All posts tagged: frankenstein

Real Monsters and Real Disgust: Comparing Reception of FREAKS and FRANKENSTEIN

INTRODUCTION Scholarship surrounding Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932) mostly includes discussion about public perception of disability. This discussion is certainly warranted, but I am hesitant to place sole responsibility for the film’s poor reception on said perception. Indeed, to place such emphasis on viewer attitudes about disability is to ignore systematic exploitation and “othering” of disabled people on behalf of MGM and the film itself. Therefore, with this essay I aim to provide a more complete historical analysis. I cannot claim to provide a complete historical analysis, because it is probably contentious to claim whether any historical analysis is fully complete. Nonetheless, I hope this essay suffices to make the point that discussing the 1930s attitude about disability is not enough when doing this reception study. I make this point by referencing a few different historical elements. Firstly, I raise James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) as a foil case because both films were characterized as “gruesome” the PCA files, and because they both have similar themes about ‘who the real monster is.’ Secondly, I compare the discussions …

Nicole Diroff is a double-major in Cinema Studies and Philosophy, with a minor in Creative Writing. She’s also the editor-in-chief of this edition of Screen Culture, and hopes one day to become a full-fledged professor.

What Lies Within: The Grotesque in Early Horror and the Fear of the Other Side of Humanity

Given the nature and form of the modern horror film, such antique fare as Frankenstein, The Island of Lost Souls, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde fail to invoke the same reactions as they once did—in fact, they seem quite every day in comparison. And yet, these films once held captive the minds of audiences around the country and stood boldly in the face of a censor board who were utterly appalled by the monsters at their door. While it is true that for a time they managed to tame the beasts, it seems rather strange to the modern viewer that such an act was even needed—and yet, there was clearly something about these films that flew in the face of everything that the Production Code deemed lawful and good. Skimming through the production notes of a long-lost era offers clues as to what warning signs each film bore: usually, fear of the film being too frightful or grotesque, or scenes that were deemed too violent or sexual—or, as the case may be, profane by …

Katherine Purvin is currently a Cinema Studies major a Oakland University, and hopes to someday work in the film industry as an animator. She can often be found at meetings of the Oakland University Filmmaker's Guild.