Tag Archives: Wikipedia

Nolan’s Insomnia Theater Presents: “Frankenstein” (1931)

I watched “Frankenstein” (1931) last night, as it was one of those immeasurably frustrating nights when I couldn’t sleep.  No, this movie obviously can’t be considered frightening by modern standards — but I still had fun finally seeing a Universal Pictures monster movie I’ve heard about all my life.

Here are a few fun Frankenfacts, courtesy of Wikipedia:

  1. If the story here feels static and dialogue heavy, there’s a reason for that.  Like “Dracula” (which Universal Pictures released the same year), “Frankenstein” was adapted from a stage play, which itself had been adapted from its classic novel source material.
  2. The makeup effects for Boris Karloff’s monster might seem simple by today’s standards, but people went nuts for them in 1931.  I can’t imagine what a Depression-era filmgoer might think of a modern tv  show like “The Walking Dead.”
  3. If you think Hollywood relies too heavily on cheesy sequels today, take a look at the B-list stuff that followed this classic movie: “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935), “Son of Frankenstein” (1939), “The Ghost of Frankenstein” (1942), “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” in 1943 (which was also a sequel to 1941’s “The Wolf Man”), “House of Frankenstein” (1944), and “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” (1948).  Dr. Frankenstein’s monster also showed up in “House of Dracula” (1945).
  4. “Frankenstein” has something else in common with “Dracula” — the talented, hyperactive character actor, Dwight Frye.  Here he is the scene-stealing assistant to the doctor — he is Dracula’s minion, Renfield, in the other film.
  5. Frye’s character is not named “Igor,” as countless homages and references to this movie might lead you to believe.  His name is “Fritz.”  There is a deformed, graverobbing henchman named “Ygor” in the later “Son of Frankenstein,” and I am guessing the two movies are just easily conflated in popular memory.  Also … the mob of townspeople never storm Frankenstein’s castle with torches and pitchforks.  They instead chase the monster to an abandoned windmill at the top of a mountain, and destroy him there.  (I am guessing that the denouement I thought I’d see also comes from a sequel.)
  6. I … might have noticed a major plot hole for the movie.  (Yes, I realize that it is almost certainly absent from Mary Shelley’s 1918 novel, which I have not read).  The townspeople want to hunt down the monster for his accidental drowning of  little girl.  But … how did they know the monster was even involved?  We are shown nobody witnessing the tragedy.  In fact, how do the townspeople even know that the monster exists — and that it was loose from the laboratory if its birth?  Granted, I might have missed something — it was a sleepless night for me, after all.

Let me close with two observations:

  1.  The castle housing Frankenstein’s laboratory would be a wicked cool place to live if it were properly renovated.  Think about it.  You’d need to wire it everywhere with reliable heat and electricity, and then somehow keep it dry — no small feat for an abandoned castle.   But could you imagine how amazing it would be to have a home office there?  A library?  A home theater?  A dining room?  You could have a whole Victor von Doom thing going on.
  2. I really want to see “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.”  I think that will be next for a sleepless night.


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Throwback Thursday: this 1986 Laser Tag commercial!

I remember Laser Tag as an exciting but fairly brief blip in 1980’s pop culture.  A lot of the kids I knew got excited about these commercials, a lot of us asked earnestly for Laser Tag guns Christmas, and … none of us got them.  (Our parents seemed unanimous that they were too expensive.)

Ah, well.  The subsequent buzz around my neighborhood was that our parents were probably wise, anyway — we heard later that the guns hardly worked, making the product nowhere near as cool as the commercials depicted.  (I am linking below to Kevin Noonan’s Youtube Channel, by the way.)

And then the fad faded — all the hubbub around Laser Tag (and Photon, its cheaper competitor) just kinda went away.  It sort of makes sense.  Paintball was alive and well as an edgier, more subversive, and more exciting sport; I can’t imagine how these gaudy electronic products could compete with that.

The Wikipedia entry for Laser Tag had a couple of surprises for me.  For starters, the technology for the products’ infrared light guns and sensors was developed by the United States Army in the 1970’s — I guess it was an Ender’s Game-type scenario.  And the first game system using the technology was South Bend’s Star Trek Electronic Phaser Guns in 1979.  (Those toys were released in conjunction with the premiere of that year’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”)

Didn’t see that one coming.  I’ll bet those toys fetch a nice price among collectors.

Anyway, there was another Laser Tag commercial that everybody talked about back in the day … it depicted American and Russian teams competing in a dystopian-future tournament, in which the Statue of Liberty was the trophy.  It’s smile-inducing.  I couldn’t find a really decent copy of it to link to here, but you can find it on Youtube.

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Trapper Keepers

I’m a little confused about Wikipedia saying that Mead’s Trapper Keepers were popular from the 1970’s through the 1990’s; I remember them strictly as an early 80’s phenomenon.  (Maybe by the time I reached junior high school, the kids in my age group simply outgrew them.)

What an exercise in style over substance.  I know that these are fondly remembered; they’re a favorite item on many 80’s nostalgia sites.  Trapper Keepers and their folders (were those the “trappers?”) were flimsy.  They didn’t hold much paper — especially with those junky little plastic binder rings.  You could do a lot better with a cheap, no-frills metal binder.  (Yeah, I was a nerdy enough kid to notice these things.)  I asked my mother to buy these for me only once during grade school, and then never again.

 

 

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