Robert Horton charts the ways ‘Frankenstein’ shaped pop culture

The Herald’s film critic, Robert Horton, grew up in Seattle watching “Nightmare Theater,” which aired late Friday nights during the 1960s and ’70s on KIRO-TV.

“I was a devoted viewer, daring my friends to get all the way through the movies they showed,” Horton said. “I loved that world of old horror films.”

On one of those Friday nights, he watched James Whale’s 1931 film “Frankenstein.”

Horton, now 55, believes the film, which starred Boris Karloff as the monster, has had a decades-long imprint on American culture.

“It was one of the founding films that inspired the horror genre,” he said. “It is considered a classic film for good reason. And the Frankenstein metaphor continues in all media today.”

In February, Columbia University Press/Wallflower Press released Horton’s new book “Frankenstein,” an analysis of the original movie, which then tracks Frankenstein’s monster from Mary Shelley’s novel to its inspiration for the cult followers and makers of horror flicks today.

The 1931 “Frankenstein” spawned countless sequels, remakes, ripoffs and parodies, and renews its followers with each generation, Horton said.

“I had a lot of fun watching the film again, doing the research and then writing the book,” Horton said.

The $15, 128-page book has an appendix in which Horton supplies one-paragraph descriptions of the dozens of Frankenstein movies that followed the original film.

Horton, a University of Washington graduate, also is the author of the 2001 book “Billy Wilder: Interviews” as well as co-author of the 2010 zombie-western graphic novel “Rotten” and its 2012 spinoff “The Lost Diary of John J. Flynn.”

Along with his 30 years as The Herald’s film critic, Horton writes commentary for Seattle Weekly, is a contributor to Film Comment and KUOW-FM, curator of the Frye Art Museum’s Magic Lantern program, writes the blog “The Crop Duster,” has had his work included in “Best American Movie Writing 1999,” served as president of the Seattle Film Society and teaches film studies at Seattle University.

His blog, Horton said, is a daily record of the films he has watched.

“It’s a slightly more advanced version of the movie list I kept, in Flair pen, thumbtacked next to my bed when I was 12,” he said.

“I liked movies as a kid, when I was watching Nightmare Theater. And when I got to the UW, I realized I liked writing. It was easy to combine the two. It’s a good creative outlet.”

More in Life

For Texas BBQ, look for the school bus at the reptile museum

This husband-and-wife team has been serving up brisket and more for a decade in Monroe.

This new Pacific Northwest history textbook is a page turner

Opportunity, growth, conflict. It all happened here, historian David Jepsen says. “Snohomish… Continue reading

The ‘Whimsical Woman’ shares what she learns on the trail

Jennifer Mabus came here from Nevada and Hawaii. She leads hikes and blogs about them.

Restored historic bungalow is featured Everett Home Tour stop

The new owners received high praise from previous inhabitants for preserving its character.

Oh, the horrors! ‘mother’ an exhausting carnival of chaos

What is “mother!”? The coy publicity for this non-capitalized movie hasn’t revealed… Continue reading

Urban trails: 10 hiking destinations close to home

You don’t have to go into the backcountry to hike through Snohomish… Continue reading

Glamping: This mom’s new fav way to do family vacations

After spending the summer searching for the perfect tent trailer, I finally… Continue reading

This father’s reflections on the joys and fears of parenthood

I loved having children. It’s been one of the high points of… Continue reading

Most Read