{Guest Post} Why Can’t We Have an Accurate Frankenstein Adaptation? by C.J. Bow


Why Can’t We Have an Accurate Frankenstein Adaptation?


First things first, thank you Cedar Hollow for the invite to occupy some internet space. There weren’t any rules in the break room about how many donuts you could take, so I stuffed pockets like chipmunk cheeks. Quite accommodating. I hope this doesn’t affect my chances for coming back for another go-round. 


When you love something dearly, you defend it with snarling teeth – fiercely – like a wolf guards her wounds. This is me. This is me when it comes to Frankenstein. 


When Mary Shelley birthed this masterpiece 201 years ago, no one knew that she’d be permanently affixed amongst the Mount Rushmore’s of horror. She revolutionized terror through the impossibilities of science fiction – pivotal to the movement that women too can write horror gooder than men.




Mary enters a contest of who can conjure up the scariest short story in a room full of boys, back in the days where a woman ought not be caught outside of the kitchen. Through re-animation, the hubris of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and the woefully relatable monster she demonstrated that not only men are good at this writing horror business. They can excel. In fact,she demoralizes and hog-ties ‘em – putting them in their place and her into the pantheons of classic horror.


What a bad ass. 


Since then, men have tried to re-tell the story, time and time again having failed every single time. It makes me sick. It’s almost as if I’m watching these dudes’ man-splain how Frankenstein should have been told the first time. Come off it!


I watch people gobble up every bit of Frankenstein, through the movies and Dean Koontz’s awful re-imagination (sorry Dean – Love your stuff, hate the Frankie things though) and watch their eyes widen and brighten as if the parade had come to town and Mary Shelley was resurrected and blessed us all with her presence explaining shell be writing, directing, and producing her very own Netflix special.


Alas, no. The grand parade will pass me by. The smiling faces and cheery cheeks handing out candy will be cast at my feet. Stuff your lungs and hold the fanfare, my disappointment will spend eternity in suspension.


Never will I ever get a TRUE Frankenstein adaptation.



Alls I want is the pages of the book to make it on screen.


The first one, the Universal one that is, showed you the tenderness of the beast that “ought to be thy Adam, but am rather the fallen angel.” The fiend stumbled upon a little girl who had been tossing flowers into the lake just to watch them float in an aquatic bouquet. He makes contact with the little girl and she shares her stash where, quickly, Frankie’s Monster sheds them. His eyes all aglow and washed in wonderment. Then, with the lack of things to throw into the water, he grabs the little girl and in she goes! The innocence on his face, though. Guhhhhh, that kills me!


Great add. Not in the f*cking book.


QUICK SIDE BAR ON DIS MOVIE: Look at this below. Even then it went to show you how much they weren’t willing to acknowledge Mary Shelley as not only the author of the book, but as a human being.


The fuck is that? Spare me the antiquated “That’s how shit used to be.” People been out-of-whack for a minute or two. Anyway…


Does Boris Karloff play a great monster? If you like brain-barf, thoughtless, lethargic beasts, then yeah. Sure. Chiseled outta marble if you’d be so bold. But the audience loved a meathead Frankenstein’s monster who moved and brained like a refrigerator on wheels.




If you microwave your lunch in a Styrofoam bowl full of shrimp and day-old egg with a metal fork lodged between the chow mein, I won’t bat an eye. I might duck for cover, but my eyelids won’t flutter in the least bit. I can’t tell you how to live your live, much less tell you that your love-affair with Frankenstein (based on the flick) is founded on lies. I will do me, and I hope that you will continue to do you. I love you regardless.


I’m just saying, is he like the one in the book? No. Not even close. Frankenstein’s creature was just a – well, I’ll let Mary explain; “… I suddenly beheld the figure of a man, at some distance, advancing towards me with superhuman speed. He bounded over the crevices in the ice, among which I had walked with caution; his stature, also, as he approached, seemed to exceed that of man.” 


In a snapshot, the essence of the creature exudes and clearly portrays that he is not a plodding sasquatch, but more of a super-sized Superman. He navigated the terrain with ease, where Victor was hamstringed by his size and inferior myelination. An eight-foot freak with the capabilities of erasing you from the world in a single swipe is a tad more frightening than the former. 



But surely, C.J., a beast of this significant size and stature would most definitely have breadcrumbs for brains. I’m SO glad you think so. Mary… would you just… would you mind helping again? “All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things!”




Was that enough? Nah… I think you need the full-bodied experience. Listen to this, “Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.”




The monster is a wordsmith. Baffling what sentiments he could weave together to threaten the life of Victor. “On you it rests, whether I quit forever the neighbourhood of man and lead a harmless life, or become the scourge of your fellow creatures, and the author of your own speedy ruin.” He is the accumulation of which all people should prosper to be. I know I do. 

So, point made. Great story, wrong book. 


Then, you have the movie of the same name Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein which should have been aborted at conception. From the get-go they lead on the wrong foot – the captain and his crew-ship cronies engaging in an all-out battle with the monster (Robert DeNiro). THIS NEVER HAPPENS! Not in the beginning, not in the end – not in the meat of the story – NO WHERE! 


Not to skip around on the inaccuracies, but Victor’s BFF Henry Clerval was never in the loop on piecing the monster together. Fuck! He was too late on that business. When he did arrive, he was too busy trying to restore the gaunt Victor Frankenstein – who’s health had been on the decline since the creation of his monster. 


I won’t waste your time in explaining exactly why that movie is a runny streak of diarrhea in my drawers. I’ll just conclude themovie with saying that it is a total abomination and doesn’t deserve the title of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. 


Look, I’m thankful that some of these titles exist. The original film was paramount to resuscitating life back into Frankenstein – certainly paving the way for the book to get into my hands present day. But is it so f-ing hard to ask that someone READ THE BOOK FOR FUCKS SAKE AND JUST DO THE DAMN THING JUSTICE. You’ve got all the makings of incredible horror in the pages. Be the guy (preferably a gal) who can be the cure Mary of nausea in her grave and halts the crocodile death roll that has churned for a near century.  


What I will say is that the Showtime series Penny Dreadful was the closest to getting the monster correct. ‘Cept for he didn’t tower over mortal men with a ham-handed fist and the size to play center for the L.A. Lakers – but I’d much rather have my Frankenstein be moderately strong, and incredibly intelligent. The type of brain-space that rivals the acumen of Neil Degrasse Tyson or Stephen Hawking (R.I.P.).


That’s all. Why can’t we just get it done? Why can’t we have nice things? Why can’t we do a Frankenstein story that is exactly what we were prescribed back when Mary Shelley told the boys to go home to let the real women write the horror?




C.J. Bow gets his kicks writing while wearing several hats; one’s marked father, husband, son, sibling, soldier, colleague, so on and so forth. When not fulfilling hat obligations, he reads and writes and breathes horror. His debut book, The Portable Horrors of C. J. Bow – a collection of short stories based out of his home state, released in mid-October of 2018 which is available on Amazon.

Before that, he penned fantasy football articles for several off-beat sports sites (lastwordonsports.com and purplePTSD.com). In the angsty years of his youth, he wrote sloppy poetry and channeled his inner-Eminem writing raps that would fail to get anywhere further than his yellow-tinged stack of high school notebooks from way back when. They will never see the light of day.

He hails from small town, Minnesota. His latest efforts have focused on home. Peeling back the veil of Minnesota nice to show the hidden and macabre of the Land of 10,000 Lakes. His muses include his wife, daughter, and friends. He enjoys the strange and unknown and loves to share his twisted perspective with you all.

You can find C. J. Bow on Twitter (@C_J_Bow), Instagram (@cjb0w), and Facebook

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