Shudder’s A Nightmare Wakes will delve into the story behind Mary Shelley’s creation of Frankenstein and, as a result, has the potential to totally reinvent the creature in contemporary horror movies – here’s how. The further exploration of Mary Shelley herself has been a long time coming, as her novel has been a vital img of entertainment in the genre since its publication in 1818. Now that Universal is revisiting their classic movie monsters, A Nightmare Wakes has the opportunity to set the record straight on Shelley’s creature and impact the way filmmakers approach it in the future.
In 1816, a teenage Shelley ventured to Geneva, Switzerland with her future husband Percy and close friend, Lord Byron, where they would compete for who could pen the scariest story. Prior to these events, she traveled through Europe. They notably stopped in Gernsheim, which is located a short distance from the real-life Frankenstein’s Castle. It was once home to an alchemist who conducted mysterious experiments during the 17th century. While it has never been confirmed, it is speculated that this prompted her to imagine a scientist who created a man and came to fear it. Frankenstein is considered the first true science fiction novel, as it delved into what later became common themes in the genre. This includes experimentation and scientific discovery.
The first official Frankenstein movie premiered in 1910, but it wasn’t until Universal’s 1931 feature that Dr. Frankenstein’s creature gained his iconic appearance, mannerisms, and tone. Starring Boris Karloff as the creature, it followed the scientist as he gathered body parts and carefully constructed a man, who he brought to life with the assistance of an electrical storm. This is when Shelley’s original monster lost most of its identity in favor of a far more horrific depiction. With a biopic that delves into the author’s conception of the novel, it has the opportunity to bring her original Frankenstein into mainstream consciousness and reinvent the monster before the story is inevitably remade.
According to Shelley’s original work, Frankenstein’s monster was made up of the most beautiful body parts and features the scientist could find. He was highly intelligent and could talk as well as think for himself. Very few adaptations have come close to capturing the true monster’s essence. A Nightmare Wakes has the opportunity to shed light on how Shelley envisioned her creature through the intense imagery that she had while conceiving of the novel in Geneva. In doing so, it reinvents his appearance and behaviors that may lead to be truer to the img adaptation.
Considering the fact that Universal confirmed in March of 2020 that Frankenstein will be rebooted, it is likely that this movie already in the midst of production. It may be too late to interject and highlight the real monster – Dr. Frankenstein – unless they are already planning on doing so. According to the latest update, the plot follows a group of teenagers who discover that one of their neighbors is conducting strange scientific experiments. It can be speculated that this synopsis means Universal’s reboot will take place in a contemporary setting, much like The Invisible Man, and delve into relevant social commentary. Hopefully, this entails taking inspiration from Shelley’s original commentary on man wanting to control nature and losing control of it as a result.
The biopic approach and focus on Shelley is important for an often overlooked reason. Scholars such as Fiona Sampson have continually drawn attention to the lack of respect Shelley receives as a horror creator. A Nightmare Wakes has the opportunity to give her long overdue credit by highlighting how she conceived of one of the genre’s most important stories. Shelley was a revolutionary author who penned Frankenstein before the age of 20 and, as a result, created science fiction. Mary Shelley’s story in A Nightmare Wakes could reinvent the creature by subverting everything that makes him so different from the original img including who the monster truly is and the story’s poignant social commentary that has often been ignored.