Robert Horton charts the ways ‘Frankenstein’ shaped pop culture

  • By Gale Fiege Herald Writer
  • Friday, March 21, 2014 12:31pm
  • LifeMovies

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

Beer and cupcakes: Snohomish brewer, baker form unlikely duo

Pacific Northwest Cupcakes uses SnoTown’s brews to make beer-infused sweet treats.

The art and science of weathervanes

They told the direction of the wind and aided in forecasting the, well, weather.

Hundreds of ways to pamper your home and yourself

Find fancy fridges to sparkling jewelry under one roof at home and gift shows in Everett.

This is exactly how a cleaning expert organizes her space in 20 minutes

Try these realistic and attainable tricks to land yourself a cleaner home.

Snohomish brewer flavors beer with chilies from mom’s back yard

Beer of the Week: Smoked rye forms sturdy foundation for SnoTown’s well-balanced Loose Rooster.

Fall is just another blooming season

October can be a time of spectacular colors in your garden.

Woodward Canyon Winery continues to weave masterpieces

Owner Rick Small uses grapes from vines he used when he made wine in his back yard in the 1970s.

Great Plant Pick: Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo,’ purple-leaf ninebark

Grow it with shrub roses and perennials, and it combines with with ornamental grasses.

Beer, wine, spirits: Snohomish County booze calendar

Dash to Diamond Knot: Flying Unicorn Racing is teaming up with Mukilteo’s… Continue reading

Most Read