Sunday, April 14, 2013

Interview with a Monster - The Frankenstein File

My Interview with a Monster series is currently running in Suspense Magazine. It is a rather unorthodox fictional series in which I take the time to sit down and discuss with some of horrordom's finest, as if they are actual people.This was the very first and was in the March 2013 issue. April 2013 saw the Dracula interview and I suspect Wolfman will be included in May's issue. Of course, it won't stop there. So many monsters' - So little time. 

Interview With A Monster - The Frankenstein File
by Thomas Scopel

When first learning of the opportunity to interview Frankenstein, rather Frankenstein’s monster, I probably needn’t tell you that I was a bit hesitant. After all, it’s not every day one has the chance to actually sit down with arguably, the king of horror films. Of course, having seen his work, I expected an aggressive and wholly unpredictable, yet bumbling, mumbling and stumbling untrained mind, constantly reaching for answers to my questions and moaning angrily when unable to reach them. And, I also might add, had he chose to threaten and pursue, I was fully prepared to run the perpetual country mile, if that’s what it took to escape.

However, in hindsight, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Imagine my surprise in finding not a monster at all, but a completely rational, intelligent, sensitive individual, smartly dressed in a white shirt and a blue sport blazer, and looking rather dapper as he took the seat across from me and ordered a double espresso, as if it was the most natural thing. As we made small talk prior to the official interview, I was surprised by his candidness and especially the extensive vocabulary he utilized through a deep, monotonous toned voice. However pleasant, I still held apprehension, but also welcomed the challenge of being forced to abruptly change both tactic and questions. The concept made me force myself to consciously attempt to relax. And, while it was rather difficult, considering the fearsome and frightening character sitting across from me staring and anticipating, I would like to also mention, in hindsight, it was a complete privilege.

Thomas Scopel (T.S.): Mr. Frankenstein…

Frankenstein (Frank): Please, call me Frank…

T.S.: Okay Frank. Speaking bluntly, considering you are patched together from many parts, how do you feel?

Frank: I get that question all the time, and my answer is always the same, that I’m fine. That is unless it’s raining, which gets my knee to aching, and as long as no large open flames are involved, heh heh (he chuckled a deep, echoing laugh). That’s a joke…movie thing mind you. No, in all honesty, a stitch here and a stitch there is sometimes required in order to correct the doc’s hasty actions. Can’t say that I blame him though. Have you looked closely at what he was working with? Darkness, an impending majestic electrical storm crackling in the distant, and medical tools that left a lot to be desired. No siree, wasn’t much micro-surgery in those days. Get it? Another joke, (he chuckled again, this time with a touch of enthusiasm). Of course, if you’re wondering whether I’m able to reach over and snatch the life right out of you (his face took on a fearsome, mean appearance complete with ruthless staring eyes not shown in the film), I certainly could. And that somewhat short race you’re anticipating or feeling compelled to attempt won’t do much good either. I’m considerably quicker now, (his head lowered and his eyes pierced deadly into mine and I was suddenly more terrified than I had ever been) a product of many microsurgery's. (After holding the glare for what felt like eternity, but was a mere few seconds, he burst into a hearty, if not bellowing, humorous laugh). That’s another joke…I still have it! No seriously, how do I feel? I feel fine.

T.S.: How old are you?

Frank: Well, like most women, I prefer to not discuss age. I was created when Ms. Shelly wrote that first word. However, I like to think I was born with that lightning strike. You do the math.

T.S.: You were originally labeled a monster, Frankenstein’s monster. But, somewhere along the way you began being referred to simply as Frankenstein. What do you have to say about that?

Frank: Personally, it doesn’t trouble me. However, while the doc hasn’t conveyed it, I know the concept troubles him. I mean, how would you feel if someone took your name and was reaped with all the rewards, leaving you out in the cold? Regardless, I take horror very seriously. After all, it’s been my bread and butter for a generation or two now. And, let’s be blunt, I personify monsterism, especially with this evergreen colored skin and these somewhat idiotic bolts sticking out of my neck. Nonetheless, I suppose I see it all as a badge of honor. Without the label, and to be perfectly honest, without the doc, I would have been nothing. Obviously, I enjoy scaring people, as you’ve already seen, but I really tend to lean toward viewing myself as that Herman guy, lovable, laughable and sometimes, for lack of a better word, rather uneducated.

T.S.: You are rather intimidating. Maybe it’s just your size which implies extensive capabilities. Speaking of that comedy sitcom knock off, how do you feel about their conception of your character?

Frank: When I first saw it, it really made me mad. Horror is horror and comedy is comedy and it was very hard for me to accept the fine line between both. However, after viewing a few episodes and realizing the popularity involved, I simmered a bit and change perspectives, realizing and even appreciating that they were at least keeping my character in the spotlight, regardless whether it was comedic. And, I have to admit to developing a bit of a crush on Lilly. Boy! is she a hot vixen. She can bite me any day. Not like the Lancaster chick. And, as most everyone knows, I have no children. So both Marilyn and Eddie would be simply perfect in personifying my delusions of grandeur. Something a father-want-to-be would be proud of. 

T.S.: We’ve never seen you eat anything, what are some of your favorite foods?

Frank: Well, I like most everything, but my taste buds never fully developed and so I am unable to fully enjoy standard cuisine as most folks and I primarily seek out texture. Somehow, that seems to make up for the flavor loss. Strong flavors I can partially detect, and I tend to pursue those. And, there are a number of items that I avoid too; not because I dislike them, but because they dislike me and cause a terrible case of indigestion. My body doesn’t digest well and so I typically stick to fruits and vegetables, only for nutrition sake. On occasion I’ll tempt fates and have a thick, juicy cheeseburger loaded with onions and eventually end up wishing I hadn’t. But, it never stops me from a repeat performance from time to time. And, speaking of onions, they’re one of those strong flavors, same with garlic. Of course, after ingesting them, I do have a tendency to reek.

T.S.: With your well known fear of fire, do you barbecue?

Frank: Yes, but it’s always with a gas type grill. None of that charcoal and lighter fluid for me. Too much opportunity for mishap.

T.S.: While I think I may detect a slight smell emulating from you, it’s not all that strong or repulsive, sort of a new car smell. Do you harbor a death odor and if so, how do you combat it?

Frank: Like I mentioned earlier, the parts seem to be working fine. But, they were all dead at one time and due to that aspect, with it comes the never-ending aroma. Not much I can do about it. Lord knows I’ve tried. I have learned to somewhat mask it and make being around me more palatable. The onions and garlic help tremendously. And, I’m pretty well known at a number of higher end department stores’ fragrance sections. I’m the seven foot tall green guy at the counter asking for a few of those little samples of the latest colognes. Usually, after the sales girl’s initial fright, she reaps me with them. Of course, I always have to sample the open bottles too. Oh, and the magazines too. You know, the ones with the fold over sheet that harbors the scent. Those work well too. However, there is never enough to mask and I usually resort to tearing out the sheets and tucking them inconspicuously in various pockets. A lot of times that does the trick. Today I’ve loaded up on car air fresheners, so (hearty chuckle) your nose doesn’t undermine with the new car scent.

T.S.: While we’re on the subject of fear, do you have any nightmares?

Frank: Sometimes, but they’re not typical. You would think I dream of fire, considering my track record, but I don’t. Never do. I dream about how I frightened that little girl, even though when we were filming she wasn’t all that scared. Maybe, and hindsight is always twenty-twenty, if I hadn’t seen the finished product, this wouldn’t have occurred. I’ll let you in on a little secret. That scene scared me way more than the fire did. Maybe I am more like that Herman guy than I’d like to admit.

T.S.: Why haven’t you ever made a sequel to your blockbuster flick?

Frank: Funny you should ask. As everyone knows, I was supposedly destroyed in the fire. There were discussions about bringing my character back, but it was too tough finding a good storyline that didn’t appear vague and believable about my escaping the clutches of a fiery death. Let’s face it, my death was needed in order to both, stay true to the book, as well as properly close the film. That much I understand and whole-heartedly agree with. However, I would have liked to continue on with a film career. But, it’s for the better since I would have wanted my character to have progressed from the obtuse originally projected to having a speaking role. Nonetheless, I was stereotyped and therefore, that wasn’t going to occur. For years I wrestled with this concept, eventually coming to the conclusion that, like the studios, my best work had already been completed. Of course, that didn’t deter the studios from attempting to capitalize on the success and my fame and they pursued that bride thing. To me, that seemed a bit moronic. Too much like an Adam and Eve type thing I suppose. Of course, that’s only my personal opinion and I’m probably more than a little biased with the animosity involved.

T.S.: Well, we’ve covered the aroma, what about clothing and shoes? You must have a rough time hunting down a size that fits?

Frank: I used to, before it became so easy to shop from home. I had such a terribly tough time hunting things down. After all, Rodeo Drive is all about trendy and they certainly don’t cater to the big and tall, nor do they stock anything over a size five. Even had a tough time at Walmart and they usually have everything. I typically found myself browsing secondhand stores. Sometimes I’d get lucky and sometimes I didn’t. Now, with the Internet age and online shopping, that has all drastically changed and there are a number of websites I have stumbled across and since stored in my favorites; everything from hats to shoes and the sizes are usually spot on.

T.S.: So what’s next for the big green monster?

Frank: Well, as you would probably suspect, there hasn’t been a flood of scripts flowing my way. Let’s face it. I’m not the romantic comedy leading man material. But, I remain hopeful and check the mailbox every day.

Author’s note: I couldn’t help but feel melancholic at how abruptly I ended the interview. Somehow throughout the interview I had begun to feel sorry for the big lug. But, it wasn’t strong enough to override the fact that had he wanted to, he could have easily reached over the table and snapped my neck like a twig. That intrepidation was what forced the issue, and with each step I took away from him, the fear and stress lifted, dissipating completely only after the hearing diner’s door hiss closed behind me. That was until I recalled the Dracula interview I had scheduled for next month and realizing that darkness would not be a negotiation, but a certainty, and simply wearing a turtleneck sweater probably won’t suffice. Maybe I’ll take Frank’s lead and wear a garlic necklace, not for scent coverage, but for security. Hopefully Drac won’t be offended.

And, creep on by my Twilight Zone Land of Shadow and Substance column at Horror News Net where a new episode is reviewed each week. 

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Until next time Ghouls, remember...

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