Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What I Owe Boris Karloff

I'm know other bloggers have more tidbits from the vaults to share about Mr. Karloff. So I ask myself, what can I bring to the table that's different?

Only my story.

As a senior in high school during the fall of 1992, I purchased a copy of Frankenstein (1931) on VHS. I'd grown up with the monster series from Crestwood Studios, but had never seen the film.

I have always been a fan of dark things. Even though doing so brought nightmares, I watched Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th with my neighbors, the Sullivans. We played silly games in the basement, games designed to terrify each other. They had a collection of old copies of Fangoria and Famous Monsters of Filmland.

But I hadn't actually seen Karloff in action until I was 17.

Elm Street and Friday the 13th weren't my style. Too much gore. Too little introspection. (Yeah, I was as goofy as a young kid as I am now) But the Monster...under all that make-up, Karloff pulled off pain and longing and betrayal and confusion and...

Wow. He made me believe in monsters. More accurately, he presented a monster I could believe in.

There's more, of course, and part of Karloff's story should be an inspiration to anyone working to make a go of his/her dream. The man made dozens of films and worked as a stage actor before Frankenstein, but work was never consistent. He filled the gaps with manual labor, digging ditches and driving a cement truck. Times were tough, and Karloff quite lean at 44 when the Monster was unleashed in 1931's Frankenstein.

The inspiration? Keep plugging away even when the dream is impossible.

Thanks Mr. Karloff. Thanks for bringing the Monster to life. Thanks for inspiring my love for the weird and gothic, and my continuing affair with Mary Shelley's hideous progeny. Most of all, thanks for all the hard work. Without you, there would be no odd stories trickling out of brain, no sympathy for the things that go bump in the night, no understanding that the monsters around us are people, too.


Danielle Ferries said...

He was truly a legend. I watched the movie at a younger age than I probably should and although it scared the bejesus out of me back then I never forgot how devastated I was for him and what he went through.

Demon Hunter said...

A huge legend. :-D Thanks for sharing, Aaron.