The history of horror film is full
of adaptations that draw upon fiction or folklore, or have assumed the
shape of remakes of preexisting films. From its earliest days, horror
film has turned to examples of the horror genre in fiction (such as the
Victorian Gothic) or legend (as diverse as classical mythology, biblical
stories or the ‘The Golem’ from Yiddish folklore) for source
From its earliest days, horror film has turned to examples of the horror genre in fiction, such as the Victorian Gothic, for source material. The horror film has continually responded to cultural pressures and ideological processes that resulted in new, mutated forms of the genre. Adaptation in horror cinema is a useful point of departure for articulating numerous socio-cultural trends. Adaptation for the purposes of survival proves the impetus for many horror movie monsters. This book engages generic and thematic adaptations in horror cinema from a wide range of aesthetic, cultural, political and theoretical perspectives. These diverse approaches further evidence the horror genre's obsession with corporeal transformation and narratological re-articulation. Many horror films such as Thomas Edison's Frankenstein, John S. Robertson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, David Cronenberg'sVideodrome, Abel Ferrara's Body Snatchers, and Terence Fisher's The Gorgon are discussed in the book. The book sheds welcome light upon some of the more neglected horror films of cinema's first century, and interrogates the myriad alterations and re-envisionings filmmakers must negotiate as they transport tales of terror between very different modes of artistic expression. It extends the volume's examination of adaptation as both an aesthetic process and a thematic preoccupation by revealing the practice of self-reflexivity and addresses the remake as adaptation. The book analyses the visual anarchy of avant-garde works, deploys the psychoanalytic film theory to interpret how science and technology impact societal secularisation, and explores the experimental extremes of adaptation in horror film.
Throughout this study we have seen
that the adaptation of fiction has been a central process in radio drama
since the very beginning of the form. Adaptation has been at the heart
of the most popular broadcasts on British radio: for example, the radio
‘institution’ BBC’s Woman’s Hour (1946
onwards) has, for many years, featured a fifteen-minute dose of drama in
Adaptive symbiosis and Peake’s Presumption, or the fate of Frankenstein
of ‘all kinds of [perceived] political monstrosity’ (Armitage 224). And we can add adaptation theory to the metaphoric cultural possibilities of the Frankenstein trope. This chapter argues for the productivity of what I call a Frankensteinian model for adaptation studies, which attempts to systematically trace and account for the work of intertextuality in the act of adaptation.
The Frankensteinian model, or ‘Not things learned so much as things remembered’
In imagining Frankenstein as a model for adaptation, we
M ARY S HELLEY ’ S F RANKENSTEIN (1818) occupies a rare position in our cultural memory: most of us ‘know’ it regardless of whether or not we have read it.
This circumstance owes much to James Whale’s 1931 film adaptation, which is often credited with establishing the definitive visual lexicon for Frankenstein . 1 Of course, Whale’s is not the first visual adaption of the novel. Prior to 1931, Shelley’s novel was adapted numerous times for the stage – e.g., Richard Brinsley Peake’s Presumption (1823) and
Movies speak mainly to the eyes. Though they started talking in words some seventy years ago, what they say to our ears seldom overpowers or even matches the impact of what they show us. This essay proposes to read one more time the issue of homosexuality in Mary Shelley‘s first novel, Frankenstein. In order to offer a new angle on the homosexual component of Victor Frankenstein‘s relationship with his creature when next teaching this most canonical Romantic novel, this essay considers Shelley‘s work alongside four film adaptations: James Whale‘s 1931 Frankenstein, Whale‘s 1935 The Bride of Frankenstein, Richard O’Briens 1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Kenneth Branagh‘s 1994 Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein. These films present their audience with original readings of their source material, readings that can be questioned with regards to their lack of truthfulness to the original works themes and characters.
Forbidden Planet, Frankenstein, and the atomic age
Dennis R. Perry
F ORBIDDEN P LANET (W ILCOX 1956), MGM’s big-budget entry into the 1950s ‘golden age’ of cinema science fiction, has long been considered the best science-fiction film from the decade, only surpassed by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey some twelve years later. Beyond its spectacular special effects and memorable robot, Robby, Forbidden Planet ’s story has had the added prestige of being considered a thoughtful adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest , with Morbius as Prospero, Robby as Ariel, Altaira as Miranda, Commander Adams as
T WO PRODUCTIONS OF STAGE adaptations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein emerged in the UK in the spring of 2011, both of which made explicit reference to their liveness in performance. The National Theatre in London production was based upon Nick Dear’s stage adaptation of the novel and was directed by celebrated filmmaker, Danny Boyle. It featured acclaimed popular television and film actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. As part of its theatrical run, the production was commissioned, on a couple of occasions, to be
Adapting a novel for the stage is no easy task, especially if the novel in question is as famous and omnipresent as Bram Stoker‘s Dracula. Seven years prior to Francis Ford Coppola‘s box office hit, the Scottish poet and playwright Liz Lochhead wrote a version of the vampire saga which not only successfully translates the technical complexities of Stoker‘s text into the difficult medium of the theatre, but also offers a careful reading and contemporary evaluation of the subversive potential of the novel. In her adaptation, the fundamental dilemma of subjectivity and otherness becomes visible and demonstrates why Stoker‘s creation keeps fascinating readers, film audiences and critics alike.
This essay examines the proliferation of visual representations of Robert Louis Stevenson‘s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), considering the question of what links contemporary (Scottish?) Gothic to its problematic origins. After a survey of cinematic and graphic adaptations, the essay focuses on Steven Moffatt‘s Jekyll (BBC, 2007), which combines the post-Darwinian anxieties surrounding Stevensons tale of human regression with a much more contemporary interrogation of the ‘human’ against the backdrop of complex globalised scientific conspiracies. Significantly, the production draws on the Scottish origin of the text, re-proposing the question of (national) identity and authenticity against the threat of globalisation.