Morgan C. O’Brien
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The Curse of Frankenstein
Hammer Film Studios’ reinvention of horror cinema
in Adapting Frankenstein
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Knowing that historical events include multiple converging lines of historical forces enables us to delve into Hammer Films’ own ‘Frankenstein Complex’ to probe how the studio made a nineteenth-century tale meaningful to a post-World War II audience. Hammer’s first Gothic adaptation illustrates how the studio was able to effect a paradigm shift in horror by differentiating their Frankenstein from previous properties, including focusing more on the creator than on the Creature. Film adaptation is about assemblage, where the concept of ‘fidelity’ to a source is less meaningful than the discursive formations that coalesce during production and saturate the final product. Jimmy Sangster’s revolutionary script creates an unsympathetic Frankenstein who becomes the film’s real monster – a driven, unrepentant psychopath.

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