In a poll I am conducting for my “how to create a monster” research, Dracula is beating the pants off The Wolf Man and The Mummy. Frankenstein is running a close second. Not all the votes are in however, but Dracula is holding on strong. Final tallies will be reported on Wednesday.
The Short Of It
I don’t get it. Cold, blood sucking Dracula is winning. Why? What makes him THE favorite classic movie monster of all times?
The Long Of It
In my endeavor to find out:
- Why we have no modern monsters that surpass the classics.
- And how can we create one.
We will take a look at Dracula in our research today.
Modern television, film, and literature is alive and well with the influence of Dracula, and though vampires have been around since the beginning of Greek Mythology, it is Bram Stoker’s genius that we can credit for our contemporary knowledge of the blood-sucker.
Stoker’s story of Dracula bares a marked resemblance to the Greek myth involving the lovers Ambrogio and Selene right down to the hiding in a coffin during the day, being immortal, and sucking blood from a loved one. This myth is said to be the true origin of vampirism.
These myths all have one thing in common—lovers. Now, Stoker doesn’t have a love interest for his Dracula—past or present. I know, I know it’s in the movie BUT that is the movie version. In the book, Dracula is just a blood-sucker not some lovely version of Ian Somerhalder, or Paul Wesley, or Robert Patterson.
I mean look at the guy!
But there is a love story in the book and it’s between Mina Murray and Jonathan Harker.
Are we safe in saying then, we should add love to the guidelines for creating a monster?
Frankenstein is looking for love, perhaps in all the wrong places, aka the Bride of Frankenstein, nonetheless he seeks love.
Dracula, in many movie versions, is seeking his long lost love in Mina. And in the book there is the Mina and Jonathan love story.
The Mummy is cursed and mummified alive for trying to resurrect his forbidden lover. But this is just in the cinematic version. The first fictional mummy was introduced by author Jane C. Loudon in her 1827 book, The Mummy: Or A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, and it is a science fiction with none of cursed-mummy-resurrected-by-incantation plot. Loudon’s mummy, Cheops, is revived via a galvanic machine—how very futuristic. The cursed Mummy’s forbidden love interest was initiated for the 1932 movie staring Boris The King Karloff. I think it’s safe to conclude that—for the sake of the populace and popularity—a lover evolved for The Mummy.
The Wolf Man, in whatever version you wish to study, always appears to have a love interest.
Summary of needed requirements to create a monster.
- He must be created from the imagination of a writer.
- The monster should be so depraved—in actions or appearance or both—that society and even his maker reject him and try to destroy him. This gives the monster something with which we as humans can empathize.
- His detestability is derived from something unnatural like the dead coming back to life, the undead, or being composed of the parts of numerous dead people.
- Love—either as its main squeeze or as a backstory for the journey of a monster.
Probe-filing of Dracula
Comments Worth Considering For Our Monster Creation
My research is purely selfish. Yes, I am a lover of the classic movie monsters. But it is my obsession to create such as being—follow in Mary Shelley’s footprints so to speak. (Her daughter’s name was Clara after all.)
In my community discussions, people keep bringing up zombies, aliens, and even orks. Yes, they are monsters, but they are also a collective, a hive. There is not one zombie that stands out as the most monstrous of all. There is not a single entity that denotes zombie, or alien, or orks.
I received a very interesting comment on my blog about Frankenstein. He suggested that a monster needed to be thematic of his era.
“I think a classic monster should be born from societal fears. Suppression and oppression of the turn of the century…technology and nuclear fears of the mid century…and the government or global fears of technology now…even aliens (fear of space/ other cultures/ technology). A classic monster should tie itself to the era in which it is born, but also tackle a subject that is universal and timeless.”- O
blog post #95