It's alive, it's alive!!!
But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Doctor Frankenstein’s masterpiece has been portrayed dozens of times throughout pop culture,
from the primordial days of cinema,
to colossal kaiju and bloated big-budget blockbusters.
We can’t possibly cover all of them in one video,
but if you ever get the wacky idea that you want to play god,
history has provided a few foolproof methods for returning your monster to the grave,
or graves, it came from.
So tighten your bolts,
hug your nearest hunchback,
and hold on to your hubris,
because this is
How to Kill Frankenstein’s Monster
Frankenstein’s first onscreen appearance was in a 1910 silent film,
where the monster is more of a product of the doctor’s inner demons,
and vanishes thanks to the power of true love.
But the creature’s most famous depiction debuted 21 years later,
with Universal’s classic series that taught us a very valuable lesson:
James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein isn’t the most faithful adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel.
Boris Karloff’s portrayal of the creature as a mute, shambling hulk was a far cry from the book’s eloquent, intelligent creation,
but despite his horrific makeup and habit of throwing little girls into lakes,
the creature still manages to be fairly sympathetic,
although not to the mob of Bavarian villagers who track him to an old windmill and burn it to the ground.
In the sequel, ‘Bride of Frankenstein,’ we learn that the creature survived thanks to a flooded pit below the mill.
He takes refuge with a kindly hermit who teaches him to speak,
and eventually runs into one of his father’s fellow mad scientists,
who intrigues him with the proposition of a mate.
But once the blushing Bride rejects the monster’s advances,
he accepts his lot in life and pulls a convenient self destruct lever that blows up the laboratory and the abominations inside it.
Of course, death doesn’t really mean much when you’re already a reanimated gestalt of corpses and killers,
so in ‘Son of Frankenstein,’
the Doctor’s son Wolf revives the monster to clear his family’s infamous name.
That goes about as well as you’d expect,
and the monster is laid to rest once more when he falls into a boiling vat of molten sulfur.
This would be Boris Karloff’s last appearance as the iconic creature,
much to Bela Lugosi’s pleasure, I’m sure,
Forget you! Karloff does not deserve to smell my poop!
but Universal kept the gravy train rolling with five more sequels.
‘The Ghost of Frankenstein’ reveals that the monster survived his sulfur bath,
only to be vanquished in a third burning building.
‘Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man’ switches things up by declaring a no contest when both monsters are swept away in a massive flood,
while ‘House of Frankenstein’ dispatches the creature by drowning him in quicksand.
Pretty brutal, but not quite as foolproof as fire.
‘House of Dracula’ drops yet another flaming castle on top of the monster,
using the exact same footage from 'Ghost of Frankenstein,'
and when ‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,’
the creature perishes on a fiery pier.
Well he won't chase us anymore! And another thing, Mr. Chick Young, next time I tell you I saw something when I saw it,
you believe me that I saw it!
A few years later, the British studio Hammer unleashed their own series of Frankenstein films,
Starring Peter Cushing as the titualar doctor,
and Christopher Lee as the first creature,
who gets torched by a kerosene lantern,
and dissolved in a very poorly placed vat of acid.
The Hammer films would continue with a series of different monsters,
including two portrayed by Darth Vader himself, David Prowse,
and in most of them, he’s still defeated by the age-old method of dropping a burning building on him.
Hey, if it’s good enough for Grand Moff Tarkin,
Bud and Lou,
and Laurie Strode,
it’s good enough for me.
But if you’re looking for a more foolproof method,
and want to minimize property damage,
you can always turn to
‘Frankenstein’ has become a cautionary tale of science gone awry,
but sometimes, the creature can be killed by the same technology that brought him to life in the first place.
Like in ‘I Was a Teenage Frankenstein,’
where a bunch of hot-rodding hunks are resurrected as a murderous monster.
Even after he gets a dreamy face graft, the post-pubescent peril is still pretty pissed off,
and as he’s struggling to throw his creator into an alligator pit,
he bumps into some goofy ‘50s sci-fi equipment and gets fatally electrocuted.
Jumping forward 60 years, we’ve got the slicker but just as embarrassing ‘Victor Frankenstein,’
a bloated, big budget retelling of the story from Igor’s perspective,
Sir, please, may I know your name?
starring James McAvoy as the titular doctor and Daniel Radcliffe as a hunky, hunch-less hunchback.
At least they’re kind enough to give their creature a name, Prometheus,
before they mercilessly electrocute it with their lab equipment,
and stab it through both of its hearts.
Now 1990’s ‘Frankenstein Unbound’ is a bit of an odd duck,
it was schlockmaster Roger Corman’s final film,
and he put his own unique spin on the story by giving the monster six fingers,
cool kaleidoscope eyes,
and a healthy dose of time travel.
Opening in the far-off year of 2031,
a scientist played by John Hurt gets thrown back to 1817 Switzerland,
where he encounters a young Mary Shelley,
and Dr. F, of course, played by none other than Raul Julia.
I wanted to give man the power to create life! To free him from a cruel and ficticious god! What man ever achieved that?!
Hurt tries to destroy the creature and its bride with a high-tech doodad,
but the whole gang gets thrown back to the future,
where there are more effective weapons than torches and pitchforks.
You know how when you go to a concert your ticket says laser pointers are banned?
Well this is why.
But if you’re nervous about handling dangerous equipment,
you can always hope for an
Okay, so this is a really specific example that’s pretty far from the typical Frankenstein experience,
but it’s too weird to not bring up here, and hey, you never know.
In 1965, Godzilla creator Ishiro Honda directed ‘Frankenstein Conquers the World,’
in which the monster’s undying heart is captured from Nazi Germany,
only to wind up in Hiroshima on the day the Atomic Bomb fell.
15 years later, the irradiated heart grows a new body,
which increases to massive size and escapes from captivity.
As if that wasn’t enough, another Kaiju named Baragon arose to wreak havoc on Japan,
and he clashes with Frankenstein in an epic battle that ends only when the Earth itself opens up.
Frankenstein is finally dead.
He can't die. His heart will live on forever.
Seismic shifts only stop him for so long though,
Frankenstein returns in ‘War of the Gargantuas’ to battle his evil doppelganger,
only to be vanquished in a volcanic eruption.
Now, if your suspension of disbelief stops with colossal kaiju,
you might prefer the more traditional death in ‘Frankenstein: The True Story,’
where Victor begs the creature to forgive him for bringing him into this awful existence,
and his pleas set off an avalanche that crushes the demented duo.
But what if you create your creature far from any snowy mountains or seismic plates?
What will you do then?
Well, you might not have to do anything at all,
because the monster itself might just do the job for you,
with a noble
In situations where the monster is capable of thought,
it usually comes to the conclusion that sometimes dead is better.
Like in ‘Monster Squad,’
where Tom Noonan’s friendly Frankenstein monster puts an end to Dracula’s evil scheme,
and willingly steps through a portal to limbo to save the world from further horrors.
In ‘Flesh for Frankenstein,’ also known as ‘Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein.’
Udo Kier stars as the mad scientist who brings his creations to life in order to breed a new race of Serbian supermen.
The Serbian race comes in direct descent of glory from the Ancient Greeks!
Unfortunately, his monster’s sex drive is somewhat lacking
because the doctor accidentally implanted him with the brain of a celibate monk.
After his prospective mate is disemboweled during foreplay gone wrong,
the creature kills his creator,
You have put an end to my experiments! But my work will live on!
then rips open his own guts to cap off this extremely strange film.
It’s about as far from Mary Shelley’s original novel as you can get,
although in the book, the creature does gives up the ghost of his own accord.
After the monster strangles Victor’s loved ones,
the doctor chases his creation to the North Pole,
where he succumbs to hypothermia after telling his tale.
The monster is devastated by the loss, and vows to end his solitude by taking his own life,
and the last we see him, the creature is floating away on an ice raft, lost in darkness and distance.
It’s a haunting end, but not exactly a cinematic one,
which is why even films that purport to be more accurate usually give the monster a more satisfying demise.
In Kenneth Branagh’s faithful-but-not-really 1994 adaptation called ‘Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,’
Robert DeNiro does an amazing job portraying the creature as a confused, complex being who wants only to be accepted by the world he didn’t ask to be part of,
and while the rest of the movie is kind of a mess,
God please help me!
the ending more-or-less plays out the same way,
only when his creator dies,
the monster leaps onto his father’s funeral pyre and dies in a fiery blaze.
It just goes to show you,
you can shoot it, stab it, shock it, avalanche it,
but if there’s one lesson I can leave you with,
one singular truth to show you how best to deal with your slimy new son,