Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Brides of Frankenstein


What a great painting! You might have seen it before, but I thought it was worth another view as early October appears in the Autumn night sky like a big orange harvest moon. And the tagline "more fearful than the monster himself" might have been true; especially when it was that time of the month.

The First Family of Halloween, The Munsters. Also a good way to kick off the official Monster Month. It's funny, but as a kid watching the show, somehow I missed the seemingly obvious fact that Herman is indeed the actual Frankenstein's monster, and Grandpa was the one and only Count Dracula. I just thought they were similar charicatures spoofing the originals. But in the movie "Munster Go Home" I learned that Herman, after being created by Dr. Frankenstein, had been adopted by the English Munster family. Which is how he got his name, and he later married Dracula's daughter before relocating to America.

It's good to know that the old Universal monsters ended up living happily in the land of opportunity, rather than constantly hounded by torch-waving villagers in the Old Country. But one still can't help but wonder; as Herman is lying there next to Lily, does his mind ever go back to his first love... the innocent, original Bride?

And Lily may have some deep dark secrets buried in her past as well... after all, little Eddie hardly resembles Herman, but is more like the old family acquaintence, the relunctantly hairy Larry Talbot. Does she still carry a torch for him hidden in the crypt of her heart? Seeing Eddie's hirsute face must remind her of him constantly...

UPDATE: Sometimes the comments are just too good to leave in the comments area. Especially when such an informed writer as Jeff O'Boyle chimes in! So for the true story of Eddie's parentage, and the various Munter relatives, go to the post page and read his comments. A true Munsterphile!

8 comments:

Rozum said...

I love your blog and look forward to what you bring for the month of October. The Bride of Frankenstein had so many great posters made to promote it. This is the perfect one to start the month of October with.

Shawn Robare said...

Well, it sure does make you wonder if Lilly dyes that streak in her hair, maybe as a way of keeping Herman interested? Hmm, naw, he's too much of a lunk head to notice details like that.

Frederick said...

Rozum,

Thanks for visiting and for the kind comment! I have added your site to the list of links, you have a great blog going!

Shawn,

That's a very goods point about Lily's hair! It may be also that the streak was what reminded Herman of his first love and it attracted him to Lily?

The mystery deepens!

Stephen said...

Funny, with Eddie's hair line, I always thought he took after Lily and Grandpa. I never thought he might have some werewolf in him...

You know, when my sons watch the Munsters, they think the opposite - they call Herman "Frankenstein".

Frederick said...

Stephan,

You may be right, and that I'm only seeing a wolf where there is none... altho he does sleep with Wolfie. I just thought he looked more like a small werewolf than a vampire; although it's true he takes the hairline from his mother's side. Anyone else see some wolf blood in Eddie?

As for your sons, they are smarter than I was! Although I knew he was a Frankenstein-type monster, I never knew he was actually supposed to be him. Funny, ain't it?

Jeff O'Boyle said...

Fun topic!

Yes, Eddie is supposed to be a werewolf of sorts. Edward's middle name is Wolfgang. Besides his "Woof Woof" doll, I believe there were references to Eddie liking to howl at the moon.

In one episode of the original MUNSTERS show, Lily had a brother named Lester who showed up. Lester was a werewolf (with a hairy face like Lawrence Talbot developed during a full moon). Perhaps Eddie got some of the same Dracula family genes that Uncle Lester exhibited (if Lester was born a werewolf).

And of course vampire Grandpa liked to turn into a wolf, himself, and run with other wolves at night -- especially back in Transylvania. Grandpa didn't become a werewolf who stood on two legs, but instead had the appearance of a four-legged wolf. He could sometimes turn into a wolf by his own power, or otherwise take a special pill to transform.

When Happy Derman originated the role of Eddie in the unaired pilots, Eddie was a bit more beastial than Butch Patrick's all-American boy was.

In one of the black-and-white MUNSTERS comic books that TV COMICS published, Grandpa made a passing reference about having known Lawrence Talbot. I don't have the comic nearby, but basically Grandpa (drawn like Al Lewis) encountered a bad person or persons who were dressed up like werewolves. Grandpa commented like he knew Lawrence Talbot, that Lawrence Talbot was a friend of his, and that this imposter -- or these imposters -- were no Lawrence Talbot! (After Lloyd Bentsen's comment about Dan Quayle being no Jack Kennedy.)

Frederick said...

Jeff,

Thanks for your insightful and informed comments! Seeing as how there are other family members who exhibit wolf-like traits, like the brother you mention, I can't continue to impune Lily's character by inferring she had a fling with Lawrence Talbot.

But it does solve the mystery as to why little Eddie looks like he does, and not merely vampiric.

Once again, another deep discussion about theoretical implications of fictional situations, like "who would win in a fight, Superman or Batman?" Fun all around.

Thanks for dropping in, hope you come back again!

Jeff O'Boyle said...

Thank you, Frederick!

Technically, since Grandpa had a number of wives, I admit it is possible that Lester had a different mother than Lily had. If so, Lester’s mom could have been a she-wolf that Grandpa met one of the times he went out as a wolf back in the Old Country. I tend to think of Lester as Lily’s full brother, though, especially because their names both begin with “L.” Perhaps Lily’s mother thought it cute to name all of her children with names starting with the same letter. I don’t believe the name of Marilyn’s mother (who was Lily’s sister) was revealed.

Perhaps the surest sign that Eddie is Herman’s biological son is that Eddie can go into temper tantrums just like his father. If Eddie had a different biological father, would the boy have still picked up such tantrums merely through observing Herman’s behavior? It’s the age-old question of Nature versus Nurture.

I think some continuity was important to the writers of the show, but there are some apparent contradictions between episodes -- either because they weren’t keeping track or because it’s better to get a laugh than worry about making contradictions to earlier episodes. For example, one episode mentions California as being elsewhere, but a later episode shows Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Rams executives as operating near Herman’s home.

Is Herman the original Frankenstein Monster, or is he actually another monster that Dr. Frankenstein later made? That can cause quite a debate. In one episode, Herman has a twin brother named Charlie. In a later episode, Herman discovers Doctor Frankenstein made one or two monsters before making Herman. There, he meets his older brother of sorts, Johann. Johann is also a dead ringer for Herman, but Johann is primitive and acts purely on emotion and desire. No mention is made of Charlie by name in the Johann episode. Some people think Johann is supposed to be the original Frankenstein Monster (even though Johann doesn’t seem as smart as Karloff’s portrayal). Is Herman sometimes supposed to be the Frankenstein Monster, and other times (when it’s funnier) actually just another one of the Doctor’s creations? Paging Don Glut! I think I read that on THE MUNSTERS TODAY (which was supposed to follow the continuity of the original show, though not in every way), Herman was said to have a brother named Frank.

Then, there’s the fact on the original series that sometimes the outside world seems to be familiar with Universal’s monster movies. When Herman goes to the masquerade dressed as King Arthur in shining armor, the male host of the party is made up like Universal’s Frankenstein’s Monster. Frankenstein isn’t mentioned by name in that episode, but where else did the host (who hadn’t seen Herman before) get the idea for his makeup if not from the movies? Then, there’s the episode where Herman mistakes a toy Frankenstein Monster for a new child he thinks Lily gave birth to. This is supposed to be a toy that was mass-marketed to kids in Herman’s world. Once, Grandpa includes the name of “Bela Lugosi” in a spell he is coming up with. In those instances, it’s like Herman and Grandpa are the real monsters that Karloff and Lugosi only played on-screen.

Though nothing can ever eclipse the original MUNSTERS in my mind, I do like the characters enough that I will watch remakes with other actors (at the least, to see if they’re made by fans of the originals). If you haven’t seen HERE COME THE MUNSTERS, you might want to watch this 1995 TV film (if only because of the questions you have theorized about). It is a complete reboot, though surviving cast members from the original show make a nice cameo. In its continuity, Marilyn is no longer the daughter of Lily’s sister. Marilyn is instead the daughter of Mr. Hyde and Herman’s sister. And Herman’s sister is the Bride of Frankenstein, now appropriately named Elsa. Herman only seems to have warm, brotherly feelings towards Elsa when they're reunited, and she likewise loves Herman as her brother. Here, the Bride of Frankenstein and Lily Munster are sisters-in-law, and I believe the ladies get along fine.

I believe it’s also in HERE COME THE MUNSTERS where Eddie is shown to be able to develop a full, snouted werewolf face (in addition to his normal look).

As Shawn pointed out with the streaks in Yvonne DeCarlo’s hair, I believe Lily was originally intended to stand-in for both the Bride of Frankenstein and Dracula’s Daughter, to the best of her ability. I mean, she was a vampiress and not literally one of Frankenstein’s creations, but she was still meant to evoke the Bride of Frankenstein as much or more as Dracula’s Daughter. As I recall, Herman’s original wife from the pilot, Phoebe, didn’t have the streaks her replacement, Lily, had.

I wonder if Lily ever wore her hair up.