the 1940s, Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster began to appear together
in movies such as House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula
(1945), and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). This
trend continued for decades. Both of them ventured into the Wild West
in the 1960s with Jesse James Meets Frankensteins Daughter
and Billy the Kid vs Dracula. The inevitable confrontation between
them occurred in 1970 with Dracula vs Frankenstein. Sequels and
spin-offs continued with an endless parade of sons, daughters, ghosts,
resurrections and revenges. We were bombarded by Blacula and
Blackenstein, as well as Spermula and Frankenhooker
(the latter being billed as A terrifying tale of sluts and bolts).
The trend continued into the 1990s, when Mel Brooks followed his classic
parody, Young Frankenstein (1979) with Dracula: Dead and Loving
It (1996), and Bram Stokers Dracula (1992) was followed
by Mary Shelleys Frankenstein (1994). In some cases, the
boundaries between the novels have been blurred: Young Frankenstein
is set in Transylvania; the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture
Show features Frank N. Furter from transsexual Transylvania;
and in Transylvania 6-5000, the Frankenstein Monster is tracked
down in Draculas homeland.
Not surprisingly, the same actors have often appeared as both the monster
and the vampire. Bela Lugosi was asked to play the Frankenstein monster
but, according to David Skal in Hollywood Gothic, he turned down
the offer: He objected to the makeup, and to dialogue which consisted
of nothing but grunts (184). (However, he did later appear as
Igor in Son of Frankenstein.) One year after playing the Frankenstein
Monster in The Curse of Frankenstein, Christopher Lee accepted
his most famous role -- that of the Count in Horror of Dracula.
Dwight Frye was cast as both Renfield and Fritz, while Peter Cushing
played both the monsters creator and the vampires nemesis.
Other actors who have appeared in both types of movies include Lionel
Atwill, Evelyn Aikens, John Carradine, Lon Chaney, Jr., Valerie Gaunt,
Donald Pleasance and Edward Van Sloan.
The pairing of Frankenstein and Dracula is not confined to the movies.
It occurs everywhere, from novels to comic books and T-shirts. Both
monsters shared the spotlight in Forrest Ackermans Famous Monsters
of Filmland which debuted in 1958, and were popular items in Auroras
Model Series. Both were spoofed in The Munsters. Both had breakfast
cereals named after them: Count Chocula and Frankenberry.
They even appeared together in childrens books, such as Draculas
Cat and Frankensteins Dog by Jan Wahl (1990). The two novels
have been adapted as comic books, and both Frankenstein and Dracula
have enjoyed their own comic-book series. Marvel Comics The
Frankenstein Monster (1973-4) includes a battle scene in which the
Monster is clearly the favourite. In the finale, he uses a crucifix
and a wooden stake (and a little help from the sun) to destroy the Count.
In contrast, Topps three-part series, The Frankenstein/Dracula War
(1995) sees them battle to a draw.
The two fiends often accompany each other on bookshelves. Donald Gluts
Frankenstein Meets Dracula (1977) is intended as a sequel to
both novels. As befits their portrayals in the original works, the Frankenstein
Monster is a more sympathetic character than the diabolical Count. Brian
Aldiss followed Frankenstein Unbound (1973) in which the Monster,
his creator and the author interact, with Dracula Unbound (1991)
featuring the Count and Bram Stoker. Novels such as Stephen Kings
Salem's Lot (1975) contain numerous allusions to both monsters,
while The Ultimate Frankenstein and The Ultimate Dracula
(1991) are collections of stories which focus on the respective characters.
A similar pairing has occurred in scholarly publications: Florescu and
McNallys In Search of Dracula (1972) was followed by Florescu's
study of the Frankenstein legend; Gluts non-fictional works include
The Frankenstein Legend and The Dracula Book; and Leonard
Wolf has prepared annotated editions of both texts.
Count Dracula and Victor Frankenstein may owe their names to historical
figures. Though the theory that Dracula is based on Vlad the Impaler
is shaky at best, we do know that the historical figure was the source
of the name. Radu Florescu, one of the co-authors of In Search of
Dracula, has also suggested a historical precedent for Victor Frankenstein.
In Search of Frankenstein (1975) begins with the revelation that
there was a Frankenstein family. Florescu believes that Shelley may
have visited Castle Frankenstein during her trip down the Rhine in the
summer of 1814. If so, she probably heard local stories about the eighteenth-century
alchemist Konrad Dippel who lived at Castle Frankenstein and was rumoured
to have carried out experiments with human body parts.
Frankenstein and Dracula both deal with the issues of death and
resurrection, creation and transgression, and the blurring of the boundaries
between life and death. This raises the question of whether any links
be found between the two texts. There is little doubt that Stoker had
read Frankenstein by the time he wrote Dracula. After his death
in 1912 his library, which was auctioned at Sothebys, included
a copy of Mary Shelleys novel. Indeed, in a letter to her son
soon after the publication of his masterpiece, his mother said, No
book since Mrs. Shelleys Frankenstein ... has come near
yours in originality, or terror. But was Dracula influenced
by Frankenstein in any way? While there is no evidence to suggest
a deliberate, conscious influence, it can be argued that Stokers
novel contains numerous resonances of Frankenstein, for they
both draw upon a common stock of narrative and thematic conventions.
Scholars point to a family resemblance which includes a
concern with transcending the limits of what is scientifically possible
(the boundaries between life and death), a portrayal of the monsters
as both dignified and pitiable, a suspenseful final chase, and the structure
of multiple narrations. Like dark twins, they embody the war between
science and superstition -- Apollo and Dionysus at the Saturday matinee
( David Skal, The Monster Show, 351).
On the surface, both works are horror novels which revolve around the
necessity of destroying a monster. A closer examination shows that many
of the qualities which define the monsters are a consequence of the
way in which their stories have been passed on to us. Both authors filter
their antagonists stories through the narratives of characters
whose biases are readily apparent.
Frankenstein is constructed from three different narrations.
Victors story includes the Monsters narrative, while both
of these viewpoints are enclosed in Waltons letters to Margaret.
The most important consequence of this textual appropriation is that,
with the exception of the closing remarks over Victors corpse,
the Monsters story is embedded in Victors text. Thus, Victor
asserts his authority over the Monsters side of the story. While
Victors text comes to us through Walton, there are crucial differences
in how their stories are filtered. Victor has editorial authority over
Waltons notes. At one point, he asked to see them, and then
himself corrected and augmented them in many places (175). A second
major difference is that Victor is speaking to a kindred spirit who
has embraced him as friend and who shares a similar Promethean ambition.
In contrast, Victor is a reluctant listener to the Monsters tale,
and has formed various conclusions about the speaker before hearing
his story. Victor also attempts to control Waltons response to
the Monsters text, for he clearly wants Walton (and ultimately,
us) to repudiate the Monster. Waltons momentary sympathy for the
creature is overshadowed by Victors warnings about its powers
of eloquence and persuasion. The deck is stacked. In spite of his professions
of remorse, Victor never abandons his conviction that he has acted nobly.
He continues to justify his right, not only to create but to destroy
what he has created. In addition, his refusal to share the secret of
his creation is a major cause of the catastrophes that befall his loved