blind man.
- 1994: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein appeared in theatres, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, with Robert De Niro and Helena Bonham Carter. Its all-star cast also included John Cleese, Ian Holm, and Tom Hulce.
- 2004: Frankenstein A 2 episode mini-series starring Alec Newman, with Luke Goss and Donald Sutherland.
- 2011: In March, BBC3 broadcast Colin Teague‘s live production from Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds, billed as Frankenstein’s Wedding, Live in Leeds. About the same time, the National Theatre, London presented a stage version of Frankenstein, which ran until 2 May 2011. The play was written by Nick Dear and directed by Danny Boyle. Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch alternated the roles of Frankenstein and the Creature. The National Theatre broadcast live performances of the play worldwide (at 13:00 and 19:30) on 17 March.
- 2012: An interactive ebook app created by Inkle and Profile Books that retells the story with added interactive elements.
- 2014: Penny Dreadful is a horror TV series that airs on Showtime, that features Doctor Victor Frankenstein as well as his creature.
- 2015: Victor Frankenstein is an American film directed by Paul McGuigan.
- 2016: Second Chance, formerly known as The Frankenstein Code or Lookinglass, a modern-day series take on the classic, is scheduled to debut 13 January 2016, on FOX.
- 2016: Frankenstein, a full length ballet production by Liam Scarlett. Some performances were also live simulcasts worldwide.
- Loose adaptations
- 1967: I’m Sorry the Bridge Is Out, You’ll Have to Spend the Night and its sequel, Frankenstein Unbound (Another Monster Musical), are a pair of musical comedies written by Bobby Pickett and Sheldon Allman. The casts of both feature several classic horror characters including Dr. Frankenstein and his monster.
- 1973: The Rocky Horror Show, is a British horror comedy stage musical written by Richard O’Brian in which Dr. Frank N. Furter has created a creature (Rocky), to satisfy his (pro)creative drives. Elements are similar to I’m Sorry the Bridge Is Out, You’ll Have to Spend the Night.
- 1973: Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. Usually, the doctor is a man whose dedication to science takes him too far, but here his interest is to rule the world by creating a new species that will obey him and do his bidding.
- 1974: Young Frankenstein. Directed by Mel Brooks, this sequel-spoof has been listed as one of the best movie comedies of any comedy genre ever made, even prompting an American film preservation program to include it on its listings. It reuses many props from James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein and is shot in black-and-white with 1930s-style credits. Gene Wilder portrayed the descendant of Dr. Frankenstein, with Peter Boyle as the Monster.
- 1975: The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the 1975 film adaptation of the British rock musical stageplay, The Rocky Horror Show (1973), written by Richard O’Brien.
- 1984: Frankenweenie is a parody short film directed by Tim Burton, starring Barrett Oliver, Shelley Duvall and Daniel Stern.
- 1985: The Bride starring Sting as Baron Charles Frankenstein and Jennifer Beals as Eva, a woman he creates in the same fashion as his infamous monster.
- 1986: Gothic, directed by Ken Russell, is the story of the night that Mary Shelley gave birth to Frankenstein. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, Natasha Richardson.
- 1988: Frankenstein (フランケンシュタイン) is a manga adaptation of Shelley’s novel by Junji Ito.
- 1989: Frankenstein the Panto. A pantomime script by David Swan, combining elements of Frankenstein, Dracula, and traditional British panto.
- 1990: Frankenstein Unbound. Combines a time-travel story with the story of Shelley’s novel. Scientist Joe Buchanan accidentally creates a time-rift which takes him back to the events of the novel. Filmed as a low-budget independent film in 1990, based on a novel published in 1973 by Brian Aldiss. This novel bears no relation to the 1967 stage musical with the same name listed above.
- 1995: Monster Mash is a film adaptation of I’m Sorry the Bridge Is Out, You’ll Have to Spend the Night starring Bobby Pickett as Dr. Frankenstein. The film also features Candace Cameron Bure, Anthony Crivello and Mink Stole.
- 1998: Billy Frankenstein is a very loose adaptation about a boy who moves into a mansion with his family and brings the Frankenstein monster to life. The film was directed by Fred Olen Ray.
- 2003: Reading Frankenstein, a new media performance work in which Mary Shelley is a genetic engineer and artificial life scientist and her Creature a hybrid form of computational a-life. It was co-created by director Annie Loui and artist-writer Antoinette LaFarge for UC Irvine.
- 2004: Frankenstein made-for-TV film based on Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein.
- 2005: Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove, a 90-minute feature film homage of classic monsters and atomic age creature features, shot in black and white, and directed by William Winckler. The Frankenstein Monster design and make-up was based on the character descriptions in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel.
- 2009: The Diary of Anne Frankenstein, a short film from Chillerrama.
- 2009: Anuman Interactive (French publisher) launches Frankestein, a hidden objects game freely inspired by Mary Shelley’s book, on iPhone and iPad.
- 2011: Frankenstein: Day of the Beast is an independent horror film based loosely on the original book.
- 2011: Victor Frankenstein appears in the ABC show Once Upon a Time, a fantasy series on ABC that features multiple characters from fairy tales and classic literature trapped in the real world.
- 2012: Frankenweenie, Tim Burton’s feature film remake of his 1984 short film of the same name.
- 2012: A Nightmare on Lime Street, Fred Lawless‘s comedy play starring David Gest staged at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool.
- 2014: I, Frankenstein is a 2014 fantasy action film. The film stars Aaron Eckhart as Adam Frankenstein and Bill Nighy. The film is based on the graphic novel.
- 2014: Bruce vs. Frankenstein, a comedic adaptation directed by and starring Bruce Campbell, is loosely based on the original book and a sequel to Campbell’s own 2007 film My Name Is Bruce.
- 2014: Frankenstein, MD, A web show by Pemberly Digital starring Victoria, a female adaptation of Victor.
- 2014: “Musical Frankenstein”, A Korean musical based off the original novel, with a few plot differences.
- 2015: The Supernatural season 10 episodes Book of the Damned, Dark Dynasty and The Prisoner feature the Styne Family which member Eldon Styne identifies as the descendants of the House of Frankenstein. According to Eldon, Mary Shelley had learned their secrets while on a visit to Castle Frankenstein and wrote a book based on her experiences, forcing the Frankensteins underground as the Stynes. The Stynes, through bio engineering and surgical enhancements feature many of the superhuman features of Frankenstein’s monster.
- 2015: The Frankenstein Chronicles, is a British television drama series – starring Sean Bean as John Marlott and Anna Maxwell Martin as Mary Shelley
John Carradine filmography
- Bright Lights (1930) as Telegraph Newspaper Photographer (uncredited)
- Tol’able David (1930) as Buzzard Hatburn (as Peter Richmond)
- Heaven on Earth (1931) as Chicken Sam (as Peter Richmond)
- Forgotten Commandments (1932) as First Orator (uncredited)
- The Sign of the Cross (1932) as Christian Martyr / Gladiator Leader / Voice in Coliseum Mob / Voice of Roman (uncredited)
- Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) (uncredited)
- The Story of Temple Drake (1933) as Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
- Morning Glory (1933) as Dream Apparition (uncredited)
- This Day and Age (1933) as Assistant Principal Abernathy
- To the Last Man (1933) as Pete Garon (uncredited)
- The Invisible Man (1933) as Informer Suggesting Ink (uncredited)
- The Meanest Gal in Town (1934) as Stranded Actor (uncredited)
- The Black Cat (1934) as Cult Organist (uncredited)
- Cleopatra (1934) as Roman Citizen / Party Guest / Soldier (voice, uncredited)
- Clive of India (1935) as Drunken-Faced Clerk (uncredited)
- Transient Lady (1935) as Ren Baxter (uncredited)
- Les Misérables (1935) as Enjolras
- Cardinal Richelieu (1935) as Agitator
- Bride of Frankenstein (1935) as Hunter at Hermit’s Cottage (uncredited)
- Alias Mary Dow (1935) as Griffe – Nightclub Drunk (uncredited)
- She Gets Her Man (1935) as Lunchroom customer (uncredited)
- The Crusades (1935) as Leopold – Duke of Austria / A French King / A Wise Man (uncredited)
- Bad Boy (1935) as Angry Saxophone Player – Tenant (uncredited)
- The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo (1935) as Despondent Casino Gambler (uncredited)
- Dublin in Brass (1935) (uncredited)
- Anything Goes (1936) as Bearded Ballet Master (uncredited)
- The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936) as Sgt. Rankin
- A Message to Garcia (1936) as President William McKinley (voice, uncredited)
- Under Two Flags (1936) as Cafard (scenes deleted)
- Half Angel (1936) as Sanatorium Inmate (voice, uncredited)
- White Fang (1936) as Beauty Smith
- Mary of Scotland (1936) as David Rizzio
- Ramona (1936) as Jim Farrar
- Dimples (1936) as Richards
- The Garden of Allah (1936) as Sand Diviner
- Daniel Boone (1936) as Simon Girty
- Winterset (1936) as Bartolomio Romagna
- Laughing at Trouble (1936) as Deputy Sheriff Alec Brady
- Captain January (1936) (scenes deleted)
- Nancy Steele Is Missing! (1937) as Harry Wilkins
- Captains Courageous (1937) as ‘Long Jack’
- Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937) (scenes deleted)
- This Is My Affair (1937) as Ed
- Love Under Fire (1937) as Capt. Delmar
- Danger – Love at Work (1937) as Herbert Pemberton
- Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937) as Ishak / Broderick
- The Hurricane (1937) as Warden
- The Last Gangster (1937) as Casper
- Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937) as Pereira
- International Settlement (1938) as Murdock
- Of Human Hearts (1938) as President Lincoln
- Four Men and a Prayer (1938) as General Adolfo Arturios Gregario Sebastian
- Kentucky Moonshine (1938) as Reef Hatfield
- Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938) as Taxi Driver
- Kidnapped (1938) as Gordon
- I’ll Give a Million (1938) as Kopelpeck
- Gateway (1938) as Leader of Refugees
- Submarine Patrol (1938) as McAllison
- Jesse James (1939) as Bob Ford
- Mr. Moto’s Last Warning (1939) as Danforth / Richard Burke
- Stagecoach (1939) as Hatfield
- The Three Musketeers (1939) as Naveau
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) as Barryman
- Captain Fury (1939) as Coughy / Roger Bradford
- Five Came Back (1939) as Crimp
- Frontier Marshal (1939) as Ben Carter
- Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) as Caldwell
- The Grapes of Wrath (1940) as Jim Casy
- The Return of Frank James (1940) as Bob Ford
- Brigham Young – Frontiersman (1940) as Porter Rockwell
- Chad Hanna (1940) as B.D. Bisbee
- Western Union (1941) as Doc Murdoch
- Blood and Sand (1941) as El Nacional
- Man Hunt (1941) as Mr. Jones
- Swamp Water (1941) as Jesse Wick
- Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake (1942) as Caleb Green
- Whispering Ghosts (1942) as Norbert (Long Jack)
- Northwest Rangers (1942) as Martin Caswell
- Reunion in France (1942) as Ulrich Windler
- I Escaped from the Gestapo (1943) as Martin – Gestapo Agent
- Captive Wild Woman (1943) as Dr. Sigmund Walters
- Hitler’s Madman (1943) as Reinhardt Heydrich
- Silver Spurs (1943) as Lucky Miller
- Isle of Forgotten Sins (1943) (aka Monsoon) as Mike Clancy
- Revenge of the Zombies (1943) as Dr. Max Heinrich Von Altermann
- Gangway for Tomorrow (1943) as Mr. Wellington
- Voodoo Man (1944) as Toby
- The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944) as Bret Harte
- The Black Parachute (1944) as General von Bodenbach
- The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944) as Doctor Peter Drury
- Waterfront (1944) as Victor Marlow
- The Mummy’s Ghost (1944) as Yousef Bey
- Return of the Ape Man (1944) as Prof. John Gilmore
- Barbary Coast Gent (1944) as Duke Cleat
- Bluebeard (1944) as Gaston Morel
- Alaska (1944) as John Reagan
- House of Frankenstein (1944) as Dracula / Baron Latos
- It’s in the Bag! (1945) as Jefferson T. Pike
- Fallen Angel (1945) as Professor Madley
- Captain Kidd (1945) as Orange Povy
- House of Dracula (1945) as Count Dracula
- The Face of Marble (1946) as Dr. Charles Randolph
- Down Missouri Way (1946) as Thorndyke ‘Thorny’ P. Dunning
- The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947) as Charles Forestier
- C-Man (1949) as Doc Spencer
- Casanova’s Big Night (1954) as Minister Foressi
- Johnny Guitar (1954) as Old Tom
- The Egyptian (1954) as Grave Robber
- Thunder Pass (1954) as Bergstrom
- Stranger on Horseback (1955) as Col. Buck Streeter
- The Kentuckian (1955) as Ziby Fletcher
- Desert Sands (1955) as Jala the Wine Merchant
- The Court Jester (1956) as Giacomo
- Dark Venture (1956) as Gideon
- Hidden Guns (1956) as Snipe Harding
- The Black Sleep (1956) as Borg aka Bohemond
- Female Jungle (1956) as Claude Almstead
- The Ten Commandments (1956) as Aaron
- Around the World in 80 Days (1956) as Col. Stamp Proctor – San Francisco Politico
- The True Story of Jesse James (1957) as Rev. Jethro Bailey
- The Unearthly (1957) as Dr. Charles Conway
- The Story of Mankind (1957) as Khufu
- Hell Ship Mutiny (1957) as Malone
- The Incredible Petrified World (1957) as Prof. Millard Wyman
- Showdown at Boot Hill (1958) as Doc Weber
- The Proud Rebel (1958) as Traveling Salesman
- The Last Hurrah (1958) as Amos Force
- Half Human: The Story of the Abominable Snowman (1958) as Dr. John Rayburn – Narrator
- The Cosmic Man (1959) as Cosmic Man
- Invisible Invaders (1959) as Dr. Karol Noymann
- Invasion of the Animal People (1959) as Narrator (English version, voice)
- The Oregon Trail (1959) as Zachariah Garrison
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960) as Slave Catcher
- Tarzan the Magnificent (1960) as Abel Banton
- Sex Kittens Go to College (1960) as Prof. Watts
- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) as Maj. Cassius Starbuckle
- The Patsy (1964) as Bruce Alden
- Cheyenne Autumn (1964) as Jeff Blair
- Genesis (1964) as Narrator
- Curse of the Stone Hand (1964) as The Old Drunk
- The Wizard of Mars (1965) as The Wizard of Mars
- House of the Black Death (1965) as Andre Desard
- Broken Sabre (1965-1966) as General Joshua McCord
- The Emperor’s New Clothes (1966) as Count Dracula / posing as James Underhill
- Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966) as Count Dracula / posing as James Underhill
- Munster, Go Home! (1966) as Cruikshank
- Night Train to Mundo Fine (1966) as Mr. Wilson
- Dr. Terror’s Gallery of Horrors (1967) as Narrator / Tristram Halbin
- Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967) as Dr. Himmil
- The Hostage (1967) as Otis Lovelace
- Blood of Ghastly Horror (1967) as Dr. Howard Vanard
- Antologia del miedo (1968) (short)
- The Helicopter Spies (1968) as Third-Way Priest
- They Ran for Their Lives (1968) as Laslo
- The Astro-Zombies (1968) as Dr. DeMarco
- Autopsia de un fantasma (1968) (aka Autopsy of a Ghost) as Satán
- Pacto diabólico (1969) (aka Diabolical Pact) as Dr. Halback
- The Trouble with Girls (1969) as Mr. Drewcolt
- Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969) as George – the butler
- Las Vampiras (1969) (aka The Vampires) as Count Branos Alucard
- The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1969) as Ticker
- Five Bloody Graves (1969) as Boone Hawkins
- Enigma de muerte (1969) as Mad Doctor / Nazi Leader
- La Señora Muerte (1969) (aka Madame Death) as Dr. Favel
- The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals (1969) as Prof. Cummings
- Hell’s Bloody Devils (1970) aka The Fakers (TV title) as Pet Shop Owner
- Cain’s Cutthroats (1970) as Preacher Simms
- Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970) (aka Creatures of the Prehistoric Planet, Creatures of the Red Planet, Space Mission to the Lost Planet, Vampire Men of the Lost Planet) as Dr. Rynning
- Blood of the Iron Maiden (1970) aka Trip to Terror (reissue title) as Dr. Goolie
- Myra Breckinridge (1970) as Surgeon
- Shinbone Alley (1970) as Tyrone T. Tattersall (voice)
- The McMasters (1970) as Preacher
- Bigfoot (1970) as Jasper B. Hawks
- Honey Britches (1971) as The Judge of Hell (uncredited)
- Blood Legacy (1971) (aka Legacy of Blood) as Christopher Dean
- Beast of the Yellow Night (1971)
- The Gatling Gun (1971) as Rev. Harper
- The Seven Minutes (1971) as Sean O’Flanagan
- Boxcar Bertha (1972) as H. Buckram Sartoris
- Portnoy’s Complaint (1972) as Judge (voice, uncredited)
- Richard (1972) as Plastic Surgeon
- Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972) as Doctor Bernardo
- Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) as Charlie Towman
- Terror in the Wax Museum (1973) as Claude Dupree
- Bad Charleston Charlie (1973) as Fritz Frugal – Reporter
- Superchick (1973) as Igor Smith
- Shadow House (1973) as Uncle
- Hex (1973) (scenes deleted)
- The House of Seven Corpses (1974) as Edgar Price
- Moonchild (1974) as Mr. Walker
- Young Frankenstein (1974) (scenes deleted)
- Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (1975) as The Man
- Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) as Drunk
- The Shootist (1976) as Beckum
- The Killer Inside Me (1976) as Dr. Jason Smith
- The Last Tycoon (1976) as Tour Guide
- Crash! (1977) as Dr. Welsey Edwards
- The Sentinel (1977) as Father Halliran
- The White Buffalo (1977) as Amos Briggs (Undertaker)
- Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977) as The Bum
- The Mouse and His Child (1977) as The Tramp (voice)
- Shock Waves (1977) as Captain Ben Morris
- Golden Rendezvous (1977) (aka Nuclear Terror) as Fairweather
- The Lady and the Lynchings (1977)
- Doctor Dracula (1978) aka Svengali as Hadley Radcliff
- Sunset Cove (1978/I) as Judge Harley Winslow
- Vampire Hookers (1978) as Richmond Reed
- The Bees (1978) as Dr. Sigmund Hummel
- The Seekers (1979) as Avery Mills
- Missile X: The Neutron Bomb Incident (1978) (also known as Teheran Incident and Cruise Missile) as Professor Nikolaeff
- Nocturna: Granddaughter of Dracula (1979) as Count Dracula
- Americathon (1979) as Uncle Sam (scenes deleted)
- The Long Riders (1980) (scenes deleted)
- Monster (1980) (aka Monstroid and The Toxic Horror) as The Priest
- The Boogeyman (1980) as Dr. Warren
- The Howling (1981) as Erle Kenton
- The Monster Club (1981) as Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes
- The Nesting (1981) (aka Massacre Mansion) as Col. LeBrun
- Goliath Awaits (1981) as Ronald Bentley
- Frankenstein Island (1981) as Dr. Frankenstein
- Aladdin and the Magic Lamp (1982) as The Wizard (voice)
- The Scarecrow (1982) as Hubert Salter
- Satan’s Mistress (1982) as Father Stratten
- The Secret of NIMH (1982) as Great Owl (voice)
- The Vals (1982) (aka Valley Girls) as Mr. Stanton – Head of the Orphanage
- House of the Long Shadows (1983) as Lord Elijah Grisbane
- Rose for Emily (1983) as Col. Sartoris
- The Ice Pirates (1984) as Supreme Commander
- Evils of the Night (1985) as Dr. Kozmar
- Prison Ship (1986) (aka Star Slammer) as The Justice
- Revenge (1986) (direct to video) (aka Revenge: Blood Cult 2) as Sen. Martin Bradford
- The Tomb (1986) as Mr. Andoheb
- Monster in the Closet (1986) as Old Joe Shempter
- Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) as Leo
- Evil Spawn (1987) as Dr. Emil Zeitman
- Buried Alive (1990) as Jacob Julian (filmed in 1988; released posthumously)
- Jack-O (1995) as Walter Machen (final film role) (scenes filmed in 1986; released posthumously)