"Maybe people will accept me if I perfect my Al Jolson impression..."


"Maybe people will accept me if I perfect my Al Jolson impression..."

FRANKENSTEIN (1931)

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT. STAGE

EDWARD VAN SLOAN shuffles embarrassedly out in front of the audience.

EDWARD VAN SLOAN

Ugh. Apparently I'm supposed to come out here to issue a DIRE WARNING about how SHOCKING and TERRIFYING the film you're about to witness is. Yes, it's basically like the intros to the early Simpsons Halloween specials, except those specials were scarier. The existence of Plan 9 from Outer Space isn't doing us any favors either.

(sighs)

Look, we didn't know, all right? We had no way of knowing how sophisticated horror movies would get! To us, pale dudes with creepy eyes seemed like the height of terror! IT'S NOT OUR FAULT!

(runs off, sobbing)

EXT. CEMETERY

MAD SCIENTIST COLIN CLIVE and his assistant DWIGHT FRYE are out GRAVE ROBBING.

COLIN CLIVE

Good work, creepy hunchbacked assistant who is bafflingly not named Igor, this is one fine corpse we've dug up! I think I'll take this guy's spleen, earlobes and left pinky. Now onto the next one, we're still short a couple molars and an Achilles' tendon!

DWIGHT FRYE

Okay, why exactly does this little experiment of yours need you to sew all these different corpses together? Wouldn't a single dead guy have pretty much all the necessary bits to make a person?

COLIN CLIVE

I can't just bring one dead person back to life! The whole "building a person" schtick is the entire hook of our premise! Besides, this way I can mix and match the best possible person parts. Like, check out the top of this guy's head. Did you ever see such a perfectly flat top of someone's head?

DWIGHT FRYE

That is one impressively flat and boxy head top.

COLIN CLIVE

Exactly. It'll go great with the monolithic, Neanderthal-like forehead I already installed. Now be a good chap and drop by the university for a human brain.

INT. UNIVERSITY

DWIGHT sneaks in to steal a GRADE A PREMIUM BRAIN, but is STARTLED and DROPS IT, so instead he grabs a jar labeled “CRAZY MURDERER BRAIN DO NOT TOUCH”.

DWIGHT FRYE

You thought Young Frankenstein was exaggerating, didn't you? But no, that's actually what happens in the original movie. Seriously, this stuff pretty much comes pre-parodied.

INT. OFFICE

COLIN'S FIANCÉE MAE CLARKE has come to see COLIN'S FORMER PROFESSOR EDWARD VAN SLOAN. Also some guy named JOHN BOLES is just sort of there.

MAE CLARKE

Professor, I'm worried about Colin. He doesn't call, he doesn't write, he holes himself up in a creepy abandoned tower ranting about death and chopping up bodies. What does this mean for our absurdly incongruous, tone-shattering wedding plans?

EDWARD VAN SLOAN

I wish I could help, but I haven't spoken with Colin either. He got really obsessive about destroying and creating life, and finally cut ties with the university because he didn't think our cadavers were sunken-eyed and hollow-cheeked enough.

MAE CLARKE

So a student who kept ranting about "destroying life" stormed out with the aim of sourcing his own CORPSES? Didn't it occur to you that maybe you should have kept tabs on that situation?

EDWARD VAN SLOAN

Hmm, you might have a point. Come on, let’s go talk to Colin, with any luck we’ll get there like three minutes before his big experiment happens by sheer coincidence.

JOHN BOLES

Does anybody know who I am or why I exist?

INT. CREEPY GOTHIC TOWER

MAE, EDWARD and JOHN show up right as COLIN is about to animate his CORPSOMOZAIC.

COLIN CLIVE

At last I can reveal what I’ve been working on! I discovered a sort of ULTRA-ultraviolet radiation and was able to use it to bring small animals back from the dead, and then my findings were published in every research journal and I became the most famous scientist in the world and-

(slaps forehead)

AW FUCK I FORGOT THAT STEP. Oh well, who needs to win a Nobel Prize and go down in history as the guy who cured death, when instead I can do a bunch of insane illegal electro-necromancy and be remembered as that crackpot who sinned against nature.

He straps his CREATION into his CHEESY MAD-SCIENCE ZAP-MO-TRON and exposes it to a bunch of LIGHTNING. Its HAND TWITCHES FEEBLY!

JOHN BOLES

Holy shit, you did it! Now let’s see this thing in action so our monster movie can actually start to-

INT. COSY HOME

MAE and JOHN are hanging out with COLIN’S COMIC-RELIEF DAD CHARACTER, FREDERICK KERR.

FREDERICK KERR

Mae, when oh when are you and Colin going to have your WEDDING?

MAE CLARKE

Don’t worry, as soon as he’s less busy at work we’ll have our WEDDING.

FREDERICK KERR

I’m starting to think the lad’s gotten cold feet and there won’t be any WEDDING!

JOHN BOLES

Uhhh, what the hell, guys? We JUST watched a mad scientist create an undead monstrosity. What is this shit right now?

LIONEL BELMORE

(flouncing in)

I’m the Burgomaster, and I want to know what’s going on with this big WEDDING.

FREDERICK KERR

Don’t ask me, I can’t get a straight answer about this WEDDING!

JOHN BOLES

WE’RE POINTING OUR CAMERA AT THE WRONG STUFF, GUYS. Go back to the creepy lab or I SWEAR I will get even MORE boring and pointless. GO. NOW.

INT. CREEPY LAB

Fine, we’re back in the LAB with COLIN and EDWARD.

EDWARD VAN SLOAN

Your creature is an abomination, Colin! It should be destroyed!

COLIN CLIVE

What makes you say that? All he’s done is shuffle around and not talk.

EDWARD VAN SLOAN

But he looks all weird and gives me the willies! That is a totally legitimate reason to murder a dude!

COLIN CLIVE

Wow, Steve Buscemi better keep right the fuck away from you.

Then the CREATURE, BORIS KARLOFF, enters the room BACKWARDS so he can turn around for a big MAKEUP REVEAL.

BORIS KARLOFF

Okay wait, am I supposed to face the direction I’m walking TOWARDS or AWAY FROM? I’m still getting the hang of all this.

COLIN CLIVE

(clears throat pointedly)

BORIS KARLOFF

Uh, want I meant to say was, RRRRRRRRRR.

(pause)

Come on, man, couldn’t we go with my characterization from the book? I bet audiences would love an articulate, contemplative monster.

COLIN CLIVE

Try telling that to Robert De Niro.

BORIS KARLOFF

Well do I have to move around like an arthritic mannequin in a full-body cast? I’m supposed to be threatening here, surely a more athletic and action-ready Frankenstein-

COLIN CLIVE

AARON ECKHART.

BORIS KARLOFF

...I see your point. RRRRRRRR.

(stumbles around)

DWIGHT FRYE

(bursting in)

Where is he? Ah, THERE’S my boss’s life work, that I spent many hours of back-breaking labor helping him create! Now I can resume abusing it with fire for seemingly no reason.

DWIGHT threatens BORIS with a TORCH. Freaking out, BORIS flails his arms and knocks people over.

COLIN CLIVE

It panics when terrified for its life? Damn, I guess Edward's right, the thing's clearly pure evil. To the dungeon with it!

INT. DUNGEON

BORIS is CHAINED UP and DWIGHT is menacing him with a WHIP.

BORIS KARLOFF

Who the hell supplied you with a whip anyway? Cut it out!

DWIGHT FRYE

Or what, you’ll rip your chains out and club me to death? Don’t be stupid, there’s no reason a patchwork jumble of corpses should have superhuman strength!

BORIS KARLOFF

Actually I was thinking I’d tear my chains out then fashion that whip into a noose then hang you from that fifteen-foot-high rafter there.

DWIGHT FRYE

Well that makes even LESS sense! Come on, that’s so obviously implausible that the only way you could do it is if the camera completely cut away to-

INT. LAB

DWIGHT FRYE

(offscreen)

AAAAAAAaaahhhh...!!!

COLIN and EDWARD rush down to find DWIGHT DEAD and BORIS LOOSE! They hurriedly SEDATE BORIS.

EDWARD VAN SLOAN

This can’t go on, Colin. Leave it to me, I’ll humanely dispose of the beast. It's humane to carve somebody open and start rooting around in their internal organs while they're still alive, right?

COLIN CLIVE

Fine, dissect it I guess. But remember, if it turns out to be preternaturally resistant to your sedatives-

EDWARD VAN SLOAN

I know, I know, pay basically no heed to that fact and not even strap its arms down or anything. Now, you go off to deal with that stupidly out-of-place wedding of yours, and just assume that this all went well.

COLIN CLIVE

Sounds like a plan!

(leaves)

EDWARD VAN SLOAN

(murdered)

BORIS KARLOFF

(escapes)

EXT. HOUSE SO CLOSE TO A LAKE IT’S PRACTICALLY UNDERWATER

BORIS, wandering around randomly, happens across a LITTLE GIRL playing in her BACK YARD which consists of like FOUR SQUARE FEET OF GRASS and a GIANT LAKE.

LITTLE GIRL

Oh look, a seven-foot monstrous corpse man, this is a thing that a five-year-old girl would clearly be cheerily unafraid of! Come throw flowers in the lake with me.

BORIS KARLOFF

(throws flowers)

Damn, I’m out of flowers! Well I guess there are dozens more flowers right there on the ground, so

(throws girl)

LITTLE GIRL

(drowns instantly)

BORIS KARLOFF

OH SHIT! In my innocence I didn’t know that that could hurt her! Or that this lake drops off so ridiculously sharply that two feet in it’s a bottomless pit! Or that a girl who lives right on the very edge of this death lake was never taught how to swim! And was I guess wearing clothes made of lead!

BORIS runs off in distress.

1931 CENSORS

Well that scene was one of the most effective in the movie, and entirely crucial to the narrative.

(CUT CUT CUT CUT CUT)

There, that’s better! Now the film ought to be acceptable to people with the same pathetically fragile constitutions as ours.

(looks out window, sees spiderweb)

OH MY VAPORS!

(faints)

INT. CASA DE FRANKENSTEIN

DERANGED, MAD-EYED SCIENTIST COLIN is preparing for his BIG HAPPY WEDDING TO MAE which still just doesn’t jibe AT ALL.

JOHN BOLES

Bad news, Colin! The creature has been reported terrorizing the mountain villages! And by “terrorizing” we seem to mostly mean stumbling confusedly through the undergrowth. Apparently weird-looking lost dudes counts as both high drama and primo gossip in this jerkwater berg.

COLIN CLIVE

Well if he’s wandering the mountains we’re safe at least. I mean, unless he happens to wander all the way into town and just randomly burst into this exact building, which he would have no way of knowing I’m currently in. Surely we’re safe from THAT level of utter contrivance.

INT. MAE’S ROOM

BORIS KARLOFF

(bursting in)

Oh sure, this is MUCH better than the book’s intelligent creature actually plotting an act of revenge. Me just bumbling around attacking whoever, that’s great storytelling right there. RRRRRRRR.

MAE CLARKE

Oh no! Quick, is there anything here I can use to defend myself or effect my escape - oh right, 1930s heroine.

(shrieks uselessly)

BORIS KARLOFF

Bwa ha ha, that’s right, I will now overturn some chairs, lurch clumsily after you like a slow-motion Benny Hill, then run away the moment anybody else shows up! I’M SO INTIMIDATING!

(flees)

EXT. TOWN

The BODY of the LITTLE GIRL is brought to town by her FATHER.

FATHER

I left my little girl who can’t swim completely by herself right next to a bottomless lake, and when I got home she’d drowned! Clearly she’s been MURDERED! That’s the ONLY LOGICAL EXPLANATION!

LIONEL BELMORE

Well in a similar time frame to that drowning, there's also been talk of some big guy wandering around. So based on that reasoning, let’s form a huge mob and kill him without due process!

COLIN CLIVE

I’ll help kill this guy, whoever the hell he is! If only some guy were around who could give us useful information about the creature, amirite? I'd certainly volunteer all relevant facts if it were ME who had unleashed this horror upon the town, BUT IT WASN'T SO DON'T EVEN ASK OKAY.

LIONEL BELMORE

All right, you take half the townsfolk up to Mount Fakelooking. Just take a left at the curtains with clouds painted on them, then keep going until you reach the styrofoam boulders.

EXT. SOUND STAGE THAT WE’LL PRETEND IS A MOUNTAIN

A SMALL ARMY of TORCH-WIELDING VILLAGERS go out hunting a FRIGHTENED FIVE-DAY-OLD. Eventually COLIN wanders off by himself and stumbles into BORIS!

COLIN CLIVE

All right, you loathsome creature, you may have superior strength, but I have-

(pats pockets)

Wait, did I seriously not bring a weapon? Did the ENTIRE MOB not bring any weapons? Not even pitchforks! That’s a violent mob staple! Shiiit!

COLIN flees into a WINDMILL! BORIS pursues him at the approximate speed of TREACLE RUNNING UPHILL! Eventually BORIS has COLIN cornered on a BALCONY, and instead of just RIPPING HIS HEAD OFF or something he TOSSES HIM OVER THE RAILING, for a deadly ONE-AND-A-HALF STOREY FALL!

COLIN CLIVE

Aha, but thinking fast, I’m able to survive the fall by cleverly transforming into a really obvious straw dummy!

The TOWNSFOLK set FIRE to the WINDMILL with BORIS INSIDE. The entire building is CONSUMED BY FLAME and COLLAPSES INTO RUBBLE.

BORIS KARLOFF

AAAARRRRGH, I SURE HOPE A SEQUEL HAPPENS SO I CAN IMPLAUSIBLY SURVIVE THIS

(gains power of speech)

COLIN CLIVE

Well, the climax has finished. That can only mean one thing in 1930s Hollywood: an-

FREDERICK KERR

An insultingly abrupt and goofy ending oh ho ho GOODNIGHT EVERYBODY!

END.

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